Local News

Debt relief firm agrees to end N.C. operations

Posted October 18, 2010 2:11 p.m. EDT

— A Florida-based debt relief company that collected more than $2.6 million in fees from North Carolina residents is no longer operating in the state, Attorney General Roy Cooper said Monday.

Cooper's office sued Consumer Law Group two weeks ago, alleging deceptive practices and illegal fees. Superior Court Judge Ripley Rand agreed last week to a preliminary injunction in the case that was agreed to by both sides.

“Consumers who are trying to pay off their debts deserve real help, not unlawful fees,” Cooper said in a statement. “It’s good this company has agreed to stop, but now they need to pay back the people they’ve hurt.”

Consumer Law Group promises in its online and radio ads and through its telemarketers to reduce people's debts by half and leave them debt-free without bankruptcy.

Most of the 3,000 North Carolina consumers who’ve paid the company have gotten little or no help settling their debts or working out payment plans with their creditors, Cooper said.

Under North Carolina law, it’s illegal to charge an upfront fee to help negotiate debts, also called debt adjusting or debt settlement. Some companies promising debt relief, including Consumer Law Group, have tried to get around the law by claiming to be law firms.

Cooper said the company also misled consumers to believe that its program is government-affiliated.