06 June 2004

Dept. of Just Desserts

AmeriDebt, one of the morass of "credit counseling" firms aiming to help consumers "avoid" bankruptcy—and, in the case of a few of them, thereby preserve the ability of the creditors to sue the consumers—has itself filed for bankruptcy. Now, admittedly, the FTC is indeed picking on AmeriDebt for deceptive marketing and excessive fees: It could just as well have gone after most of this late-night-cable-TV-based "industry" for the same or related problems. That is not to say that AmeriDebt doesn't deserve such attention; only that it has, thus far, been singled out. Would it surprise you to know that one of the biggest of the "credit counseling" firms was established by a consortium of subprime lenders and department-store finance arms? I didn't think so.