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For Immediate Release:
Thursday, May 26, 2022

Contact:
Nazneen Ahmed (919) 716-0060

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein won a permanent ban prohibiting Michael Grinnell of California and his businesses, Amstar Services and Home Relief Services, from offering debt relief, debt settlement, foreclosure assistance, and mortgage loan modification services to North Carolinians.

“This defendant took advantage of hardworking North Carolinians who were trying to do the right thing and find responsible solutions to pay off financial loans and keep their homes,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “He broke the law, and I’m pleased that he won’t be able to operate his debt settlement companies in North Carolina ever again.”

In his lawsuit against Grinnell, Attorney General Stein alleged that Grinnell unlawfully collected upfront fees for his services from North Carolina consumers. In exchange, he falsely promised that he would reduce people’s mortgage loan payments, get loan forbearance so they could delay making loan repayments, and prevent lenders or mortgage services from foreclosing on customers. However, he failed to provide any of these services. Two North Carolinians lost more than $2,400 each when they paid the defendants for services they never received.

Under North Carolina law, it’s illegal to collect any upfront fee for debt settlement services. Instead, North Carolinians should:

  • Contact your creditors to discuss your options for repayment.
  • Talk to a non-profit credit counselor. You can find an accredited, non-profit credit counselor in your area by contacting the National Foundation for Credit Counseling at 1-800-388-2227 or nfcc.org.
  • Consider a debt management plan if recommended by a non-profit credit counselor.
  • Know how much you can be charged. Credit counselors cannot charge more than $40 to set up a debt management plan, and counselors can charge monthly administrative fees of no more than 10 percent of the monthly payment, up to a maximum of $40 per month.
  • Consider contacting a local bankruptcy attorney if your debt situation is especially difficult.

A copy of the judgement is available here.

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