By Structured Settlement Watchdog
The National Association of Settlement Purchasers (NASP) and some of its members are attempting to distance themselves from some of the questionable business practices that are a regular occurrence on the Internet these days with other members and non-members in the structured settlement secondary market.
For one, I am pleased to see that NASP finally has a viable website and a fairly good one at that.
Some of the highlights
1. A clear and concise mission statement " National Association of Settlement Purchasers is dedicated to ensuring the secondary market for structured settlement transfers remains fair, competitive, and transparent".
2. A simple glossary of definitions and terms relevant to secondary market transactions involving structured settlement payments rights. This is a refreshing change from many secondary market websites including those currently published by certain members of NASP, which stuff terms relevant to the primary market in their glossary and web page meta data for search engine optimization. While not tempering my praise of NASP here, I willpoint out that the glossary surprisingly, omits the term "structured settlement factoring transaction", a defined term under the Internal Revenue Code and instead uses "Transfer".
4. A page entitled " How to Protect Yourself In the Secondary Market" which contains some helpful information for consumers.
5. Did not notice the words "cash now" anywhere on the web site.
NASP members are picking up the reins as well. The other day we reported about the efforts of 123 Lump Sum. Today it is worthshining some light on the The "Imperial War Room" which weighs in on "Structured Settlement Scams"
Here's the tip of the day from Boca Raton based Imperial as stated on the Imperial Structured Settlements website:
"Looking to sell your structured settlement annuities? Beware of shady structured settlement marketing companies that collect your personal and general payment information only to sell it to the highest bidder. You can easily identify these structured settlement scammers:
- They're usually no-name companies—with a url comprised of a phrase. i.e., structuredsettlementquotes.com
- Check and see if they have a corporate office. Most of these structured settlement scammers don't have a physical address.
- Make sure that they are actually structured settlement funders. If they can't fund annuity payments, then you're putting yourself at risk.
- Also check the National Association of Settlement Purchasers (NASP) to see if
they're a registered member. If they're not, it is a sure sign of a scam."
- Very bold move by Imperial Structured Settlements considering www.structuredsettlement-quotes (dot) com is the URL for Structured Settlement Quotes, Inc. (SSQ), is affiliated with Genex Capital, which is also a member of NASP, according to the NASP website August 9, 2012. As we've previously reported a telephone number that was on file with the Connectucut Better Business Bureau for SSQ, a supposedly unbiased bidding platform, resolved to Genex Capital's Delaware number. We have questioned how many related companies are involved in the SSQ platform and asked for transparency (in line with the NASP mission statement).
- There is nothing wrong with using a marketing phrase in a URL provided the actual legal name of the company is identified and other steps are taken to see that is not registered anonymously and/or outside of the United States.
- A physical address is important, but we've also learned that a physical address could even be a tiny box at a UPS shipping store in the suburbs of Washington D.C. that even an oopma-loompa would have a hard time working in.
- More important is whether or not the company is registered to do business (or has a Certificate of Authority to do Business) in your state and files annual reports. Most states filings include the names of corporate officers. If you should ever need to seek legal action against any such companies and they have made such filings then you can usually serve them through the Secretary of the state where you reside. We can state from our own research that a number of settlement purchasers that solicit Connecticut citizens ARE NOT registered to do business in the State of Connecticut. Here are some links to the business look ups for various states.
- While one hopes that a member of NASP will subscribe to a certain enforceable code of ethics, categorically stating that if someone is not a member of National Association of Settlement Purchasers (NASP) "is a sure sign of a scam", is also a sign that Imperial enjoys being in hot water. Is Imperial suggesting that Woodbridge, RSL, PennantPark, CBC, Fairfield Funding, Catalina Funding, Prosperity Partners, Sovereign Funding, and Rescue Capital are scams ( because that's the way it reads)?
- A number of NASP members (and non-NASP members) solicit business through brokers and other intermediaries who may operate under their own brand names. Financial incentives are offered by the NASP members and paid to these brokers to pipeline business through the NASP member. There is nothing illegal about the payments, but since the brokers may not be a member of NASP