Monday, March 1, 2010
Help Me Howard: Debt Consolidation
Do you have credit card debt that you would love to see get whittled down or just go away. There are some companies that promise to reduce your debt, but instead they reduce something else, which is why one woman called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- If you think you have it bad listen to Shirley Smith.
Shirley Smith: "In November I lost my brother, and about three weeks later I lost my little niece and about two years ago I lost my mother."
That broke her heart, then her body started breaking down.
Shirley Smith: "I've had a stroke, my whole left side was out. I had to come back from that, and during that time I came up with cancer."
Shirley's life changed dramatically, but one thing stayed constant, the bills kept pouring in.
Shirley Smith: "It's pretty tight, money is tight."
Shirley then did what many people do to get through hard times, pulled out her credit cards.
Shirley Smith: "I charged on the cards for gas, medicine, groceries, things I needed and didn't have the cash for at the time."
The credit card bills piled up, reaching $4,000. Then Shirley got a call from a so-called debt mediation company that promised to take care of those bills.
Shirley Smith: "They were suppose to bring the credit card debt down to a settlement and I was going to pay it off."
They never told Shirley exactly how low her $4,000 credit card bill would go. Just that they would get her out of debt, restore her good credit rating and they told her, when the credit card companies try to contact you, don't talk to them.
Shirley Smith: "You don't have to worry about it and if they call you don't say anything just hang the phone up."
Shirley started paying the debt consolidation company $206 a month, but after seven months of paying she started answering the calls from the credit card companies who told her that no one had paid them anything.
Shirley Smith: "Nothing except took my money."
Shirley called the debt company to try to get back the $1400 she had paid them and to give them a piece of her mind.
Shirley Smith: "You're taking from me, the money that I need to buy my medication and to pay the credit card companies back."
The debt reduction company refused to pay her $1400 back, and now refuses to talk to her. She has battled a stroke, cancer, but the debt mediation company has really disgusted her.
Shirley Smith: "I'm not important, you just got my $1400 and it doesn't mean anything to you."
Well Howard, you sign up for debt reduction and get further in debt. Legally what can you do?
Howard Finkelstein: "In this case, Shirley is entitled to get back every dollar she gave the company because they did nothing. Here's the problem, many companies are hard to find and getting money from them is almost impossible."
We called Global Financial Group in Las Vegas, Nevada, they always told us they would call us back and never did. The address the company lists doesn't exist, and the Nevada bar has never heard of the so-called law firm.
The Nevada attorney general's office told us it's probably an offshore operation. Meaning they work out of another country. Florida's attorney general's office says they are reviewing several complaints about Global Financial Group right now. It all seems to indicate Shirley won't get her $1400 back.
Howard Finkelstein: "One of the oldest legal maxim's is the Latin phrase, caveat emptor, which means let the buyer beware. In short, if a company is promising you something you can't do, be very careful."
The person hurt the most of course, the person who could afford it the least. The person who has been through the most, but the person still with the great attitude.
Shirley Smith: "Life is wonderful. Don't take anything for granted. Nothing, because you can have the world today, this hour, and the next hour everything could be totally gone."
Now, while I was writing this story, someone assured me that there are good debt consolidation companies. I am sure there are, but we don't hear about them. People don't call us when a business does what it is paid to do, just when it doesn't.
Patrick and Howard also want to remind people, there are many companies-- including some in South Florida-- named Global Financial Group that are legitimate and have nothing to do with the Las Vegas company being checked out by the Florida Attorney General.
Broke and see no way of cashing in? Consolidate your concerns and call us. You wont be indebted to us or have to give us credit. When we say we are free we mean it.
CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org (Please include your contact phone number when emailing)
REPORTER: Patrick Fraser at email@example.com