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Efforts To Get Out Of Debt Leave Some North Texans Deeper In The Red

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Ginger Allen
Ginger is the Senior Investigative Reporter of the CB...
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(CBSDFW.COM) - D’Andrea Horne of Fort Worth and George Spray of Grand Prairie, while never meeting, share a common problem so prevalent during these economically hard times.

Personal debt …more than they thought they could make go away by themselves.

So Horne and Spray, drawn by an impressive website, each turned to Dallas-based Credit Alliance Group, which describes itself as a financial hardship program that promises to “negotiate a lump sum” with creditors and “reduce your balance.”

“If the company doesn’t perform, you don’t pay a dime,” the company promises.

Horne and Spray now regret turning to the Credit Alliance Group.

Each say the company did not fulfill its promises of negotiating fully with creditors, and getting Horne and Spray out of the red. Instead, they both say they owe even more money, thanks in part to Credit Alliance, and still have creditors on their backs.

“You know, when you retire and no longer have an income, you’re counting on Social Security coming to you …that’s all you got,” said Spray, a former journalist and photographer to some of Hollywood’s most recognizable stars.

Creditors are still circling, he added, including one that is taking him to court.

Shane Garner, founder and chief executive officer of Credit Alliance Group, declined to talk on camera with CBS 11 News. During a brief encounter in his downtown Dallas office, he told CBS 11 he would look into the concerns expressed by Horne and Spray and get back to us.

Meanwhile, CBS 11 has uncovered records that show Horne and Spray are not alone in their displeasure with Credit Alliance Group. Since 2008, according to those records, more than 70 unsatisfied customers have complained to either the Texas Attorney General or the Better Business Bureau.

Texas is not the only place where Credit Alliance Group has had problems.

The state attorney general in Vermont fined Credit Alliance Group $40,000 and ordered it to settle with unhappy clients. And in North Carolina, there is a class-action complaint pending against the company.

“I’m looking for Shane Garner,” said a still-angry Horne.

Garner initially agreed to meet with CBS 11 News a second time, after looking into Horne’s and Spray’s cases. But when we went back for a scheduled appointment, he was not there. Instead, a company employee put Garner on a speaker phone, and he told us to leave – followed by a phone call from his attorney, saying the company would have no comment.

After CBS 11 News contacted Credit Alliance Group, both Horne and Spray received refund checks from the company. But they said those refunds are not for the full amount they feel they deserve.

“I’ve paid over $3,000 to (this) program,” said Horne, adding, “that’s over $1,500 that’s unaccounted for.”

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