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‘Debt relief’ firm puts women further into debt – NBC Chicago

It’s an industry that often presents itself as a lifeline for those drowning in debt.

“Debt relief” or “credit repair” companies often promise a quick fix for problems like bad credit or unmanageable credit card debt.

NBC 5 Responds believes that many of their promises are just 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. I just want to leave the past behind, financially as well,” said Ford, who is from a suburb of Atlanta. “There are a lot of bills that are split.

Ford turned to a Chicago “debt relief agency” called Turnbull Law Group. She liked the way they presented themselves as lawyers.

“What really struck me was the fact that they had ‘Law Group’ in their name. At the time, I was facing around $40,000. And I was promised that amount could be cut in half,” said Ford, who says she confirmed she was working with a licensed Turnbull attorney.

The company was supposed to negotiate a debt reduction with its creditors. She, in turn, made monthly payments to Turnbull, which she was told went towards her balances. Ford was informed that Turnbull’s fees would be paid gradually.

“I thought they were planning to take a small percentage on an initial period,” Ford said.

Over 18 months, Ford paid Turnbull more than $13,000, of which only $2,300 went towards his growing debts.

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

The Better Business Bureau has issued a warning about Turnbull Law Group, saying it has noticed a pattern of complaints exactly like Ford’s.

They currently have 52 complaints against Turnbull, most of which were filed in the past year.

After paying Turnbull $13,000, Ford says she had to hire a personal attorney to sort out her finances. This lawyer eventually began to negotiate the rest of his mounting debt. It’s something the BBB says you can do yourself.

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

If that’s not an option and you need help consolidating your debt, the BBB suggests contacting a credit counseling agency, which is usually non-profit.

For Ford, this advice came too late. After paying Turnbull and a personal attorney to help him negotiate his debt, his situation worsened.

“It’s definitely something that comes back to haunt me from time to time and I would hate for anyone else to have to go through that,” Ford said.

Turnbull Law Group did not respond to our request for comment.

As complaints about the debt and credit relief industry continue to skyrocket, keep a few things in mind: Repairing your credit and paying off your debts takes time, so beware of any company that tells you she can do it fast.

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

USA News Gb1