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People near bankruptcy became victims of debt relief scheme

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) takes complaints from consumers about financial institutions and their products. This includes consumers here in New Jersey and around the country who are dealing with debt relief companies, creditors and collection agencies. For the first time since its creation, the CFPB was instrumental in bringing to justice people involved in a debt relief scheme who were taking advantage of people who were near bankruptcy.

No fewer than 1,200 people reported a company, Mission Settlement Agency, to the CFPB. Like other legitimate debt relief agencies, clients were promised help with payment of their debts to lending institutions and credit card companies. However, over the course of approximately five years, the company took money from people under the guise of settling their debts. Fees were collected, but the customers' debts remained.

As a result, the victims' credit reports were damaged, some ended up with homes in foreclosure and some even filed for bankruptcy. It could take years for many of the company's victims to recover financially. The owner of the business was recently sentenced to prison for nine years.

New Jersey residents who are struggling with their finances are often looking for debt relief options. They may need to be careful with whom they entrust their financial futures, or they could end up in worse shape than they were in before. For many people, bankruptcy could be a better option for dealing with their money troubles. Not only is there no risk of being the victim of a debt relief scam, but once the bankruptcy is concluded, filers would have a clean slate with which to begin a new financial life.

Source: mpamag.com, "Debt relief company receives first criminal sentencing from CFPB referral", Nov. 25, 2014

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