MADISON, Wis. – Attorney General Josh Kaul today announced a settlement with Los Angeles-based American Tax Solutions requiring the company to pay more than $328,000 in consumer restitution and forfeitures. The Consent Judgment resolves allegations that American Tax sent tens of thousands of illegal mailers to Wisconsin consumers and operated as a debt adjustment service company in the state without a proper license.
“Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) works hard to get justice for victims of deceptive practices, and we are glad that consumers will be refunded,” said Attorney General Kaul. “Thank you to DATCP, DFI, and all Wisconsin DOJ employees who worked to get justice in this case.”
“American Tax Solutions was not licensed to conduct their business in Wisconsin. On top of that, the mailers sent to Wisconsin residents were deceptive,” said Secretary Randy Romanski of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). “Businesses that mislead or take advantage of Wisconsin consumers should be held accountable, and this Judgment does that.”
“We are pleased to reach this settlement that puts an end to the deception and provides some refunds to Wisconsin consumers,” said Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) Secretary-designee Cheryll Olson-Collins. “Adjustment service companies can help people make budgets, develop strategies to reduce debt, and negotiate with creditors, provided they act in compliance with Wisconsin law. I strongly encourage Wisconsinites to work with adjustment service companies that are licensed in Wisconsin and follow state character and fitness standards and administrative rules requiring reasonable fees and honest advertising.”
The state’s Complaint alleges that American Tax sent deceptive mail solicitations designed to look like threatening notices from government tax collection authorities. The solicitations warned that the recipients could have their property seized, their Social Security benefits suspended, or be charged with a crime if they did not respond to the letters. However, when consumers called the toll-free numbers printed on the mailers, they were connected with American Tax’s sales representatives who attempted to sign callers up for tax resolution services. According to the state’s complaint, American Tax lacked the proper license to offer such services to Wisconsin consumers.
Under the terms of the Consent Judgment, American Tax is prohibited from sending mail solicitations, and from selling any services, to Wisconsin consumers. In addition, American Tax has agreed to pay more than $119,000 to fully refund 37 of its Wisconsin customers and nearly $210,000 in forfeitures, assessments, and costs.
American Tax’s owners, Tyler Bennett and Terrance Selb, Jr., and its former officer, Christopher Baker, entered into separate Voluntary Assurances of Compliance, agreeing to similar prohibitions against sending mailers or selling services to Wisconsin consumers.
DATCP referred this matter to Wisconsin DOJ after investigating complaints it received about American Tax’s mailers. The settlement resulted from a joint effort between DOJ, DATCP, and DFI.
The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance approved the proposed resolution on November 15, 2022.
Find this press release and judgment here.