My mom was referred to an AFFS/New Beginnings agent by a customer service representative from Bank of America. She called this AFFS person, spoke to him about debt consolidation and how AFFS could help. Poor mom trusted the guy, gave her debit card info....then it all went downhill from there.
She received their information packet a few days later and showed it to me. First and foremost, AFFS did not have real letterhead...everything in the packet was photocopied white paper - first sign that the company probably was a low budget illegitimate shop. Second, the company name was misspelled in the letter - ok not good. Third, the address on the letterhead was different from the address on the envelope - something's fishy. Then I checked the Better Business Bureau's website. Low and behold, the AFFS in San Ramon, CA and Dublin, CA had 9 complaints. I told my mom to stay away.
She called her contact to tell him that she was not interested and as expected, he did not return any of her calls. A week or two later, an AFFS represenative called my mom. She told that person that she was not interested in participating in the program, yet the next day there was a $400 charge on her account. The $400 was for some insurance/benefit program they were selling on the side in addition to the debt management service - total scam!
I finally got involved. I called AFFS in San Ramon and tried to speak to a manager about this billing issue. The person I spoke with told me that the manager was gone and would be back in an hour (it was 3pm). I asked her if I could speak to the person listed as the president on the BBB website and she didn't even know who I was talking about. OK... So, I call the corporate office of New Beginnings Financial located near Orange County, CA. I tell the representative that answers my call the situation and how I need to speak to a manager. At this point, I was thinking that the man my mother spoke with was dishonest and took advantage of her naivete, then I quickly realized that the whole company (actually companies) was a sham. When I realized the customer service rep was trying to brush me off, I demanded to speak to a manager and he insisted that no one was available to speak to me and that I couldn't even hold for a manager to become available because that would tie up his telephone line. He said he would have a manager call me back. I never received a call.
I realized that I wouldn't be able to resolve this situation amicably, so I reported the charge as a fraudulent/unauthorized charge to my mom's bank, we cancelled her debit card, then I wrote a letter to AFFS informing them that I would report them to the California Attorney General's office for fraudulent business practices. You better believe they started calling back, but at that point, talking to them would've been pointless, so we ignored all calls.
What an ordeal. Save yourself the trouble and stay away from American Financial Freedom Services and New Beginnings Financial!