I recently had the opportunity to speak with AFCC President Robby Birnbaum about the rise and fall of the debt settlement industry in the United States. I first met Robby around 2007 at a debt settlement conference in Las Vegas, at this time he was a lawyer and partner (and still is) at a Florida law firm called Greenspoon Marder. His area of practice in law has been built on working with the debt settlement industry in the US, specifically handling regulatory compliance for these debt relief companies.
I know that history somehow has a way of repeating itself, a lot of what Robby talks about in this video deals with what some of the bad actors in the US debt settlement space did to fowl the marketplace. There were promises of government programs that don’t exist, quick results, and consumer bailouts.
The Canadian debt settlement market is a few years behind the US, and I am not surprised now that some of these US companies are now marketing in Canada, using a similar theme of over promising, and under delivering. It’s disappointing, but I hope this blog raises awareness.
It’s an interesting interview, I had no idea that many of these bad actors came from the ashes of the US mortgage crisis, Robby talks about how they were looking for another way to make money and moved into debt settlement while they waited for the mortgage meltdown to correct itself. In the US, state and federal regulators came down hard on several debt settlement providers. At one point debt settlement companies were one of the most complained about service providers in the US. Watch the video below for full details.
I think Canada can take some lessons from what happened to our friends south of the boarder. The simple concept of under promising and over delivering would prevent a similar train-wreck from happening in Canada. Sadly though, it seems like we may already be on the path if the provincial regulators don’t step up to the plate and enforce the law.
I recently wrote a blog about how several US based debt settlement companies are already heavily marketing in Canada, and how I questioned the Ontario Registrar about how compliant they are. It seems as long as the dollar is near parity, that they aren’t going to let up any time soon on Canada, so as long as the US practices remain questionable, I will make this my project to make the public aware of these facts.
When looking at debt relief, look locally and deal with a Canadian company, as Robby points out in the video, if it looks too good to be true, it likely is. Google is your friend, do a search on the company you are looking at. Dive deep and trust in what others report about their service, not what the slick phone sales reps say. For my company, its all about creating raving fans. Everything else is secondary.
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