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Reliant Account Management Lawsuit: A Saga of Deceptive Practices and Consumer Harm

In the realm of debt relief services, Reliant Account Management (RAM Payment, LLC and Account Management Systems, LLC) once held a prominent position. However, a series of deceptive practices and consumer harm caught the attention of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), leading to a landmark lawsuit and significant penalties.

A Shadow of Deception

The CFPB’s investigation revealed that RAM Payment and its co-founders, Gregory Winters and Stephen Chaya, engaged in a pattern of deceptive practices that exploited consumers seeking debt relief. These practices included:

  1. Misrepresenting Itself as an Independent Third Party: RAM Payment falsely portrayed itself as an impartial intermediary, while it actually acted in concert with debt relief companies. This misled consumers into believing they were receiving objective advice.
  2. Misrepresenting Companies’ Actions before Disbursing Fees: RAM Payment concealed the fact that it would disburse advance fees to debt relief companies even before consumers had fully enrolled in or accepted their services.
  3. Disbursing Unearned Fees: Even after consumers canceled or unenrolled from debt relief services, RAM Payment continued to disburse unearned fees, perpetuating financial harm.

Consequences of Deception

The CFPB’s enforcement action resulted in a $8.4 million penalty against RAM Payment, its co-founders, and a related entity. The order also mandated significant reforms to the company’s practices, including:

  1. Prohibition of Advance Fees: RAM Payment was barred from collecting advance fees for debt relief services.
  2. Enhanced Disclosures: The company was required to provide clear and transparent disclosures to consumers about its role and the potential costs involved.
  3. Establishment of Refund Procedures: RAM Payment was mandated to establish fair and consumer-friendly refund procedures for unearned fees.

Lessons Learned

The Reliant Account Management lawsuit serves as a stark reminder of the importance of consumer protection in the debt relief industry. It highlights the need for companies to operate with transparency, honesty, and a genuine commitment to helping consumers navigate the complexities of debt relief.

References:

  1. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (2022, May 11). CFPB Orders Scam’s Ringleaders to Pay More Than $8 Million to Consumers and Student Loan Borrowers. Retrieved from https://www.consumerfinance.gov/enforcement/actions/
  2. Better Business Bureau. (n.d.). Reliant Account Management. Retrieved from https://www.bbb.org/us/tn/knoxville/profile/payment-processing-services/reliant-account-management-0533-90028599/customer-reviews
  3. RAM Payment, LLC, also dba Reliant; Account Management Systems, LLC, fka Reliant Account Management; Gregory Winters; and Stephen Chaya | Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.consumerfinance.gov/

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