Debt consolidation service provider ordered to pay more than $2 million in penalties and restitution
BALTIMORE, MD (August 22, 2022) – Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh announced today that his Consumer Protection Division has filed a Last order against Marcia L. Bailey and Arthur Wittenberg along with their companies, Marcia Bailey Inc. doing business as Signature Accounting and the Wittenberg Family Trust, for violating consumer protection statutes by collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars from consumers to help them with consolidation and payout help outstanding consumer debt, but has not delivered the promised services.
From their offices in Baltimore, Bailey and Wittenberg hunted victims living in Maryland and other states. In June 2021, Attorney General Frosh obtained an injunction in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County preventing Bailey, Wittenberg, and its business from offering or selling Maryland debt consolidation services. The final injunction, issued this week by the Consumer Protection Department, includes a permanent injunction barring Bailey, Wittenberg and their companies from further harming consumers and an order requiring them to pay a $1,246,000 penalty. Dollars to pay and repay all monies collected from consumers who did not receive promised services. Taken together, total payments are expected to exceed $2 million.
“Marcia Bailey and Arthur Wittenberg have deceived and defrauded consumers with promises that the Wittenberg Family Trust’s Private Banking Debt Liquidation Program would ultimately save consumers hundreds of thousands of dollars and pay off consumers’ outstanding debts in a shorter timeframe than the original loan terms , and improve consumer creditworthiness,” said Attorney General Frosh. “Instead, they took the money for themselves while consumers had their cars confiscated and their homes threatened with foreclosure.”
Bailey, Wittenberg and their companies charged consumers between $11,000 and $118,000 up front for services, followed by charging additional amounts to be used to pay off consumers’ outstanding debt. Instead of delivering the services consumers purchased, Bailey and Wittenberg unduly converted most of the consumers’ payments for their own personal use. The department found that the eight consumers who testified at the hearing were owed at least $772,939 in payments to Bailey, Wittenberg, and their companies for services not rendered. Instead of helping consumers consolidate and eliminate debt, Bailey and Wittenberg were just helping themselves.
In Maryland, individuals providing certain types of debt consolidation services must be licensed by the Office of the Commissioner of Financial Regulation in the Maryland Department of Labor.
Before entering into contracts for such services, consumers should check a provider’s license status at https://www.dllr.state.md.us/finance/industry/licsearch.shtml.
In addition, persons providing mortgage assistance, credit, money transfer, and debt management services are generally prohibited from collecting prepayments from consumers and are required to obtain a bond and provide certain disclosures to consumers in addition to other requirements. Notices and other information about consumer rights.
For more information, consumers can call the Consumer Protection Hotline at 410-528-8662 or toll-free at 888-743-0023.