USOBA Responds to the BBB’s Rating System For the Debt Settlement Industry

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“We fully support the BBB’s mission of providing accurate and meaningful information to assist consumers in making informed decisions when choosing among competing businesses,” USOBA Executive Director Jenna Keehnen said. “When the BBB provides consumers with unbiased and objective feedback about how a business performs based on the number, nature and response to customer complaints, consumers, industry competitors, government regulators and the BBB all benefit. Unfortunately, the BBB generally evaluates debt settlement companies based on the BBB’s historical perception of and bias against the debt settlement industry, rather than evaluating individual debt settlement companies on their own merits.”

We are excited and very much look forward to sitting down with the BBB and presenting the hard data the FTC and BBB have been requesting from the industry that evidences the value of debt settlement

The United States Organizations for Bankruptcy Alternatives, a trade association that represents members of the debt settlement industry, recently reached out to the Better Business Bureau to discuss the BBB’s contemplated new rating system for debt settlement companies.

“We fully support the BBB’s mission of providing accurate and meaningful information to assist consumers in making informed decisions when choosing among competing businesses,” USOBA Executive Director Jenna Keehnen said. “When the BBB provides consumers with unbiased and objective feedback about how a business performs based on the number, nature and response to customer complaints, consumers, industry competitors, government regulators and the BBB all benefit. Unfortunately, the BBB generally evaluates debt settlement companies based on the BBB’s historical perception of and bias against the debt settlement industry, rather than evaluating individual debt settlement companies on their own merits.”

The current BBB rating system, as applied to the debt settlement industry, rates debt settlement companies in the “D” or “F” category, regardless of actual operating or complaint histories. Additionally, the BBB’s prophylactic refusal to allow debt settlement companies to become BBB members eliminates one of the important incentives for companies to adhere to industry best practices.

BBB representatives recently stated that an announcement will be issued in the near future regarding adjustments to the BBB’s rating system of the debt settlement industry. In a letter to the BBB, USOBA asked that any adjustments be postponed until the debt settlement industry has an opportunity to communicate collectively with the BBB and the Federal Trade Commission on what is best for consumers and how to best ensure that the BBB’s and the FTC’s missions are fulfilled.

“Initially, we were pleased to learn that the BBB was willing to adjust its rating system related to debt settlement companies, but had some reservation that the industry would not have any input regarding the contemplated rating system,” Keehnan said. “But we just received word from the BBB in response to our letter that it will seek input from the industry before any new rating system is implemented.”

USOBA has committed to providing a continuous flow of information needed to educate the FTC and BBB regarding the benefits of debt settlement, and to quickly accurately and substantively address concerns the BBB and FTC may have regarding the industry. “We are excited and very much look forward to sitting down with the BBB and presenting the hard data the FTC and BBB have been requesting from the industry that evidences the value of debt settlement,” Keehnan said.

About USOBA
USOBA is dedicated to providing its member companies with important, industry-related information, including compliance requirements, as well as advocating on behalf of its membership for fair and appropriate industry regulation that maintains the utmost in consumer protection. USOBA members are provided a USOBA State Law Summary guide, the only one of its kind in the industry, to better ensure and promote national compliance. This guide contains the laws and regulations, state by state, and has been reviewed by regulators and legislators. For further information, please visit http://www.usoba.org.

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Jenna Keehnen
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