16 CFR Part 310 Telemarketing Sales Rule- Debt Relief Amendments #543670-00143

Submission Number:
Customer Service Rachel Zernentsch
Rise Above Debt Relief
Initiative Name:
16 CFR Part 310 Telemarketing Sales Rule- Debt Relief Amendments
To Whom It May Concern: I am an employee of Rise Above Debt Relief, a company that specializes in debt settlement plans, and I am writing in regards to the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) amendment proposed that would require all debt reduction services to be fully performed prior to the company receiving or requesting any sort of payment for said services. I would like first and foremost to say thank you on behalf of myself and my fellow employees for the opportunity to offer our own insight as to the effects of this particular amendment on our own lives and ability to perform our jobs. Rise Above Debt Relief is proud to say that all of the regulations enacted thus far in an effort to protect the consumer entering into a debt settlement program have been in place within our own business model since the company doors first opened. As such, we welcomed such federal actions in order to ensure the credibility of the industry as a whole was not brought down by fly-by-night companies seeking only a quick profit. We have always been a full-disclosure company, regarding credit implications, tax implications, legal recourse, and collection calls. We have always broken down on paper the exact duration of the plan put together during the consumer’s consultation with the debt counselor and included it along with the exact amount and timeline of scheduled fees in the consumer’s agreement plan. We do not promise to eliminate all of a consumer’s debt, nor do we even quote an exact dollar amount, because we know the possibility of a settlement is never guaranteed. All of this information is reviewed with the client not only by the counselor, but also by the Underwriter, and then again by Customer Service during the consumer’s Orientation, so that at no point is our customer in the dark. As individuals working to provide a valuable service, we know that we cannot successfully help our clients if they are not fully confident about the program and its possibilities. However, we do feel that this particular proposition will actually hinder our ability to service the consumer by essentially relegating us to the position of just another creditor. Our commitment to our jobs requires us to work at times six days a week. However it is a position that has a great deal of rewards beyond the form of a paycheck. We are by no means one of the bigger companies, but we are one of the best. And that is something all of us, as regular hard-working people, are very proud of. But now we feel that our future is uncertain. The question in our minds is simply, “How do we live if we are required to work without compensation?” Some of us here have actually gone through the process of debt settlement. We know it can take a great deal of dedication and hard work to reach success. We have pride in what we do and in the people with whom we work. They ask for the rationale behind “upfront fees.” A debt settlement program is not what gets people into debt. Everything from difficult times/job loss to irresponsible spending and lifestyles get people into debt. And yet we are supposed to work for years to get them out of debt. To help them salvage some of their honorability by trying to get the creditor some sort of re-payment, only to become a creditor to them ourselves? We spread our fees out as long as possible. This not only lowers the monthly obligation going towards fees, it also ensures our investment in the consumer. If a fee should ever need to be postponed in order to achieve a settlement there is not ONE instance in which this was not immediately acquiesced. We are not looking to scam anyone. But in order for us to do our job we have to make a living at it. We absolutely understand the desire to ensure a consumer is not simply enrolled into a program with heavy fees in the first few months only to be abandoned or forgotten right after they are collected. But at the opposite extreme we will simply not be here; we will not be able to provide this service legitimately if we cannot earn a living. A smaller operation such as ours cannot afford to front employees their pay checks as well as to front money for account set-up and maintenance. We simply could not exist. Please take this comment into consideration. Again we welcome whole-heartedly the efforts to ensure quality and legitimate service. We are proud to provide just that. Please allow us to continue making a living helping people get their financial lives back. We thank you so much for your time and consideration. Sincerely, The Debt Counselors and Customer Service of Rise Above Debt Relief