The Show Me state has told a Florida debt settlement company to not show its face within its borders in the future.
Under a court judgment, Vortex Debt Group will no longer accept any business from Missourians and will refund fees paid by Missouri consumers who submit complaints to the Missouri Attorney General’s Office within one year.
Deceptive and unfair practices
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster filed the complaint against the company, accusing it of engaging in deceptive and unfair practices by promising to reduce consumers’ debt. First, says Koster, the company took significant fees from consumers in exchange for this claimed service, and failed to actually reduce consumers’ debts. This often left consumers with more debt and less money, Koster said.
“Debt-settlement companies promise to help people reduce their debt load, but in fact these companies take significant fees from consumers without providing the promised debt relief,” Koster said. “I urge Missourians experiencing debt problems to contact a not-for-profit consumer counseling agency or to seek competent legal representation from a consumer bankruptcy attorney in order to deal with debt-related issues.”
About 300 Missouri consumers will get letters from the Attorney General's Office in the coming weeks, telling them they may be due refunds. The case is one of the latest by states that have begun to crackdown on companies, advertising on satellite radio, cable TV and the Internet, making unrealistic promises to debt-ridden consumers.
Last month Washington State reached an $800,000 settlement with California-based Freedom Debt Relief, resolving charges it violated Washington’s Consumer Protection and Debt Adjusting Acts.
“We’re paying special attention to operations that take advantage of people who, due to this tough economy, are already struggling to put food on the table and keep the lights on,” Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna said. “Failing to inform customers that their credit may be ruined and taking illegal fees -- when those individuals are making a good-faith effort to settle their debts – are practices that we aim to stop.