BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh has filed charges against a California-based tax debt relief company in connection to their offer and sale of tax debt relief services to Marylanders.

The Consumer Protection Division alleges National Tax Experts, Inc. mailed advertisements to Maryland consumers that looked to be from a Maryland court or another government agency. The mailings threatened “imminent bank account seizures” or other collection actions unless the consumer immediately called a toll-free number that connected them to National Tax Experts.

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They then allege consumers were not actually threatened with any “imminent action” but instead were offered and sold National Tax Experts tax debt relief services- which the company claimed would reduce their tax debts.

Many of those Maryland consumers did not get the promised services, the Division alleges. They then further say the company also charged Marylanders prohibited advance fees, engaged in credit services business activities without being duly licensed by the State of Maryland, engaged in debt settlement services without being properly registered with the State of Maryland, and engaged in various other activities that constitute unfair or deceptive trade practices and are prohibited by the Maryland Consumer Protection Act.

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“Companies may not create the appearance that they are a court or government agency.  They may not threaten legal action if the consumer does not call,” said Attorney General Frosh. “Consumers who want help with their tax debts are entitled to know exactly what they are getting for their money.  Companies may not disguise who they are or misrepresent their ability to provide services they advertise.”

There is a hearing scheduled for June 9 for the charges in Hunt Valley, Maryland.

The Division is seeking a cease and desist order.

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Anyone else who has complaints against National Tax Experts or Patrick Oakes may call the Consumer Protection Division at 410-576-6569 or write to the Consumer Protection Division at 200 St. Paul Place, 16th Floor, Baltimore, MD 21202.

CBS Baltimore Staff