The firm has previously faced legal troubles from Illinois, only to pay $2.1 million to settle allegations of several violations of state consumer protection laws. Now Oregon wants Legal Helpers to pay up and get out, citing numerous instances of violating the Unlawful Trade Practices Act.
Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum listed multiple violations in the lawsuit that seeks to block Legal Helpers Debt Resolution from operating in Oregon. The violations include:
- Failure to register with the state as a debt settlement firm
- Initial fee of $500-900 exceeded $50 statutory limit
- Monthly administrative fees of $50-79 were illegal
- Service fees totalling 15% of the debt exceeded $65 a month statutory limit
While the firm collected approximately $2.5 million from Oregon clients, it is facing $13.5 million in civil penalties, potentially owing $25,000 for each violation. A more likely outcome will be a settlement with the state in which the firm promises to stop doing business in Oregon and pays a reduced financial fine in order to resolve the matter.
These type of illegal actions are not unique to Oregon, as Illinois has already recouped $2.1 million in client refunds from the firm through a similar lawsuit in 2011. That case was settled in 2012.
What does make the Oregon case somewhat unique is that a state law that protects the elderly population from financial abuse was cited, since at least 34 of the firm’s Oregon clients were age 65 or older.
Legal Helpers Debt Resolution is a business name of Macey, Aleman, Hyslip & Searns. That firm is based in Chicago. Partner Jason Searns previously stated that the firm planned to cease operations during an interview with the Chicago Tribune. They plan to continue servicing existing clients but wind down operations as the client base dwindles.
This is just another reminder that there is no easy fix to getting rid of debt. There are consequences with any type of debt resolution, and it is up to the debtor to determine which method of managing their debt will ultimately be the best for their situation.
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!
"The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not."