Wisconsin AG files action against Chicago-based debt settlement company
MADISON, Wis. (Legal Newsline) - Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced a lawsuit Thursday against a Chicago-based debt settlement company and its principals for allegedly charging exorbitant upfront fees and violating other state laws. Van Hollen filed the lawsuit in Dane County Circuit Court against Legal Helpers Debt Resolution LLC, also known as the law firm of Macey, Aleman, Hyslip & Searns, and the company's principal managers and owners. Legal Helpers allegedly charged illegal and exorbitant upfront fees and maintained that, as lawyers, the company was not required to comply with state law and be licensed as an adjustment service company. The lawsuit alleges the attorneys with Legal Helpers do not actually fulfill the debt settlement services, which are performed by non-lawyer, third-party companies. Consumers alleged they never met an attorney or talked to an attorney. When the consumers sought counsel with an attorney about their debt status, they were allegedly told they were not permitted to speak with one. Legal Helpers enrolled approximately 2,000 Wisconsin consumers and allegedly charged illegal upfront fees ranging from $500 to $900 with monthly maintenance fees between $50.00 and more than $75.00. Van Hollen alleges Legal Help collected millions of dollars in illegal upfront fees from consumers in Wisconsin. The lawsuit requests forfeitures and penalties, consumer restitution and an enjoinment to prevent the company from future unlawful acts.