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AG Tom Horne gets $250,000 Judgement Against Telemarketing Firms in Credit Card Debt Reduction Scheme

Office Urges People Seeking Restitution to File Complaint by October 15, 2013

Phoenix, AZ (Monday, September 3, 2013) -- Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne has settled a consumer fraud investigation into Arizona companies National Bankcard Monitor, LLC and Financial Interest Strategies, LLC, and their owner Gino Niccoli, with the filing of a Consent Judgment in Maricopa County Superior Court that provides for payment of $250,939.01 in restitution and civil penalties. 

These companies operated a telemarketing business that sold credit card debt reduction services and took money from thousands of consumers nationwide, from April 2010 and November 2012, without complying with Arizona’s telemarketing statutes. The companies did not meet Arizona’s requirements that telemarketers register with the Arizona Secretary of State, obtain a $100,000 bond and provide consumers with important disclosures and notice of their cancellation rights.

“Customers complained that the telemarketers pretended to be affiliated with their credit card companies and made a money-back guarantee that they would lower their interest rates on their credit cards.” Horne said, “The companies’ real product was merely an accelerated payoff plan, recommending that customers pay off their highest interest debts first.” 

Consumers who answered sales calls were told the company could assist them in negotiating lower credit card interest rates and/or obtaining low interest rate credit cards to transfer their balances. If they agreed to pay $1,499 for the service, consumers were guaranteed a savings of $2,000 - $5,000 in interest and finance charges. However, the guaranteed savings did not result from an interest rate reduction or obtaining low rate credit cards, but instead from a computer generated payment plan that simply told consumers they could save money over time by making consistent monthly payments to their highest interest rate debts. 

In addition to the monetary judgment, the Defendants were found to have violated the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act and permanently barred from owning or operating a telemarketing business.

Customers of National Bankcard Monitor and/or Federal Interest Strategies, LLC seeking restitution should file their consumer complaint with the Office of the Attorney General by October 15, 2013. Consumers may file complaints on-line at https://www.azag.gov/complaints/consumer or request a mailed complaint form by calling (602) 542-5763 (Phoenix),  (520) 628-6504 (Tucson) or (800) 352-8431 (Toll-free outside of metro Phoenix).

Copies of the Complaint and Consent Judgment are attached.