Recently we wrote about a number of mortgage modification scheme advertisers who were targeting struggling consumers through Google, Yahoo and Bing. And now it turns out that a Florida-based company was also making false promises to consumers by taking fees and not following through with promised debt relief.
According to a recent refund agreement, United Financial Systems was telling customers that by paying a certain amount each month, the company would be able to restructure or reduce the person's debts. However, the company was in turn taking the monthly payments, and then not giving it to the consumer's creditors on time. In some cases, United Financial Systems was also failing to make the payments all together.
After an investigation into the company, United Financial Services has agreed to refund approximately 500 consumers more than $595,000. In addition to the refunds, the company is also facing a fine of $500,000 in civil penalties.
This recent settlement also means that United Financial Services, and its representatives, are no longer allowed to work in the fields of debt consolidation, debt settlement or credit counseling in Florida.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said that when it came to United Financial Systems, the consumers who were coming to the company for help were already financially stressed. Many of those ended up in even worse debt situations when the company failed to live up to its promises and refund them.
Overall, this recent Florida case highlights the importance of making sure to seek reputable advice and help when it comes to any kind of debt relief or debt consolidation.
Source: The Palm Beach Post, "Boca debt-counseling firm agrees to refund customers," Susan Salisbury, Dec. 14, 2011