In a story I’ve been working on for a bit, United Credit Consultants in Minnesota had said something in a press release that caught the attention of readers who brought it to my attention.
It seems United Credit Consultants was saying they had FICO certified negotiators who could provide debt settlement service. But not only did UCC wind up with my attention but coincidently also that of the Star Tribune.
According to the UCC press release, “This rebranded and improved Debt Settlement Program has been rebuilt from the ground up. The creative minds at United Credit Consultants™ have formed and created a specialized program and system that coaches and negotiates debts for consumers to settle or work out a payment solution on collection, judgment and any other negative debt that is in need of settlement.”
“United Credit Consultants™ now has in place FICO™ Certified trained UCC negotiators in this department and program to have a fully serviced department that has a 24/7 active role on settlement for our consumers looking to work on debt settlement when needed. President of United Credit Consultants™ that is located in Burnsville, Minnesota which is roughly 15 minutes outside of the Minneapolis, MN area says; “this specific program and area of service for our clients was a major topic and talking point that was discussed in our creative meetings held at the end of each year” said Mr. McGlynn. He went on by saying; “having this service and program option finally gives United Credit Consultants™ a fully serviced one stop shop for any client and any situation. Having a consumer based company as we do; understanding that everyone’s goals, starting point and time frame are all different and unique which makes this revised program of debt settlement a huge addition that rounds out our platform of options for each individual.” – Source
FICO certification as a bonus for debt settlement services? I reached out to FICO to ask them about their certification. As of yet they have been unable to locate any such approved FICO program.
Repeated requests to Brandon Hopkins of AfterHim Media, the media representative listed for UCC, finally resulted in an answer from Joseph McGlynn of United Credit Consultants who appeared to blame Hopkins for not forwarding my repeated emails and questions. McGlynn said, “The FICO Certification is placed within our program and services is to give guidance and knowledge on the credit rebuilding topic that the importance of credit score improvement is a very high priority to our clients. Any and all collections or judgment settlement that will occur will have an impact onto ones score therefor, having employees FICO Certified is, I believe a very important piece to any choice made on how to handle settlements and when to work them out. These steps would all be based on the clients goals and motivation for the payments.”
When I asked McGlynn for “UCC’s performance stats, including the percentage of all enrollees who eliminated all of their debt using the UCC program” he said, “We, United Credit Consultants™ do not have any specific data to speak of being this is a brand new program that is being set to launch and roll out to our clients we hope in the next 30 – 60 days.”
McGlynn ended up the focus of a recent Whistleblower column by the Star Tribune. What is interesting is McGlynn was not able to offer me any performance results, saying his program was brand new, but appears to have told the Star Tribune “His success in helping consumers is evident in the company’s 278 percent growth in a single year, he said.”
It appears McGlynn and United Credit Consultants have caught the eyes of others as well. Their focus on credit repair, for a fee, is problematic.
The Star Tribune reported, “The company had a rocky start. McGlynn said he previously did not know he needed a state license to operate, but in 2010, UCC was fined $10,000 for failing to obtain a license from the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Department spokeswoman Anne O’Connor said the company has since been licensed and paid the fine.”
But on February 28, 2014 the company was issued a cease and desist order by the State of Minnesota, Department of Commerce, “In the Matter of Unregistered Debt Settlement Services Activity of United Credit Consultants.”
The company was ordered to cease offering any debt settlement services and the State wants a list of all past and current “Debt Negotiation Specialists” and/or “FICO certified trained UCC negotiators.” Interestingly that’s the same descriptive language used in the original press release.
But the State is not done yet. They also want:
Practices, procedures, guidelines and/or training materials related in any way to Negotiators.
Specimen copies of all letters, notices, and/or other communications provided to Minnesota consumers related in any way to settlement services.
Copies of all debt settlement training materials.
A list of all consumers UCC has provided services for in Minnesota.
A list of all parties who provided testimonials and their complete customer file.
The Star Tribune says, “After reviewing UCC’s website, [Department of Commerce, Department spokeswoman Anne] O’Connor said the company “goes against everything the department recommends.”
Attorney General Lori Swanson says on her website that credit repair companies “hardly ever improve a consumer’s creditworthiness.”
McGlynn said consumers should take the warnings from regulators like Swanson and O’Connor “with a grain of salt because they are protecting the masses,” adding that Swanson does not know how he conducts his business.”