Employees at Financial Rescue Services are working to reverse a
backward approach to judging personal wealth.
“It has gotten to be that nowadays, you are worth how much you
owe,” said Joseph Lisa, the company’s vice president of corporate
affairs and compliance.
According to the Federal Reserve, $1.7 trillion in outstanding
consumer credit existed in the United States late last year. And
during a 12-month period that ended in June, the American Bankruptcy
Institute ranked California fifth among U.S. states for bankruptcy
Enter Financial Rescue Services, the Burbank-based company best
described by its name because it reduces the burdens of its
customers’ debts by renegotiating the amount with creditors.
“We’re a net that can catch people from bankruptcy,” Lisa said.
Liza Bernardino, vice president of public relations, said the
average debt reduction the company negotiates is 37 cents to the
dollar, although every customer’s case is circumstantial. The
company’s fee is 25% of the debt money it saves plus a monthly
maintenance fee of $50. She also said the whole process usually lasts
three years. The payment requirements are similar to those of other
such nationwide businesses.
Started three-and-a-half years ago by owners Martha Levitsky and
Mary Beth Harper, the company has grown tenfold from 12 to 105
employees since it moved to its Burbank office in June 2001. Lisa
said that monthly, it assists between 500 and 1,000 customers.
Besides tips like getting to know credit contracts and avoiding
high interest rates by paying beyond the minimum amount due, the best
advice the company can give its customers is also the most obvious.
“Don’t spend beyond your means and learn to budget [your funds],”
LaVonna Applebaum, senior vice president of public relations,
added that the company practices what it preaches by being free of