4/18/2010 8:53 PM (PST)
Can you link me to the report you were viewing? I only found one match close to that business name in Florida- IXE Accelerated Financial Centers. They have an F rating and you can view that report here: http://centralflorida.app.bbb.org/newsearch2.asp?ComID=073300014624978
In general, however, In general, the BBB's history overall with debt settlement companies has not been good. Most people who complain about these companies state that their debts weren't negotiated, they were told to stop making payments, and the result is that they're in worse shape than when they started. Many are sued and are forced to file bankruptcy to rid themselves of the lawsuits. Debt settlement companies have a good sales pitch that makes the program seem like a no brainer but unfortunately it's a mirage. This industry is rife with companies using predatory fee models and deceptive advertising. Don't fall for the ads that are all over television: they are produced by third party lead generators and sold to multiple debt settlement operators.
The Federal Trade Commission does not look favorably debt settlement operators. The FTC has scrutinized the fee schedules commonly used by these settlement companies, in particular the timing of fees (usually front end loaded) and the high level of these fees. A good roundup of the recent FTC public forums, investigations, and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on debt settlement/negotiation can be found at:
Debt settlement is a topic the BBB of the Southland has posted about on thier Facebook page:
Specifically, check out the "BBB Criteria for Evaluating Debt Settlement Companies" posted on our Facebook page on October 28, 2009 (click on the Notes tab and then scroll down to October 2009). These criteria for evaluating debt settlement companies are very stringent because of the rampant abuse and predatory fee models that are so widely used in this industry. That being said, we know there are some debt settlement companies out there who are reputable and who deal fairly with their customers.
Also, use the Google box that is on the main Ask The Community page and search for "debt settlement". You'll get lots of previous responses about this topic.
If you haven't done so already I would start your journey with a call to a reputable nonprofit credit counseling agency that will identify and explain your options. The counseling session will be FREE. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling's direct agency referral number is 800-388-2227. This will connect you to a reputable, accredited agency in your area.
4/19/2010 8:42 AM (PST)
Thanks so much for replying. I am in such a confused state!! Here is the BBB link showing them as an A- rating at the bottom of my message here. When I called them to question them about not being able to find them on the BBB, they stated I needed to search them as Accelerated Financial Center, LLC or A+ Financial Center, LLC...not using CenterS..they said to use Center not Centers..When I did this, I came up with this link to the BBB, which has them at an A- rating. They also state that they don't make the payments to our credit card companies, like so many of these places do. We still make the payments directly to our credit card companies, they just negotiate lowering interest rates for us.
Now, on my paperwork from the company, there is no IXE with the name of the company. I did search this and the address for them is different for IXE Accelerated Financial Centers, LLC as opposed to just Accelerated Financial Center, LLC. So I am not sure if it is the same company/place or not. I have read nothing but negative posts on various sites for the IXE Accelerated Financial Centers, LLC.
I do have the web site for the NFCC and was going to call but was afraid to. I have looked at their site several times wondering if I should call. The thing is this Accelerated Financial Center, LLC has our money. When my husband talked to them, they did answer the phone, because so many people state they don't, and did talk to him for a long time justifying their company and did state they if we were not happy or did not want to continue, we could get our money back. I have not sent the papers to them yet with all of our credit card information to process.
We are not drowning in debt, well I guess we are if you add it all up, but we are able to make the payments, it is just that I have tried to talk to our credit card companies to lower the interest rates and none of them will help. My goal was to get the rates lowered, not to have someone make the payments for me, I am able to do that, I would just like to have them lowered so I can save for my future and get them payed off faster. Between the payments to them and the mortgage company, all of our income just about goes out to that and we are unable to save or get ahead.
I read constantly in the finance/money area and I am aware of the issues with these companies and I tried to pick someone reputable. I, unfortunately, found the NFCC site after I had already talked to Accelerated Financial Centers, LLC.
Thanks for you time. I hope you can follow everything that I wrote here!
4/20/2010 1:45 PM (PST)
Can you tell us how did you find this company? I would get a refund if I were you and not send them any of your personal information. This kind of service is available for free from several nonprofit credit counseling services and it seems that it may be difficult to tell exactly who/what you are dealing with here. If they are a lead generator for debt settlement or a direct debt settlement operator themselves, then their business category is misclassified, which is why they have a high rating. The debt settlement category is considered by BBBs to be inherently problematic, and when a company is classified as one of these it results in a much lower rating than when the debt management or debt consolidation categories are used. Even if they are "financial planners" or bill payers they haven't been in business that long and their provenance/association with other companies is not clear from my quick view of the situation.
I would call your card issuers (and write) and tell them that the payment percentage and rate is now a hardship on your household budget and request a lowering of your pymt/rate, or even a few months' deferment. You will have to provide some specifics (child-related, medical, car repair, spouse's situation, etc). Identify something (and your question reveals that there is pain somewhere in your finances). Perhaps this hardship is severe enough to make you think about bankruptcy. Believe me, they will be interested in hearing this and may well grant you a lowered fixed payment for a good length of time (ask for at least 12 months).
Also, call a reputable nonprofit credit counseling agency (they are free). They will identify and explain your debt repayment options and help you with ongoing budgeting. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling's direct agency referral number is 800-388-2227. This will connect you to an accredited agency in your area. These agencies maintain strong service and case management quality standards. There is another association, www.aiccca.org, that is a network of counseling agencies that also abide by strong quality standards. Their network number is 866-703-8787. These steps are tiring and take time but won't cost you any money. Getting on top of your financial situation will make you feel empowered and you will feel more secure with a reputable counseling agency.
Good luck, let us know how it works out for you.
4/20/2010 4:13 PM (PST)
This company, Accelerated Financial Center,LLC, actually called me.. I guess though soliciting phone calls. I unfortunately fell for it. I should of trusted my instincts the night I was on the phone with them. I am going to call and get my money back, or try to. Luckily, I have not sent them any of my information on my credit cards; they just have my money. There are lots of posts about people not being able to get their money back even though they guarantee it, usually it is a fight and in some cases, people were harassed. I greatly appreciate all your help, it definitely is educational and I want to feel empowered with my finances. Getting myself through college late in life is what got us into trouble. Now that I am done and working, I question if it was worth it, since now it's going to take the better part of my working years left to get out of debt.
I will try and call my credit card companies again and see if they will work with me. All of them are claiming that the economy is the problem and they cannot lower my rates. About 7 months ago when I called them, I either got my credit isn't worthy of the rate reduction or my payment history was bad. I made a few mistakes in my life of credit cards, and now I am a criminal..at least that is how they make me feel.
I do have one question though, does going through a credit card counseling agency and having arrangements made for them to help me hurt my credit?
Again, thanks for all your help. I will be in touch to let you know how I make out. I am going to settle it tomorrow by calling the company and try to get my money back and then call my credit card companies and see if they will work with me.
5/18/2010 8:28 AM (PST)
Your story sounds like mine. I'm able to make my monthly payments and almost always am able to pay over what is required for the month. I just wanted to get the interest rates down. Against my better judgement and against the red flags going off in my mind, I went ahead and signed up. Now I don't want to mess with them. I have the paperwork in front of me now. I was just wondering what you ended up doing and how it went...if you don't mind sharing.
7/19/2011 2:09 PM (PST)
WE had a similar experience. They solicited us. That should have been my first red flag.
They pressure you into agreeing to let them help you reduce your interest rates, and they will save you ALL this money. They make it sound so simple. IT is anything but. They will force you to close your cards and who knows if anything else. WE did not proceed any further once we discovered the discrepancy in their sales pitch to the realities in our "Phone consultation. " Which took almost a month to get to after they took my money. I asked to speak to a supervisor and that took 4 days. She "apologized " that we were not explained the program properly, but she was not there and could not speak to that. She then honed in on my signing of their agreement that I would cooperate Fully with the program. I explained I didn't know what the "program " was since it was not explained completely in the sales pitch. I told her I just wanted my money back. She would not budge. I asked to speak to her supervisor, and am still waiting three weeks later for a call. I am now disputing the charge with my credit card company. DON"T USE THEM>>>>>
10/3/2011 4:44 PM (PST)
I've worked with AFS for the last two years, and I am about 7 months away from completing my program. I have nothing but great things to say. They've been able to settle all of my enrolled accounts for pennies on a dollar, almost literally - the savings have ranged 50-80% every time, even on considerably delinquent accounts. It's not just interest reduction, it is a settlement.
Yes, they did take the first two months' worth of payments as "account setup fees." And yes, they continued to take about 40% in fees for several months after, as per agreement.
But, if I tally up the savings: I settled an $8k personal credit line for a one-time payment of $2800; a $7k credit card bill for six payments of $392 (2350 total); and several other accounts with balances between $2-3k for under $1000 each. All this was done with a flat monthly deposit, into an account that I can view online, and I have the final authorization on all the settlements.
AFS has been able to work with me when I needed additional cashflow; they've reduced monthly deposit amounts when I was struggling, and several times postponed deposits for a couple of weeks if I needed more time. And a manager always calls me back within 24 hours if I ask to speak to one. I've only had to make an additional deposit one time - and that was for a one-time settlement that was time sensitive (I could have said no). And I have had zero collection calls/letters since I've handed over the accounts to them. I actually started answering calls from 888 numbers again, for the first time in two years.
So... I can't make recommendations for anyone's individual situation, but in my case, Accelerated Financial Services has done great things.