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MO AG Sues Tax Resolution Firm

JK Harris didn’t provide promised services to Missourians who sought help with tax problems, Nixon says in lawsuit

Jefferson City, Mo. – A South Carolina company that advertises it can help consumers resolve their state and federal tax problems didn’t provide the services it promised, Attorney General Jay Nixon says. Nixon filed a lawsuit today seeking full restitution from JK Harris & Company LLC (JKH) for its Missouri customers who received neither the services for which they paid as much as $4,500 each nor the refunds they requested.

“JK Harris promises it can help consumers who are having tax problems, but the Missourians who complained to my office told a different story – one of unreturned phone calls, lost paperwork, and a worse financial situation than when they started,” Nixon said.

The JKH Web site tells consumers the company has a step-by-step strategy – known as “The Process” – to help consumers with their tax problems. According to JKH, “The Process” includes providing immediate relief to consumers by attempting to stop collection activities by the IRS; assigning a case specialist to review the consumer’s information and begin work on resolving the customer’s tax problems; and submitting an offer to the IRS to resolve the customer’s tax problems.

Consumers complained to the Attorney General’s Office that after they paid for debt relief services, JKH failed to follow “The Process” in handling customer cases. The consumers also reported that they often had to resend their financial disclosure information and supporting documentation because JKH kept losing their paperwork, and that they would learn that their assigned case specialists were no longer working on their files only by calling JKH for updates. Those consumers who requested full refunds from JKH because they didn’t receive the promised services had those requests denied.

Also named as a defendant in Nixon’s lawsuit was a business affiliated with JK Harris called Professional Fee Financing Associates LLC (PFFA), which makes consumer credit loans as part of the JKH contract process with its customers. Nixon said PFFA’s forms fail to disclose to consumers crucial information about finance charges, payment schedules, the total number of payments, and the total price the consumers will have to pay. PFFA also does not have the required certificate of registration from the Missouri Division of Finance.

Nixon is asking the Jackson County Circuit Court to issue an order requiring JKH and PFFA to provide full restitution to all Missouri consumers from whom they have received payment who have been hurt by the defendants’ deceptive practices. The lawsuit also asks for preliminary and permanent injunctions to prohibit the defendants from further violations of Missouri consumer protection laws, as well as for penalties and costs that the court deems appropriate.

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