An administrator working for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is mailing checks to 360 consumers who were victims of Innovative Systems Technology doing business as Briggs & Baker. The operation claimed it could "drastically" reduce consumers' debt by negotiating directly with creditors.
The FTC charged that Briggs & Baker's ads were false and misleading and that as a result of purchasing its debt negotiation services, consumers' credit ratings suffered, their total debt increased, and that some consumers even became the target of legal action.
Jami of Inglewood, CA, is among those who got clipped. "I contacted Briggs & Baker after I heard their radio ad on KNX 1070," she writes ConsumerAffairs.com. "I was approx $50,000 in debt and did not want to file for bankruptcy. This company stole around $4,000 from me to work with my creditors. They did absolutely nothing for me but ruin my credit even more. I almost lost my home. I did have to eventually file for bankruptcy."
Clobbered in California
The company has a history of legal problems in California.
In 2003, then-Attorney General Bill Lockyer filed a lawsuit charging, Briggs & Baker with violating state laws that prohibiting false and misleading advertising and unlawful, unfair or deceptive business practices.
"This firm and its ads preyed on consumers, who paid thousands of dollars to rid themselves of crushing debt," said Lockyer. "Instead, Briggs & Baker left its customers with more debt, ruined credit histories and sometimes no choice but to file for bankruptcy. And when those customers tried to get their money back, Briggs & Baker left them out in the cold."
The complaint asked the court to order Briggs & Baker to provide refunds to customers who paid for services they did not receive, and to permanently prohibit the firm from engaging in the deceptive practices.
As a result of the FTC settlement, Briggs & Baker customers will receive refund checks for $104.09. The checks can be cashed directly by their recipients. The FTC never requires the payment of money up-front, or the provision of additional information, before consumers cash refund checks issued to them.
Consumers who have questions or believe they were victims of Briggs & Baker, but who did not receive a refund check from the FTC may contact the fund administrator at 1-866-535-1622. Consumer may also visit our debt consolidation guide for additional information.