USOBA and TASC Join Forces to Shut Down Misleading Website

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The Two Debt Settlement Trade Associations Send a Clear Message to Deceptive Marketers Note: This press release corrects the release sent earlier this week in which the website at issue was incorrectly identified. We apologize for the error.” The website at issue that we shut down was http://www.federaldebtreliefprogram.com not federalreliefprogram.com

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USOBA and TASC are dedicated to consumer protection, and this is exactly the type of unethical activity we work so hard to combat,

In an effort to ensure consumer protection, The United States Organizations for Bankruptcy Alternatives (USOBA) and The Association of Settlement Companies (TASC), the two largest trade associations for the debt settlement industry, recently partnered to permanently shut down an unethical and misleading website advertising debt settlement services.

The now-defunct website, http://www.federaldebtreliefprogram.com, had several deceptive claims alluding to a government-backed debt settlement program, in addition to its URL. Representatives from both USOBA and TASC worked diligently to uncover the website source and to ensure it was removed quickly, in order to protect consumers from potentially unethical practices.

To discover the origin of the site, USOBA and TASC agents completed the information request form on the website and were soon contacted by a non-accredited debt settlement company. After speaking with the company, trade association members were directed to the marketing company responsible for the site’s creation, and informed them of their deceptive action. The misleading website was taken down within the hour, before any legal action was necessary.

“USOBA and TASC are dedicated to consumer protection, and this is exactly the type of unethical activity we work so hard to combat, “said Jenna Keehnen, executive director, USOBA. “The USOBA Zero Tolerance Policy spells out guidelines for unethical marketing like what was demonstrated on federalreliefprogram.com and strictly prohibits its use by USOBA member companies. Without the self-policing and regulation instituted by USOBA, this website could have done a great deal of harm to consumers and to the debt settlement industry. I am glad USOBA and TASC could work together to shut the site down before consumers were harmed.”

The USOBA Zero Tolerance Policy is a mandatory standard for marketing, advertising and other communications that all USOBA members must follow. Designed to maintain the highest level of transparency and consumer protection, the policy was designed to enhance consumer protection within the debt settlement industry. Consumers working with USOBA member companies – those who adhere to the USOBA Zero Tolerance Policy – can feel comforted by the fact that they will not be affected by the deceptive and unethical employed by some debt settlement “bad actors.” Failure to adhere to the USOBA Zero Tolerance Policy will result in immediate suspension or termination of a company’s membership with the trade organization.

About USOBA
The United States Organizations for Bankruptcy Alternatives (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.

About TASC
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 http://www.tascsite.org.

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Mariana Bekker