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Home > Blog > Debt > Management Companies > Synergy Debt Group's Misleading Claims | synergydebt.ca

Synergy Debt Group's Misleading Claims | synergydebt.ca

Posted on July 19th, 2011

The Synergy Debt Group Inc. (website: synergydebt.ca) is an American telemarketing debt management company that is run out of Melbourne, Florida by Wav Services Team. Synergy Debt Group "Counsellors" are paid commission to sign up as many people as possible for their debt management program. This company makes a lot of claims about itself and its services that we believe are false and misleading. We would like to shed some light on these claims and provide some background information on this company so that Canadians can be informed.

The information contained in this article has been obtained from Synergy Debt Group's former clients, current and former employees, government agencies and industry professionals. We have spent many hours painstakingly verifying all information presented in this article to make sure that it is as accurate as possible.

Synergy Debt Group, synergydebt.ca is Tim McCallan's company (the owner of the Vortex Debt Group)
Synergy Debt Group Inc.,
synergydebt.ca, is run by
the same people who ran
the Vortex Debt Group.

 

Overview

Click on any topic to learn more:
 

Synergy Debt Group’s Incorrect Claims

Here are the false claims that Synergy Debt seems to be promoting:

 

Synergy Debt Group is Not Licensed in Most of Canada

Synergy Debt is only licensed in Ontario and Alberta. The fact that they claim to be licensed in all 10 provinces but are only licensed in 2 is again a substantial distortion of the truth. If you do not live in Ontario or Alberta and Synergy Debt tried to sell you one of their Debt Management Programs, than that was illegal.

To offer a debt management program, the laws of most provinces require that an agency be licensed as a debt pooler. Anyone without a criminal conviction can obtain a debt pooler license in most provinces. Obtaining this license does not mean that an agency has been thoroughly investigated by the provincial licensing body, nor does it mean that the licensing body approves of an agency's business practices in any way.

 

Synergy Debt Employees Falsely Claim that Their Company is Canadian and has an Office in Scarborough, Ontario

Synergy Debt is 100% American owned and operated, and it has no offices in Canada. Synergy Debt Group and its related companies—Clear Blue Debt Solutions, Wave Group Marketing and others—are all run out of the same office in Melbourne, Florida by Tim McCallan,“the biggest fish to have never been caught in any regulator crackdown (source of quote).” These companies’ telemarketing sales office and their processing department are located at 3270 Suntree Blvd, Suites 102A & 102B, Melbourne, FL 32940.

   
Office for Synergy Debt Group, Clear Blue Debt Solutions and the Vortex Debt Group  
Synergy Debt Group's office in Melbourne, Florida. All of their sales and processing staff are located in suites 102A & 102B of this building. These are the same offices and staff that ran the Vortex Debt Group.
 
 

Further proof that Synergy Debt Group Inc. is an American company is drawn from the fact that it is incorporated in the state of Delaware, and the Officer, President, and Director for that company are registered as Wendy Manzo, Tim McCallan’s employee. On the second page of Synergy Debt’s client agreement it states that “this agreement shall be governed by the laws of the State of Delaware.” Canadian companies don’t put clauses like this in their contracts.

The Canadian office address that is listed on the Synergy Debt Group’s website, synergydebt.ca, is prominently displayed on their client agreements and is quoted by Synergy Debt employees is only a mail box. Synergy Debt Group does not have a real office in Canada, and they never have. The mail box they rent is called a “virtual office.” The receptionist for the virtual office answers the phone number for each of the mail boxes with the company’s name so that it sounds like you have actually reached the company. The receptionist then transfers your call to the company’s real office which in this case is a telemarketing call centre in Melbourne, Florida.

You can see the rental listing for Synergy Debt Group’s virtual office at 100 Consilium Place Suite 200, Scarborough, Ontario by clicking here.

There is nothing wrong with renting a mail box or a virtual office. However, if a company uses the office to deliberately deceive people, then they have clearly crossed the line. Based on our investigation and information we’ve obtained from a former employee, Synergy Debt Employees is clearly misleading and deceiving the Canadian public. All of their employees claim that the company’s real office is at the same mail box in Scarborough, Ontario. When asked for details, the employees would say things like “everything is outsourced to (the call centre in) Florida because it’s cheaper” and once you sign up for your program “everything will be handled by the Ontario office.” One employee went on to elaborate about all of the things that the Ontario office does including “processing,” “creditor relations,” and other things. The only problem of course is that the Scarborough office is only a mail box.

 

Synergy Debt Group’s Program Majorly Impacts Your Credit

The Debt Management Program that Synergy Debt Group offers will have a major negative impact on your credit score for 6 – 7 years. In no way does it allow you to maintain your credit. Non profit credit counselling organizations that offer a legitimate version of this program have the authority to erase the records of debts that are enrolled on their Debt Management Programs 2 years after their clients finish their programs. To our knowledge the Synergy Debt Group does not have the ability to do this. So while their program may help some people's credit a bit, overall it is far more likely to have a very negative impact.

Synergy Debt’s client agreement contradicts their sales representatives and furthers our point by stating that in signing their agreement a client acknowledges that they “recognize that participation in Synergy debt management program could have an adverse effect on [their] credit report (page 1),” and Synergy “will not provide or engage in credit repair or undertake to eliminate any negative entries on [their client’s] credit report (page 2).”

 

Creditors May Refuse to Work with Synergy Debt Group

Synergy Debt Group claims that all creditors work with them. However, based on our experiences with a number of creditors, we know that this isn't always true. Former Synergy clients have told us that American Express, MBNA, and a couple of credit unions refused to deal with them. So we called American Express and MBNA to verify Synergy Debt’s claim. The representatives that we spoke with at American Express and MBNA both assured us that they do not work with the Synergy Debt Group. This is all the more disturbing since we called the Synergy Debt Group as a normal consumer who was interested in their service and Synergy’s “processing department” provided us in writing with a fictitious interest rate of 0% that they claim American Express was offering their clients. This is a claim that American Express denies as it is contrary to their policy of not dealing with for-profit credit counselling companies.

 

Synergy Debt Group’s Interest Rates Don’t Change Very Often

One representative we spoke with at Synergy Debt told us that we would be smart to sign up for their program right away because “interest rate offers fluctuate with the market.” This is false. If a creditor is willing to work with Synergy Debt, they will have a standard reduced interest rate that they will charge Synergy Debt’s clients. These rates are very rarely changed by creditors. So there is absolutely no need for anyone to rush into signing anything. The only change in interest rates that Synergy Debt employees may observe is if the clients they are signing up hardly qualify for interest relief, then the creditor may only reduce their interest rate by a small amount—or they may not reduce it at all.

 

Synergy Debt Group’s Legitimacy is Questionable

We called the Synergy Debt Group several times as a normal consumer who was not experiencing financial difficulty. Our only complaint was that we didn’t like paying 20% interest on our credit cards each month. Each time Synergy Debt’s “Counsellors” were more than willing to sign us up for their program. Based on our extensive experience providing Debt Management Programs to Canadians, we know that creditors would be very unlikely to accept our debts onto a Debt Management Program based on the situation we outlined.

This experience with Synergy Debt lends credibility to a former Synergy Debt employee’s claim that all the company really cares about is signing up people for its programs and collecting the first few payments. Synergy Debt’s client agreement further arouses our suspicions that this allegation may be true. Synergy Debt’s client agreement dated June 27, 2011 stipulates that their clients must accept the following:

  • “My first payment to Synergy will not be disbursed to my creditors (page 1).” Synergy will keep 100% of this payment. This practice is unheard of among reputable credit counselling organizations. This does not help the client and instead creates a hardship for them by forcing them to make a double payment on their first month of the program since Synergy’s contract states that you must still pay your creditors yourself until the second month.
  • “The first 90 days of the program . . . is the amount of time my creditors need to process my accounts and apply my benefits (page 1).” This may be true in some exceptional cases, but most of the time, most creditors will respond to a credit counselling agency within approximately 30 days. We would be very concerned if Synergy was waiting until 90 days to break the news to its clients that many of their creditors refused to allow the client’s debt to go on the program.
  • “All fees are non refundable (page 1).” We sincerely hope that Synergy Debt is not holding out for 90 days so that they can keep their client’s first three payments. Unfortunately, the ex-employee we spoke with insists that they are.
  • If a client feels that they have been wronged by the Synergy Debt Group, they will either have to travel to the state of Delaware or hire a lawyer in Delaware to proceed with legal action. Synergy’s contract clearly states that, “this agreement shall be governed by the laws of the State of Delaware. Any action to interpret or enforce this agreement shall be brought solely before the courts of that state (page 2).”

We believe that these business practices stated in Synergy Debt’s client agreement, calls the legitimacy of their company into question, and when these business practices are viewed in light of Synergy Debt’s owner’s track record and the allegations of many of his former employees, we have very serious concerns about the legitimacy of this company. All legitimate non-profit organizations who offer Debt Management Programs only offer them to around 20% of the people that seek their help. The reason for this is that these programs are not appropriate for the financial circumstances of 80% of people who seek help with their debts. There are many other options that legitimate credit counselling agencies will present to people who a Debt Management Program doesn’t make sense for.

Legitimate credit counselling agencies know what options may be the right fit for their clients because they help each of their clients prepare a budget that takes into account all of their financial obligations along with their assets and income. When we called the Synergy Debt Group, they did not do any of this. If they don’t carefully analyze your financial situation, then they are in no position to recommend financial solutions to anyone. This is another huge red flag that we believe calls their motives and business practices into question.

 

Synergy Debt Group Inc. is Really the Vortex Debt Group and Wave Group Marketing (WAV Services Team)

Email signatures of Synergy Debt Group employees indicate that they work for WAV Services Team which appears to be Wave Group Marketing
The email signatures of Synergy
Debt Group and Clear Blue Debt
Solutions "Counsellors" don't
mention either of these
companies. Instead they indicate
that these people work for WAV
Services Team which we are told
is Wave Group Marketing.

 

Synergy Debt Group Inc., Clear Blue Debt Solutions Inc. and the Vortex Debt Group all appear to be run through—and all employees are paid by—Wave Group Marketing or Wav Services Team (former and existing employees of these companies have confirmed this. This is also referenced on employee email signatures. They read "WAV Services Team."). Timothy McCallan appears to either own or control all of these companies and operate them all from the same offices in Melbourne, Florida. Establishing that all of these companies are run by the same people is important because their track record is informative. To read more about the predecessor to Synergy Debt Group, the Vortex Debt Group, click here to see our review. Here are some of the highlights from that review:

  • Synergy Debt Group Inc’s Predecessor, the Vortex Debt Group, Engaged in “Deceptive and Unfair Practices”

The "Vortex Debt Group engaged in deceptive and unfair practices by promising to reduce consumers' debt, taking significant fees from consumers in exchange for this claimed service, and failing to actually reduce consumers' debts. This often left consumers with more debt and less money.” - Attorney General's Office from the state of Missouri on why they banned Vortex from their state and ordered them to refund all fees paid by their clients.

Colorado's Attorney General also canceled and revoked Vortex's license on July 1, 2011.

 
  • BBB Warned Consumers about the Vortex Debt Group

In February 2011 the Vancouver Better Business Bureau (BBB) warned Canadians about dealing with the Vortex Debt Group. In the U.S., Vortex has an F rating with the Better Business Bureau—the worst rating possible on a scale of A+ to F—after the BBB received numerous complaints.

 
  • Vortex’s Success Rate Likely Less Than 10%

A government investigation estimated that the success rate of for-profit debt settlement companies like Vortex was less than 10%. One past and one current Vortex employee confirmed this. The former employee estimated that the actual success rate was less than 5%. Meanwhile, Vortex’s sales people were telling Canadians that they have an extremely high success rate.

 
  • CBC News Exposed the Vortex Debt Group

The CBC blew the whistle on the Vortex Debt Group and accused them charging desperate people high fees but then leaving them worse off with more debt.

 

How to Find a Reputable Debt Relief or Credit Counselling Agency

If you would like to find a reputable organization to help you explore all of your options to get your debt under control (including a debt settlement) and create a plan eliminate your debt, we suggest that you contact an organization that meets all of the following criteria:
 

  • A non-profit organization. A registered charitable society that does not exist to profit off of people or pay its Counsellors commission or incentives based on the number of people that they sign up onto a certain program.
  • An accredited member of a recognized Canadian credit counselling association. There are two of these in Canada. You can find a list of accredited members in your area on either of there websites:
  • An accredited member of the Better Business Bureau in good standing.

 

 

Update: July 25, 2012

CTV News investigative reporter, Lynda Steele, presents her findings on the Synergy Debt Group and warns that "American debt settlement companies are preying on vulnerable" Canadians. Full CTV story on Synergy Debt Group.

 

 

Notes: We have withheld the identity of the former Synergy Debt employee who came forward to us with more information on the Vortex Debt Group, Synergy Debt Group and Clear Blue Debt Solutions. The employee came forward after they saw the CBC’s news story on Vortex. The former employee fears retribution from their employer if the employer were to find out who the former employee is. We have reason to believe that the former employee’s concerns are valid. We have provided this employees allegations and our findings to the appropriate Canadian authorities.

Based on the information that the former employee provided to us, we have been able to verify numerous details about these companies including the fact that Synergy Debt Group and Clear Blue Debt Solutions employees are paid $9.62 per hour plus a 30% commission of their client’s first payments “after they hit $6,000” in total first payments signed up for the month. So the employees of these companies earn more money if they manage to sign up more people onto these companies programs.

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Comments

Thank you very much for your sharing your information on Synergy Debt Group, Inc.

I have to say that I am not surprised to read this as I am having major issues with them right now. They have not been up front with me about several different issues and because of them I am behind in my payments. Too much to get into in this message but I have lost all trust in this company and want to get out. They did not tell me that the first payment went to them. They take my money out on the 15th of the month and my creditors do not receive it until almost the 11th of the next month. Also one of my creditors has not been paid and they do not deal with Synergy group and said that Synergy Dept knows this. When I talked to someone at Synergy Debt , they told me that it can take up to 120 days after the first payment to them to decide whether they will give me a reduced interest rate. When I signed up, they guy made it sound like he had already been talking to the creditors and that they agreed to set amounts, only to find out after I had signed the contract that this was not so. I would call and someone would talk with me and it would satisfy me until the next problem came up. Then they would talk with me like I was a crazy lady who needed to be talked off of the ledge or something, Which I did not appreciate that is for sure. Right now I just feel stupid however I am not the first and I will not be the last. The thing is, I pride myself on doing my due diligence . Obviously I did not look hard enough. Thank you for all the info. I may be calling for your help.

<p>Huh. Interesting. I saw the Alberta number come up on my phone enough over the last few months that I took the call today to see who it was. I happened to be thinking about options for debt management so I entertained the call. Of course once I showed interest, I was bounced to the Florida "call centre".</p> <p>Man was the guy slick. I wasn't born yesterday, but he really had me convinced this was legit. I assumed there were some games involved, so I tried negotiating, etc. I felt like he was the car salesman and had to run off to approve my counter-proposals with some non-existent manager. This didn't raise any flags to me, but I kept trying to understand the business he was in, and flat-out asked him a few times how they made their money. He definitely answered all my questions to my satisfaction, but holy smokes, if all this is true, it was all lies!</p> <p>He told me three times, with absolute clarity, NO, this plan WILL NOT affect your credit in any way whatsoever, unlike a debt settlement plan would. He was slick, yet I saw through it enough that I suspected they discouraged debt settlement plans, or at least priced them in a way to force you to say, yeah, the other plan sounds better.</p> <p>After a little pushing, and totally to his credit as a salesman, really only a little pushing, he clarified that there was a $50 fee to manage the account per month. I was led to believe this was the only fee involved, and that this was the primary source of their revenue. I'm a supporter of entrepreneurs, so sure, that sounded fair.</p> <p>At NO point was any of the other stuff in this article mentioned to me, and I took up a good chunk of his day, making him call me back a few times after he went and got "approval" for some things.</p> <p>The one thing he told me they couldn't negotiate was the total monthly payment vs. total debt. He told me their monthly fee was based on the rate my creditors would give, which he said was 0% for all but my PC Mastercard, plus THEIR rules. Is this not true?</p> <p>Anyway, I wanted to add my two cents' worth because this site potentially saved my butt. I can tell this guy tomorrow no way, eh?</p> <p>I have no problems with a group trying to make a buck, but if they're preying on the desperate, hoping they won't read the contract before signing it, oh man... This is much worse than the clipboard guys at your front door asking for your hydro bill.</p> <p>Thanks for the input! If you guys could post links to the CBC thing or the BBB ratings, etc. that would be cool. I'll check again in case I just missed that info; read it on my iphone...</p> <br /> -D

Thanks for sharing your experience, Darryl. In many ways it is very similar to ours. Their sales people are very persuasive. Some of what they say is true, but unfortunately, a lot is misleading. We don't have any problem with entrepreneurs trying to make a buck helping people, but they must be truthful, properly disclose the risks and the costs, and make sure that their "solution" is the most appropriate one for your situation. Statistically speaking, the Debt Management Program that Synergy sells will not work well for around 80% of the people who are interested in it. I hope that the Synergy sales rep carefully went over every aspect of your budget, assets, and liabilities before offering you their program. If he didn't, then there is no way that he could know if his program was the right fit for you. After analyzing your financial information, a reputable Credit Counsellors would normally lay out for you all of your options and discuss with you the pros and cons of each one - and each one definitely has a down side.

To answer your other questions, the links to the BBB and CBC story are on the page. Sorry you couldn’t see them on your phone. In regards to Synergy offering you 0% interest on most of your credit cards, that may be true. All major creditors will drastically reduce or eliminate your credit card interest rate if they approve your debt for a debt management program. However, not all creditors will work with for-profit debt management companies like Synergy. Some claim to only work with non-profit organizations. Creditors are very smart. They will only approve your debt for a debt management program if it makes sense to them. Many debt settlement companies can claim that creditors work with them, but that doesn’t mean that creditors approve many of the proposals that they send in. This is why trust and reputation are so important. Call your creditors and ask them which credit counselling organizations they trust in your area. In regard to your sales rep having to check with his manager to offer you a better deal, in our experience that is completely unheard of with reputable debt relief agencies. Usually there is no negotiation on interest rates with creditors. Most of the time they have blank policies and set interest rates for debt management programs. If Big Bank Visa is offering 0% interest to other Synergy clients, then that’s likely what they are going to give you to – provided Synergy can get them to approve your debt for their debt management program. Oh yes, and while you are on a debt management program, you will have to give up your credit cards and live on a cash budget for the 3 to 5 years it takes to pay off your program. We hope he disclosed this to you and offered help and coaching in living on a cash budget.

I signed up with them not long ago and to date the company that synergy is supposed to pay on my behalf has only received ONE payment...how can i get out of this? is there any way to stop dealing with synergy? they keep taking my payments every month but the company never gets their payment and i am behind 3 months???? i guess i'm just a sucker......

Hi Gayle, <p>You're not a sucker. If you are paying them money to provide you with a service and they aren't delivering, then the problem is with them and not with you. Here is what you can do:</p> <p>- If you wish to end your program with Synergy, just close the bank account that they are withdrawing money from. That will end the program. - You should also demand all of your money back since they did not provide you with the service that you signed up for. - You should contact the consumer protection authority in your province and file a formal complaint. It sounds like a number of illegal things may be happening here. - You should file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau so that others can be warned. - Keep in touch with your creditor and let them know what is going on. - Consider contacting a non-profit credit counselling service (like ourselves) to find out what your best options are to repay your debt in a way that is affordable to you.</p>

I was taken in by synergy group last year, I got wise ang got out of it by going thru consumer proposal with a lawyer. My question is how do I recoup the two payments that I made to them, it was around $1100?

<p>If they didn&#39;t settle any debts for you, then we would suggest that you call them up and demand a refund. If you aren&#39;t satisfied with their response you can escalate the matter to the Better Business Bureau and also file an official complaint with the Consumer Protection authority in your province. However, there still isn&#39;t any guarantee that you&#39;ll get any money back. For this reason many people are now complaining to their local MLA to encourage their provincial government to crack down on debt settlement companies.</p>

<p>How do I make them stop calling. I told them I'm not interested in their services not once but three times and still they keep calling. once to twice a day.</p> <p>How do I make them stop.</p>

Hi Ray, This sounds like harassment. WAV Services Team is likely licensed as the Synergy Debt Group in your province. Their license will be with your provincial consumer protection authority. We would suggest that you tell the representative from the WAV Services Team that you will file a formal complaint both with the consumer protection authority in your province and the Better Business Bureau if these calls continue.

Hey, My dad got suckered into it as well, and Synergy has not made any payments towards his MasterCard, and has majorly affected his credit. My dad signed up for this in December 2011 and it is January now so only 2 payments have been sent to Synergy but they have not made any payments towards his mastercard. How can we get out of this, and rectify his credit ? Please help us....

Hi Susan, Your dad's agreement with Synergy is voluntary. So he can leave it at any time. He just needs to notify them and then close the account that payments are coming from. Unfortunatly, your dad's credit can't be fixed. The payments that were missed will show on his credit report for the next 6 years. However, your father can minimize the damage by contacting his creditors and making arrangements to straighten things out with them as soon as possible. If your father is having difficulty making his payments, it might be a good idea to suggest that he speak with a non-profit Credit Counsellor and find out what all of his options are.

Just an F.Y.I on this subject, Capital Debt Relief, Elimidebt, First Consumer Debt Consolidation, Clear Blue, Achievable, Vortex, Debt Sheild and Intellidebt are ALL ran out of the same FL call center as Synergy. If you know of anyone who is associated with any of these companies, please tell them to cut their losses and get out now.....they are folding fast, letting people go left and right, and there are rumors that their business bank accounts have been frozen for months. There are MANY not for profit organizations that can provide better service.
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