American Association of Credit Counselors

new-logo

Consumer Recovery Network

Individual(s) in Charge: Michael Bovee
Email Address: michaelatconsumerrecoverynetworkdotcom

Company Name: Consumer Recovery Network
Company Street Address: 1207 Michigan St. Sandpoint ID 83864
Company Website URL: www.consumerrecoverynetwork.com
Telephone Number: 800-939-8357
Email Address: infoatconsumerrecoverynetworkdotcom

Services Provided:

  • Education and Training Materials Designed for Do It Yourself Debt Settlement & Debt Management.
  • Ongoing Support and Coaching Designed to Supplement and Enhance DIY Results.
  • Full Service Debt Settlement

Questions

1. What is your company position on putting consumers first in providing debt relief services?

At all times our member’s needs, priorities and goals come first. When offering a product and service to people struggling with their personal finances, you have an obligation and responsibility to first identify that you can have a positive impact on their circumstances. Putting consumers first begins at first contact.

2. What is your approach when helping people with problem debt to find the right solution?

In order to identify what solution best suits a person’s given set of financial circumstances we conduct a one on one consultation at no cost to the consumer. This is done in order to identify solutions that best fit each individual’s financial abilities. The list of legitimate options for managing problem debt is short, because of this; our consultations are designed more as a process of elimination. We help consumers narrow the list and identify the next best step for them to take.

Currently, every consult we do is performed by a CRN specialist. These are the same people that work with CRN members and their creditors every day. All CRN specialists have more than 10 year’s hands on experience working with consumer debt issues.

3. How important is customer satisfaction to you and your company?

CRN Member satisfaction is rule number one. CRN does no paid advertising. We exist via word of mouth and organic exposure. Our growth has, and will continue to, rely upon the satisfaction of our customers. When CRN members do well, we do well.

4. What steps do you take to make sure customers are happy and satisfied with the services you deliver?

CRN membership begins with education. Our members receive an unparalleled education providing a firm foundation and how to instruction regarding debt settlement. As a testament to the value and import of the materials we send to each member; more than half of the accounts marked settled in our data base were accomplished by our members utilizing both the materials we send to them and the unlimited ongoing instruction they receive from their dedicated specialist. Each CRN member has unlimited access to their assigned CRN specialist.

We do not have a hierarchy of customer support levels customers have to wade through. Also, members have unlimited access to all CRN resources, including the ability to contact me at anytime.

5. How can consumer’s best communicate with you to reach a staff member quickly?

Our members can reach their assigned CRN specialist through phone, fax and email. Email is generally the quickest means for a CRN member to contact their assigned specialist and coach.

6. What is your standard response time to consumer inquiries?

Consumers who wish to schedule an initial consultation are typically contacted the same day of their request whether calling our toll free line: 800-939-8357 ext. 3, or when filling out the consultation request form on our web site. Scheduling can be immediate, or calendared to meet the needs of those reaching out to us. Our policy is to return all messages within 1 business day (as messages may be left after business hours). Those filling out and submitting the web form linked above are visible to us immediately which makes web based consultation requests the preferred method for consumers and for us.

7. Do you require the consumer to provide any personal information prior to being able to review the contract you will ask them to sign?

Our contracts can be viewed on the CRN site without having to contact us.

Before we agree to work with a consumer, even before we would recommend someone purchase our stand alone educational materials, we require a consultation with a CRN specialist. We first want to identify someone is well suited to enroll with CRN or whether they could be a success using debt settlement as a tool for debt relief. During the consult we will ask many personal questions. The questions cover general financial details and personal goals. We are not asking for account numbers, but do need to know current balances etc… in order to walk the consumer through some mathematical exercises that are designed to help them identify what debt relief approach makes the most sense for them and their unique set of circumstances. We do not ask for bank account information and do not enroll new members over the phone or in one phone call. Consumers should weigh the information we provide during the initial consult and do additional research afterward.

8. Are you willing to share your company performance numbers and do you feel that information is important for consumers to know?

We do share all targeted settlement numbers with each person we complete a consultation with who we have identified as a good fit to use the CRN product and service. We send a written good faith estimate to each potential member using the creditors and balances that were covered during the one on one consultation. Our written estimate is derived from real time data and results with their specific creditors and collection accounts. This is the best method for a consumer to evaluate whether they should proceed in working with CRN. The performance and percentages are tailored to their debt, not generalities.

We do provide historical performance data on the CRN website as a transparency measure. Other than the time to complete your program estimate (we do not enroll consumers into plans that cannot be completed in 24 months or less) consumers should not look at historical performance measures as a standard for their own results.

9. When a consumer elects to utilize the services you offer, what is the process to get things rolling?

We can begin working with new members immediately once we establish we will have a positive impact on their situation. Upon submitting completed Membership Enrollment Order Forms, consumers are shipped our materials same day (when documents are received before 4 pm pacific time). New members are notified via email and telephone within 48 hours of enrollment who their assigned specialist is and given email and telephone contact information for that person. Your specialist will reach out to you via phone and email in order to schedule a convenient time for your first intensive strategy session meeting.

10. What states do you provide services in?
We can assist consumers in all 50 states. However, CRN does not get paid a fee for the direct debt settlement work our members ask us to perform in about half of the states. This fact is important and worth a brief explanation.

We have a very unique business model.

The goal at CRN is to first provide education to consumers consisting of every tool, detail and the ongoing support they will need, in order to settle their own debts without CRN’s direct intervention. We are exceptional in this regard. Over 50% of accounts in our data base that are marked complete were settled by our members themselves. We show people how to get the same and sometimes better settlement results, than a pro. Instead of using money that they would have paid out in performance/success based fees; our members can apply those funds to their debt settlements. This allows CRN members to complete their work with us much quicker than they would by asking CRN to settle the debts and having us then calculate 15% of savings as a fee/donation.

Our members do request that CRN handle negotiations with their creditors. We are perfectly willing and capable to do some or all of the settlements on behalf of our members. Many of our members enroll with that very expectation. They are pleasantly surprised with how our educational materials and ongoing individualized support allows them to be just as successful, and in a shorter period of time, but for the much more cost effective price of membership.

Our approach is the most fair we are aware of. Depending on the state a CRN member lives in, it gets even fairer.

Different States – Different Laws

Due to recent federal rules that went into effect on 10/27/10, most companies offering debt settlement services now collect fees for service based on performance. This is a welcome change providing necessary protections for consumers across the nation, but it was not always so.

When we launched in 2006, we knew well how much of our industry was built around lining the pockets of debt relief advertisers, marketers and profiteers. Many states have recognized this too, and either had existing laws, or have since passed laws designed to protect consumers living in them. As these laws often focus on fees for direct debt settlement services we were forced to make a decision at the formation of CRN. Would we focus our resources and efforts working only in select markets? Should we focus on profits, or focus on people?

When we launched CRN in April of 2006, we were one of very few companies offering direct debt settlement services based on a fee that was only paid contingent upon our successfully negotiating and documenting a deal that our customer accepted and then funded. In order to reach struggling consumers in all states, we found we could charge a success fee in some states, but offer to do so free of charge in others. How could we do this without the effect of penalizing an already struggling consumer in one state while still providing full service debt settlement at no cost to a consumer in another?

What we ultimately designed is a strictly voluntary system whereby consumers in some states agree to consider donating our calculated performance fee to consumer causes in their local communities. We initially identified low income legal aid offices as recommended recipients for these donations. These offices are underfunded, overworked and underappreciated for the work they do with the financially disadvantaged. They assist in protecting the rights of consumers who would otherwise have nowhere to turn. Their assistance is often focused on consumer abuses found in financial transactions.

As the economic downturn developed into a recession, we began to encourage our members in these states to consider donating our calculate success fee to their local food bank in the form of non perishable food items. Perhaps simply dropping off a bag of groceries each time they shop for a period of time.

Fairer Still – CRN membership costs have always been applied as an offset to any later calculated success fee, or recommended voluntary donation to consumer causes.

In this way, we are able to deliver the same commitment and results when assisting our members nationwide.

11. Are you licensed in and/or meet all requirements in the states your service?

We have, and will continue to, adjust our business practices to maintain compliance with all state and federal rules governing our efforts and the work we do with consumers. Also see answer above.

12. Are you willing to work closely with any regulator or legislator to better understand the services you or the debt settlement industry provide?

CRN has worked with consumer groups, consumer advocates, state and federal regulators and legislators for several years to better understand our company and approach to working with consumers as well as the industry as a whole. This has taken the form of sharing our materials, traveling to seminars and meetings, public commentary during federal rule making procedures, selection for FTC workshop panel participation as an interested industry stakeholder, emails, authoring published articles and more. CRN will continue to provide any and all meaningful assistance in this, or anyway other method needed or requested in our effort to provide education and understanding of consumer debt issues nationwide.

13. What is your opinion on the need for companies to provide transparent information to consumers?

The more transparent information and detail a service provider delivers to potential customers the better. Anyone faced with the inability to meet their financial obligations on an ongoing basis, and who is reaching out for professional assistance, deserves nothing less than a full and comprehensive understanding of all risks and benefits about each option that would apply to them. In this way, consumers are afforded the ability to make the best decisions that will lead to their financial success while helping them to avoid costly and sometimes irreversible mistakes.

14. Is debt settlement the only solution for consumers or are there times that a debt management plan, loan, or bankruptcy might be appropriate solutions?

There are limited options for consumers who have hit the debt wall. It is imperative consumers choose the most suitable option to assist them in addressing their problem debt. In my opinion and the experience of my company, debt settlement is only appropriate for roughly 30% of the consumers we consult with. In our view; debt settlement is primarily for those whose only other alternative is filing for bankruptcy and primarily for those who either cannot qualify for chapter 7 bankruptcy, or for whom filing chapter 7 would create unique challenges.

15. Describe what you feel the AACC means for consumers and why you are a part of it.

At the time of its founding, the AACC has provided me an increased level of optimism for an industry I have often been openly critical of. The founding principles, our commitment to consumers and transparency, the like-mindedness of the founding companies, have all combined to bring a heightened level of excellence and respectability to the debt relief industry.

Prior to the official formation of CRN, the other two founders and I described our motivations and ideas as a “grass roots” effort. I see the AACC similarly. A grass roots effort to set standards for all debt relief service providers to embrace.

16. Why do you help consumers to deal with problem debt?

In the mid nineties I discovered a passion for consumer issues after researching and assisting a friend with a debt collection issue. The research and passion continued from there and continues to this day. I find that I get just as much satisfaction from completing an initial consultation resulting in assisting an individual to recognize there are better alternatives to handling their problem debt than by working with my company, as I do conducting an exit interview with a client after completing their final settlement having worked with CRN.