The short answer is no. I am not aware of any “new government programs” or “bailouts” to help Canadians drowning in debt. So why are there companies promising new programs we have supposedly never heard of before?
I’ve seen plenty of examples on the internet, here are two I recently came across.
I saw this ad on facebook the other day from a website called www.debt180.ca. I wonder if Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is aware that his face is being used to promote this. When I review the advertisement, it is telling me that by clicking the ad, I will learn about qualifying for a “bailout” specifically for Ontario residents. Apparently banks are forced to forgive up to 75% of consumer debt. Its interesting to see that I am not the first person to learn about this, I found this article here about a similar ad run in BC.
I also saw this ad on the internet (I covered up the company logo for legal reasons). It suggests that there are “new government programs help you get out of debt”. So I clicked it and called them. After a brief conversation, it turned out the so called “new government program” was, get ready for this… bankruptcy or a consumer proposal. How is that new? Trustee’s in bankruptcy have been offering this debt relief remedy for ages.
It raises the question in my mind; how ethical are these companies if their advertising appears misleading? At the very least they should be advertising factual points of the debt relief program they offer.
So who are these guys advertising like this? They seem to be debt managers, or debt consultants. Do not confuse them with debt settlement. These debt management companies typically seem to try to specialize in sales and marketing and don’t actually perform the debt remedy services of a trustee on the back end. So debt managers market a big promise, and the trustees seem to accept the client as a lead or referral.
The sequence seems to roughly follow these steps:
Debt manager advertises the big promise –> take call and charge one time upfront fee –> refer to a trustee in bankruptcy.
I think the big question should be, why are trustee’s in bankruptcy accepting leads from these companies?
Trustees aren’t allowed to pay a referral fee, but they can accept business from anyone for free. The trouble with that is it there is a disconnect between the referral company and the trustee in bankruptcy. Using these two examples above, it would appear to open floodgates for dodgy advertisements that just aren’t accurate. As long as trustee’s accept business from debt managers that charge an upfront fee, this will continue.
My suggestion would be to allow trustees to pay a referral fee, and that forces them to ensure the advertising message being broadcasted is accurate and factual since they would be directly attached to it and could be held accountable.
Either way watch out for slick sales pitches on the internet, radio and TV. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
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