Contra Costa District Attorney Mark Peterson announced the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office, in conjunction with the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office, filed a Complaint and Stipulated Judgment in the Monterey Superior Court, against Debt Free Associates, LLC, a California Limited Liability Company, for numerous law violations involving the business of debt relief and settlement.
The following information is from D.A. Mark Peterson:
Over the past several years, both offices received numerous consumer complaints alleging that Debt Free Associates, LLC, would take their fees upfront and fail to resolve the consumer’s debt. The fees usually ranged in the thousands of dollars. Additionally, Debt Free Associates, LLC, failed to give the required notice to consumers of the consumer’s three day right to cancel as required by the law surrounding home solicitation contracts.
As a result of lengthy negotiations, the parties agreed to resolve the matter by, inter alia, requiring Debt Free Associates, LLC to offer and pay full refunds to all eligible consumers in California. Additionally, Debt Free Associates, LLC was enjoined from engaging in similar practices in the future and is to pay a total of $40,000.00 in civil penalties and costs.
Refund eligible clients of Debt Free Associates, LLC, will be receiving a letter in the mail, and an email if the email address is known, advising the client of his/her right to a refund. The burden will then be on the client to fill out the required application form which will be included in the letter or attached to the email. A “refund eligible client” is defined as people who entered into an agreement for debt settlement services with Debt Free Associates, LLC, during the period of December 20, 2008 through May 21, 2013 and were residents of California during that time. Excluded from this definition are people who successfully completed Debt Free Associates, LLC’s program or who previously received a full refund. We urge all eligible consumers to take advantage of this refund provision.
“Businesses should not profit by preying on people struggling with consumer debt”, said Mark Peterson, District Attorney of Contra Costa County. “When a business entices consumers by promising to save them thousands of dollars by signing up with their company, takes their fees up front and fails to resolve any of the consumer’s debts, these unconscionable practices must be put to an end. We cannot allow these unscrupulous businesses to prey upon the poor indebted members of our community.”