Debt Settlement Firm Will Refund $2.1 Million to Illinois Customers

Legal Helpers Debt Resolution LLC is a Chicago-based law firm specializing in consumer debt settlement. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said that rather than providing legal help, the lawyers were a "front" to collect hefty fees from desperate consumers. The Chicago Tribune reported on July 27, 2012, that Legal Helpers Debt Resolution agreed to refund $2.1 million to its Illinois customers under a settlement announced this month.

According to the Tribune, abusive practices by debt settlement operators led Illinois lawmakers to pass legislation in 2010 that banned charging upfront fees for helping consumers negotiate relief from creditors. Legal Helpers Debt Resolution and other firms like it promised to help consumers cut their debts in half, but the Tribune noted that they "also claimed they were exempt from restrictions on upfront fees because they offered legal advice about bankruptcy matters in addition to debt settlement."

Legal Helpers Debt Resolution has received a rating of "F" from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and 213 complaints have been closed with BBB in the last three years with 100 of those being closed in the last 12 months. The Tribune reported that Madigan’s office alleged the firm "contracted out the debt settlement service to non-lawyer, third-party companies." The lawsuit said Legal Helpers Debt Resolution charged nonrefundable fees that included a $500 retainer, a $49 monthly charge and 15 percent of the total debt.

The Tribune said Legal Helpers Debt Resolution has more than 2,000 clients in Illinois. As a result, the $2.1 million settlement will provide an average of about $1,000 in restitution to customers. Companies like Legal Helpers Debt Resolution take advantage of struggling consumers who are overwhelmed with credit card debt, but you should know that this type of debt is considered "unsecured" and can often be discharged through a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. We will continue to focus on issues relating to credit card debt in blogs throughout the week, but if you are maxed out or just want to start getting your finances in order, contact our firm by telephone at (866) 930-7482 to see how our Chicago bankruptcy attorneys can help.

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