The Sites Founding Principals
The GetOutOfDebt.org site by the Agencemerlang is dedicated to providing the best information possible using journalistic research and efforts to provide readers with information they can use to make more informed decisions about debt related issues. This may include articles about how to do better, what to watch out for and stories about companies and entities that provide debt relief help. We make every attempt to make sure that advice is offered independently of any commercial objective or influence.
This Site is Absolutely Free to Use
Since there is no charge for the use of the site and information and we sell no products and services the site revenue must come from outside advertising.
We find that by receiving income from outside advertising we can reach and help the most amount of people with our free advice and do not have to charge readers for help. It’s a win-win solution and one which we attempt to guard with ferocity so that our work remains as independent as possible.
Why There Are Ads
Since this site does not charge users or visitors any fee, nor sell any products or services the reality is that any income this site derives from advertising helps to pay for the reporting, research, and journalistic work we do, just as any newspaper, magazine, news operation, television channel, radio station, or publication is supported by advertising revenue. It is because of the ads that this site can do all the good work it does.
Our work is not paid for by consumers or by creditors as credit counseling is, and we sell no services as debt relief companies do, there are no products to buy and we don’t even solicit contributions to help fund our work.
Information About Advertisements
Site visitors should exercise the same level of caution when selecting a merchant or provider from links or advertisements on this site as they would if they found the link elsewhere. The fact that an ad appears and is linked is NOT an endorsement from this site.
Ads that are presented by Google are selected by some Google algorithm. What one person sees, another person will not. We have no role, input, or selection in what Google injected ads you see. In fact, the ads you see will be determined by what sites you have visited in the past. The ads each person sees may be unique to them.
The Site Operates Independent From Monetization
As of August 25, 2015, the GetOutofDebt.org website established a relationship with an outside third-party entity to handle all income and monetization and the site has no input on those arrangements in order to not influence our editorial work. We have separated editorial and advertising responsibilities.
You Can Use Some Content From The Site
If we have published something of interest to your readers, you can quote a small part of the content and you are required that you link back to the original story on the site from where you use it. You will need to maintain any links from the excerpted content you use. Regular reposting of our content, such as scraping, or essentially reposting our RSS feed will result in a DMCA complaint and slap upside the head. We wish it did not have to be that way but so much content has been copied off the site without linking back that it is now irritating.
We don’t give people access to the email address you might provide us without your permission or unless required by law or unless the issue at hand is one that regulators or a fellow journalist are interested in looking into. In that case, we may forward the information/comment you leave and the email address on to government regulators and fellow journalists to allow a regulator or journalist to you for more information so you can assist them, if you want, in their investigation of your issue.
If you have asked one of the site experts a question then your question will be forwarded to them and they will see your email address. If you have asked for help with a particular solution such as bankruptcy, debt settlement, credit counseling, etc. then your request will be forwarded to an outside entity that will have access to your email address.
When you submit a question to the site your email address will be automatically added to our daily email list so we can keep you posted on important debt relief issues. You may unsubscribe at any time with just one click. This site may track the IP address of visitors and it is possible that a cookie may be written to your computer to keep you logged in to the forum or comments, for example.
We will comply with any legal request for visitor information if required to do so. If we reasonably suspect that you have the site for an unauthorized, illegal, or criminal purpose, you give us express authorization to share information about you, all information, and any of your activity with law enforcement. If you want to the site about this policy, use information on this page.
We Are Not a Lawyers
The core advisors on the site are not lawyers, accountants, tax advisers, and anything else like that. While some material may contain legal information it is specifically not legal advice. Any advice that we might give that you might think might fall into any of those buckets is accidental and unintended. If you need legal advice or assurances the advice given applies to a specific situation you should personally an attorney who is licensed to practice law in your state.
The Limit of The Advice We Give
Let’s look at the situation for a moment, we answer debt questions and we do it solely based on the information that has been provided by the person asking the question, which is most often, limited. It would be impossible to give really detailed and specific advice without having more information at hand. The advice that we give is “as is” if you want specific and personalized advice we would urge you to speak with a bankruptcy attorney, accountant, debt management company, debt settlement company, debt coach or someone else that we may have forgotten to mention. The advice given does not come with a warranty. It’s your job to evaluate the advice given and application of the advice.
Most of the content on the site in reviews or articles that we write is either sourced facts and/or our opinion about whatever subject we are writing about. Believe it or not, we are entitled to have an opinion and share it with readers.
Comments, Questions, and Advice From Others
Other people, unknown to us, may offer advice and suggestions via the website in user-submitted content and the site is simply an interactive computer service when it comes to third-party submitted content. All that advice and information is “as is” and we have nothing to do with it. If you elect to follow it, that is up to you. User content does not reflect our views and we do not assume any responsibility or liability for any user content, questions, comments or forum posts or for any claims, damages, or losses resulting from any use of the Site or the materials contained therein. User-supplied content may be edited or deleted if necessary but that happens only under the rarest of situations.
GetOutOfDebt.org and the Agencemerlang is an interactive service provider, just like any website that allows user-generated content. We cannot possibly monitor the accuracy of the huge volume of information that our users choose to post and are not liable for the content we do not post.
Commenters may be blocked or deleted at will by this site. If you have a concern over a comment posted you can flag it for moderation and it will be reviewed. Comments are not moderated in advance. If legal action is taken against a comment made by you, you will be responsible for defending your statements made.
As a rule, once comments are posted, they remain on the site. Comments are generally not deleted so if you want to change or delete your comment you will need to post a followup comment to the one in question to explain your change.
Please note that once you post a comment or content, it becomes part of the public conversation. Our policy is that we will not remove a user’s content unless they are in violation of our Terms of Service, and we won’t remove them otherwise except in very extreme circumstances. So if you want to say something that you will later regret personally, it is advisable that you use a username and IP address that does not identify you. We cannot simply remove your content because you have a change of heart about making those statements.
Our comment policy mirrors that of other sites like The Daily Beast. Commenters are able to edit their comments for a few minutes after submission. They do have a second chance to change or alter their comment. – Source. Slate has a similar policy and they say, “We don’t allow people to delete or edit their comments, because we don’t want to allow people to disrupt discussions in the middle of a thread.” – Source. Even Gawker and the Washington Post have similar no comment deletion policies. – Source, Source
What To Do If You Find The Information On This Site Helpful
If you want to help us, help others, the best thing you can do is tell others about this site. You can do that by submitting the site or article URL to places like Digg, Stumble Upon, Slashdot, etc. Feel free to talk about this site on any forum or place on the web where people might be that I could help with my free advice. Here is a quick list of six free ways you can help.
We Are Just Trying To Do a Good Thing
If you have an issue or problem with any advice that we’ve given, please post it in the comments for that question. There are always alternative points of view and it is helpful for everybody to discuss them. We am not a debt Gods, although some of us have played one on the television show “Starting Over.” We are fallible as everyone is. Most importantly, advice and options change over time but we just can’t go back and edit all past questions with new information.
What We Don’t Do
We do not provide any services directly to individual consumers through private coaching, consultations or any paid services. We do not sell any products we or others create and we don’t charge for the general help we give others and we do not charge for investigate reports and research we do.
What Happens When You Email Us or Fill Out a Contact Form
When you email or use a site form and we publish your content we may use your first name from your email as the name of my answer or post. We will never reveal your email address or release it to any other party except as described below, without your permission unless required by law. Your email address is totally safe with us. We hate spam as much as you do.
If we are falling behind in answering questions we may post your question on the site so you can get an answer as quickly as possible from readers.
If we post it on the site you will be notified of any response.
We reserve the right to post any question or information publicly on the site from any email address sent to us or via an online submission form.
Let’s Talk About All User Submitted Content in General
Once a question, comment, comment form, guest post, or any user or third-party supplied information is published on the site the user remains solely liable and responsible for their submitted content. We make no assurances of the truth, quality, or accuracy of user-supplied content.
This submitted information is not deleted later. If you submitted information and need to make a correction or retraction to a statement you made and submitted, we will gladly publish your error correction, addendum or retraction in conjunction with the original content submitted.
Some submitted user content may be posted by this site as comments on the site if they relate to a question or article already posted.
Reader submitted questions will appear above the answer provided, as submitted.
Bottom line, if you don’t want your content, statement, question or comment to appear on the site, don’t submit it.
Why We Do Not Accept Money to Remove Articles
You might be familiar with some websites that post information only to take it down for the payment of some fee. And on more than one occasion we’ve been approached to remove an article in exchange for a large sum of money. We don’t do that and have never accepted an offer to do so. Please do not approach us with any such offer.
Rather than hold information hostage for money, we invite you to add any statement, clarification, or repair any error in a story that names you, absolutely free. You can do any or all of that, right here.
If you believe that any information we have published is incorrect, we want to know. If you persuade us that we made a mistake or that a situation warrants further treatment, we will revise or update our posting for no charge.
But we are not in the publishing business to acquire hostages. You couldn’t trust us if we took down truthful, accurate information because someone paid us money. Neither our First Amendment rights nor our opinion is for sale.
Why We Do Not Alter Past Stories
We are sometimes asked by people or companies we’ve previously written about to change a past factual story. We don’t do that. If the entity has recognized they needed to alter or address an issue, then removing the past story does not help to reinforce they’ve taken positive steps to better serve consumers. That makes for a much more beneficial and positive story for the entity in question.
We read the following passage from the Detroit News newspaper where they addressed a similar issue.
Once the review was published we should have maintained the wording in all our formats and avoided any sense that we were acting at the influence of any interest aside from our readers’ interest.
Why is that so important? The credibility of our journalism is our calling card to your doorstep and your digital screen. We simply cannot act at any behest but yours and we must avoid any appearance to the contrary.
It is a fact of life that our reviews will sometimes ruffle commercial feathers. For example, in our On Screen section Friday, one of our movie reviews appeared under the headline, “‘Kaboom’ is incompetent, absurd.” Whether we are reviewing a movie or a new Thai restaurant or a $90,000 sportster, our readers must be certain they have the author’s unvarnished opinion, free of any commercial or outside consideration – Source
If You Are Pissed Off at Us Because of This Site
It is not our intention but sometimes we actually accidentally piss some people off because of something we’ve written on this site. Typically it is companies we’ve written about that don’t like the information we’ve presented and they want us to remove an article, post, or opinion from the eyes of consumers.
It is always our intention to write articles and posts factually and without error. If you feel we got something wrong in our reporting, just let us know in the comments to that post and we’ll gladly review the information again and if we got something factually wrong we’ll gladly correct it. Use this form to report errors.
Being an interactive computer service provider, we are not liable for the content posted by the users of the service. We realize that it might be difficult to understand since the content you do not like appears on our website. But a website that allows users to contribute content cannot possibly verify the accuracy of all its user submissions.
The site is granted by the federal law called the Communications Decency Act or “CDA”, 47 U.S.C. § 230, which says that “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”
There is a right way and wrong way to respond.
- The Right Way to Respond
We encourage anyone that may disagree with something we’ve written to post their point of view or opinion in the comments to that post. An exchange of ideas is always beneficial and while we may see something as red, someone else might see it as green. Let’s talk about it.
The best way for someone to respond is to state which facts were incorrect and why in a conversational tone so we can discuss it openly and transparently.
- The Wrong Way to Respond
When you respond in the wrong way with attacks and flames it only makes you look worse and convinces people you have something to hide or deflect. If you send threatening letters from your attorney, we reserve the right to post the letters for readers to see.
If you have read all of the above information and still want to file a lawsuit against us, there are some other points you need to know.
First, Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and each state court’s rules, generally require that all pleadings, including initial Complaints, must be presented in good faith, after a reasonable investigation into the facts and the law, and not made for an improper purpose such as harassment. What this means in plain English is that if you file a lawsuit which you know contains false claims, or if you sue without first conducting a reasonable investigation as to the law as it may pertain to the facts of your case, you and/or your attorney can be subject to serious sanctions at the judge’s discretion.
In addition to penalties, a judge may issue, those who would threaten us need to be aware of another law which imposes civil liability on anyone who files a frivolous lawsuit. This claim is known as “wrongful use of civil proceedings” and it is defined by §674 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts as follows: – he acts without probable cause, and primarily for a purpose other than that of securing the proper adjudication of the claim in which the proceedings are based, and except when they are ex parte, the proceedings have terminated in favor of the person against whom they are brought.
Because GetOutOfDebt.org and the Agencemerlang is immune from liability under the CDA for defamation-based and related claims, any suit that seeks to impose liability for the speech of our users is, by definition, an action brought “without probable cause”. So if you knowingly file a frivolous lawsuit against us, regardless of where your case is filed, you and/or your lawyers can be subject to a lawsuit in North Carolina in which a jury could, if appropriate, award both substantial compensatory and punitive damages against you.
Emails Sent to Agencemerlang
As of June 1, 2018 we archive emails from readers, tips, and other submitted forms or some other emails but all other emails are permanently deleted in an effort to maintain a manageable email account and not have to pay more for constantly growing storage.
But You Got Something Wrong About Me/Us in an Article You Published
We always strive for accuracy but sometimes we may accidentally get something wrong. We are all human. If we did get something wrong it was not intentional or malicious. It was an error. If you spot something we may have accidentally got wrong we encourage you to speak up and use this form to report errors and this form to report typos.
Threatening Us Doesn’t Work
Some people try to intimidate us by threatening lawsuits or sternly worded letters from attorneys in an effort to scare us into removing posts. Those efforts have the opposite effect on us and typically lead us to spend more time further investigating what we originally wrote and publishing a new story about the threat.
But before you start to threaten, if we’ve made an error in a story or you’d like your side of the issue to be heard, please submit the information using this form. Your comment, statement, or correction is welcome.
Our Debt Relief Company and Site Review Policy
From time-to-time, we may write about a specific company or review a debt relief web site. It is important to put those reviews or writings about another website into context.
The purpose of the GetOutOfDebt.org site is to educate and help consumers who are facing a credit, debt or financial situation.
From time-to-time, we do write about or write reviews about companies and/or sites, primarily in the debt relief world. So we wanted to help explain our policy and approach in reviewing sites or companies. In fact, you may be reading this now because we wrote a review about your company.
We have no vendetta against any single person or company. The reviews or articles we write are not the results of us hunting down a company or targeting a particular company. They are the result of a question from a reader or information in a story or press release the company itself sent out that we saw and it piqued our curiosity.
We need to start with the same understanding, that consumers in financial trouble create for themselves a disadvantaged class of people that need information in order to be able to make good decisions to find an appropriate remedy to their situation. All good companies would agree it is a good thing for consumers to make informed decisions. As Sy Syms always said, “An educated consumer is our best customer.”
Information presented in our articles and reviews is, for the most part, the result of online research, our opinion and public information that we feel is important for readers to know. From time-to-time, we receive emails from readers (send in your tips here) and people with inside knowledge about a particular company. Much of that information we never publish.
The information in the reviews comes from public information that exists already about companies that people can find by searching online.
This site works best when two sides of an issue can be presented and the reader can read both sides and make up his or her own mind. This goes for reviews and articles about companies as well. We always welcome the company we may have written about to post a response in the comments of that article so any reader can read it to hear their side of an issue.
We Tried to Avoid it but Now for Some Legal Language
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Digital Millennium Copyright Act Notice
If you would like to submit a DMCA issue, our designated agent is:
Fred Samuels, Esq.
Cahn & Samuels, LLP
1100 17th Street Northwest #401
Washington, DC 20036
We will respond expeditiously to notices of claimed copyright infringement and if we become aware that one of our users is a repeat copyright infringer, it is our policy to take reasonable steps within our power to terminate that user.
A proper notice of claimed infringement must include:
- a physical or electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of the infringed copyright;
- identification of the copyrighted work or works claimed to have been infringed;
- identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity and that is to be removed;
- information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to the complaining party (e.g., the address, telephone number, or email address);
- a statement that the complaining party has a good faith belief that use of the material is not authorized by the copyright owner; and
- a statement that information in the complaint is accurate and that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner.