SOURCE: SettleFirst


April 11, 2011 16:00 ET

SettleFirst Offers Safer Options for Consumers

SANTA ANA, CA--(Marketwire - Apr 11, 2011) - Nine months before the Federal Trade Commission issued new rules for the Consumer Debt Counseling industry, SettleFirst Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Harstad developed a safer solution for consumers looking to debt settlement companies for help. With the potential for new regulations targeting unscrupulous debt settlement companies that gobbled up fees without first helping consumers, Harstad was focused on creating a company that would not charge consumers any fees until his company saved them money by negotiating a debt. Today, just six months after the FTC revised the Telemarketing Sales Rule to govern the debt relief industry, his company, SettleFirst, officially opens its doors to offer its redefined method of debt relief to consumers who truly need help, but don't know where to turn.

"I believe consumers are at great risk when they pay any amount up front before experiencing results in a debt settlement program," says Harstad, a consumer debt settlement industry veteran. "Consumers who need help with their debts should be concerned that companies or even law firms, that charge up front fees and large monthly service charges, are more concerned with profits than getting people out of debt."

Harstad built his new venture based on more than 10 years of industry experience. SettleFirst guides clients through the process of developing what Harstad calls a "forced savings plan" known as the "S:power Assistance Plan." S:power stands for settlement power. The process begins by enrolling qualified clients and reviewing each applicant's income, expenses, and their overall financial situation. Then, based on their current income, expenses and hardship, SettleFirst negotiates a payment plan that satisfies creditors and the customer's budget.

"SettleFirst offers the tools to help people put money aside each month, manage their own money and pay off their debt," Harstad says. "I guarantee results or we don't get paid."

SettleFirst regularly communicates with its customers through phone and emails. Additionally, its system allows customers online access to view their progress, approve settlement offers with their creditors, and communicate with SettleFirst staff members in charge of negotiating their debts.

Harstad is well aware of the public's perception of the debt settlement industry and is committed to changing it.

"You can't pick up the paper or search the Internet without seeing negative news stories about debt settlement," says Harstad. "There is a lack of trust out there because many debt settlement companies have been misleading consumers by charging a lot of money up front without actually settling their debt. They certainly don't guarantee results before they get paid. My commitment is to provide disclosure of the risks assessed with this service, because it isn't for everyone. That's why we qualify each applicant. I am dedicated to proving the benefits that SettleFirst offers consumers and creditors. Getting out of debt isn't easy -- it's a process that is endured by the debtor every day. But with SettleFirst, consumers have a hand to hold to get through the sometimes unpleasant and financially painful walk down the dark tunnel called debt."

SettleFirst opens its doors with 10 employees and plans to grow to 50 in the first six months of business.

About SettleFirst

SettleFirst is a nationwide consumer debt settlement company that offers its customers the opportunity to settle their debt before they are charged a fee. Based in Santa Ana, the company was founded by Jonathan Harstad who has 10+ years of experience in the industry. For more information, visit

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