‘Debt relief’ company puts woman deeper in debt – NBC Chicago


It’s an industry that often paints itself as a life-preserver for those drowning in debt.

“Debt relief” or “credit repair” companies often promise a quick fix to things like a bad credit score or unmanageable credit card debt. 

NBC 5 Responds finds that many of their promises are simply too good to be true. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic and in the midst of a divorce, Jodi Ford found herself in debt.

“It’s very, very stressful. Just wanting to put the past behind you, from a financial perspective as well,” said Ford, from a suburb of Atlanta. “There’s a lot of bills that get split up.

Ford turned to a Chicago ‘debt relief agency’ called Turnbull Law group. She liked how they presented themselves as attorneys.

“Something that really stuck out to me was the fact that they had “Law Group” in their name. I was facing at the time, probably approximately $40,000. And I was promised that it could be cut in half,” said Ford, who says she confirmed she was working with a licensed attorney from Turnbull.

The company was supposed to negotiate her debt down with her creditors. In turn, she made monthly payments to Turnbull, which she was told were going towards her balances. Ford was told Turnbull’s fees would be paid gradually.

“My understanding was they were planning to take a small percentage over an initial period of time,” said Ford.

Over 18 months, Ford paid Turnbull more than $13,000, with only $2,300 of the money paid actually going toward her growing debts.

“My divorce attorney, she was the one that was able to find in the paperwork where they were actually taking the fees up front before they started paying the creditors,” said Ford.

The Better Business Bureau issued a warning about Turnbull Law Group, stating they’ve noticed a pattern of complaints exactly like Ford’s.

They currently have 52 complaints against Turnbull, with most of those filed within the past year.

After paying $13,000 to Turnbull, Ford says she had to hire a personal attorney to untangle her finances. That attorney finally began to negotiate down the rest of her growing debt. It’s something the BBB says you can do yourself.

“Contact your creditors, the lender itself directly. Everybody avoids them, they hang up on them. We want you to talk to them, their interest is to help you to get their money, and they may give you some type of relief,” Bernas said.

If that’s not an option and you need help consolidating your debt, the BBB suggests contacting a credit counseling organization, which are typically non profits. 

For Ford, that advice came too late. After paying Turnbull and a personal attorney to help negotiate her debt, she was left worse off.

“It certainly is something that comes back to haunt me once in a while and I would hate for anybody else to have to go through that,” said Ford.

Turnbull Law Group did not return our request for comment.

While complaints about the debt and credit relief industry continue to skyrocket, keep a few things in mind: repairing your credit and paying down your debts takes time, so be weary of any company that tells you they can do it quickly.

For more information on debt relief companies, and tips on how to consolidate your debt, visit the BBB’s website.


Read More: ‘Debt relief’ company puts woman deeper in debt – NBC Chicago

2023-09-07 02:50:47

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