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Philadelphia attorney Nathan Neuman saw a problem in the debt industry: Creditors and debt professionals were not always able to match up with each other. So he devised a solution. On July 19, Neuman oversaw the launch of eDebtNetwork.com, the first Internet referral system for the debt industry. Although numerous Web sites offer services for the buying and selling of debt portfolios, eDebtNetwork.com’s services expand on this premise. “The sites out there now all focus on the buying and selling of portfolios,” said Neuman, who serves as CEO of eDebtNetwork.com. “They go through an auction process or try to manually match parties. We’re also focusing on the placement of debt for collection.” Founded last year and headquartered in Ambler, Pa., eDebtNetwork.com is a privately held company, one that Neuman hopes will make a major impact on the debt industry. Since it launched several weeks ago, more than 2,700 creditors and debt professionals have registered at the site, and more than $200 million in debt has been placed for collection or purchase. This includes, but is not limited to, debt portfolios. Before a creditor matches up with a professional, however, the creditor has the right to accept or deny any requests to purchase or to collect the posted debt. Once the debt is posted on the site, professionals submit requests to handle the debt. If the creditor wishes to negotiate with that specific professional, the creditor discloses his or her identity. Until that point, however, the process is completely anonymous. “The anonymity issue is very important in this industry,” said Neuman, who graduated with a J.D. from the University of Delaware in 1987 and an L.L.M. in corporate law from George Washington University in 1988. “The way this is set up, when the debt professional responds to a request, that information goes to the creditor. The creditor can then decide whether or not to do business with that debt professional.” If a creditor feels the need to bring suit or enforce judgments against debtors, the Legal Locate feature of eDebtNetwork.com will allow the creditor to match up with lawyer who would be able to provide counsel. Neuman said he feels the client generation that will result from this feature will attract lawyers to register with the site. “The way the site is set up, that lawyer would get unlimited debt leads from the site,” he said. He added that lawyers will not necessarily benefit simply from registering on the site as debt professionals. “It allows the attorney to register as a creditor to help clients,” Neuman said. “If you’re a creditor, it allows people to find you.” Although more than $200 million in debt has been placed on the site, Neuman said that eDebtNetwork.com has not yet launched its sales and marketing plan. By September, eDebtNetwork.com will be listed on various search engines and will be advertised in the print and electronic media. Neuman believes great potential exists for eDebtNetwork.com. In 1999, over $50 billion in uncollected debt was placed with debt professionals, and Neuman hopes his company can match some of those creditors with people capable of handling their debt. In the past, collection agencies handled much of the matchmaking in the debt industry. EDebtNetwork.com challenges that established system by letting the creditors make the decisions. “Creditors should really be dictating who handles their accounts, not the collection agencies,” Neuman said.

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