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Interactiv Education, parent company of Direct Student Aid, agreed in 2015 to cease operations nationwide after the New York attorney general found it broke state and federal laws by misleading consumers and charging upfront fees for document processing and repayment plans.
The company also was accused of violating state laws in Massachusetts and Illinois.
- The company agreement in New York included a $10,000 civil penalty. Direct Student Aid violated state and federal laws by charging illegal upfront fees and misrepresenting debt-relief and credit-repair services, the New York attorney general said. The company agreed to amend its website to state that its services can be performed for free. The company also agreed to stop saying or implying that it is affiliated with any government program, including the U.S. Education Department.
- Direct Student Aid agreed to pay $40,000 to Massachusetts customers under a deal with the state attorney general in 2015. The state said the company harmed student loan borrowers by charging fees prior to completing services, failing to notify customers of the rights to cancel, making untrue or misleading representations and making misleading offers to its consumers, according to the attorney general’s office. In the agreement, the company did not admit to or deny any of the attorney general’s allegations.
- Under a judgment and consent decree in Illinois, the company agreed to pay $20,000 restitution to consumers and pay $5,000 to the state to resolve a 2015 lawsuit, the state attorney general said. The attorney general’s lawsuit said Direct Student Aid failed to inform customers its services could be performed for free, charged upfront fees, failed to perform agreed-upon services, illegally required consumers to sign extensive power-of-attorney agreements and failed to acquire an Illinois debt-settlement license.
Based: Delray Beach, Florida
Management: Thomas Panik, owner; David Stein, president
Related companies: ProTech Support LLC, TMSD Industries LLC, Carefree Insurance, Clear Choice Marketing LLC, Elite Health Options, Home Diagnostics Inc.
Sources: Florida State Deeds; Illinois court records; Massachusetts court records; New York court records