North Huntingdon debt settlement firm expects to hire about 300 employees
Although President Trump touts a booming economy, a North Huntingdon firm that specializes in getting creditors to accept a portion of the money a consumer owes has a growing client list and plans to add jobs over the next year to help debt-ridden consumers.
“Over the past four years, we’ve had ‘hyper-growth,’” said Daniel Frazier, chief executive of Century Support Services, a nationwide firm with headquarters in Westmoreland County.
Century Support has 265 employees and plans to grow to about 300 next summer, Frazier said. The company recently upgraded technology and remodeled its 34,000-square-foot space in the Banco Industrial Park.
“There’s opportunity for growth of upwards of 600 people,” said Frazier, whose company has debt settlement services in 29 states.
That means adding people in the customer service department as well as ones who negotiate with credit card companies to accept less than they are owed. Information technology position also will be open, as well as managerial positions, Frazier said. Customer service representatives can earn starting salaries of $30,000, while negotiators can get about $42,000 and IT personnel can start anywhere from $75,000 to $90,000.
Century Support’s growth spurt is seen in its caseload, which has grown from about 7,000 clients in 2010 to 45,000 this year, Frazier said. The company partners with businesses that seek clients by spreading the word through the internet, as well as its own sales force, Frazier said.
The projected growth comes at a time when Americans are on pace to amass a collective $4 trillion in consumer debt by the end of 2018, according to a LendingTree analysis of the latest Federal Reserve data. Consumer debt includes non-mortgage debts such as credit cards, personal loans, auto loans and student loans.
At Century, the average client has a debt load of $12,650 with about six credit card accounts
Collectively, Americans owe more than 26 percent of their income on consumer debt, up from 22 percent in 2010. Borrowing money for purposes other than housing has risen more than 38 percent since 2010. Despite increasing their debt, credit card delinquency rates remain relatively low at 2.4 percent, LendingTree stated.
Many of Century’s clients have sought debt settlement, rather than credit counseling or filing for bankruptcy, because of a loss of job or medical expenses not covered by insurance, Frazier said.
“Debt settlement is becoming more and more well-known,” Frazier said.
Century Support generates revenue from consumers paying 25 percent of the original balance of a credit card debt, if Century convinces the credit card company to accept less than the total it is owed, Frazier said. In line with Federal Trade Commission regulations, Century does not charge the client upfront fees to take on their case.
Consumers agree to make monthly payments, typically for 36-to-48 months, into an escrow account, from which the money is paid to the creditors.
Credit card companies are not required to settle on debts, but are willing to work with debt settlement businesses, because they can get some money from delinquent accounts, Frazier said. With their services, debtors typically end up paying 50 percent of the total bill, Frazier said.
Consumers can bypass debt settlement firms and negotiate directly with the credit card companies to make payment arrangement plans.
Frazier said, however, “you want a professional to help you.”
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252 or [email protected]