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Online Training Academy agrees to forgive student debt and pay more than $10 million

Student at Laptop Computer Watch Tea Blue Blouse-849825_1920Online Training Academy hyped a “patented” training program that promised to help people earn “big money” by paying big money to OTA for trainings costing as much as $50,000.

OTA’s lavish earnings claims often came with encouragement for people to go into debt to pay for OTA’s trainings.

A settlement announced Tuesday with the Federal Trade Commission means debt forgiveness for some people who owe money to OTA.

The company’s founder and other individuals will pay between $5 and $9.1 million and turn over assets under the terms of the settlement with the FTC that’s expected to result in more than $10 million to benefit injured consumers.

OTA has agreed to resolve the FTC’s claims that it used false or unsubstantiated earnings and related claims to sell its training programs.

Under the settlement, the company can’t make statements about how much people who take its training can earn, unless it can support those claims as true and supported by evidence, said Cristina Miranda, consumer education specialist for the FTC’s Division of Consumer and Business Education.

It also can’t refer to its salespeople as “education counselors” and has to make it clear that they’re paid on commission. And, OTA can’t use contracts that limit a customer’s ability to speak to the FTC or other law enforcement agencies about OTA and its programs, or to post honest reviews online.

In addition, OTA has agreed to forgive consumer debt owed by some of the people who bought and financed training programs from OTA and delete the debt from their credit reports within 60 days.

People who are eligible for debt forgiveness will get an email and a letter from the OTA defendants explaining the debt forgiveness process.

If you owe debt to any of the OTA corporate defendants – OTA Franchise Corporation, NEH Services Inc., or Newport Exchange Holdings Inc. – watch for the email and letter, read them, and take steps to contact OTA to get debt forgiveness. 

For more information on the settlement or to keep updated, see FAQ for Online Trading Academy

Be aware that any investment program or seminar that claims you can make a lot of money in a short time is a scam. Report these scams to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint and get tips on how to protect yourself at Investment and Opportunity Scams.

Copyright 2020, Rita R. Robison, Consumer and Personal Finance Journalist

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