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Student Loan Counsel was forced to refund more than $230,000 to customers in Washington after officials accused the company of charging illegal fees for debt adjusting, according to a news release issued by the state’s attorney general.
The California company, which also does business as H & S Marketing LLC, ignored legal obligations to inform customers of important rights, the attorney general alleged.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson forced Student Loan Counsel and 14 other student loan “debt relief” companies to stop conducting business in Washington. The action left the company free to operate in any state other than Washington.
“These firms unfairly preyed on students who sought help managing their loans,” Ferguson said in the 2017 release.
In October 2017, Student Loan Counsel was included in a publicized crackdown on student debt relief fraud by the Federal Trade Commission and 12 attorneys general — a joint enforcement effort called “Operation Game of Loans.”
At the time of this Watch List posting, the Better Business Bureau had given Student Loan Counsel an “F” rating.
Enforcement actions: Student Loan Counsel was made to return $231,936 to 268 Washington borrowers, the attorney general’s release said.
Student Loan Counsel is among 15 companies alleged by the attorney general to have typically charged upfront fees between $200 and $1,000. Typically, he alleged, the companies aggressively marketed forgiveness of student loans even though most loans were not eligible for forgiveness, and falsely claimed to expedite the consolidation of student loans. Washington law limits to $25 the amount of upfront fees borrowers can be charged to lower or consolidate debts.
What the company claims to provide: Document preparation services
Based: Huntington Beach, California
Management: Rick Silva, president
Sources: Washington attorney general’s office; Washington business records