In a recent blog post, I outlined the potential dangers of the student debt relief industry, pointing out the worrisome evolution of companies supplying general debt relief into a more focused business model preying on desperate graduates.
One significant example is Broadsword Student Advantage of Carrollton, TX, which began in 2012. This business, a prominent student debt relief provider, has a connection to several debt settlement businesses, including Debt XS, Debt Relief Options, and EFA Processing. Ken Talbert of Broadsword Student Advantage was found to be a principal in each of these businesses. See the BBB Business Reviews for these businesses here.
Broadsword Student Advantage is the subject of 51 complaints filed with BBB since the end of 2012.
One woman from Texas complained in February of 2014, “Spoke to several people with company via phone and emails. Was told they could help with student loan debt and all they did was take my money. No service was ever provided. I contacted them about refund on 12/19/13 and was told I would receive refund of $499 in 4 weeks and now with every contact I get the runaround.”
Also, a woman from Georgia stated in April of 2014, “Was promised refund after services explained were proven untrue. Unable to reach anyone by phone with authority to file complaint with company. … The company did not deliver services that were promised in their advertisement. Now trying to get refund with no success.”
Most complaints filed with BBB are along the same lines. Some of the most frequent issues included trouble contacting the company, misleading information about the services provided, failure to actually provide the services and failure to provide refunds for cancelled services. Due to the pattern of complaints describing similar problems, BBB contacted Broadsword Student Advantage asking the business to address these issues. So far, BBB has not received a response from the business.
Citing the number and nature of customer complaints nationwide on Broadsword, the Illinois Attorney General filed suit against it earlier this week. In doing so, Illinois became the first state to target the student debt relief industry, according to the article that appeared in the New York Times. As all indications suggest that student debt will continue to rise, it is safe to say that student debt relief businesses will grow right alongside it. This isn’t a problem that’s going to go away anytime soon.