Debt Settlement: Fraudulent, Abusive, and Deceptive Practices Pose Risk to Consumers

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Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "As consumer debt has risen to historic levels, a growing number of for-profit debt settlement companies have emerged. These companies say they will negotiate with consumers' creditors to accept a lump sum settlement for 40 to 60 cents on the dollar for amounts owed on credit cards and other unsecured debt. However, there have been allegations that some debt settlement companies engage in fraudulent, abusive, or deceptive practices that leave consumers in worse financial condition. For example, it has been alleged that they commonly charge fees in advance ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. April 22, 2010.

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Description

Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "As consumer debt has risen to historic levels, a growing number of for-profit debt settlement companies have emerged. These companies say they will negotiate with consumers' creditors to accept a lump sum settlement for 40 to 60 cents on the dollar for amounts owed on credit cards and other unsecured debt. However, there have been allegations that some debt settlement companies engage in fraudulent, abusive, or deceptive practices that leave consumers in worse financial condition. For example, it has been alleged that they commonly charge fees in advance of settling debts or without providing any services at all, a practice on which the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently announced a proposed ban due to its harm to consumers. The Committee asked for an investigation of these issues. As a result, GAO attempted to (1) determine through covert testing whether these allegations are accurate; and, if so, (2) determine whether they are widespread, citing specific closed cases. To achieve these objectives, GAO conducted covert testing by calling 20 companies while posing as fictitious consumers; made overt, unannounced site visits to several companies called; interviewed industry stakeholders; and reviewed information on federal and state legal actions. GAO did not use the services of the companies it called or attempt to verify the facts regarding all of the allegations it found."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • April 22, 2010

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  • June 11, 2014, 5:03 a.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. Debt Settlement: Fraudulent, Abusive, and Deceptive Practices Pose Risk to Consumers, text, April 22, 2010; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc294105/: accessed October 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.