I cringed when Debt Cures “They” Don’t Want You to Know About by Kevin Trudeau first hit the shelves. Mr. Mega Memory and Natural Cures had decided to cash in on the financial crisis, and knowing a little bit about his history, I feared the advice he was dishing out would do more harm than good. Having now read the book and researched his company, my fears have been partially realized. Ironically, Debt Cures teaches us more about finances by looking at its author and how he markets the book, than do the 310 pages inside. But we’ll take a look at both.
A Google search of Kevin Trudeau brings up a Wikipedia page that belies his boyish charm. In the early 1990s, he was convicted of fraud and larceny. He has been sued repeatedly by the Federal Trade Commission.
A court order bars him from promoting any goods or services, but not books. And that explains his entry into the book market several years ago. On November 19, 2007, a court found Trudeau in contempt for making deceptive claims about his book The Weight Loss Cure “They” Don’t Want You to Know About. In October 2008, he was fined more than $5 million and banned from infomercials for three years for continuing to make fraudulent claims pertaining to the book. And now we have Debt Cures.
Marketing and Packaging Debt Cures to Sell
Like his other books, Kevin Trudeau uses a 2-part formula to market and sell Debt Cures. First, he claims there is a secret “get out of debt” method that the banks and even the government are keeping from the American consumer. And second, he claims Debt Cures reveals that secret, which will enable consumers to either get out of debt or substantially lower their debt. To see his marketing formula in action, check out this YouTube video clip, which also plays on Kevin Trudeau’s Debt Cures website:
In the video, Trudeau first claims that Debt Cures describes a “simple technique that nobody knows.” To underscore this, he claims that “these are the secrets that banks don’t want people to know.” In fact, according to Trudeau, the banks “are furious that I’m blowing the lid on this.” And then he moves to his claim: “there is a technique that virtually every person who has credit card debt can cut their payments in half” and do so”virtually overnight.” And if that weren’t enough, he then claims that if you have $10,000, $20,000 or even $30,000 of credit card debt, Debt Cures reveals a secret method that will enable you to “completely wipe out that debt.”
So does the book live up to his sales pitch? No, and it’s not even close. The first “secret” he’s talking about is the statute of limitations. If the statute of limitations has run on a creditor’s claim, you can avoid liability for the debt. But for those of us living in the real world, we know this hardly ever happens. Is your mortgage company really going to let you go without paying your mortgage until the statute of limitations runs? No.
And not only is the “secret” statute of limitations defense not a practical solution to the vast majority of consumers, it’s not a secret. A search on the “statute of limitations” in Google returns more than 3,800,000 results. The second result, for that matter, provides a list of the statute of limitations by state. So much for Mr. Trudeau’s secret.
Beyond the statute of limitations, Debt Cures’ super secret “get out of debt” strategy involves negotiating with creditors to lower your balance and/or interest rate. Negotiating with creditors can be an effective way to improve your finances. I requested and received a lower interest rate on my home equity line of credit just for asking. But there is nothing secret about this strategy. Perhaps Mr. Trudeau did not read my article, An Incredibly Simple, Free and Easy Way to Improve Your Finances.
Does Debt Cures have any value?
Sure it does. The chapters on how credit scores are calculated and how to improve your credit score are helpful. The information provided is very basic and freely available on the Internet. But those chapters cover some useful material. The book shows how your credit score affects the cost of debt. Just a few points difference in your credit score will impact your mortgage rate. Over the life of the loan, the result can be thousands of dollars in extra interest payments. All of this information is important to understand. In the final analysis, though, it doesn’t save this book.
Don’t buy Debt Cures from Kevin Trudeau!
If you do plan on buying Debt Cures, please do not buy it from Mr. Trudeau. His website (which I refuse to link to) charges $19.95 for the book. The book is available from Amazon for $9.95. But it gets worse.
In the fine print of Trudeau’s website, you’ll also learn that he charges the consumers he claims to protect an additional $11.95 for “shipping and processing.” Here’s the fine print:
Learn what “They” don’t want you to know for only $19.95 plus $11.95 shipping and processing. Plus you’ll also receive Kevin’s “Secrets to Wealth Creation” CD and his “Ten Minute Instant Credit Improvement” Guide absolutely free. If you aren’t satisfied, simply call customer service at 1-888-846-4962 within 30 days of receiving your order. You’re receiving an unconditional 30 day money back guarantee less shipping, plus you can keep the bonuses as our gift to you.
But wait! That’s not all. Order through Trudeau’s website, and you’ll also be automatically signed up for Buyer’s Edge. What’s Buyer’s Edge, you ask. Again, let’s go to the fine print at the bottom of Trudeau’s website:
$10 Cash Back Details: At the completion of your purchase today you can get your $10 cash back and enjoy Buyer’s Edge for the next 30 days including all the valuable benefits of this program. Members can save up to $600 a year on the items you buy at the supermarket. The Buyer’s Edge Grocery Connection lets you choose from nearly 1,700 name brand items, dairy, produce, meats, juice, and packaged foods. You can get coupons for them worth $12 each week! Members also get 5-10% Cash Back on room rates, domestic airline tickets, car rentals cruises and vacation packages when they book their vacations through Buyer’s Edge Travel Reservation Services.
Your membership materials and the information on how to claim your $10 cash back will be mailed to you in about two weeks, but you can access your benefits within three business days by calling 1-888-326-7156. Your discounts are free for the next 30 days, plus all the valuable benefits of Buyer’s Edge. If you are satisfied during your trial, do nothing. All your Buyer’s Edge discounts and benefits will automatically continue for just $14.95 a month. Buyer’s Edge benefits may be enhanced or modified at any time without prior notice. If at any time you are not completely satisfied during your trial or thereafter, simply call Buyer’s Edge at 1-888-326-7156 to let us know you wish to cancel and you’ll owe nothing more. All your benefits and access will then be canceled immediately. All the money you save and the $10 Cash Back are yours to keep!
Isn’t that nice? Buy a book purportedly written to help you get out of debt, and you get automatically signed up to some program at a monthly cost that exceeds the price of the book on Amazon. If you are not familiar with Buyer’s Edge, just do a Google search for “‘Buyer’s Edge’ complaints” and you’ll get an idea of what this company is all about.
The Truth About Debt Cures
The truth is that there are no secrets. Yes, we need to arm ourselves with basic information about finance, credit, banking, and so forth. All of this information is freely available on the Internet or in much better books (see my list below). But there are no secrets. Climbing out of debt is about hard work, perseverance, and self-discipline.