William and Chouhei Mullin received two letters from an unidentified company offering assistance in minimizing their debt. The Minneapolis couple sent the letters to Whistleblower telling us they came from "fraudsters" and said they do not owe the $27,928 the letters claim.
I called the 800-numbers listed at the bottom of the letter and a man, who would only say his name is Mike, identified the company as the Validation Center. I told him I was a reporter and he answered some of my questions, which usually doesn't happen when we call numbers listed on most mail-in offers we receive.
The company is based in San Diego and offers debt relief services such as credit counseling, bankruptcy and debt resolution services, which can reduce the amount of debt. Mike said the company may charge a fee once the debts have been reduced or eliminated. He wouldn't say how much. He said the letters are sent to people who are behind on their credit card payments, but Bill Mullin said they have paid everything on time.
Before we got off the phone, Mike insisted I tell the couple to give him a call, so he can help them out.
Dan Hendrickson, with the Better Business Bureau, said they have not come across this particular company, but the offers are not uncommon.
"Each letter contains only the barest amount of information on what company is behind this offer and what they're actually offering," Hendrickson said. "The general names they claim to operate under tell me they're looking to keep a low profile."
Attorney General Lori Swanson warned consumers in 2010 not to pay up-front fees for debt assistance programs.
"Most debt management companies are required to be licensed by the Minnesota Department of Commerce," said the AG's office in a consumer warning on their website. "Therefore, before you hire a debt management company, check with the State Commerce Department to be sure it is properly licensed."
The Validation Center is not a licensed debt settlement or management company in Minnesota, according to the Commerce Department's website.
Here are the letters: