Debt Settlement Industry President, Georgia Attorney General Agree on Need for Debt Settlement as Consumer 'Tool'

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Georgia Attorney General Thurbert E. Baker is keynote speaker at debt settlement industry conference.

The Association of Settlement Companies (TASC) recently concluded its fourth annual conference, at which Georgia Attorney General Thurbert E. Baker was the keynote speaker. TASC President Chris Kesterson offered these thoughts on Mr. Baker's assessment of the debt settlement industry:

"The Association of Settlement Companies (TASC) was formed four years ago to promote good practices in the debt settlement industry and to protect consumers. We have found that states throughout the country have similar goals, and Georgia is no exception. Hence the reason we asked Attorney General Thurbert E. Baker to be our keynote speaker at our annual conference that took place April 5-7 in Las Vegas.

"In his address to about 350 in attendance, Mr. Baker stated that 'consumers need all the tools they can to get them through these economic times,' and that debt settlement is among them. That's because consumers fall into various categories of financial hardship, and there is no 'one-size fits all' solution.

"In a time when the media and critics are quick to point out the bad apples of the industry, we at TASC are working with leaders like Mr. Baker in promoting legislation to regulate debt settlement and weed out these companies. At the end of the day, we want to demonstrate how debt settlement is a positive, viable debt relief solution for consumers seeking an alternative to bankruptcy.

"Mr. Baker pointed out that people of all income levels need help managing their debt, which is especially challenging now given the rise of scams. We believe TASC's members are ethical, upstanding business professionals that help consumers manage a financial burden, yet we still regulate and audit them. This caught the attention of Mr. Baker, who noted that not many private associations self-regulate their industry; he subsequently lauded us for doing so.

"TASC also created new guidelines recently that are similar to those found in pending legislation throughout the country. These guidelines, which were written based on feedback we've received from our industry, include:

  • Fee caps and a cap on setup fees.
  • A complete review of a client's financial hardship and a budget analysis should be performed in order to determine if a debt settlement program is appropriate.
  • Programs should never exceed 48 months in length. A disclaimer is required if a program lasts more than 36 months.

"While we are the first to admit that debt settlement may not be the ideal solution for everyone, it can often be a good solution for those fitting a certain financial profile. In many cases it represents the least expensive and fastest alternative to bankruptcy with the shortest long-term effect on your own credit viability.

"We would like to thank Mr. Baker once again for kicking off our conference on a high note. It is comforting to know there are others out there who share our passion for helping consumers, especially in these tough economic conditions. Those looking for debt settlement services should visit tascsite.org for a list of TASC members."

About The Association of Settlement Companies
The Association of Settlement Companies (TASC) promotes fair business practices, consumer protection and industry standards for the debt settlement industry. TASC, founded in 2005, serves to protect consumers through an organization seal that represents best practices and standards of reputable companies. The organization also protects its member companies through lobbying efforts at the state and national levels, as well as awareness initiatives to educate consumers on debt settlement as a financial solution. All TASC member companies pledge compliance to strict association bylaws governing business practices and ethics. For more information, visit tascsite.org.

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Ann Marie French
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