Debtmerica Relief’s founding partners met over 12 years ago at Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania with a desire to launch a business to help the many struggling Americans release themselves of the burdensome constraints of debt. Offering debt settlement services to clients nationwide, this company was built to help clients attain financial independence.
Debtmerica offers settlement services on a variety of unsecured debt, such as credit cards, department store cards, medical bills, and other types of unsecured debt. This company is backed by AFCC and IAPDA accreditation, with staff members and negotiators fully certified to negotiate debts with creditors. They also promote a better alternative to bankruptcy, because, unlike bankruptcy, their programs are private. Though negotiating down one’s debt may impact credit scores, the settlements are not made public.
As with any settlement company there are no up-front or enrollment fees, as ruled by the FTC in 2010. Clients can expect to pay 20 to 24 percent of the total amount enrolled upon settlement of a debt. A free consultation is offered where a certified debt specialist will assess the financial situation of the caller and determine if they are a good candidate for their settlement services. Upon qualification, the client will set up an escrow account with a third-party bank in which a predetermined amount of funds will be deposited on a monthly basis in order to build an amount which can be negotiated with creditors. Debtmerica’s compensation is rolled into the monthly payment agreed to by the client’s various creditors. Clients have the option to approve of the negotiated amount and the funds will then be transferred to the creditor by the client. If clients are not satisfied with the amount negotiated, no charge will be applied. The only charges the client will incur are those from the bank for a “maintenance” fee, which usually runs around $9.95 monthly, and are non-refundable.
This program allows for all enrolled debts to be resolved within 24 to 48 months, with the first account aimed to be settled in 4-6 months.
Many companies advertise debt forgiveness for just pennies on the dollar. Debtmerica is more transparent in pointing out that most settlements with debt relief companies are usually within the range of 15 to 75 cents on the dollar. Fee information is readily available along with legal facts on litigation and bankruptcy. It seems they have a direct approach to honestly answering questions, which can be found on their FAQ page.
Highlights to this company include:
- A+ BBB rating
- Vast resources including articles, blog posts, social media presence
- AFCC & IAPDA certified
- Almost a decade in business
Cons to enrolling with any company include tax liability as well as possible litigation in debts requiring longer than 48 months to negotiate and settle, with such risks being outlined within their company website. Other risks include an adverse effect on clients’ credit reports.
With many companies in the industry, the terms of the program may depend upon what state the caller lives in, among other factors. Services not available in the following states: CO, CT, GA, KS, ME, VT, WA, WV and WI.
There are no set-up fees. Debtmerica is compensated for their services only when a negotiated settlement is reached. At that point, monthly payments start to be paid to creditors. Rolled into that payment is a remuneration to Debtmerica. Typically the customer is charged between 20 – 24% of the settlement, depending upon the amount. The lower the amount, the higher the rate; e.g., a settlement of $20,000 is charged 24%, or $4,800; a settlement of $30,000 is charged 23%, or $6,900.
There are no fees required to get started. The client signs up for a program and consultation with a debt adviser. The program’s main feature is a trust account into which a predetermined monthly amount is deposited, and an agreed upon time-line of 24 – 48 months is established. Deposits made by the client to a trust fund begin when the client and Debtmerica agree on the terms of a plan. Meanwhile, as the funds grow, Debtmerica negotiates on several fronts with the various creditors.
Once a comprehensive settlement is negotiated, monthly payments begin being paid from the trust account. Separate fees are not charged. Debtmerica’s compensation is rolled into the monthly payment agreed to by the client’s various creditors. Debtmerica’s tag-line is “No fees until you succeed.”
Debtmerica is an BBB Accredited Business with a current A+ rating. This rating shows that Debtmerica has gone out of their way to respond to consumer complaints and provided the BBB with all required information.
The website is not mobile friendly and there is no mobile app for Debtmerica.
Unsecured vs. Secured Loans
This service is for unsecured debt only, with a minimum debt load of $10,000. The company negotiates debt reduction – they do not do loan consolidation.
There’s a free quote module on the website available to users who enter their information. Also, when you call the toll-free number, you are connected with a rep who is both an adviser and debt negotiator. There is no consultant fee.
You may choose to stop paying from your trust fund at any time. The remaining moneys, minus payments to creditors and to Debtmerica already made, are returned to the customer.
Time In Business
9 Years. The company was founded in 2006 by Harry Langenberg and Jesse Torres, two Wharton Business School (University of Pennsylvania) alumni.
There is no company email shown on the website, but a customer service line and a brick and mortar address are provided. In addition, you can send them an email via their Contact Us page.
3100 S. Harbor Blvd., Suite 250
Santa Ana, CA 92704
7am – 7pm PST Monday- Friday
9am – 2pm PST Saturday
Types of Services Available
Debt settlement negotiation for unsecured debt is this company’s only specialty. They do not provide debt consolidation services. Debtmerica negotiates lower monthly payments on behalf of clients. A program of monthly payments is paid from a trust fund set up in the client’s name and under the client’s control. A start date is chosen at which point the client begins building a trust fund. Even before creditors begin to be paid, the trust fund is growing while Debtmerica enters into negotiations with the debtors. The clients who are in the best position to benefit from this service are those who have tried consolidating or consumer credit counseling. Those two methods, according to the Debtmerica, aren’t as effective at lowering your debt as settlement. They stress on their website that these programs also take much longer to come to a complete resolution with creditors than Debtmerica’s tailored programs do.
Debtmerica also promotes themselves as a better alternative to bankruptcy. This is because, unlike bankruptcy, their programs are private. Though negotiating down one’s debt may impact credit scores, the settlements are not made public.
The question of a money back guarantee is a bit meaningless because the trust from which debt payments are made is in the customers name and under their control. No payments are made without permission. Part of Debtmerica’s promotional emphasis is that you are basically paying yourself to resolve your debts on a pre-arranged time line. With that said, if you’re not satisfied with their services, you can stop at any time and keep ownership of the money you’ve saved, minus what you owe to Debtmerica.
Their trainings, articles and tools could be a bit more robust. They offer some tools, but their focus on debt education is weak and needs to be more of a focus. While they offer more than many companies, consumers could benefit from additional resources, courses, apps and more. The Newsletter is a nice offering and helps keep individuals on top of their debt, the industry as a whole and what’s going on with the company. The debt education isn’t perfect, but it’s good.
Minimum Debt Accepted
Debtmerica deals with unsecured debt only and the minimum accepted into their programs is $10,000.
You are given account information for the trust fund that is set up to pay your creditors, but a more robust dashboard would be very beneficial to clients.
Yes, they currently have AFCC and IAPDA accreditations.
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