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Student Aid Center, Inc. is not BBB Accredited.
Businesses are under no obligation to seek BBB accreditation, and some businesses are not accredited because they have not sought BBB accreditation.
To be accredited by BBB, a business must apply for accreditation and BBB must determine that the business meets BBB accreditation standards, which include a commitment to make a good faith effort to resolve any consumer complaints. BBB Accredited Businesses must pay a fee for accreditation review/monitoring and for support of BBB services to the public.
Reason for Rating
BBB rating is based on 13 factors. Get the details about the factors considered.
Factors that lowered Student Aid Center, Inc.'s rating include:
- Length of time business has been operating.
- 199 complaints filed against business
- 2 complaints filed against business that were not resolved.
- Length of time business has taken to respond to complaint(s).
- Business has failed to resolve underlying cause(s) of a pattern of complaints.
Customer Complaints SummaryRead complaint details
|Complaint Type||Total Closed Complaints|
|Advertising / Sales Issues||33|
|Billing / Collection Issues||35|
|Guarantee / Warranty Issues||8|
|Problems with Product / Service||120|
|Total Closed Complaints||199|
Additional Complaint Information
Our files contain a pattern of complaints from consumers that allege Student Aid Center is not forthcoming regarding payment information; that they are unaware that the initial 2 or 3 payments they made were not towards their loans, they were considered administrative fees for Student Aid Center. Consumers further state they are unable to obtain a refund of the payments that were made for the services they feel were misrepresented. Student Aid Center, Inc. responds to these complaints by apologize and contact the consumer to reach an amicable agreement.
On November 25,2013, BBB sent correspondence to Student Aid Center, Inc. requesting their voluntary cooperation in resolving complaints on file with BBB and providing steps it will implement to eliminate the pattern of customer complaints.
On July 7, 2014 Student Aid Center, Inc responded to BBB's concerns stating the following:
1. We created a three day blanket right to rescind, no questions asked.
2. We added in the language, on our payments authorization section of our contract, that not only are the payments of $199 coming to our company as a fee but that they are specifically not going towards the customer's student loan payments in any way shape or form.
3. We have augmented substantially our initial and ongoing training programs with our reps to emphasize that under no circumstances whatsoever are they to ever allow for the misconception that the payments made to us are going towards the customers student loans. We have gone so far as to make every employee sign a notice that if they are caught giving out any such information they will be terminated immediately.
4. We have further now implemented a continuing monitoring/quality control department to ensure that does not happen.
5. We have also taken a far more liberal stance as to refunds as can be noted by the responses to our complaints with your entity. While we have always had a 100% money back guarantee if we could not assist our customers we now give full refunds to any customer should they request it even if they are just choosing to cancel through no fault of ours.
On February 7, 2015 BBB re-reviewed the complaints on file and found that the pattern still exists.
BBB will continue to monitor the complaints for Student Aid Center, Inc and update the review as needed.
Customer Reviews Summary Read customer reviews
31 Customer Reviews Customer Reviews on Student Aid Center, Inc.
|Customer Experience||Total Customer Reviews|
|Total Customer Reviews||31 Customer Reviews|
The following describes a pending government action that has been formally brought by a government agency but has not yet been resolved. We are providing a summary of the government's allegations, which have not yet been proven.
As of July 1, 2015, Case 27-CV-15-11307, the State of Minnesota, Fourth Judicial District, Attorney General, Plaintiff, filed complaint against Student Aid Center, Inc., Defendant.
Student Aid Center is a Florida corporation with its principal executive office at 2500 NW 79 Ave., Suite 190, Doral, FL 33122.
Student Aid Center is not registered as a "debt settlement services provider" under Chapter 332B of the Minnesota Statutes.
Student Aid Center was incorporated in 2013.
It has two co-presidents, Ramiro Moris, also known as Ramiro Fernandez-Moris, and Damien Alvarez.
A record-high 40 million Americans - or one in five households - owes money on a student loan. Student Aid Center, a Florida corporation, "baits" and entices borrowers to speak with its sales agents - who it calls "student loan forgiveness counselors" - by promising to help get student loans "forgiven".
The company then uses a variety of misleading sales pitches to get students to pay it as much as $1,500. for what eligible borrowers can do for free through the United States Department of Education or their federal student loan servicer: enroll the borrower in a repayment plan or consolidation loan.
The State of Minnesota, by its Attorney General, bring this government enforcement to enforce Minnesota law.
The Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of this action pursuant to Minn. State 8.01, 8.31, 325D.44, 325F.69, and 322B.02-.14 (2014).
Student Aid Center's website appears at or among the top of Internet search results when borrowers search for "student loan forgiveness."
Student Aid Center has a website address, "studentloanforgivenessplans.org," which is linked to clickable search results with slogans such as "Say Good-Bye to Student Loan Debt." Student Aid Center's homepage contains over 20 references to student loan "forgiveness" and prominently claims that Student Aid Center can help financially distressed borrowers "Get Rid of Student Loan Debt!" Student Aid Center urges borrowers to "Call Today! Take Action & Get Your Student Loans Forgiven and/or Consolidated Now!"
It solicits consumers to provide their name and contact information by enticing them to, "Get Your Student Loans Forgiven Now!"
Student Aid Center's website is linked to clickable search results with captions such as "Obama Loan Forgiveness," giving the false impression that the company is somehow
connected with or approved by the government.
Student Aid Center's website homepage includes references to "OBAMA STUDENT LOAN PROGRAM," and it tells borrowers to "Take Advantage of New Federal Programs."
Its logo, which is prominently displayed on its
website, consists of laurel leaves and a shield and is similar to logos of federal agencies like the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Student Aid Center's website also conveys a sense
of urgency to borrowers, warning "Dont (sic) wait until your situation spirals even further out of control," and invites borrowers to "Join thousands of people who have already saved money" and have "Received Student Loan Forgiveness." The website states that Student Aid Center has "AID COUNSELORS AVAILABLE NOW," offers "Student Loan Forgiveness Plans," and claims that Student Aid Center can "Solve Student Loan Issues!" Student Aid Center advertises "Fast Approval," telling borrowers they can "Save Time & Money" through "Expert Rapid Results!"
Student Aid Center's website asks borrowers
"Do you qualify for Student Loan Forgiveness?"
And it claims that by calling Student Aid Center, "in LESS THAN 5 MINUTES . . . you can be
Qualified for a Student Loan FORGIVENESS and/or Student Loan Consolidation Plan!"
Student Aid Center markets itself through social media. Among other things, Student Aid Center is sometimes marketed through an Instagram account in the name of Damien Alvarez (Co-President of Student Aid Center) (using the handle dee18702).
Student Aid Center's activities appear to be profitable, according to postings on the Instagram account.
Using hashtags for #studentaidcenter,
#sacmula, and #sacmoney, Mr. Alvarez's
Instagram postings frequently reference Jordan
Belfort (as depicted by Leonardo DiCaprio in the
movie The Wolf of Wall Street).
Mr. Belfort was charged by the U.S. Department of Justice and pled guilty to defrauding investors in connection with a sale s boiler room scheme to sell worthless penny stocks.
Student Aid Center Misrepresents Itself to Consumers.
When borrowers call Student Aid Center, its salespeople--who Student Aid Center refers to as "student loan forgiveness counselors"--make many
of the same false or misleading statements contained on the company's website about Student Aid Center's ability to qualify borrowers for student loan forgiveness.
For example, S.R., a 27-year-old resident of
Burnsville who struggled to make ends meet
while caring for her two young children, called
Student Aid Center because its website advertised that it could get student loans forgiven.
S.R. asked the company's representative if Student Aid Center could qualify her for loan forgiveness.
Within a few minutes of gathering information about her financial situation, Student Aid
Center's representative told S.R. that she
qualified and that her loans would be forgiven. In reality, Student Aid Center steered S.R. into a consolidation plan that does not have the terms
promised, extended her loan payment period, and
has no guarantee of any loan forgiveness.
Student Aid Center routinely collects bank account or credit card information from borrowers during its initial telephone call with borrowers.
Student Aid Center then uses this information to withdraw payments from a borrower's bank account or to charge a borrower's credit card.
Student Aid Center's fees range from $500 to as much as $1,500, and are sometimes broken into several monthly payments.
Student Aid Center holds itself out as a company that settles student loan debt for less than the amount owed. Student Aid Center collects fees from borrowers before starting or completing work. The collection of upfront fees is prohibited by Minnesota's Debt Settlement
Services Act (the "Act").
Numerous other practices of Student Aid Center violate the Act, including but not limited to its failure to register with the Minnesota Department of Commerce, failure to include in its agreements all of the required terms under the Act, and its execution of power of attorney forms that purportedly extinguish or limit the right of
borrowers and lenders to communicate with one another.
Student Aid Center entices consumers to pay these fees by claiming that it can reduce or eliminate student loan debt, when it is not the one to make this decision.
Student Aid Center has claimed that it can qualify borrowers for student loan forgiveness, claimed to have a special working relationship with the federal government, and discouraged borrowers from contacting the U.S. Department
of Education for assistance.
Student Aid Center "baits" and misleads borrowers with promises of student loan forgiveness, but merely submits consolidation and repayment plan applications to loan servicers and the U.S.
Department of Education for borrowers, sometimes after months of delays.
The company also fails to explain to borrowers
that before student loans may be forgiven,
borrowers typically need to make payments for
decades under a repayment plan which must be
reviewed and recertified annually by the U.S.
Department of Education.
During telephone calls with consumers, Student Aid Center has made myriad other misrepresentations to induce them to provide payment information during the sales calls.
Student Aid Center tells some consumers that it will "take over" their student loans.
Student Aid Center does not, however, "take over" or pay student loans.
For example, J.R. is 24 years old and lives in Moorhead with her two children.
She has been struggling to make ends meet and pay off over $25,000 in student loans that went toward an MBA program at a for-profit college that has since been sued by the federal government and shut down for misleading students and giving inaccurate information about its degree programs.
Saddled with debt for a degree with little value to employers, she called Student Aid Center and explained that she was having trouble paying her student loans.
The representative informed J.R. that Student Aid Center would take over her student loans,
consolidate them, and reduce or eliminate her
payments--if J.R. made four monthly payments of $199 to Student Aid Center.
Similarly, A.L., a 34-year-old resident of East Grand Forks, began working as a physical therapist after graduating with over $100,000
in student loan debt.
She called Student Aid Center and was told that the company could take over her student loans, consolidate them, reduce her interest rates and monthly payments, and get her loans forgiven. Student Aid Center did not "take over" her loans, and she later realized that her payments did not go toward her loans when she received late notices and late fees from her lenders.
S.R., a 27-year-old who lives in Burnsville with her two young children, struggled to pay her student loans and provide for her family.
She called Student Aid Center because its
website advertised that it could help solve student debt issues and get student loans forgiven.
Student Aid Center took monthly payments of $199 from S.R.'s bank for a total of $995, after
indicating that it would take over S.R.'s student loans, that these payments would be applied
toward her loans, and that her payments would
eventually be reduced to $89. until her loans were forgiven.
S.R. later received notice from her loan servicer that her balance and interest went up on her loans instead of down.
J.W., a 24-year-old from Osseo, graduated with an associate's degree of applied science in veterinary technology in 2012, but was unable to find a job in her field. She currently works in a warehouse stacking pallets, and is struggling to manage payments on $32,000 of student loan debt while trying to keep up with other bills and living expenses. Student Aid Center told her that she would have to pay Student Aid Center
$199 a month for three months for fees it would incur to buy out her loans and take them over.
Student Aid Center told A.B., a 32-year-old resident of Richfield, that if he paid $200. a month for three months, the company would take over his loans, consolidate them, reduce his interest rate, and lower his balance. Only after Student Aid Center withdrew its first payment
did A.B. learn that the company would not be taking over his loans, nor would it apply any of his payments to his loans.
The consolidation program that Student Aid Center enrolled A.B. in ultimately increased the interest rate on several of his loans.
Student Aid Center has misrepresented to some students that it can "qualify" them for student loan forgiveness or has otherwise misrepresented its ability to reduce or eliminate student loan debt.
Student Aid Center often tells consumers that it has the power to forgive their loans and that they "qualify" for forgiveness during a consumer's initial sales call. Student Aid
Center, however, has no authority to forgive loans or to promise that the U.S. Department of
Education will do so either.
For example, K.C. is 36 years old and lives in Blaine. K.C. was unable to keep up with payments on $67,000 of student loan debt after he was laid off from his management position with a small engine company. He spoke with a Student Aid Center representative, who told him that Student Aid Center could stop garnishments, get his student loans back in good standing with reduced payments, and save him $20,000 through forgiveness.
The representative told K.C. that he "qualified" for this program and that his first payment could
be reduced to $99. Student Aid Center took K.C.'s first payment over the telephone, followed by
another payment a month later, but his wages were still garnished.
C.K. is 25 years old and lives in St. Francis. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in psychology and $40,000. in student loan debt. C.K. now works as a therapist for children with autism. As graduation approached, C.K. began to worry about how she would afford to pay her loans. C.K. called Student Aid Center to get more information about the forgiveness programs it advertised on Facebook. Student Aid Center
's representative told C.K. that she would pay $0 for ten years if she qualified for forgiveness, but he needed her personal financial information to advise her. Later, the representative told C.K. that she "qualified" for forgiveness, and pressured her into signing up right away by telling her that with graduation approaching she was strapped for time to "qualify."
C.K. is 37 years old and lives in Prior Lake.
C.K. earned an associates of science degree at a for-profit college. He manages a convenience store full time and delivers pizzas part time. C.K. has been unable to pay over $100,000 in student loans and cannot buy a home with that debt. When C.K. called Student Aid Center, its representative told C.K. that Student Aid Center could consolidate his federal student loan debt and that he "qualified" for $50,000 in student loan forgiveness. Student Aid Center to ok nearly $1,000 in payments from C.K. without getting his payments lowered or his loans qualified for forgiveness.
T.N., 24 years old and living in Burnsville, entered his information on Student Aid Center's website after being laid off and working seasonally as a lawn care manager.
A Student Aid Center representative called T.N. and told him that he "qualified" for consolidation with $0 in monthly payments on his student loans for 20 years, and that his loans would be completely forgiven after that--if he paid Student Aid Center $199 a month for five months.
When T.N. realized that these were not actually the terms of the deal, T.N. asked Student Aid
Center for his money back but was denied a refund.
S.S., who lives in Stewartville with his wife and four children, incurred about $57,000 in student loan debt to finance his education. S.S. works as a special education teacher. He called Student Aid Center after it contacted him about student loan forgiveness for teachers. Student Aid Center's representative told S.S. that Student Aid Center could consolidate his student loans and "qualify" him for loan forgiveness, if he paid $249 a month for the first four months, followed by payments of $388 a month for the next ten years, after which any remaining balance on his loans would be forgiven. S.S. la
ter learned that Student Aid Center was keeping
his payments for itself and not applying them to his student loans.
Student Aid Center sometimes tells borrowers they are "pre-qualified" for a loan program before they have even hired the company, even though it does not have the authority to make this decision, which rests with the federal government.
Student Aid Center has not always adequately described settlement terms, and has sometimes misrepresented terms of federal programs.
When describing terms and federal programs to consumers, Student Aid Center's representatives sometimes misrepresent them.
S.K., 41, lives in Minnesota City with her two
children. With about $30,000 in student loan debt, she called Student Aid Center about its
supposed forgiveness plan. A Student Aid Center
representative told her that she was approved
for a program under which she would pay Student
Aid Center $199 a month for five months, pay $0 a month on her student loans for 25 years, and then
her $30,000 of student loan debt would be
forgiven. When she asked the representative how
this was possible, the representative told her
that this is what Student Aid Center does. A Student Aid Center representative falsely told
C.K. that she would pay $0 for ten years on a forgiveness plan, and pressured her into signing up right away by telling her that with graduation approaching she was strapped for time to "qualify."
Student Aid Center did not tell J.S., a 29-year-old licensed practical nurse from
Winona, that his repayment plan would require annual federal recertification and that Student
Aid Center would require more money from him to "recertify" the plan.
T.N., from Burnsville, was told by a Student Aid Center representative that he qualified for consolidation with $0 in monthly payments on his student loans for 20 years, and that they would be forgiven after that.
However, T.N.'s loan servicer later told him that he was placed on an income-based repayment plan with no monthly payments for the 12 months,but that the plan was subject to annual review and his payments would likely go up to $170 a month after the first year. Similarly, A.B. was
told that Student Aid Center would be able to
lower his payments to as little as $150 a month,
that his loans would be forgiven after 20 years
of payments, and that Student Aid Center would
save him about $10,000 on his loans.
A.B. later learned from his loan servicer that his monthly payments would be reviewed every 12 months and will increase if his income increases.
Student Aid Center has misrepresented to some consumers that the amount owed will go down.
In selling Student Aid Center's "services" to consumers, it sometimes states that the amount they owe will be reduced.
S.S. is a 34-year-old teacher who lives in Owatonna with her husband and their four young children. Student Aid Center steered S.S. into a consolidation of her student loans, which cause
d her loan balance to go up, rather than down. S.S. paid Student Aid Center $1,000 and felt
worse off than she was before contacting Student Aid Center. Similarly, after signing up with Student Aid Center, S.R. received notice from her loan servicer that her balance and interest went up on her loans instead of down as a result of the consolidation Student Aid Center signed her up for, that her new payments would be higher than promised by Student Aid Center, and that it would take longer to pay off her student loans with no guarantee that any part of her loans would ever be forgiven.
Student Aid Center has persuaded some consumers to provide their confidential loan PIN and other information to Student Aid Center.
When some borrowers call Student Aid Center, its representatives persuade borrowers to disclose their Social Security number, bank account information, and passwords for access to their online student loan accounts through the National Student Loan Data System ("NSLDS"). Borrower account information on the NSLDS, however, is protected by federal law and review of this information is only allowed through specific access granted by the U.S. Department of Education.
In some cases, Student Aid Center changes the borrower's password and log-in information when taking control over online accounts. Student Aid Center does not get permission to access account information from the U.S. Department of Education, but rather uses a borrower's log-in information to effectively pose as the borrower to the federal government and access account information. For example, a Student Aid Center representative asked C.K. for her password to her online student loan account, and assured her it was okay to disclose it because Student Aid Center worked with the U.S. Department of Education.
Similarly, Student Aid Center's representative asked S.K. for her PIN to her online federal
student loan account information. When she indicated that she did not want to disclose her PIN, the Student Aid Center representative told S.K. that Student Aid Center could not go forward
with the application process unless she did.
Student Aid Center has submitted power of attorney forms that consumers did not sign in front of a notary, and sometimes didn't even sign.
During or shortly after the initial call with borrowers, Student Aid Center typically sends an e-mail to borrowers with electronic copies of its contract and application materials, including a power of attorney form granting Student Aid
Center the right to communicate with financial institutions and collection agencies on behalf of the borrower, and instructing lenders to direct all future communications to Student Aid Center
instead of the borrower.
In some cases, Student Aid Center passes off power of attorney forms to the U.S. Department of Education through its loan servicers as though the forms were signed by borrowers, when in fact they were not.
For example, R.K., a 34-year-old resident of Owatonna, began working as a teacher after graduating with over $40,000 in student loans, and called Student Aid Center because she was having a hard time making her loan payments.
She noticed that Student Aid Center's website indicated that the company could qualify borrowers for student loan forgiveness and made it appear as though Student Aid Center was approved by or connected with the government. After the call, R.K. received an e-mail sent by Mr. Alvarez's e-mail account with contract documents attached, including a power of attorney form. Student Aid Center's e-mail instructed R.K. to "allow the e-signature process in order to open and review the documents this does not mean you are signing it." R.K. opened the documents as directed, but did not sign them. Student Aid Center later submitted to R.K.'s loan servicer a power of attorney form, containing what appeared to be R.K.'s signature. The form was notarized by an employee of Student Aid Center who falsely represented that R.K. had appeared before her in
Florida to sign the form. The notarized power of attorney states:
"ON THE ABOVE DATE,
before me ... personally appeared the above
applicant ... through satisfactory evidence of
identification such as a valid driver's license, or other identification to be
the person whose name is signed on the ...
"Limited Durable Power of Attorney", and freely acknowledged directly to me that he/she signed it ...."
Indeed, Student Aid Center routinely submits to loan servicers power of attorney forms that falsely represent that affiants have appeared before a notary in Florida.
C.J. was informed by her student loan servicer that it rejected a power of attorney form submitted by Student Aid Center due to concerns about it. The power of attorney form, which was prepared and submitted by Student Aid Center, appears to have C.J.'s signature on it next to the signature of a Florida notary public who falsely claimed that C.J. appeared before her in Florida, presented identification, and signed the form, when in fact C.J. did not sign the document as claimed by the notary. Similarly, even though
S.K. canceled with Student Aid Center before ever signing a power of attorney form, Student Aid Center submitted the form to S.K.'s loan servicer with what appeared to be S.K.'s signature
personally notarized by an employee of Student Aid Center in Florida. When Student Aid Center submitted paperwork to S.R.'s student loan servicer and the U.S. Department of Education, it submitted a power of attorney form which appeared to contain S.R.'s signature personally notarized by a Student Aid Center employee in Florida, when S.R. never signed the form. Student Aid Center withdrew money from R.K.'s bank account even
after she cancelled, and submitted a power of attorney form to her student loan servicer with
what appeared to be R.K.'s personally notarized signature, even though she never signed the
PREVENTION OF CONSUMER FRAUD ACT
The State re-alleges all prior paragraphs of this Complaint.
Minn. Stat. § 325F.69, subd. 1 provides:
The act, use, or employment by any person of any fraud, false pretense, false promise, misrepresentation, misleading statement or deceptive practice, with the intent that others rely thereon in connection with the sale of any merchandise, whether or not any person has in fact been misled, deceived, or damaged thereby,
is enjoinable as provided in section 325F.70.
The term "merchandise" within the meaning of Minnesota Statutes section 325F.69 includes services.
Student Aid Center's conduct described above constitutes multiple, separate violations of Minn. Stat. § 325F.69, subd. 1. Student Aid Center has engaged in deceptive and
fraudulent practices, and has made false and misleading statements, with the intent that others rely thereon in connection with the sale of its services.
Those practices include, but are not limited to: (a) misrepresenting and misleading consumers to believe that Student Aid Center would take over consumers' loans;
(b) misrepresenting to consumers that Student Aid Center could forgive consumers' loans and otherwise misrepresenting its ability to reduce or eliminate student loan debt;
(c) misrepresenting to consumers that they were "approved" for student loan relief, and otherwise misrepresenting its ability to qualify borrowers for government programs;
(d) misrepresenting and leading consumers to believe that Student Aid Center would apply payments made to it to consumers' loans;
(e) misrepresenting that the amount owed would go down;
(f) misleading consumers to believe that Student Aid Center is tied to or has a relationship with the federal government or a particular federal debt relief plan;
(g) misrepresenting to consumers that they should provide their confidential loan PIN or other information to Student Aid Center, in part because of its ties to the federal government; (h) misrepresenting government programs and payment plan terms to consumers;
(i) instructing consumers not to contact their loan servicers or the U.S. Department of Education; and
(j) the other practices described in this Complaint. These practices, and the others described above, violated Minn. Stat. § 325F.69.
Further, by failing to disclose and omitting material facts that Student Aid Center had a duty to disclose in connection with the sale of its services, Student Aid Center has further engaged in deceptive and fraudulent practices in violation of the Consumer Fraud Act.
UNIFORM DECEPTIVE TRADE PRACTICES ACT
The State re-alleges all prior paragraphs of this Complaint.
Minn. Stat. § 332D.44, subd. 1 provides, in part:
A person engages in a deceptive trade practice when, in the course of business, vocation
or occupation, the person:
(1) passes off goods or services as those of another;
(2)causes likelihood of confusion or of
misunderstanding as to the source, sponsorship, approval, or certification of goods or services;
(3) causes likelihood of confusion or of
misunderstanding as to affiliation, connection, or association with, or certification by, another;
(5) represents that goods or services have sponsorship, approval, (or)
characteristics . . . that they do not have;
(7) represents that the goods or services are of a particular standard (or) quality . . . if
they are of another;
(9) advertises goods or services with intent not to sell them as advertised;
(13) engages in any other conduct which similarly creates a likelihood of confusion or of misunderstanding.
Student Aid Center's conduct described above constitutes multiple violations of Minn. Stat. § 325D.44, subd.
1. For example, Student Aid Center:
(a) deceptively ties its internet search engine results to the federal government and federal government plans;
(b) deceptively uses a logo similar to government
agencies, and otherwise passes its services off
as they are government services;
c) causes likelihood of confusion about its affiliation, connections, or association with the federal government;
d) deceptively passes off its services as ones consumers have to pay for;
(e) misrepresents that Student Aid Center would take over consumers' loans;
(f) misrepresents to consumers that Student Aid Center could forgive consumers' loans and otherwise misrepresents its ability to reduce or eliminate student loan debt;
(g) misrepresents to consumers that they were
"approved" for student loan relief, and otherwise
misrepresents its ability to qualify borrowers
for government programs;
(h) misrepresents and leads consumers to believe that Student Aid Center would apply payments made to it to consumers' loans;
(i) misrepresents that the amount owed would go down;
(j) causes a likelihood of confusion by misrepresenting to consumers that they should provide their confidential loan PIN and other information to Student Aid Center, in part because of its ties to the federal government; (k) misrepresents that consumers signed powers of attorney forms in front of notaries public; and (l) engages in the other practices described in this Complaint.
These practices, and the others described above, violated Minn. Stat. § 332D.44. Further, by
failing to disclose and omitting material facts that Student Aid Center had a duty to disclose in
connection with the sale of its services, Student
Aid Center has further engaged in deceptive and
fraudulent practices in violation of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
DEBT SETTLEMENT SERVICES ACT
The State re-alleges all prior paragraphs of this Complaint.
In relevant part, Minn. Stat. § 332B.02, subd. 13 defines a "debt settlement services provider" as:
any person offering or providing debt settlement services to a debtor domiciled in this state, regardless of whether or not a fee is charged for the services and regardless of whether the person maintains a physical presence in the state.
The term includes any person to whom debt
settlement services are delegated.
In turn, Minn. Stat. § 332B.02, subd. 10 de
fines "debt settlement services" as:
(1) offering to provide advice, or offering to act or acting as an intermediary between a debtor and one or more of the debtor's creditors, where the primary purpose of the advice or action is to obtain a settlement for less than the full amount of debt, whether in principal, interest, fees, or
other charges, incurred primarily for personal, family, or household purposes including, but not limited to, offering debt negotiation, debt reduction, or debt relief services; or
(2) advising, encouraging, assisting, or
counseling a debtor to accumulate funds in an account for future payment of a reduced amount of debt to one or more of the debtor's creditors.
Any person so engaged or holding out as so engaged is deemed to be engaged in the provision of debt settlement services, regardless of whether or not a fee is charged for such services.
Student Aid Center is a "debt settlement services provider" as defined in Minn. Stat. § 332B.02,
subd. 13, because it:
(a) offers to act, and holds itself out as acting, as an intermediary between consumers and their student loan creditors, where the primary purpose is to reduce the amount of their student loan debt; and (b) advises some consumers that
payments to Student Aid Center will go toward the payment of their student loans, at a reduced
amount, and it holds itself out as accumulating funds in an account for future payment of a reduced student loan debt.
As a debt settlement services provider, Student Aid Center must adhere to Minnesota's statute governing debt settlement services, known as the Debt Settlement Services Act. Minn. Stat. §§ 332B.02-14.
As a debt settlement services provider, Student Aid Center has engaged in multiple, separate violations of the Debt Settlement Services Act, including but not limited to the following:
Operating as a debt settlement service provider or providing debt settlement services without first becoming registered with the Minnesota
Commissioner of Commerce, in violation of
Minn. Stat. § 332B.03;
Performing, or imposing charges or receiving payment for, debt settlement services before Student Aid Center and the debtor have executed a debt settlement services agreement with all required terms, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 332B.06;
Imposing or collecting payment pursuant to a debt settlement services agreement before the debt settlement services provider has fully performed all of the debt settlement services contained in the agreement and any additional services the debt settlement services provider has agreed to perform, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 332B.09, subd. 3;
Executing power of attorney forms that extinguish or limit the debtor's right at any time to contract or communicate with any creditor or the
creditor's right at any time to communicate with the debtor in violation of Minn. Stat. §332B.10(5);
Exercising or attempting to exercise a power of attorney after an individual has terminated an agreement in violation of Minn. Stat.
Making false, deceptive, or misleading statements or omissions about the rates, terms, or conditions of an actual or proposed debt settlement services plan, or creating likelihood of consumer confusion or misunderstanding regarding its service, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 332B.11, subd. 1(1);
Giving the impression that Student Aid Center is acting on behalf of a government agency in violation of Minn. Stat. § 332B.11, subd. 1(3);
Advising, counseling, or encouraging a debtor to stop paying a creditor, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 332A.14(3), as incorporated by Minn. Stat. § 332B.10(1). Minn. Stat. § 332B.13, subds. 1 and 5 provide that a violation of any of the
provisions of the Debt Settlement Services Act
is an unfair or deceptive trade practice under
Minn. Stat. § 8.31, subd. 1, and that the Attorney
General may enforce the Debt Settlement Services Act under Minn. Stat. § 8.31.
Pursuant to Minn. Stat. §§ 8.31, 332B.13, and other authority, the Court may award injunctive relief, restitution, civil penalties, costs, attorneys' fees, and other equitable relief by reason of Student Aid Center's violations of Minn. Stat. §§ 332B.02-.14.
RELIEF WHEREFORE, the State of Minnesota, by its Attorney General,respectfully asks this Court to award judgment against Student Aid Center as follows:
Declaring that Student Aid Center's actions, as set forth above, constitute multiple violations of Minn. Stat. §§ 325D.44, 325F.69, and 332B.02-.14;
Enjoining Student Aid Center and its employees, officers, directors, agents, successors, assignees, affiliates, merged or acquired predecessors, parent or controlling entities,
subsidiaries, and all other persons acting in concert or participation with it, from engaging in conduct in violation of Minn.
Stat. §§ 325D.44, 325F.69, and 332B.02-.14;
Awarding judgment against Student Aid Center for restitution under the parens patriae doctrine, the general equitable powers of this Court, Minn. Stat. § 8.31, and other authority, for all persons injured by Student Aid Center's acts described in this Complaint;
Awarding judgment against Student Aid Center for civil penalties pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 8.31, subd. 3, for each separate violation of Minnesota law;
Awarding the State its costs, including costs of investigation and attorney's fees, as authorized by Minn. Stat. § 8.31, subd. 3a; and
Granting such further relief as provided
by law or as the Court deems appropriate
For further assistance please contact
Office of Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson
1400 Bremer Tower
445 Minnesota Street
St. Paul, MN 55101
TTY: (651) 297-7206
BBB has nothing to report concerning Student Aid Center, Inc.'s advertising at this time.
Type of Entity
Incorporated: April 2013, FL
Business ManagementPrincipal: Mr. Ramiro Moris (Co-President)Mr. Damien Alvarez (Co-President)Mr. Lino Morales
Credit - Debt Consolidation Services, Debt Repayment Plan, Data Processing Service, Student Loan Consolidation
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