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‘Debt Settlement,’ My Foot, Class Says

SAN DIEGO (CN) - A federal class action claims Credit Solutions of America is "at the center" of the "emerging billion dollar industry" of "debt settlement," which is putting the already strained finances of thousands of Americans into a meat grinder. The class claims attorneys general in six states have sued the company, which takes money up front and does nothing while debtors' credit plunges and their debts climb.

Credit Solutions of America, formed by Douglas Van Arsdale in Richardson, Texas, in 2005, claims it can negotiate debt reductions for an upfront fee of 15 to 20 percent of the total debt, according to the complaint. Its customers must pay into a "settlement account" until the company decides the debt is "ripe" for negotiation.

As is often the case with such scams, the customers are told to stop paying creditors and pay only Debt Solutions; then their debt accumulates late fees and interest and is sent to collections, the complaint states.

The class claims Credit Solution "collects its up-front fees and then, by virtue of either circumstance or design, shuts its doors to consumers."

Credit Solutions promises a refund only if the debt is not settled, but does not inform customers that the company "can settle the account for 99 percent of the outstanding balance," according to the complaint.

Credit Solutions claims to be the "industry leader, managing more than $2.25 billion of debt," the complaint states.

The class seeks restitution, an injunction and damages for violations of the California business code, the Consumers Legal Remedies Act, the Credit Repair Organizations Act, tort in essence and negligence.

They are represented by Robert Hyde with Hyde & Swigart.

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