One might wonder what is motivating me to write a series of posts dedicated to The Association of Settlement Companies (TASC). I must confess that it is in part for the selfish reason of saving myself some time. One of the core principles behind the founding of Damon Day and Associates was to first and foremost educate consumers, by providing honest and straightforward financial advice as it relates to all of the options available for getting out of debt.
At least a few times a week I am asked by a consumer to recommend a good Debt Settlement company that is a member of TASC. My typical response is, “ok, out of curiosity, do you know what TASC is and what it does?” Long pause… “Um, actually no, I do not. Can you tell me what TASC is?” Then I spend the next 5 or 10 minutes explaining what debt settlement salesmen do not.
Most consumers are under the impression that TASC is some sort of government regulatory organization, which it is not. TASC member companies proudly display their TASC logo badges on their website and tell consumers that they can be trusted because of their TASC certification.
If a consumer does not understand what TASC is, then they have no reference point to understand the significance, or possible insignificance of a company claiming TASC membership. What if I told you I was a certified member of “The Best Financial Advisors in America.” Wow, that is impressive! However, what if I neglected to tell you that it was my colleagues and I that got together and formed the organization ourselves? Would you still be impressed that I was also a member? By leaving out small but important details, it can dramatically change a consumers impression of certain things. By the way, so there is no potential confusion, “The Best Financial Advisors in America” association does not exist.
In this article series I aim to simply educate and correct some of the misinformation or lack of honest information that has been given to many consumers. I find that this misinformation doesn’t necessarily come from TASC itself. On the contrary TASC is pretty straightforward on their website about exactly who they are and what they do. I certainly have some personal disagreements with certain things that they claim to do, and will address them later in this series.
So lets start with a basic introduction to TASC. Right up front they tell you exactly what they are in their name. The Association of Settlement Companies. TASC is a trade organization for the Debt Settlement industry. Basically a bunch of debt settlement companies got together in 2005 and created TASC. According to their website, TASC was initially formed for the specific purpose of lobbying the Texas commissioner to overturn legislation that would Ban Debt Settlement Companies in the state of Texas.
If you read the membership application to become a member of TASC, the very first paragraph states in part, “TASC was created in response to a pressing need for representation of the settlement industry at state and federal levels. TASC’s primary focus is passage of fair and applicable legislation for the betterment of the entire debt settlement industry. TASC is proud of its success in educating legislators and other law makers on the numerous benefits of debt settlement.”
If you read the history section of TASC’s website it starts off with “From its inception in 2005 TASC (The Association of Settlement Companies) has been at the forefront of promoting and safeguarding the debt settlement industry. Now more than ever TASC needs your support to keep your business in business! Become a member of TASC and join the fight for fair and effective regulation of our industry, protection of the interests of consumer debtors and the promotion of good business practices within the industry.”
I will examine which of these claims they may or may not be living up to, in my next article. Although, you can probably already guess the specific bone that I will be picking.
Now that you have a basic understanding of what TASC is, lets meet the board, shall we? TASC actually has 2 boards. They have a more immediate Executive Board, and then also a Board at Large.
Please note that I do not know any of the members of the board personally, nor have I ever spoken with them. I operate under the assumption that they are all fine individuals doing what they feel is the right thing to do. My observations in this series are merely an attempt to reconcile TASC’s stated goals with the real world actions and decisions made by the TASC board.
To list each member of the board along with their stated backgrounds, would be a bit of information overload for this article. If you have an interest you can find a picture as well as the background summary of each board member on the TASC website.
The Executive Board consists of 9 members including the president of TASC. FUN FACT: The President of TASC is also the CEO and President of Debt Settlement America. FUN FACT: Debt Settlement America boasted top honors at the 2008 TASC convention by winning the 2007 Member Company of the Year Presidents Award in its inaugural year.
But I digress, the Board at Large has 16 members according to the TASC site. The backgrounds of the current 25 members of both boards break down as follows.
14 – are either founders or CEOs of Debt Settlement Companies
3 – are high level executives at Debt Settlement Companies
5 – are industry attorneys, or some other relative legal background
3 – are industry consultants
As surprising as that may seem to a consumer that is fresh off of a Debt Settlement Sales pitch, the make up of the board is essentially what I would expect to see, and is normal for a Trade Association. Wikipedia defines a trade association as: an organization founded and funded by businesses that operate in a specific industry. An industry trade association participates in public relations activities such as advertising, education, political donations, lobbying and publishing, but its main focus is collaboration between companies, or standardization.
So those are the facts. In the next article we will get into the meat of the matter. Now that we know TASC is a trade association, and their main objective is to protect the interests of the Debt Settlement industry, can they really look out for consumers at the same time? Is it possible that those two goals can peacefully cohabitate in the same board room? We will find out. Stay Tuned…
This article was the 2nd, in a series of articles taking a closer look at The Association of Settlement Companies (TASC). The series currently consists of the following:
As I finish up the articles, you will see them hyper linked here. If you like my content, be sure not to miss out on the rest of the series. You can have the articles conveniently sent directly to your email inbox as soon as they go live live by clicking Here
As always, if you would like to contribute your thoughts, and have something to add to the article, please do so by commenting Here
Please consider sharing my article with others via Twitter, Facebook or your favorite social network by clicking one of the icons below.