On January 24, 2024, Pennsylvania Attorney General, Michelle Henry announced a settlement with attorney Erik M. Helbing and his businesses Helbing Law, LLC, and Consumer Law Relief, LLC. (Respondents) to resolve alleged violations of the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (UTPCPL), the Pennsylvania Debt Settlement Services Act (DSSA), and the federal Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR). In the Assurance of Voluntary Compliance, the AG alleges that the Respondents violated the DSSA, TSR, and UTPCPL by engaging in conduct that included marketing debt relief services while unlicensed, requesting and receiving fees in connection with debt relief services without providing such services, and requesting or receiving fees that were not proportional or tied to the amount of reduction in debt.

The Assurance of Voluntary Compliance recites that, the Respondents advertised that they could assist financially distressed consumers by reducing debts through either negotiation or litigation and that the Respondents’ advertisements reasonably led consumers to believe that the debt relief services would be provided by an attorney. It further recites that non-attorney call centers provided support work and negotiation services for the Respondents’ clients.

Under the Assurance of Voluntary Compliance, the Respondents are required to pay $25,000 in restitution, a $5,000 civil money penalty, and $5,000 to the AG as costs of investigation which will be expended for public protection and educational purposes. These settlement amounts are in addition to more than $50,000 in consumer refunds previously paid by the Respondents. The settlement also permanently enjoins the Respondents from violating the DSSA, TSR, or UTPCPL.