Is Debt Negotiation a Scam?

Debt Negotiation Scams

Debt Negotiation Scams

 Freedom Financial, New Era Debt Solutions, National Debt Relief, Curadebt.

These and other debt negotiation or debt consolidation companies are not the bargain they claim to be. In my opinion, this industry preys on consumers when they are at their weakest – owing money, being besieged by daily calls from creditors or collection agencies, and desperate to get some relief from the pressure you feel all day long about your bills.

Have you heard the ads from Freedom Financial, New Era Debt Solutions, National Debt Relief, Curadebt, or other debt consolidation or debt negotiation companies?

I have one very strong piece of advice that applies no matter what your situation is: Please, please, please – if you are even remotely tempted to hire a debt negotiation or consolidation company such as Freedom Financial, New Era Debt Solutions, National Debt Relief, or any of the others-

debt negotiation scam

debt negotiation scam


Do NOT hire  Freedom Financial, New Era Debt Solutions, National Debt Relief, Curadebt, or any other debt company.

Stop whatever you are doing, turn around, and run the other direction.

Seriously. Don’t. Just say no. When you and I chat, I can explain why I believe debt reduction or debt consolidation companies are the worst possible place to spend your money when you have debt issues.

 Freedom Financial, New Era Debt Solutions, National Debt Relief, Curadebt

$19,900 AAA subrogation debt negotiated down to $5,200

Debt negotiation can be tricky. Some days are tougher than others.

I don’t generally crow about results – but this was a good day. A large insurer (AAA) had a judgment against my client for over $19,900, and her license was suspended because she had no way to pay.

After several weeks of negotiation, we were able to settle her debt in full for just over $5,000 – almost a 75% reduction. And her license will be returned immediately.

Disclaimer:  Past performance is no guarantee of future results. A great result in this case does not guarantee similar results in your matter. All matters are different, and have different facts.

Letter from

Letter From

Here in Southern California, where my practice is based, I receive a fair number of calls from people who have received a letter from, which look like this: letter letter

What the heck is this letter from letter letter

It’s an advertisement. apparently sends this letter to everyone in southern California who is sued by credit card companies and/or debt collectors. Usually, the debtor receives this letter even before the process server arrives to serve them notice of the lawsuit, so this is often the first notice people receive that they have been sued.

I’m happy that this company, whoever they are, is mailing. People become confused, then they call me once they receive this letter from

That gives me the opportunity to explain that they have been sued by a debt collector, and to give my free phone consultation, during which we can discuss whether it’s better to fight their case in court to negotiate with the creditor, or to file bankruptcy.

What Do I do Once I Receive a Letter From

If you are anywhere from Santa Maria to San Diego (including Ventura, Oxnard, Santa Barbara, Camarillo, Simi, Santa Clarita) – Call me on (805) 244-5291 for your free, friendly, no-pressure phone consultation. I’m happy to discuss your case with you, and I will explain your options. For some people, bankruptcy may be a good choice. For other people, bankruptcy is a poor choice, and I may recommend defending your lawsuit. We won’t know until we chat.

At this point, all you know is that you’ve been sued. So, why not get some free info from a friendly attorney who defends debt collection cases and sues debt collectors? Often, by defending debt collection lawsuits, we can either get rid of your debt entirely, or negotiate it down to a level you can manage, without risking wage garnishment, bank levies, or liens on your property. letter


Here’s a video from Attorney Tim Blankenship about letters:

49 Collection Calls in 18 Days is NOT Harassment

debt collector phone harassment

debt collector phone harassment

I sue debt collectors. However, sometimes my clients believe they have been harassed by the high volume of calls coming into their cell phone from various collection agencies.

According to a federal magistrate judge in California, a collector for Synchrony Bank who called a debtor 49 times in 18 days was NOT harassing the debtor. In part, this is because the debtor never answered the phone, but let the calls go to voicemail.

This is not uncommon. Lesson? If a debt collector continues to call you, answer your phone and tell the debt collector to stop. 

From the collection industry trade journal, Accounts Receivable Management:

On February 27, 2017, a United States district court judge in California issued Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law in a bench trial that found no FDCPA violation by a debt collector who had made 49 call attempts to a consumer in 18 days.

The case is Hinderstein v. Advanced Call Center Technologies, (Case No. 15-10017, U.S. District Court, Central District of California.) A copy of the Finding of Fact and Conclusions of Law can be found here.


Plaintiff, Robert Hinderstein, had a GAP-branded credit card, issued by Synchrony Financial (Synchrony).  In or around early 2015, plaintiff was delinquent on his GAP credit card and maintained an outstanding balance of approximately $2,202.00.

On April 3, 2015, Synchrony placed plaintiff’s credit card account with defendant for collections. Defendant engages in the collection of debts on behalf of creditors, including Synchrony.

On the same date, defendant mailed plaintiff a Debt Validation Notice to the address provided for plaintiff by Synchrony. This was the only written communication between the parties prior to the commencement of this action.

Thereafter, defendant attempted to place telephone calls to plaintiff for the purpose of collecting plaintiff’s debt on behalf of Synchrony. From April 23, 2015 through May 10, 2015, defendant called plaintiff at least 49 times.

All telephone calls from defendant to plaintiff were placed between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., pacific standard time, to his cellular telephone. Defendant never placed more than five telephone calls to plaintiff in a single day and allowed at least 90 minutes to elapse between each telephone call that it placed to plaintiff. Defendant never intentionally left voicemails for plaintiff.

The first and only call from defendant that plaintiff answered was placed on May 10, 2015 at approximately 11:05 a.m., pacific time. During this call, plaintiff advised defendant’s agent that he was going through a divorce and that he did not have any money to pay the outstanding debt. He asked for defendant to stop calling. Prior to that date and that call, plaintiff never asked defendant to stop calling him and following this conversation, defendant made no further telephone calls to plaintiff.

On December 31, 2015, plaintiff filed this action, alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (RFDCPA).

The parties agreed to waive a jury trial and consented to proceed before the Magistrate Judge. On December 30, 2016, the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. After reviewing the cross-motions for summary judgment, the Court held a telephonic status conference on January 30, 2017, during which the parties clarified and mutually agreed that they desired a bench trial on the papers.

The Judge’s Findings

The Honorable David T. Bristow, United States Magistrate Judge authored the Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law. Judge Bristow found:

“Section 1692d of the FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from engaging “in any conduct the natural consequence of which is to harass, oppress, or abuse any person in connection with the collection of a debt.” 15 U.S.C. § 1692d. The statute includes a non-exhaustive list of conduct that constitutes harassment, oppression, or abuse, including “[c]ausing a telephone to ring or engaging any person in telephone conversation repeatedly or continuously with intent to annoy, abuse, or harass any person at the called number.” 15 U.S.C. § 1692d(5).

Although the Ninth Circuit has not addressed the required proof of intent to annoy, abuse, or harass under Section 1692d(5), district courts generally agree that intent may be inferred from circumstantial evidence, such as the nature, pattern, and frequency of the debt collection calls. However, there appears to be some disagreement as to the specific nature, pattern, and volume of calls that are sufficient to demonstrate a violation of Section 1692d(5). Based on a survey of cases addressing FDCPA liability, it appears that, absent egregious conduct or an intent to annoy, abuse, or harass a debtor, merely calling a debtor repeatedly, even multiple times in a single day, does not violate the FDCPA.

Here, plaintiff contends that defendant violated the FDCPA by repeatedly and continuously calling him approximately 49 times in a 18-day period. Although the number of calls does seem relatively high, plaintiff has not adduced evidence of egregious conduct on the part of defendant. All calls were made between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., defendant allowed at least 90 minutes to elapse between each call, made no more than five calls in a single day, and did not call plaintiff’s work, family, or friends.

The evidence establishes that plaintiff answered only one of defendant’s telephone calls, a telephone call on May 10, 2015. Until that date, defendant never left any messages for plaintiff. During the May 10, 2015 telephone call, plaintiff acknowledged the debt and asked defendant to cease calling. Plaintiff does not contend that defendant threatened him, or otherwise made any improper statements during this telephone call. Defendant complied with plaintiff’s request and immediately ceased calling him. At no time prior to this telephone conversation did plaintiff notify defendant that he felt harassed or requested that defendant stop calling.

Based on the facts and circumstances in this case, the Court concludes that defendant’s conduct did not constitute harassment, oppression, or abuse in violation of the FDCPA.”

California Court Opens Payday Lenders to Lawsuits

Sue Payday Lenders

Sue Payday Lenders

Suing Payday Lenders in California

Yes! Yassss! We can now sue payday lenders in California.

I can hear you – “so what?”

This is a big deal. Formerly, payday lenders in California have been hiding behind a loose and convenient association with local native American tribes, and the payday lenders have claimed tribal immunity from California law.

In a recent decision, a California court ruled that the payday lenders are subject to California law.

I see clients in my practice every day who have been taken advantage of by the exorbitant interest rates charges by these companies – often 195% annually, or even more.

This decision against payday lenders appears to open the door for us to sue them under the Fair Debt Collection Practices act, and/or its’ California cousin, the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.


If you believe you have been subjected to abusive lending or collection practices by a California payday lender, please contact me and we can evaluate your situation – no charge, of course. And I’m a relatively friendly lawyer. You might even enjoy talking with me.



We got another Ripoff Report review removed!

Remove Negative Ripoff Report Reviews

Ripoff Report has become, in some ways, the scourge of review sites. Any negative review can have serious consequences for a business. However, Ripoff Report ranks very high with Google, refuses to remove unfair, untrue, defamatory and damaging

Remove Ripoff Report

Remove Ripoff Report Reviews

reports even under court order, and permits anonymous reviews which can destroy a business.

Successful Ripoff Report Removal

Today, we were again able to successfully remove a negative Ripoff Report Review for a client. This client has seen a significant decrease in their business since this negative Ripoff Report review surfaced.

I closely follow trends with regard to defamation law, and specifically with regard to defamatory and negative Ripoff Report reviews. The landscape changes rapidly, and by following techniques which are successful, and modifying some of those to the needs of my clients, I have so far had a very high success rate in removing these damaging and defamatory Ripoff Report reviews and permitting my clients’ businesses to resume profitability.

(Lawyerly disclaimer: Past performance is no guarantee of future results. I am an attorney, but I am not YOUR attorney until we have a written agreement between us specifying what I agree to do for you. Emailing, calling, texting me do not create an attorney-client relationship. All claims are opinion only. I may never successfully remove a negative Ripoff Report review again for anyone.)

Sued by National Collegiate Trust

Sued by National Collegiate Trust

Sued by National Collegiate Trust

I have recently had several clients who have been sued by National Collegiate Trust (Sometimes National Collegiate Student Loan Trust).

If you are sued by NCT, don’t panic. There are good solid defenses available for you.

There are a number of defenses that I raise when defending these NCT student loan lawsuit cases.  Many of these National Collegiate Trust loans had a guarantee agreement in them (and they were never originally made by NCT).  A guarantee agreement is similar to an insurance policy: When you default on the student loan, the guarantee company pays the claim.  If a guarantee was paid on your case, then National Collegiate Trust would not even be the proper party to sue you, because they have been paid already.  Further, some of these loans which National Collegiate Trust is suing on, had a rehabilitation agreement in the original contract.  A rehabilitation  is a plan by the borrower to get out of default and onto a better repayment program.  We have found that NCT and its servicer VIRTUALLY NEVER made this offer of rehabilitation to borrowers.  This is a breach of contract law and its also an ethical violation as well.

In the event that National Collegiate  is able to cure the insufficiency objections, then I then move on to defending the claim on its legal merits, i.e. whether you actually had the student loan, whether you actually defaulted on it, when the alleged default occurred, whether the amount is correct, et cetera.

Many of these claims are time barred, that is, they are filed beyond the applicable statute of limitations.

If you have been sued in any California county by National Collegiate Student Loan Trust or another collection agency, I can help you defend this claim. Please call for your free consultation.
Other entities which may sue you in addition to National Collegiate are:
• National Collegiate Student Loan Trust 2004-1
• National Collegiate Student Loan Trust 2004-2
• National Collegiate Student Loan Trust 2005-1
• National Collegiate Student Loan Trust 2005-2
• National Collegiate Student Loan Trust 2005-3
• National Collegiate Student Loan Trust 2006-1
• National Collegiate Student Loan Trust 2006-2
• National Collegiate Student Loan Trust 2006-3
• National Collegiate Student Loan Trust 2007-1
• National Collegiate Student Loan Trust 2007-2
• National Collegiate Student Loan Trust 2007-3
• National Collegiate Funding, LLC
• First Marblehead Data Services
• NCO Financial
• The Education Resource Institute, Inc. (TERI)
• Bank One, N.A.
• J.P. Morgan Chase, N.A.

I am humbled. | Bankruptcy

I (heart) my clients

I (heart) my clients!

Lawyering can be sort of a thankless job. This beautiful, heartfelt, and completely unexpected testimonial arrived yesterday from a recent bankruptcy client of mine. Makes it all worthwhile:

I want to share with anyone that I can how my life has changed through the bankruptcy. Eric, I can’t thank you enough for all that you did for me, which the fear that I was going through thinking my life is over and at my age I will end up with nothing. I think must of blown up your computer with questions on a daily basis, and you always answered me time and time again, I can honestly say that I call him even on the weekends and he again reassured me that I will be ok and when this is over I will have credit card offers sent my way.

Well I am so thankful for Eric’s patience and understanding allowed me to file the bankruptcy as today I have new credit cards to rebuild my credit Discover and even Nordstrom’s sent me a credit card.

All the uncertainty was eased by this amazing man who makes you feel that this too shall pass and life will be back to normal in no time. I am so thrilled that Eric helped me understand that this is not horrible and he will be by your side through the whole processes.

This is a man that believes in what he does and you can trust him with the words he tells you, I did and all I can tell anyone you will walk away from this process thanking him for giving you a new beginning.

Eric, there are not enough words to express my heart filed appreciation for all that you did, I am so pleased that you shared a portion of my life.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.


Harassing phone calls or text messages

harassing phone calls

Stop Harassing Text Messages

Can I Sue For Junk Text Messages?

Yes, you can sue for junk text messages and/or robocalls.

I sue telemarketers and other companies on behalf of consumers (you!) if you have received unwanted calls or text messages from debt collectors, banks and other companies on your cell phone.

Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), you must provide express consent to receive certain types of calls, and you have the right to tell these companies, including debt collectors, to stop calling. For each unwanted call you receive and properly document, you may be able to collect between $500 and $1,500.

I have several cases open right now against large companies: Phone companies, payday lenders, and debt collectors who have refused to stop texting or calling my clients when asked to do so.

If you received unwanted calls to your cell phone, I may be able to help you make the calls stop, and be compensated for your time and trouble. I assist you if you were wrongly contacted by a debt collector looking for a different person, as well as if you were contacted after requesting that a company stop calling you. If you have questions about your rights under the TCPA, contact me today by filling out my free, no-obligation case review form.


Robo Calls

What Is a Robocall?

Robocalls include automated phone calls made using autodialers, as well as those that contain pre-recorded messages. This means that even if you receive a phone call from a live person, the call is still considered a robocall if it is made using an autodialer.

What Is an Autodialer?

The law specifically prohibits companies from using autodialers to call people. An autodialer is any type of equipment or computer software that dials phone numbers without human intervention. Even if a live person is on the other end of an unwanted call you receive, it is possible that the call was made using an autodialer. If you pick up the phone and are greeted by a pre-recorded message, the call was almost certainly made using an autodialer. In addition, calls made using autodialers frequently result in hang-ups or lengthy periods of “dead air” before a live person comes on the line.

harassing text messages

Harassing Text Messages

I Receive Robocalls on My Cell Phone. Is This Legal?

This will depend on how the call was made. The TCPA, enforced by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), sets strict requirements for companies making robocalls to help prevent consumers from receiving unwanted prerecorded or autodialed phone calls. It is illegal if the unwanted phone calls fail to meet the following requirements.

Express Written Consent

Before placing robocalls or using automated dialers, telemarketers must receive consumers’ written or electronic signatures, known as express written consent.

Companies, however, must clearly state that customers consent to receiving robocalls when submitting their phone numbers. In addition, companies are not allowed to require consent as a prerequisite to purchasing goods or services and are prohibited from collecting cell phone numbers through unrelated transactions, incoming phone calls or third-party contracts.

An Option to “Opt Out”

Regardless of whether a telemarketer calls or leaves a voice message, he or she must provide an option for the recipient to opt-out of the calls. When answering a call, this option must be given at the beginning of the message, and when leaving voice messages, telemarketers must provide toll-free call-back numbers so that you can add your phone numbers to a do-not-call list.

Proper Identification

Companies placing robocalls must provide recipients with various types of information.

At the beginning of a message, a caller must state:

  • His or her identity
  • The identity of the business on whose behalf he or she is making the call

During or after the message, the caller must provide:

  • The address of the business responsible for placing the call
  • The phone number of that business
Sue For Robocalls

Sue For Robocalls

Who Can I Sue?

I may be able to sue the following types of companies for you, for placing robocalls or sending harassing text messages:

  • Debt collectors
  • Student loan companies
  • Credit card companies
  • Check cashing companies
  • Banks
  • Mortgage companies
  • Finance companies
  • Retailers
  • Companies making calls claiming to inform people that they “won” a sweepstakes, a free cruise, etc.

I specifically want to hear from you if you received robocalls from any of the following companies, but this is NOT a complete list:

  • ADT Security
  • Ally Financial
  • American Collection Services
  • American Coradius International (ACI)
  • Asset Acceptance
  • AT&T
  • Avant Credit
  • Bank of America
  • Capital One
  • Chase
  • Check Mart
  • Citibank
  • Collection Information Bureau
  • Comenity
  • Commonwealth Financial Systems
  • Discover
  • Dish Network
  • Drive Time
  • E Title Loans
  • Enhanced Recovery Company
  • GC Services
  • GE Money/GENPAC
  • GE Retail Capital Bank
  • Gila, LLC
  • Global Healthcare Management LLC
  • Green Tree
  • HSBC
  • IC Systems
  • Mark One
  • Midland Credit Management
  • Nationstar
  • National Credit Adjustments
  • Navy Federal Credit Union
  • NCO
  • Ocwen Financial
  • One Source Medical Supply, LLC
  • P&B Capital
  • Palisades Collection
  • Paypal
  • Pendrick Capital Partners
  • Pinnacle Security LLC
  • Portfolio Recovery Associates
  • Resurgent Capital
  • Sallie Mae
  • Santander
  • Saracare LLC
  • T-Mobile
  • US Fast Cash
  • Verizon Wireless
  • Wells Fargo

Example of TCPA Violation: Wrong Number

Under TCPA, companies must honor do-not-call requests and consumers may revoke their permission to receive robocalls at any time. This also applies to debt collectors – who must stop calling upon your request even if you still owe money to the company.

Can I Sue Telemarketers?

Yes. Telemarketers must follow the same guidelines as debt collectors, banks, credit card agencies and any other company making robocalls. If they violate the law, you may be able to seek compensation for each violation through a lawsuit. The TCPA allows you to seek $500 per illegal robocall and $1,500 per illegal robocall that was made willfully.

If you’ve been receiving unwanted calls on your cell phone, contact me today for a free case evaluation. I may be able to help stop the phone calls and recover compensation on your behalf.


Photo Credits:
Robin Zebrowski

Can Ripoff Report Reviews Be Deleted? | remove ripoff report

Delete Ripoff Report

Delete Ripoff Report


 Secret Way to Delete Ripoff Report Reviews

Negative and untrue reviews about your business which have been posted on the Ripoff Report can be extremely damaging to your business. Google absolutely loves Ripoff Report reviews, and features them very highly in search results.


Ripoff Report is Costing You Money

When someone googles your company name (which EVERYONE does now before doing business with you), one of the first two or three results will always be your Ripoff Report review.

On their site, RR is very frank: they will absolutely not delete Ripoff Report reviews, under any circumstances. Many companies have sued RR, and many companies have failed.

One successful way to handle this situation is to focus elsewhere: it is possible to get Google, and occasionally Yahoo and Bing, to remove negative Ripoff Report Reviews, with a court order. If the review is defamatory, infringes on your trademark, or was intentionally designed to damage your business, you may be able to sue the person who wrote the negative Ripoff Report review, and get a court to order that Google de-list the report.

When that happens, you will still not be able to get Ripoff Report to remove the offending review, but if it no longer shows up in a Google search for your company name, 99% of potential clients will never see the review.

Remove Ripoff Report

Delete Ripoff Report

Remove Ripoff Report Review

We have designed a way to remove Ripoff Report Reviews from Google, most of the time, for a very reasonable cost. If your business (or you) are in California, please call or email me for more information about how we can remove Ripoff Report reviews from Google, using a combination of US and international copyright law and tort law.

Eric D. Ridley
Law Office of Eric Ridley

Remove Ripoff Report review

Delete Ripoff Report review

Google Ripoff Report Delist Request
Remove Ripoff Report from Google

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