FTC settles with three fraudulent debt settlement firms

Across the country, millions of Americans are suffering under a growing debt burden, and there are a number of companies attempting to turn a profit off these cash-strapped consumers.

This week, the Federal Trade Commission reached an agreement with three debt settlement companies that misled customers into thinking they could help cut their credit card debt.

Under the terms of the agreement, Hermosa Group, Media Innovations and Financial Future Network have all been banned from the debt relief business and must pay $500,000 worth of restitution. The settlement also called for a $8.5 million judgement, however, this will be suspended until the smaller fine is payed off, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The FTC said the companies, which were all owned by Jonathan Greenberg, conducted deceptive advertising and tricked many consumers into believing they could pay thousands less than they owed to creditors, the news source says. The companies then sold consumer information as sales leads to other debt settlement businesses.

In recent months, the FTC enacted regulations to stop these deceptive practices. However, the companies’ actions predated the laws and they were unable to be prosecuted under the new rules.