Debt relief services claim to help people facing bankruptcy get current on debt and restore their financial standing. While many of these services can offer assistance, others may be scams to deprive a person from their money for help that never materializes. To help you identify debt relief red flags, the Federal Trade Commission offers the following advice.
Debt management plans and debt settlement programs are two debt relief options. Debt management allows you to reorganize your debt into one convenient payment which will be spread out among your creditors. You must make payments according to the set schedule or run the risk of having your new terms denied. With debt settlement, you hire a company to negotiate a lump sum settlement on your behalf that is lower than what you already owe.
You should look out for red flags when comparing your debt relief options. Even if you’re remitting payment debt relief services you should never be asked for payment up front. You should also be wary of advice suggesting that it’s OK to stop paying creditors or to provide money owed to the debt relief company directly. Both actions can have dire consequences on your finances and leave you responsible or additional debt.
Lastly, any outlandish claims that seem too good to be true usually are. For instance, before you’re privy to a debt management plan you should take classes on responsible financial habits, so you avoid future money issues. If a company seems to be rushing you into a plan, it could signal that your best interests are not a priority. It’s also unlikely that you’ll be able to discharge most of your debt, or that all actions taken against your will suddenly cease.