The Federal Trade Commission has just banned three companies, formerly located in Washington state and in Texas from selling debt relief services in this way. The businesses were charged with deceptive telemarketing calls, some to consumers on the Do Not Call Registry, and with using illegal robocalls.
The FTC charged that Advanced Management Services (AMS) and several co-defendants claimed that they could lower people’s credit card interest rates. Many consumers believed these calls came from their credit card company.
The defendant companies charged consumers up to $1,590, promising a refund if they failed to deliver at least $2,500 in savings. Instead of arranging reduced interest rates, the defendants sent consumers obvious instructions like “Pay down your credit card debts early to save interest!” Consumers who demanded refunds allegedly were denied outright, got the run-around, or had a $199 “nonrefundable fee” deducted from their refund.
Under the following two settlement orders, all defendants are prohibited from selling debt relief services, misrepresenting basic facts about any goods or services, selling or using customers’ personal information, failing to properly dispose of customer information, and collecting payments.
In addition, the order against Priority Direct Marketing International (PDM), prohibits them from telemarketing and from violating the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule, and imposes a $13.8 million judgment.
Rapid Reduction Systems
The order against AMS and also Rapid Reduction Systems LLC, Ryan David Bishop, and Michael L. Rohlf imposes an $8.1 million judgment.
FTC Acknowledges BBB
The FTC acknowledged the assistance of the Better Business Bureau of Eastern Washington, North Idaho, and Montana, and the BBB of Fort Worth, Texas; along with agencies including the Attorney General’s office in Washington state.
The judgments, which represent the total amount consumers lost, will be suspended when the defendants have surrendered their assets; including several luxury cars, a boat, jet skis, and ATVs. The full judgments will become due immediately if the defendants are found to have misrepresented their financial condition.
Dale Dixon, President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Southern Idaho, stated in an article for the Idaho Press Tribune that:
1) If you have caller ID and you do not recognize the phone number of an incoming call, do not answer the phone.
2) If you answer the phone and hear a recorded message, hang up immediately.
And remember, you can always Start With Trust by checking out a business at bbb.org. Before AMS Financial had its assets frozen by the Federal Trade Commission, they generated 30 BBB complaints, and a pattern of complaints. PDM generated 190 complaints to the BBB, 33 of which were judged serious, and earned an “F” rating with our organization.
We also post government actions as soon as we learn of them and did on these companies:
- 2009 action from the Minnesota State Attorney General’s Office
- 2009 action from the West Virginia State Attorney General’s Office
- 2010 action from the Federal Trade Commission
- 2011 action from the Federal Trade Commission
In conclusion, desperate times call for desperate measures, but no matter how bad your financial situation is, it can always get worse if you let the pressure rob you of your common sense—or scammers rob you of the little money you do have.
For more information, please visit the FTC’s press release below: