Did I Get Scammed by Federal Debt Assistance Association?

Question:

Dear Steve,

I received the exact letter depicted in your article about the Federal Debt Assistance Association back in December of 2016.

I was unemployed for the first four months of 2016 so it was convenient when a “friend” of mine broke up with his girlfriend as my lease was coming up, and I moved in with him to cut my expenses in half. Unfortunately, he lost his job the month I moved in leaving him unable to pay his portion of the $2,400 monthly rent. I paid it, but drained my savings and racked up about $25k in credit card debt.

I was getting back on my feet in December but after repeated calls and letters, decided to give FDAAP a chance as the appearance of their letters and verbiage written made me think they were affiliated with the government.

I have all the documentation including the letter with what appeared to be a government seal. I signed with them back in February, paid $1,000 up front and have been paying them $500/month since then. They advised me to stop payment on the three cards with the most debt, and they provided me a form to send to each company requesting that they only contact me by mail moving forward.

I was told to keep detailed records of collection calls from the creditors, which I did, and the calls dissipated 90 day after I mailed in the mail communication request forms. I’ve scanned all documents to them, but cannot get firm answers regarding the progress of the debt validation process they promised would take the $25k I owed and reduce it to $15k which I would pay to them in $500 increments for the next 24 months.

It is difficult to get anyone on the phone and they are very slow to respond via email. When they do respond, I cannot get any straight answers.

I am now in a panic and wondering what I can do to get out of the contract, or who I can contact to assist me with what I’m now realizing was/is a total scam?

Dan

Answer:

Dear Dan,

Well it looks like the website for FDAASSOCIATION.ORG is offline. I’m not sure if they are having temporary server issues or they’ve vanished.

It sounds like they sold you into the garden variety debt settlement solution and asked you to watch for Fair Debt Collection Practice Act (FDCPA) violations.

Public records say the company domain name is registered to:

Registrant Name: Robert Pantoulis
Registrant Organization: Federal Debt Assistance Association, LLC
Registrant Street: 11615 Crossroads Circle, Suite M
Registrant City: Baltimore
Registrant State/Province: Maryland
Registrant Postal Code: 21220
Registrant Country: US
Registrant Phone: +1.8777777845
Registrant Phone Ext:
Registrant Fax: +1.8884556089
Registrant Fax Ext:
Registrant Email: directors@fdaa1.com

The BBB is reporting:

MISUSE OF BBB NAME AND/OR LOGO

In March 2017, it was brought to the attention of BBB that the business was utilizing the BBB Torch symbol in the email signatures of their employees. This business location is not accredited by this BBB and our policies prohibit such a reference.

PATTERN OF COMPLAINTS

As of March 2017, BBB files indicate that this business has a pattern of complaints concerning deceptive advertising (consumers allege they were deceived by the company’s marketing materials that the business was affiliated with a government agency), high pressure sales tactics, high up-front fees for service, and poor customer service.

BBB requested for the business to review and respond to these complaint allegations and provide an action plan for how to eliminate the underlying cause for the pattern of complaints. To date, the business has failed to provide a response to this request. – Source

I’m afraid it’s not looking good to expect an anticipated outcome from this situation.

The last cached Contact and About Us pages appear to be from five days ago.

Rather than get volcanic at this moment I would suggest you follow my guide How to Try to Get a Refund From a Debt Relief Company.

According to the State of Maryland, where the Federal Debt Assistance Association says they are located, the company is NOT IN GOOD STANDING. The State of Maryland says that means ““Not in Good Standing” means the business entity is not in compliance with one or more Maryland laws that apply to businesses and their responsibilities in this State. The status can be returned to Good Standing by addressing the manner in which the business is out of compliance.” – Source

But it appears the reason for the NOT IN GOOD STANDING status may be because of the lack of their first annual filing. The company was registered in Maryland on January 14, 2016 and not other documents are on file about the company.

When you contact the company you might also want to send a copy to another address they list on their Maryland filing:

Federal Debt Assistance Association
9904 Harford Road
Parkville, MD 21234

You might also want to look at my Get Out of Debt Calculator and you may come to the conclusion that bankruptcy will be a lot faster and cheaper than the current path you are on especially if the company has bailed on you.

Steve Rhode

Get Out of Debt GuyTwitter, G+, Facebook

If you have a credit or debt question you’d like to ask, just click here and ask away.

This article by Steve Rhode first appeared on Get Out of Debt Guy and was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.