Complaint / review text:
In August of 2003, I realized 4 credit cards had large balances and minimums were hefty, so I returned a phone message to the National Consumer Credit Counseling Service to see what they were offering. They took some intake information and referred me to Solidium, a debt management company. Keep in mind that I did not call this company because I was late or behind in payments - my credit was good, I just had a high debt to income ratio.
The people on the phone at Solidium have always been very professional, so I didn't think I was being scammed. The counseling process was done over the phone where I was asked very specific debt/income information. The guy I spoke to convinced me that I was in a terrible financial situation due to the bills, being a single parent, etc. He told me about their services, which basically worked where a "trust" account was set up, but the first 3 payments I made (about $700) would go towards Solidium's fees.in addition, about $40 per month servicing fee would be assesed to my account. I thought this was hefty, but considering I was convinced I had to way to get out of the debt, I agreed to the program and signed a lengthy contract.
During the counseling session I was told information about the program and it was recorded. I was told that creditors would prefer to work with their debt management company for negotiations as opposed to seeking legal course of action for non-payment. I was told the creditors still had the option of suing me, but they would likely not do so. I felt releived that I was being pro-active and taking control of my debt which was all college tuition I put on credit cards (I needed to do anything to finish after going for 7 years). It is now 8 months later. NO negotiations have been finalized on my account (they say they will only start this process after funds build up in my trust), my balances on these accounts are growing my leaps and bounds, one has increased $4000 in 8 months!!! My credit is HORRIBLE, AND I am being SUED by 3/4 creditors!
After all of this, my trust account after 8 months has a whopping $500 in it. WHAT A RIP OFF! I REGRET getting signed up with this company. They mislead consumers by convincing them they are in desperate situations, reassuring them that creditors will likely not sue them (when the opposite is the case). Oh yeah, this company also take a 25% fee of the amount they SAVED you through negotiations. I'm sure I signed this in the contract somewhere, but it wasn't obvious to me.
Let's do the math here. My original debt was $20,000. A $700 fee, plus a $40 servicing fee for 6 years is $2880 plus 25% of about 50% debt negotiation (they claim to negotiate debts at about this rate) is $5000. That is $8580! You mean I have to deal with bad credit for 7 years (versus just 3 more with bankruptcy) and only save a net $1420!
I'm not an idiot. But I feel like one for getting into this program. I have cancelled my contract with Solidium (I can't get any fees back) and now I have to negotiate with my creditors directly after they hate me to try to just get my balances back to what they were before I got into the program. This is a huge rip off and this company should not be allowed to get consumers like this. I am smart! I feel sorry for the people who can't figure this out and I am sorry it took me so long to!