More Ameridebt Complaint Letters
Written by: Kristy Welsh
Since posting our article on AmeriDebt, I have gotten some interesting feedback emails. Especially interesting were letters from former clients of Ameridebt. We thought they might prove interesting (and informative) to you.
The following letters are just the best of literally hundreds we have received about Ameridebt and companies like them. We can't print them all. Unless otherwise noted, the company these emails are talking about is Ameridebt.
I just found your site and was reviewing the debt consolidation topic, more specifically AmeriDebt.
I am a mortgage lender/banker and thought I would point out a FACT that is rarely disclosed regarding Counsomer Credit Counseling Services, or "The Three Consumer" as we refer to it in the industry.
Applicants with a Bankruptcy or CCC reporting on credit are treated EXACTLY the same. Usually, an investor's underwriting guidelines have a section that reads something like this: "Previous Bankrupcty or CCCS, must be discharged X number of years..."
This fact seems to be almost unknown to the general public.
I just read the notes about Ameridebt. I realize that this all was written quite some time ago, but I was just on the phone With them this past week.
There were two things that I did not like, and thru up red flags. First, I requested on their web page to be contacted in the evenings. I had also supplied my work number, and that is where they called me, a bit inconvenient since I share an office, and am usually very busy. That was just basically an annoyance. The second thing was the application. They wanted to fax it. That didn't seem to odd at first, until I couldn't get the fax working on my computer at home. They called again to get a fax number, when I informed them that I couldn't make the fax work on the computer, and I would like it to be mailed, the person became downright rude. Insisted that they only use bulk mail, could mail since it would take so long to arrive. I then told the that would be fine, since I am still looking for the best deal, and researching this. They then became angry..., I was totally baffled by this response. I mentioned that I had already made some rather serious errors in judgment to get me into this situation. I am truly sure that a couple more weeks would not hurt. They insisted that it needed to be faxed, and after I was emphatic about not using my companies fax machine, they suggested faxing it to Kinko's, Western Union, or a grocery store. I informed them that I was not going to pay to receive the application from one of those places. They became down right nasty then, and said apparently I didn't really want or need to do business with them, and hung up abruptly.
My first thought was are they involved in mail fraud somehow. I don't know if there is anything to support my idea or not, but I do know that there have been many scams caught because they used the US mail.
Could you please let me know if you have any updates on this company, and I wasn't sure if I should call there local BBB or their local IRS office. It was a creepy conversation at best, and I interpreted the call as a threat almost.
When my husband and I were both unemployed in December 1999 (my husband had been unemployed since June), we contact AmeriDebt thinking they could help us negotiate with creditors for some type of graduated payment schedule until we got back on our feet.
We had experiences similar to many of your emails, however. We received many calls on the verge of harrassing after my initial email requesting more information. When we didn't respond in the time frame they wanted, we started to receive numerous emails requesting our financial information - not asking us what information we wanted.
I did call one afternoon and give the customer service person our budget over the phone. I was also told the "donation" was not a donation, but a mandatory payment for administrative services in establishing the account, plus the mandatory $6 per creditor - which for us at 15 creditors would have been pretty hefty.
They wouldn't help us after they found out we were subsisting on unemployment compensation, so I guess we were lucky.
I recently received a letter regarding a legal action with Infinity resources. I did a search and found your site and thought I'd add my 2 cents regarding Ameridebt/Infinity. I joined the Ameridebt program about a year and a half ago - I was post divorce and in up to my neck in debt. I was occasionally a day or two late on my credit card payments and saw that paying minimums would never allow me to get out of debt so I thought I'd give Ameridebt a try. Here is my experience with some advice and what to expect:
During the initial three month period Ameridebt comes up with a monthly amount that they think you will have to pay based on their past experience with your creditors. Some creditors are very cooperative, others, like Sears for example, say "forget it". Ameridebt did tell me this up front. So you have to look at this on a "net result" basis. Ameridebt was able to significantly reduce my interest rates overall. They came up with an initial monthly payment which they say might go up over the first couple of months. It has over time, but only a total change of about $35.00 was something I could afford. So far, so good.
The first payment I made was not applied to my creditors however. This fee was paid to Infinity. It is made to Infinity to monitor your accounts and to propose a lower interest loan to you in six months. As a result, from my creditors point of view, I was late a month. This is particularly disturbing if you were never late and contacted Ameridebt to preempt this condition! I takes Ameridebt time to contact the creditors. They don't do it until they receive the first payment. So we are in month two before Ameridebt really starts to do anything. The first 3 months are scary!
I never received a call from creditors prior to this. Boy was I in for some fun. Ameridebt warns you this can happen but it's no consolation when your creditors are threatening you. Maybe they should tell the creditors first. Expect the phone to ring during the "negotiation period". This is a major nuisance of the program. Ameridebt makes a few assumptions here that can be slightly damaging to you financially and psychologically. They seem to have a one size fits all approach to handling things. They assume you are already receiving calls from your creditors and if you are not that you would have anyway. You have to be late for them to negotiate a lower interest rate. It's almost like they are handing out parachutes and need you to be falling before they can give you one - so if you are still hanging on they tell you to jump! It's a "things will get worse before they get better" attitude. Well things are already bad! Don't add insult to injury! But if you are already receiving calls its going to take a few months before they stop so be prepared.
Something to keep in mind: when you make a decision to go with this program your ability to receive any new credit is frozen. I had to replace my car when 'ol bessie' died. Although I could clearly afford the payments I could not get a decent loan - your beacon score is probably crummy, potential creditors will see you are on a credit counseling program. Many creditors view this as a precursor to bankruptcy. Which is unfortunate because it is exactly what you are trying to prevent. My debt is big. If you can, get a second job or put in some overtime and really try to solve your debt problem. If that doesn't help, then use an Ameridebt type program, but only as a last resort. Ameridebt is not a quick fix, it is a long term solution.
Well after a few months the phone calls stop and you have a negotiated amount you pay every month. But new problems crop up. One is that there may be conflicts with the disbursements you send to Ameridebt. Creditor "A" is happy receiving it say the 1st of every month, while creditor "B" seems to be getting it a day late. Of course creditor "B" doesn't like that and starts tacking on late fees! Sometimes the creditors will deal directly with you, and sometimes they won't. I had to call Ameridebt and that opens up other issues. Some CSR's are excellent, while other's clearly don't have a clue. I found that to be very, very, frustrating. They promise call backs that never happen, sometimes it takes hours to reach someone. Some moron actually called me at work and left a message with the receptionist, "Rob, please call Ameridebt!". They could have easily left me a message at home. You have to tell them not to call you at work, especially for issues that don't require an immediate answer.
Eventually these type of issues get worked out but it seems I had to make 3 or 4 phone calls in the middle of the day to take of them. Expect to do this every couple of months. I don't think I have ever spoken to the same person twice at Ameridebt. You often get the feeling that the person you are speaking to doesn't particularly care. I frequently got a boilerplate response that I knew would not handle my specific problem completely. In other words, they receive these types of calls a lot.
THE BIG ISSUE - this is all done supposedly to set you up for one consolidation loan that Infinity will give you at a good rate. In other words, "If you build a good credit history with us, we will reward you with this loan from Infinity." Initially my thoughts were, "Okay I'll deal with all this nonsense for now, because soon I'll be getting this consolidation loan from Infinity and all will be good." Not! Supposedly Infinity has been busy monitoring your payment history like busy beavers for the first six months. Pure nonsense! It's only when you submit a request in writing they put in a request to Ameridebt for your payment history. Then I received a letter (after 3 months!) stating they could offer me a loan for 18% but they wouldn't recommend it because the reduced amount the creditors have given me was about 12% on average. Huge difference when you are talking about a $20,000 loan. What a let-down. I make my payments to them religiously and have never been late. That initial fee payment and resulting late condition was for nothing! They suggested I re-apply in the future. That really gave me the feeling of being taken advantage of. These credit counseling outfits give you the impression that they are "non-profit" and consumer advocates. Very misleading.
Initially, my fast talking credit counselor (who I have never been able to get a hold of again) told me that the goal was to get me that low interest loan. Again I was mislead into thinking that this person would be there to help in the future. I wonder how many loans Infinity has made to Ameridebt leads? Any? At what rate? What is the debt ratio of the people they have made loans to? They should have a better defined answer for people at the very beginning of the process.
Well apparently there has been enough complaints that the DC government sued them. I received a letter from Infinity stating: "As a result of the settlement of a legal action brought on by the District of Columbia government, you are entitled to a refund of all fees that you paid to Infinity Resources Group, Inc (Infinity) in excess of $200...", then continues, "By accepting this refund, you will be giving up any claims you may have against Infinity, Ameridebt, Inc, and their affiliates..." Gee, are they trying to head off something here I wonder?
I realize I am in a financial condition that only I am responsible for. However, Ameridebt and Infinity have an ethical and moral responsibility to be straightforward, particularly towards those having financial difficulties - both the debtors and the credit card companies. If Ameridebt could offer an alternative to Infinity my faith would be somewhat restored in them. Meanwhile should I trust that letter sent to me by Infinity and request a refund?
Unfortunately, the credit card companies will not bargain with you like they will with Ameridebt. And for those that do, one CSR at Ameridebt told me that they will grandfather in new debt reduction policies when you are on an a program - meaning you won't be affected if already on the plan. If you got your rates reduced on your own the credit card companies are more likely to nail you with new policy changes immediately. Truth or fiction? I don't know.
I am sure though that you must be committed to it and you must check your creditor's statements each and every month because you don't get any from Ameridebt. Check the balance and make sure the reduced interest rate is the same as what Ameridebt told you for every creditor. Your debt will go down faster on the plan with the reduced rates, and it is much easier making a single payment to Ameridebt (as long as you don't mind paying by money order).
One last point. There is another factor that adds to the confusion. Apparently credit card companies in the past would allow you to pay off half or part of the balance and they would consider the account settled. Not no more! Well one of the misinformed CSR's at Ameridebt actually told me that this was what the loan was for - indicating that I would get a loan for a principle of as much as half of what I owed. Thinking this sounded too good to be true, I asked her, "Are you sure?". After she hesitated, she said, "Um, I'm pretty sure." Well in a later conversation with an Ameridebt supervisor I found out she was so far from the truth it's scary. What I learned what that almost no credit companies will do this without putting a major scar on your credit report anymore. They may be willing to reduce the interest but they will not erase debt and let you get away with it. This is bad. Really bad. They need to improve the training of their staff at Ameridebt.
I know this is very long winded but I feel that if I knew this when I started, I could have been spared a lot of grief and stress. So hopefully passing this along will help others. Good luck.
With the exception of the letdown that Infinity offered a ridiculous interest rate for the personal loan after being on the program for six months, I have not had problems with dealing with Ameridebt. I started the program with them in the fall of 1997 and have two more years to go. Their representatives was very helpful and took the time to explain all of the aspects of the program. I had no trouble with any of my creditors moving over into the program.
After getting on the program, I too use Quicken to monitor their paying down my balances and so far we appear to be sinc. I review my credit card and loan statements each month and see the amounts being paid down. When a creditor is about to be paid off, I contact Ameridebt and request those dollars to go to the appropriate creditor. They have complied with my wishes with no problems.
I too paid Infinity my first payment of $625 and was disappointed when the interest rate they quoted, (I believe it was 21.% ) was ridiculous, I did not know any better at the time, so I stayed with Ameridebt...
I still would not have known there was a problem, except I just received a letter from Infinity Resources Group c/o Rust Counseling Inc. stating if I signed and returned their letter, I would receive a refund for the dollars paid to them in excess of $200. However, by accepting the refund, I would give up all claims against Infinity Ameridebt, inc. and their affiliates...etc..
My curiosity was aroused, so I searched the net for info and your site came up...Has anyone else received this letter?
Hi my name is Laurie. I'm with Ameridebt and have been for approx. 15 months. Since that time I have had all my payments late constantly. I did miss a month back in May when I was layed off, however, was back on track in June.
I asked if they could talk to the creditors to see if they could have them age the accounts to off set the extra month that keeps showing up late but guess what they said they would get back to me but never did.
I also have one creditor that at one point hadn't credited a payment for 4 months. Ameridebt said they made the payments but that it was my responsiblility to call the creditor to find out why. I said that if I am paying you a $5.00 per month per account fee it is your responsibility to check this out.
I have had customer server personnel be extremely rude, not return phone calls or when they do it is days later. I think as of today I am pulling out of Ameridebt.
They also pulled that stuff with the first payment going to Infinity. I never authorized it, yet they did it anyway. It took three months to straighten out and get the money back to my creditors, they kept insisting that I should keep my money there to get the loan to pay off the creditors but when I read Infinity fine print it states as you said a loan from 12% up to 21%. Also, in order to I think fix my feelings they waived the monthly service fees for 3 months after this fiscao was over for all my accounts. Bribe or not what do you think?
Thank you for posting this information. It has helped me make decision regarding Ameridebt and pulling out of their company.
First of all, just wanted to write to you and say how useful creditinfocenter.com has been in making my financial decisions. It has a lot of useful information and advice.
Second, I was also wanted to let you know about my run in with Ameridebt that just occurred about 5 minutes ago. I currently have a lot of debt that I'm trying to pay off. I decided to seek some help from a credit counselor and decided to go with Ameridebt since it "seemed" like a legit company. I applied online and within a day I got a call from the financial counselor. He sent a 7 page application via fax and asked me to fax it back within 48 hours. Since we are talking about my credit and my money, I thought this was a pretty big decision to make, so being the investigator that I am, I decided to do a bit of research about Ameridebt online. That's when I came across your site. After reading all the horror stories, my heart just sank and needless to say I was in shock. I am so very grateful I had come across your site or else I would have been in BIG trouble! On the faxed application, it said that (I'm paraphrasing here) if they didn't hear from me within 48 hours, my "spot" on the program will be removed. So I waited for the 48 hours had passed. Today (more than 48 hours later), I got a call from the financial counselor that was assigned to me at work. I was not in my office at the time, but he left a message asking whether or not I have received the application. He noticeably sounded very frustrated and upset that I had not contacted him. I called him back and let him know that I was not interested. After I professionally & politely declined, he asked for the reasons. I told him that I did not like some of the terms in the agreement (i.e. 3% of my debt will be paid to Ameridebt in fees and the fact that I couldn't use personal checks to pay Ameridebt). I also told him that I had read very unflattering things about Ameridebt on the internet. The financial counselor immediately threw a fit and starting yelling at me that I'm not making any sense and that only "HE" can save me money and that I'll be throwing away over $2000 of interest if I didn't go with Ameridebt.
I stood my ground and said that I was not interested in which he replied in a sarcastic tone, "Happy Holidays" and hung up. Now I am afraid that a.) I'll be contacted by Ameridebt attorneys or that other Ameridebt individuals will be calling to harrass me and b.) that he will use my personal information that I supplied on the application for some wrong doings. Perhaps I'm just being paranoid, but I don't want any surprises.
Anyway, I thought I'd pass along this bit of information on to you. And once again, you are doing a fabulous job with your web site. Keep up the good work!
Due to my personal experience with Ameridebt, I would advise everyone to run - don't walk - away from this program. When I joined the program, I could always get in touch with someone. After they received my information and first payment (donation), I couldn't get in touch with anyone, nor would anyone call me back after leaving message after message. I then wrote a letter demanding my money back due to their inaction, not keeping me informed of anything and not contacting my creditors. Still nothing. I sent them no more money after the initial fee and what do you know, I received a phone call. The gentleman ( I use that term loosely ) actually had the nerve to scold me for not making a payment and hollered at me to the point that I was so angry that I was shaking and hung up on him. A month later, a representative called saying she got my letter and asked what could she do to make me happy. I told her everything I had gone through since the beginning, and she promised me the moon. Shame on me for believing her. I never was able to contact her again ( or anyone else ). I did not send them any money since the initial payment and have pretty much chalked that $315.00 up to an expensive, but valuable lesson. I have since contacted all of my creditors to inform them that I am no longer involved with Ameridebt, but am still waiting for them to notify my creditors to inform them of this. One of them won't take my word for it even though I am making current payments, so it's another wait and see. Again, run - don't walk - away from anything Ameridebt represents.
Gibson Trust, Inc - June 2001
Let me share that I am currently working with a debt managment company named Gibson Trust, Inc. out of Pompano Beach, FL. I initiated this service in Jan. of 2001. The need for help was created by using credit cards and loans to keep my business going. When I started with Gibson, all my creditor accounts were current and my credit report was OK with only a few late payments marring it. Now, six months later, I am further in debt, I have angry creditors due to being behind, and my credit report is a disaster. On top of total negligence and non-performance, Gibson Trust further makes business a totally frustrating experience because getting someone on the phone requires literally hours of staying on hold. I have gone through 8 different reps and 2 "managers"---all with the same run-around and blatant lies about what they will do. I have been unable to reach any upper-level management---they do not respond to email, fax, or phone.
After 6 months of neglect and non-performance, I am now resolved to try to recover from Gibson through whatever channels are presented to me. I am seeking advice from anyone and everyone to determine the best strategy. I am hoping to accomplish satisfaction without the services of an attorney, but am willing to entertain any possibility. I just filed a complaint with the Florida Attorney General.
Financial Freedom Southwest - September 2001
I have never seen a more evident case of Buyer Beware as I have regarding these debt consolidators. On the premise of helping, poor consumers are milked out of money they need. I too was a victim. The company I went through was Financial Freedom Southwest. Since the story is too long, I will have to provide you a longer detailed report later.
I am interested in learning about any investigations against these companies and/or class action lawsuits. I think this would be a good addition to your site.
I leave you with this, BUYER BEWARE!!!
AmeriDebt, known as American Debt Counseling Association (ADCA) in 1998, destroyed me! I am still, to this day, recovering from the destruction. I am now seeing their advertisements on TV and it makes me sick to my stomach. In May of 1998, I joined AmeriDebt. In 90 days my pristine credit report was destroyed and I was in much more debt that I started with! I've read many of the emails complaining about AmeriDebt and they are all too familiar. I don't want to repeat what has already been reported, so I'll just mention a couple points. When I joined AmeriDebt, my counselor very strongly (almost to the point of harassment) recommended that I enroll in their consolidation loan program. The company that provided this loan was called Infinity Resources Group. After I discovered that I had been totally ripped off, I did some research. I discovered that the president of AmeriDebt and the president of Infinity Resources Group have the same last name. And it is not a common name! Sounds like quite a deal, here's my theory: One brother has this so-called non-profit organization that refers it's clients to the other brothers loan company. The brother with the loan company takes your payments and keeps them to cover their fees for so-called services, charge you just as much, if not more interest than the credit cards - then the brothers split the profits! I did not see any mention of this in your website, thought it was an interesting point.
Just one more interesting point: One of the many fees for services through Infinity was $150.00 (outrageous amount!) for Infinity to get my credit report. I immediately got a copy of my credit report and there is a section that lists all the companies that have recently Inquired about my credit. Infinity was not listed. Surprise, surprise, they lied to me.
Debt Management Credit Counseling Corp - Sept 2001
My wife and I enrolled in a company called debt management credit counseling corp. DMCC about two years ago. Everything SEEMED to great at first they got most of our interest rates lowered as they said they would and our monthly payment was lower than what our bills added together would have been. Once in a while we would get a notice from a crediter and we would call DMCC and they said they would handle it that it most likely crossed paths in the mail as I said we have done this for 2 years when we finally got a call from one creditor which we had 2 accts. We came to find out they had been making sporatic payments to and the backed late fees were almost as much as the original balance. We called DMCC and and they did negotiate with the creditor to have the late fees removed. That was a relief but how about our credit report when we called to ask what they would do to try to repair that seeing that all the bad marks were because of their sporatic payments they simply said that that wasn't there problem. When we enrolled in this program we only had one minor bad mark and part of the deal was that they would work to repair our credit we mainly enrolled to lower our monthly payments now we have lots of bad marks and are saving a few dollars a month. THANKS FOR YOUR WONDERFUL SERVICE DMCC. The only reason we have not unenrolled is the one acct. has lowered to 12% from 28% and upon unenrollment it will go back to 28%.
Hi. I found your site as I did a Boolean search on Ameridebt because this past Friday, I, myself learned about the scam. Iíll try to keep this as short and to the point as I can. When I first inquired about the company, I was told that there was a one-time CONTRIBUTION to Ameridebt, this was the same as the company that I was working with. I was unhappy with my previous company because they didnít offer many other services and I was constantly following up with them to be sure that theyíd follow through. So, realizing that I had nothing to lose if it was them same, why not join Ameridebt. Yes, Iíd have to make another one-time payment that went directly to Ameridebt, but, since I had to do this for the previous company, I was okay knowing that. My credit was so poor at the time and I had just had a baby that I never bothered to even look into my account with them any further and trusted the woman that I dealt with to get started as she was extremely nice and well, I guess that was my fault. I wanted to sign the agreement and get it right back to her so that I wouldnít lose any time. So, about a year goes byÖ
I need to inquire about my accounts as I am not receiving statements from two of them and I ask for my recent distributions report. Well, this opened up a whole new can of worms for me. Not only did I already pay the one-time so-called contribution, but, every month I was paying Ameridebt the largest payment on my account! When I called to find out why I was paying them, I was told yes, it is a once a month contribution. What I want to know is how it is considered a contribution when it is something you MUST pay. How could they take money from people who are already struggling! Then, I asked for a copy of my agreement to be faxed to me last Friday (10/12/01) amd I am still waiting for it and called again today to request it again. Then, I asked for the person who I set the account up with in the first place, naturally, sheís long gone. But, I can call her supervisor which I did also on Friday, and I am still waiting. I called her again today and will wait even longer I am sure.
To add insult to injury, I calculated what I am paying now and calculated when my debt would be paid off. If I keep paying Ameridebt their hefty $54.00 a month, I still have three years, if that money is re-distributed to the rest of my creditors, I only have two years left.
I am horrified, and cannot believe that I let it get to this point, but, I remember how much of a failure I felt like when I enlisted into the program and thought I was doing the right thing and taking the first step. Now, I realize that I have taken about a hundred steps back.
I will make sure that every one I know who even brings up the topic of debt counseling services will know just what Ameridebt does and how huge a scam their debt management program really is. And, to the comment about their customer service people, they truly are rude and donít think that $6 per account is a lot of money to simply push some buttons on a computer that disburse this re-occuring payment to my creditors I should realize that it is money well spent.
If you have had negative or positive experiences with debt consolidation companies, not just AmeriDebt, please let us know. We are especially interested in the debt consolidation companies who advertise on this site.