FTC Charges Debt Manager With DNC Violations

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A federal judge placed a restraining order on a debt management firm and its affiliates facing a civil complaint of deception and violations of the national no-call list, the Federal Trade Commission said yesterday.

Debt Management Foundation Services, Largo, FL, sent prerecorded messages to consumer answering machines promising that they had been pre-approved for a credit card debt consolidation program and could receive interest rates as low as 1.5 percent, according to the FTC. Consumers paid up to $1,000 in upfront fees and $20 to $49 per month.

Consumers who paid the fees received paperwork to apply for debt management services from another entity, the FTC said, and monthly payment amounts and interest rates quoted to consumers by Debt Management Foundation Services often turned out to be unavailable.

Debt Management Foundation Services also falsely claimed to be a nonprofit, the FTC said. The organization also marketed the offer on a Web site.

Debt Management Foundation Services is accused of violating the FTC Act, the Telemarketing Sales Rule and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley act, the FTC said. In addition to the restraining order, U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Kovachevich in Tampa froze the assets of Debt Management Foundation Services and appointed a receiver.

Affiliated entities also charged in the case include: One Star Marketing Inc.; Debt Specialist of America Inc.; Ameridebt Group Inc.; and Credit Counseling Specialists of America Inc. Three individuals were charged: Dale Buird Jr., president of Debt Management Foundation Services; Shawn Buird, his brother; and their father, Dale Buird Sr.

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