Leading Financial and Family Law Attorneys
10 Steps to Avoid Debt Settlement Scams
10 Steps to Avoid Debt Settlement Scams because it is big business!
As debt continues to skyrocket (again) the number of people being scammed by supposed reputable companies continues to be a problem.
We all want instant solutions to problems – especially painful issues like financial woes. So it becomes all too easy to believe when you are desperate to believe!
Here are ten ways to avoid getting in deeper than you already are.
#1. Research every option possible. In other words, don’t buy in to the first (and most persistent) option that comes along. Some suggestions could include:
- Consumer credit counseling
- Debt consolidation loan options
- Credit card debt settlement
- Ignoring the debt (sometimes the best option!)
- Working directly with creditors
The most important thing to always remember is that you are the one who cares most about your situation! Common sense says nobody will do a better job than you!
Once you find yourself in trouble, you might start hearing the ads and seeing the commercials for debt relief and think you have found the answer. Keep looking!
#2. Get opinions from professionals before taking any action. Many people are embarrassed and do not want to share their story with anyone else. This is the biggest reason to find a trusted second opinion. This probably won’t be your best friend unless they are a financial professional. Invest in a visit to a financial or bankruptcy attorney who knows what they are talking about!
#3. If you do find yourself talking to a debt settlement company salesman just remind yourself that is exactly what you are talking to – a salesman whose commission depends on selling you on the program!
#4. If, against all advice, you must use a debt resettlement company, be sure to compare several companies! You will find fairly quickly how professional and qualified they are when you tell your salesman you are ‘shopping’. Be prepared for the pitch of your life! There are good companies, there are some really bad, and some do nothing but collect your fees. It is your job to find out who is who.
#5. Search Google! Just do a quick search for your chosen company on Google and you will quickly find if they have negative (or positive) reviews. Search for their name, or ‘company_name complaints’ or ‘company_name reviews’
#6. Check with the Better Business Bureau. Are there any complaints on file and were they resolved? It is just another way to research and protect yourself. And it’s free!
#7. Read any contract or agreement very carefully. Do not trust the salesman’s words of “it’s just standard stuff” with 37 pages behind it. Your signature means you have read and agree to everything in it!
#8. No upfront fees! In October 2010 the federal government made it illegal for debt settlement companies to collect fees prior to settling their client’s debt. Remember that these people are in this for the money – not to protect you. (For the most part.)
#9. Be very wary of meeting people who claim to be lawyers who want to me you face to face after a phone discussion. Often they are pretending to be legal representatives to circumvent the FTC laws mentioned above.
#10. Call Don Harris. Or call a local recognized bankruptcy attorney trained and experienced to help you. Yes you will pay them, but the outcome will be so much better. You will get great advice (even if you don’t like it) and a step by step process to dig out of the hole you find yourself in.