I recently came across a company which seemed scammy to me. So I decided to look into it. The company I came across was called United Legal Consultants, but they do not have lawyers working for them. Maybe they are legit, maybe not. I’ll present the facts as I discovered them to be and let you be the judge.
By C J Oakes
United Legal Consultants Class-Action Lawsuit Against University of Phoenix
Is there a class action lawsuit against the University of Phoenix? No. There was a company allegedly pursuing such a suit until 2016, but they have since stopped the case according to their Facebook page. After several phone calls to California where the alleged lawsuit is filed, we were unable to locate any such suit, dismissed or otherwise. Instead, what we repeatedly found was a company which goes by a variety of names and uses multiple phone numbers along with shady practices to draw in former students of the school.
I caught wind of this through an ad and smelled dead, decaying sea-creatures.
So, I did some digging. Here is what I discovered. Whether this company is engaging in anything directly fraudulent or not remains to be seen. At the least, they are using the old Bait and Switch to get former students saddled with debt to call them. Bait and Switch is a violation of consumer laws and illegal in every state. As will be seen from this, United Legal Consultants/United Legal Center/United Legal Aid or whatever they are really called is clearly engaging in this criminal tactic.
Although the company may provide a valid service, any company which engages in illegal activities labeled fraud by the law should rightly be avoided. They are simply not trustworthy. Do you really want to give to them your personal information? Access to your loan accounts? Think about it.
Calling the Call Center for United Whatever They Are Called…
I had heard rumblings about this company weeks ago but never followed up. Then I noticed an ad which sparked my interest. So, after completing a form asking if I would like to be part of a class-action lawsuit against the University of Phoenix, I was called within seconds of hitting send. I spoke briefly to someone who told me that they were not doing a lawsuit but instead offering to consolidate loans. I told him I was not interested in that but wanted information on the lawsuit. He became indignant and tried to pressure me into giving him information related to my student loans. I refused and hung up.
I then did some research and found that the number from which he called was located in Scottsdale, AZ (844-500-0731). I checked the website he told me of and checked with the Arizona BBB. No surprise, no such business.
I checked the WHOIS registration and the site has made ownership private. Go figure. A law firm would not do this. Anyone legitimate would not do this. So, I called the number listed on the website, which was different from the number they used to call me (888-503-8522).
I reached a guy who identified himself as Joshua. I asked him if I could speak with one of their lawyers about getting in on the class-action lawsuit. “Sorry,” I am told, “we have no lawyers.”
I press, “but your website says you are legal consultants.”
Joshua replies, “We are a legal consultant but we don’t have attorney’s.”
I press again. “Surely you have a lawyer on staff because your ad says you are taking information for a class-action lawsuit. You would have to have a lawyer. What is his or her name?”
Joshua puts me on hold to get someone else. I think that maybe it will be their legal department.
Instead, Mike gets on the line and tells me “maybe we have lawyer’s maybe we don’t. I don’t know. We are a student loan relief company, not a law firm.” No lawyers. Just call center reps handling student loans.
So, I push and insist they MUST have some kind of legal department or representation because the name of their business is “Legal Consultants.” I ask where they are located and how I might get in touch with the Law Firm representing their business?
Mike tells me they are located in Las Vegas and adds, “I can get your number and have the front office get in touch with you about lawyers.”
Shortly after hanging up with Mike, my phone rang, It was them again, trying to get me to give up information about my student loans. However, this time the phone number was different.
Digging Deeper into United Legal
Digging deeper, I found two more websites, both with private ownership protections with WHOIS. Both listed different phone numbers, one in Long Beach, CA and the other in Las Vegas, NV. Neither was listed with the BBB in their respective area. This company has done a good job hiding who they are.
I decided to take the matter a step further. This time, I managed to find another website with a different name but identical logo: United Legal Aid. This website actually uses the University of Phoenix logo and implies there is an active class-action lawsuit against the school. I called the number for that one (877-641-8725).
Chris answered and I told him in a very excited voice that I would like to get in on the class-action Lawsuit. He told me, ”This isn’t necessarily to get in on the lawsuit.” He too then began to attempt to get information about my student loans telling me, “We are a student loan forgiveness program.”
I explained to him that I was not intersted in that, but I wanted to get in on the lawsuit. I asked how I would get in touch with the lawyers handling that case. His reply was, “I Will have someone call you Monday.”
Will I get a call Monday? Maybe. If I do, I am going to attempt to get as much information as I can. If possible, I would like to find a way to get these guys prosecuted, though I do not really know if they even realize what they are doing is committing fraud. Who knows, they could just be a bunch of college students trying to make a fast buck on the Internet doing what anyone can do themselves through the U.S. Department of Education. Who could blame them?
But, given the extent to which United Legal Whatever has gone to hide their identity and cover their tracks, I doubt it.
One last thing to note: In the original ad which led me to this company, they had created what appeared to be a legitimate article then included an embedded YouTube video of John Oliver talking about student debt in America. This had the effect of making their ad more trustworthy, which is a tactic most often used by confidence men, better known as Con Artists. (If you would like to view that video, it appears at the bottom of this post.)
Any company which hides its ownership hides its identity, covers its tracks to the extent that United Legal does so, uses Bait and Switch tactics, and multiple phone numbers to further cover their tracks is NOT to be trusted. If you accidentally give these characters even part of your information, please, please, please do not give them more. That is what I recommend. But…
Caveat Emptor…Let the Buyer Beware. You may decide to let them at your student loans. Good luck if you do.
SPECIAL NOTE: As of June 29, 2017, this company appears to have added a new website using the same fraudulent tactics. The website is GraduateRightsWatch.com (Graduate Rights Watch) and it is running ads on SmartNews just as it had in the past. The only difference now is they claim there is a “Potential” suit against UoP, not a “pending” as they claimed in the past. Hmm. I guess they read this post. To learn about the new/old direction these scammers are taking, read University of Phoenix Class Action Scam: Graduate Rights Watch Fraud Alert
C J Oakes is a graduate of the University of Phoenix, earning a BS in Criminal Justice in 2013. He is proud of his degree and in no way wants to sue the school, believing that he was given a quality, though admittedly a pricy education. He is an alumni and continues to maintain a good relationship with UoP. He decided to create this report after simple curiosity and comments by a friend made him start asking questions. The call reps were so defensive and subversive in their answers, he simply believed they must be hiding something. Having worked in numerous call centers himself, he knows.