Optima Tax Relief was the first company I called because I had seen their commercials a lot. When I called, the person that answered the phone did the consult for free with me immediately. He was a “Tax Associate”. The call took about 20 minutes.
He was very pleasant and took a lot of information from me about my issue, my income, assets, and monthly expenses. He put me on hold for a little while, and when he came back on the line he told me that they could help me “settle for a fraction of what I owe”. I thought that sounded a little cheesy – it was the first red flag.
He then told me about the money back guarantee (since then I’ve read so many other reviews about people having a hard time actually getting their money back!) and quoted me. The quote was the second red flag. He said I could pay a $995 retainer for the ‘Investigation and Protection Phase’ of the plan. After that is phase two, the ‘Resolution Plan’. He quoted me for phase two by saying it would be “$995 or higher”.
Um, “or higher”? What does that mean? When I pushed him, he said he couldn’t commit to a number since he didn’t know how long it would take to solve my issue. I asked him if it could be over $10,000 and he said he didn’t know.
I’ve since read reviews from a lot of people who pay the $995, and then Optima comes back to them and says “We need an additional xxx amount of money to continue to work your case”…and they do this multiple times and sometimes never end up solving the issue!
Also worth mentioning is the fact that he offered to have the $995 retainer split up into two payments two weeks apart. I told him I needed to speak to a family member to see if I could borrow come money from them. He thanked me and told me to call him back the next day. I did not call him back, and he never followed up with me.
When I started looking into reviews, I found that on the “pissed consumer” website, there has been over $110,000 claimed losses on their site alone! Scary.
Check out some more of their negative reviews here.
I learned that just because a company can afford some fancy commercials, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are a legitimate company.
Next I called Omni Financial. This is the call that prompted me to reach out to so many more companies.