Legal Helpers Debt Resolution collected an estimated $2.5 million in fees from Oregon residents since 2009, despite not being registered to conduct business in the state as required by law.

The violation is the source of a lawsuit filed this week by Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum. The suit further accuses Chicago-based Legal Helpers, a debt settlement firm, of financially abusing elderly consumers because at least 34 clients were 65 or older, meaning it violated a state law against financial abuse of vulnerable people, the complaint continues.

Legal Helpers never registered with the state as required by state law. The law also limited how debt settlement firms can charge fees but the business violated that by charging a monthly administrative fee of $50 to $79, Rosenblum said. It also charged initial flat fees of $500 and $900, far above the law's $50 limit. Further, its service fee exceeded the law's $65-a-month limit.

Operated by Chicago law firm Macey, Aleman, Hyslip & Searns, Legal Helpers agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office in 2011 by paying consumers in that state $2.1 million.

In Oregon, the firm had at least 540 attorney-retainer agreements with Oregon consumers after the law's passage, according to the complaint.

In July, Legal Helpers announced it will shut down its operations, which includes doing business in 38 states, because of negative publicity.

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