Cambridge Life Solutions

Douglas Hoyes, CA, Trustee, Cambridge, Ontario

I have an office in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada where I help people make a plan to deal with their debts, and as a result I get a lot of phone calls and questions about Cambridge Life Solutions.  Let me set the record straight:

I am not associated with Cambridge Life Solutions in any way.  Their name may be “Cambridge”, but they are not located in Cambridge, Ontario.

According to their website, they have three offices: at 1 Yonge Street in Toronto, in Vancouver, British Columbia, and in California.  They do not have an office here in Cambridge.

They offer a service called “debt settlement”, and they say that it’s possible to settle your debts for 30% or less than the full amount owing.  Is that possible?  Yes, it is.  Here’s an example:

You owe $20,000 on a credit card, and you can’t pay it in full.  The debt settlement company sets up a program where you stop paying the credit card, and start saving money, often in a bank account you set up for that purpose.  Now that you are not paying your credit card, you can afford to save $200 per month, so for the next three years you save $200 per month in your special savings account.  At the end of three years you have saved up $7,200, and the debt settlement company then approaches the credit card company and offers them the $7,200 in full settlement of the debt.  Since the credit card company has not received any money for three years they have probably written off the debt, so they are happy to get the $7,200, and the debt is settled.

Sounds good, right? It is a good deal, but there are a few catches:

First, once you stop paying your credit card or bank loan, the lender may start collection action.  They may send you letters, phone you, seize your bank account, and perhaps even take you to court, sue you, and attempt to garnishee your wages.  It’s unlikely that the lender will just sit there for three years and do nothing.

If your debt is already a year or two old, and they have stopped calling you, debt settlement might be a good idea, but if your debts are only a month or two behind, debt settlement might not be a good plan.

Second, debt settlement companies do not work for free.  That’s fine, neither do I, but you should understand the costs you are paying.  In most cases the first three or four months worth of payments you make go directly to the debt settlement company, and they take a percentage of all future payments.  Unfortunately debt settlement companies don’t negotiate a settlement until they have cash for the settlement.  That means you are paying them a fee, but it’s possible they won’t be talking to your creditors until three years from now when you have saved up the settlement funds.

So how is that different from what I do?  When I negotiate a consumer proposal, you don’t start making payments until your proposal is filed with the federal government.  By law all creditors must be notified of your consumer proposal within five days, and the creditors have 45 days to vote to accept or reject your proposal.  If more than half of the dollar value of your creditors votes yes, your proposal is accepted.

In a debt settlement you may not know for one, two or three years whether or not your creditors will agree to a deal.  In a consumer proposal the vote occurs on day #45, so you know what’s happening a lot sooner.

What should you do in your situation?

First, do your research.  By all means talk to Cambridge Life Solutions and other debt settlement companies; their solution might work for you.  Talk to a credit counsellor, talk to your accountant, and talk to other bankruptcy trustees.  But, before you sign anything, give my office a call in Cambridge at 519-622-3773, or e-mail us, and let my team and I walk you through all of your options.  We’ll explain the costs, and help you decide what option is best for you.

And if you found this page because you are looking for information on Cambridge Life Solutions, here are some articles that you may find interesting:

The most read article on this website: Cambridge Life Solutions: Who are They?

My follow up article, after I got a letter from their lawyer:  Cambridge Life Solutions Accuses Doug Hoyes of Writing a Libelous Article

An article from Maclean’s magazine:Growing (debt) pains: Cambridge Life Solutions offers a lifeline to indebted Canadians—using a model that’s banned in the U.S. and a review of the article: Cambridge Life Solutions Reviewed by Maclean’s Magazine.

The Canadian Association of Credit Counselling Services is trying to draw attention to this issue; they issued a press release in April, 2012: An urgent matter of consumer protection: Canadian lawmakers must address the growing controversy surrounding “debt settlement services.”  The press release is interesting, because even though they don’t mention Cambridge Life Solutions by name, they do refer to “the image of Canadian actor Alan Thicke selling debt settlement services on TV”, so it’s obvious who they are referring to.  I wonder which trustee they were referring to with this line: “As yet, the Ontario Government has remained quiet about the matter, even as lawsuits and threats of lawsuits involving debt settlement companies themselves and at least one leading bankruptcy trustee in the province proceed apace.”

A link to the Cambridge Life Solutions investigative report broadcast on Global TV on May 1, 2012.

Let me repeat: research all of your options before making any decisions.

 

 

 

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Peter Finlay August 9, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Total scam. Took me for $4700 and did nothing for me. Promised to get my debt down to 40% but the creditors would have nothing to do with them all along. While I was paying my fee to them they were assuring me that they dealt with them all the time. As soon as they got their last payment from me they said we can settle for 70% a number my creditors approached me with months before that. As for Alan Thicke I think he should get another gig being from Canada and a cousin of my brother in law I fell for is line.

Valerie Menard August 11, 2014 at 11:47 am

These guys screwed me over BIG time. 6 months into it, no one got contacted, my credit is in the shitter and I’m paying these guys why? I cancelled and went through credit counselling. Now my credit is pretty much non-existent and I’m in a worse situation than I was before. I really wish this company wouldn’t have ruined my life, my credit wasn’t bad at all, I just wanted to find a way to pay everything at once.

Wade Emms December 17, 2014 at 9:53 am

I tried to settle my debt through Cambridge Life Solutions. Worst Consumer experience of my life. They sucked around $3000 outta me by the time I told them to hit the road. I’ve since heard of much negative feedback regarding them. Can’t wait for a Class Action against these crooks !!!

Leave a Comment