JG Wentworth is one of the biggest companies in the debt relief industry. They claim to help people “overcome financial hardships” by negotiating lower payments or interest rates on debts owed. However, some troubling lawsuits and online complaints have raised questions over whether consumers are getting scammed.
Overview of J.G. Wentworth
J.G. Wentworth has been around since 1991 and heavily advertises its services through TV commercials and online marketing. The company focuses primarily on structured settlement purchasing, buying people’s future settlement payouts for an upfront discounted lump sum.
However, in recent years J.G. Wentworth has expanded into the debt relief industry. They now offer to negotiate with creditors on the customer’s behalf to settle credit card and other unsecured debts. The debt relief program claims to provide flexible options to help people overcome debt.
Class Action Lawsuit Accuses Company of Scamming Vulnerable Consumers
In November 2019, J.G. Wentworth was hit with a class action lawsuit (Case No.: 4:2019cv02860) alleging that the company scammed consumer Richard Tarvin when purchasing his $400,000 structured settlement. According to the lawsuit filed in Missouri court:
“J.G. Wentworth’s unfair, deceptive and fraudulent conduct caused consumers to not receive the necessary legal advice of disinterested counsel when evaluating offers to purchase structured settlement payments.”
The lawsuit essentially accuses JG Wentworth of intentionally providing consumers with conflicted legal advice to convince them to accept settlement offers well below fair market value – a clear scam if true.
While this lawsuit focuses specifically on structured settlements, it certainly raises concerns over whether J.G. Wentworth is also scamming vulnerable consumers struggling with debt through its relief programs.
Negative Reviews and Complaints from Customers
There are concerning complaints about J.G. Wentworth’s debt relief program found on websites like Trustpilot, BBB, and Reddit:
- One Redditor claimed J.G. Wentworth lied about settling their debts but instead “destroying their credit” with 7 years of negative marks.
- A BBB reviewer said the company fraudulently claimed accounts would be paid off in 3-6 months but over a year later still no arrangements made.
- Multiple reviews cite ruined credit scores, continuing collection calls and lawsuits from creditors despite enrolling in debt relief.
- Customers allege debts were settled for more than if they had negotiated directly with creditors without J.G. Wentworth’s excessive fees.
These complaints accuse J.G. Wentworth of overpromising on debt relief results while hiding the damage their programs may do to credit and finances. It points to potential bait-and-switch fraudulent tactics.
How Can JG Wentworth Debt Relief Program Be a Scam?
There are a few ways JG Wentworth could be scamming customers with dubious debt relief promises:
1. Charging excessive fees – Upwards of 25% fees before settling any debts. Could pay more than just paying off normally.
2. Damaging credit – Program requires defaulting on debts which devastates credit scores with negative marks.
3. False promises – Lying about ability to actually settle debts for low amounts or agreed timetables.
4. Hiding consequences – Failing to clearly disclose program’s effects on legal rights, credit, and possible tax liabilities.
These factors can result in consumers being left in worse financial shape than before seeking debt relief. It fits the pattern of scam operations designed to prey on struggling debtors.
Why This Debt Relief Program May Still Be Legitimate
However, there are compelling counterarguments for why J.G. Wentworth’s debt relief may still be a legitimate program:
1. Many positive reviews – Over 4/5 star average rating from 156 BBB reviews. Some high praise for results.
2. Long history – Founded in 1991 and BBB accredited since 1996 suggests reliable reputation.
3. Legal requirements – As an actual company (not fly-by-night scam), J.G. Wentworth must operate programs legally and deliver on core promises.
4. Flexible options – Variety of debt relief solutions to suit different financial situations. Settlement is not the only path.
5. Light regulation – Debt settlement industry has lax government oversight. Unethical conduct is often technically legal activity.
While some customer criticism is justified, J.G. Wentworth seems to satisfy the basic standards of a legitimate, lawful business. But consumers should still approach promises cautiously.
The Verdict: Weigh Options Carefully Considering Risks
Entering a debt relief program like J.G. Wentworth’s can be appealing but carries real financial hazards that customers must educate themselves on. There are certainly alarming complaints and lawsuits that signal consumers should tread carefully and vet options thoroughly before handing over their sensitive financial situations. Desperation often breeds poor decisions and makes people prime targets for scams.
Ultimately J.G. Wentworth does not appear to be an outright illegal scam operation. However, as with any major for-profit debt relief company, consumers should verify credentials, read contracts diligently, research state protections, and watch for warning signs of excessive fees or damage control. Avoid simply trusting sweet-sounding promises. Evaluate the debt relief company and competitor programs extremely carefully while aiming to safeguard credit scores and legal rights.