BBB Warns: Illinois Funeral Home Loses $16,000 After Hiring California Firm To Collect Debts

  
     
An Illinois funeral home president says his firm lost $16,000 when it hired debt collection firm Financial Adjustment Solutions of Woodland Hills, Calif., the BBB warns.
September 18, 2013
 Nathan Lee
Nathan Lee, president of McDaniel Funeral Home in Sparta, Ill., says the company lost $16,000 after hiring Financial Adjustment Solutions of Woodland Hills, Calif.

St. Louis, Mo., Sept. 4, 2013 – The owner of a Southern Illinois funeral home is among several business people nationwide who said they see no evidence that they received any services after paying a California debt collector thousands of dollars to recover customer debts.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is advising extreme caution when dealing with Financial Adjustment Solutions of Woodland Hills, Calif.

“I gave them every last dime I had,” said the Sparta, Ill., funeral home operator who paid Financial Adjustment Solutions $16,000 on promises the firm would collect past-due funeral bills from three families. “I don’t believe they have done anything.”

Michelle Corey, BBB president and CEO, said the case is unusual in that the complaints are coming from small businesses who hired the debt collector. Typically, the BBB receives complaints from consumers claiming they were harassed by collectors.

“This company is taking money saying they will collect on bills, but then offering no evidence that they are doing anything,” she said. “No business can afford to pay for empty promises.”

BBB complaints against Financial Adjustment Solutions are similar to complaints filed against a group of now-defunct California-based debt collection companies. Those companies and their operators and managers were targets of court action by the Federal Trade Commission.

Earlier this year, the last of the defendants in the case against Rumson, Bolling & Associates agreed to a court settlement that permanently banned them from the debt collection business. The FTC case alleged that three debt collection companies, their owner, David M. Hynes II, and the companies’ principals subjected consumers to abusive debt collection practices and deceived small business clients.  The defendants were ordered to pay a total of $1.1 million.

That case generated nationwide publicity after a Belleville, Ill., woman shared recorded phone calls from a Rumson, Bolling & Associates bill collector. In the recordings, the collector told the woman that unless she paid an outstanding funeral bill, he was going to dig up her dead daughter and “hang her from a tree.”  He also threatened to shoot her dog and “eat him” and asked: “Are you going to pay this bill . . . or am I going to have to kill you.”

The owner of the Illinois funeral home said he agreed to allow Financial Adjustment Solutions collect customer debt only after several unsolicited and high-pressure phone calls.  Representatives of Financial Adjustment Solutions assured him that they had found bank assets and life insurance proceeds that they could freeze in order to collect the debt. However, they demanded that the funeral home to pay upfront for legal fees. The funeral home owner said Financial Adjustment Solutions told him that the company also could recoup the legal fees.

Since the payments were made in February, Financial Adjustment Solutions has provided no evidence that they have made any effort to collect the debt, the funeral home owner said.

A Farmington, Mo., businesswoman said she paid the company $750 more than a year ago for debt collection work. “They have not called us one time since we paid them the money,” she said.

A heating and cooling contractor from Twin Falls, Idaho, said he paid the company more than $8,600 for debt collection work in July 2012 after receiving several calls from the firm soliciting business. He said he feels “suckered. It makes you sick to your stomach,” he said.

An Aberdeen, Md., diesel engine repair business paid the firm $7,400 for legal fees to help collect past-due bills. A year later, a company official said, he has no proof Financial Adjustment Solutions has done anything. “They talk a real good story,” he said.

The BBB has left telephone and email messages for the company, but they were not returned.

The BBB offers the following advice to businesses looking to hire a debt collection company:

  • Be wary of unsolicited phone calls, emails or faxes from collectors seeking your business.
  • Ask for any agreement in writing and do not rely on oral promises that are not part of a written agreement.
  • Ask for references and contact them about their experience with the company.
  • Be cautious about making upfront payments to debt collection companies. 
  • Ask exactly how they will attempt to collect the debt. Get assurances that they abide by the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
  • Check the company’s BBB Business Review by going to www.bbb.org or by calling 314-645-3300.

Contacts (News Media Only): Michelle Corey, President & CEO, 314-645-0606, mcorey@stlouisbbb.org, or Chris Thetford, Vice President-Communications, 314-584-6743, communications@stlouisbbb.org, or Bill Smith, Trade Practice Investigator, 314-584-6727, tpc1@stlouisbbb.org

About BBB

BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. All BBB services to consumers are free of charge. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Reviews on more than 5.3 million businesses, 11,000 Charity Reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust.  Please visit www.bbb.org for more information.