The Federal Trade Commission is sending 14,521 checks totaling more than $822,000 to borrowers who lost money because of a student debt relief program that operated under the name Student Advocates.
Consumers who receive checks must cash them within 90 days as indicated on the check. Recipients who have questions about their refund should call the refund administrator, JND Legal Administration, at 877-540-0989. The Commission never requires people to pay money or provide account information to get a refund.
In September 2019, the FTC filed a lawsuit against a student debt relief program and the finance company that helped them. The FTC alleged that the operators of Student Advocates, assisted by Equitable Acceptance Corporation, charged illegal upfront fees that they said went to consumer student loans. Defendants referred customers to high-interest loans to pay these fees. The FTC also alleged that the defendants made false promises that their services would permanently reduce or even eliminate student loan repayments and consumer debt balances. None of the monies collected by the defendants were paid into consumer student loans.
At the time the FTC filed its lawsuit, it also announced a final order stipulated with Equitable Acceptance Corporation that prohibited the company from assisting debt relief services and violating the telemarketing sales rule. The order also prohibited Equitable Acceptance from collecting further payments from consumers who had purchased these debt relief services and required the company to provide monetary relief.
After more than a year of litigation, in May 2021, the FTC announced a final order stipulated with the student advocates that prohibited the company from providing debt relief service, prohibited them from collecting further payments from consumers who had purchased their debt relief services and required them to pay additional financial assistance.
The FTC’s interactive dashboards for refund data provide a state-by-state breakdown of refunds in FTC cases. In 2021, the Commission’s actions led to more than $472 million in refunds to consumers across the country, but those refunds were the result of cases resolved before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2021. that the Commission had no power under section 13(b) to request money. redress in federal court in the future. The Commission urged Congress to restore the Commission’s ability to collect money for consumers.