• 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.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy lawyers

  • The Underwhelming Results of Foreclosure Outreach

    The video above features then-Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley discussing outreach and legislative initiatives aimed at providing foreclosure assistance to thousands of struggling residents in the city. On July 12, 2012, the Chicago Tribune reported that two reports out of Washington, DC, indicated that national foreclosure outreach programs were only helping a few of the many homeowners in need.

    The Government Accountability Office (GAO) “specifically looked at the outreach to borrowers who were eligible for a free, independent review of their 2009 or 2010 foreclosure actions to see if they suffered financial hardship and were due remediation,” the Tribune reported. While 95 percent of the 4.3 million letters mailed directly to borrowers nationally were successfully delivered, only 5.3 percent had responded as of June.

    Reuters reported that New York City Department of Education family liaison worker Keturah Miller was one of the millions receiving a letter, but said it “still made no sense to her” despite her having read it over four times. “I can read the words, but the meaning of what they’re saying? That’s the confusing part for me,” Miller told Reuters.

    According to the Tribune, another report by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency found that as of May 31, only 7,607 of the 197,836 borrowers who received letters in Illinois had requested a review of their case. That translates to a response rate of 3.8 percent.

    On Friday, we will discuss the latest proposal in Chicago regarding foreclosure help , but you should know that there are options available right now that can help you and your family delay or even avoid foreclosure. Our firm can help you better understand the benefits of filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy when you contact us at (866) 930-7482.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy lawyer