In May 2008, Memphis resident Glenda Peete was having problems managing her mortgage payments, so she turned to debt-resolution company Taurian Worldwide, Inc., for help.
"I was told they could help me reduce my payments to 60 or 80 percent less than what they were already," Peete says. "At the time, I had two mortgages and an automobile payment."
Unfortunately for Peete, she says the company, which also goes by the names of TWI Financial and Commercial Solutions Consulting Agency, did nothing but dig her deeper into debt.
Taurian has an "F" rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) after three complaints from local clients who claimed to have paid the business for services that were never rendered. Taurian Worldwide did not return phone calls from the Flyer.
"They have been telling consumers they could help them consolidate their debt and save their mortgages. And people have been paying them sums of $1,000 and up, only to never have any services delivered," says BBB spokesperson Nancy Crawford.
Peete originally was asked to pay $2,000 up front for Taurian's services, but she managed to negotiate a $750 down payment when she convinced a company representative that she couldn't afford to pay the full amount. Peete says she was then told to stop making her mortgage and car payments.
"I explained how I'd been in foreclosure several times, and they told me that wasn't a problem. They said they had attorneys who could handle that. They assured me that I would not lose my home," Peete says.
Two weeks after her first visit to the company's office on Summer Knoll, Peete received a foreclosure notice in the mail. At that time, she says she was told that she'd have to pay another $1,700 for Taurian to stop the foreclosure. She didn't go through with the payment.
By July of last year, Taurian had stopped returning Peete's phone calls, and she filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. She had to scramble to catch up with her mortgage and car payments. In the end, she managed to avoid foreclosure on her own, but she says Taurian never provided any services.
Another Memphis resident, Andrea Wright, also paid Taurian a $1,000 down payment to have her bills reduced.
"After I paid the $1,000, they stopped returning my phone calls," Wright says. "I had just gotten a new car, and now I've lost the car."
Crawford says Taurian hasn't responded to the three formal complaints against them.
Taurian has several listed addresses, one of which is a UPS Store on Germantown Parkway. Peete said the office she visited on Summer Knoll had no sign outside, and the doors were kept locked. The BBB has received over 800 inquiries on the company this year, with 453 from July alone.
"Consumers should be wary of paying somebody who claims they can help prevent foreclosure," Crawford says. "The Tennessee Consumer Protection Act says companies cannot collect money for services until they have delivered those services."
Says Wright, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."