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Nation Wide Consumer Debt Relief Inc. and its affiliate, Financial Help Services Inc., were ordered by a Florida state court to dissolve in 2016.
The companies charged consumers monthly fees to pay down student loans but often failed to pay the lender, the Florida attorney general alleged in a 2015 lawsuit against the companies and their president. In a final court order issued by a Broward County Circuit Court judge, company president Bobby R. Blackmon signed an agreement banning him and his companies from offering debt management and other services in Florida.
“These companies promised help and relief but all consumers received was heartache and more debt,” Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said in a news release. “Even worse, the defendants targeted consumers who were proactively trying to lower their debt and improve their credit.”
- The Florida consent decree named as parties: Financial Help Services Inc., Nation Wide Consumer Debt Relief Inc. and FHS president Blackmon. The decree banned Blackmon from taking part in these kinds of businesses. The news release from Florida’s attorney general alleged that when consumers asked why payments to creditors were not paid, the perpetrators provided fake invoices claiming that debts were paid. In some cases the companies blamed creditors, the news release said, claiming that the payments had been made but not yet posted. Because the payments were not made, consumers’ credit scores dropped and penalty fees piled up, the release said.
- The decree required a payment of $1 million, and consumer restitution of more than $600,000, before the remainder of a nearly $8 million judgment could be suspended.
- Three other states have taken action against Financial Help Services.
What the company claims to provide: Student-loan credit and debt counseling
Related businesses: Consumer Care Debt Settlement Services LLC, run by Blackmon’s spouse, Wendy Webber Blackmon, according to the state of Florida’s 2015 complaint
Based: Hollywood, Florida. FHS has also been registered in more than a dozen other states, according to a search of state incorporation records.
Management: Bobby R. Blackmon, president
Sources: Florida attorney general’s office; Kansas attorney general’s office; state of Florida business records; New Hampshire banking department; Broward County Circuit Court; New Jersey lien filing