The massive Auto Relief Group scam is finally busted. Auto Relief Group LLC advertised heavily on both the internet and television in 2009 and early 2010. By June 2010, this massive scam was shut down by regulators.
Jeffrey Taylor, Director of Sales of Auto Relief Group provided the following quote in a press release on January 29, 2010:
“Auto Relief Group provides you with the hands on help in restructuring your loan. ARG will work with your current lender, acting as a trusted third party and a valuable “buffer” between parties involved. Since ARG works on “success” basis, our interest is entirely aligned with yours. If we cannot help you negotiate acceptable terms for your loan, we don’t feel like we have earned our fee and you owe us nothing”
As soon as I saw the first commercial, I knew immediately that the company was making false claims. Any company that claims they can lower your car payment without refinancing the loan is making false representations. For the average consumer, the scam is less obvious.
Daniel Stermer was appointed Receiver of the now defunct company. He is charged with seizing the remaining assets of the company and returning whatever funds remain to the customers that were defrauded.
For those who sent in money to Auto Relief Group, it is likely that most of your money will never be seen again. The company vacated its leased office space after being unable to pay the $30,000 monthly rent. If you should receive any refund, understand that it would only be a partial refund, would likely take at least a year to issue and would have to follow the claims process established by the Receiver.
For information on the claims process, you may contact the Receiver Daniel Stermer at 1-877-842-7667. The Receiver initially seized the website in order to provide updates on attempts to seize the company’s assets so that refunds could be made. Once the Receiver completes the dissolution of the business, you can expect that any money that you paid into the scam that was not refunded is lost forever.
What Else Can You Do?
If you are having trouble with your car payment, there are some viable options. First, you need to make sure that you continue making your regular car payment to your lender. If you missed any payments or are in danger of missing a payment, it is necessary to keep your lender informed. Some lenders may order repossession right away if you miss a payment and do not stay in contact with the lender.
Understand that lenders do not want the car back. They want you to fulfill your obligation to repay the loan as agreed. If you are having a hardship, see if there is any direct assistance available by the lender. They might provide a temporary reprieve for a month if you can justify your circumstances and prove that you can afford the long-term payments.
Realistically though, your best shot at improving the terms of your loan is to refinance the car with another lender. This can be an option if your credit is better and the loan balance is smaller than when you first bought the car.
If you are in worse shape as most of Auto Relief Group’s customers are, then you have little options other than trying to improve your budget so that you can afford your payments. Most importantly, make sure that you don’t repeat your mistake of buying more car than you can afford and financing it with a high-interest loan.
Long is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in Industrial Relations. He subsequently received his Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Duke University. His Certificate in Financial Planning was issued by Florida State University.
Long has achieved the Accredited Credit Counselor and Accredited Financial Counselor certifications through the Association for Financial Counseling, Planning and Education. Long originally achieved the Certified Credit Counselor designation through the National Institute for Financial Education.
In addition to years of nonprofit leadership, Long has been an innovator in the field of volunteer tax return preparation programs. He assists volunteer associations and nonprofit organizations who seek to integrate credit counseling and asset-building programs with free personal income tax preparation. His approach to using free credit reports as both an incentive and a screening tool for placement into asset-building programs has been shared with members of the National Community Tax Coalition, the EITC-Carolinas Initiative of MDC, Inc. and nonprofit groups across the Carolinas.
Long assists members of our armed forces in the Carolinas, Iowa, Rhode Island, Georgia and Germany with financial readiness. Please support our Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors!
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