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COLUMBIA, Md. – Utah is not alone in witnessing recent scandals arising from fraud-plagued credit counseling services, and Maryland credit unions are well aware of their need to “be a realistic source of help to consumers” in meeting with creditors, according to the Maryland Credit Union League. “There are some firms with aggressive practices and we have had a case here of a license taken away by the state commissioner of financial regulation,” declared Michael Beall, president/CEO of the League, commenting on a state crackdown on Ameridebt, which filed for bankruptcy in January 2004 after it was charged by the Federal Trade Commission and various agencies with defrauding users of upfront fees. Ameridebt was accused of misleading consumers by charging exorbitant fees and by calling fees a “contribution” and then failing to send payments to creditors. The Ameridebt portfolio of 50,000 accounts was sold last month to Money Management International, a Houston counseling agency which for a time was considering a bid on the defunct Consumer Credit Services of Utah. In light of continuing CU interest in debt counseling programs, Beall said he agreed last year to join the board of the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Maryland/Delaware. – [email protected]

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