FTC hits misleading debt relief advertisers for $500K


Hermosa Group LLC, Media Innovations LLC, and Financial Future Network LLC have reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission with an ultimate value of $8.5M over questionable radio and television advertising on debt relief, which will be suspended upon payment of $500K.

FTC explained, “…the defendants, doing business as The Hermosa Group and Financial Future Network, deceptively advertised debt relief services, in English and Spanish radio and television ads, claiming that consumers could pay thousands less than what they owe on credit cards. The defendants themselves did not provide any debt relief services. Instead, the advertising was meant only to generate sales leads – the names and phone numbers of consumers who called the defendants’ toll-free number – which the defendants sold to debt relief providers or other sales lead generators.”

Among the objectionable advertising claims FTC flagged were:

* “With one simple call you can eliminate your debt in a fraction of the time and for less than you owe.”

* “Find out today how quickly and easily you can eliminate your debt.”

* “Stop the harassing calls!”

FTC further explained that it “…alleges that the defendants’ claims that they could reduce debts substantially, settle debts quickly, and stop calls from debt collectors, were false or unsubstantiated, and that the defendants did not obtain adequate evidence from sales lead buyers that they could achieve the promised results. The complaint also alleges that the defendants falsely claimed they provided the debt relief services they advertised.”

The defendants will be forced to pay the full $8.5M if it turns out they have been less than candid about their current financial state, and are prohibited in engaging in any similar activities going forward.