One of the most common questions I get is "how do I know a debt settlement company won't rip me off?" or "how do I find a reputable debt settlement company?"
Hiring a debt settlement company is just like hiring any professional to do work for you - you need to do your "homework".
After all, you wouldn't hire a contractor to do work on your house without getting a few quotes and checking references, right?
Sadly, you hear many horror stories about debt settlement scams. In defense of the settlement services, I think many people jump into this process without really knowing how it works. And most people who say they were "ripped off" or "scammed" just didn't know exactly what they were getting into - and expected something more like "debt miracles" than debt settlement.
After all, settling your debts is a lot different from credit counseling, debt consolidation, and other traditional methods of paying off your credit card bills faster.
A good debt settlement company won't try to sign up everyone with credit card debt - it is a more aggressive process designed for people with little hope of paying off their credit card debt on their own, and avoiding bankruptcy.
But when you read through the comments people make about debt settlement, on financial forums and better business bureau reports, you quickly realize that there are a lot of "professional" services out there that don't educate their clients ... and up getting called a scam because they don't provide the type of service their clients were expecting (if their clients don't know what they're getting into, whose fault is that?).
So, here are 5 tips to help you educate yourself - and avoid getting ripped off by a debt settlement scam:
1) Ask for references - if possible, contact one or two and ask about their experiences with the company you are researching.
2) Read everything - don't sign anything or send any money until you read all of the terms of the agreeement, including the fine print.
3) Ask lots of questions - if a company won't respond to your questions, then they are either too busy, are they're trying to hide something (a good debt settlement company should want you to be informed BEFORE you sign up).
4) Check with the Better Business Bureau
5) If it sounds too good to be true ... then it probably is! A good debt settlement company really can help you save 40-60% on your debts, but it takes a little time, money, and patience to get the best deal.
If you do your "homework" by following the tips above, you'll reduce the chance of getting ripped off - and most importantly, you'll increase the chance that you'll get the financial help you really need!
To learn about the companies I recommend (after having gone through the process of debt settlement myself, and having run this website for several years), visit our debt settlement page.
Settling your credit card debt is a legitimate debt reduction strategy. Especially when you know what you're signing up for. Hopefully these tips will help you avoid getting ripped off by a debt settlement scam!
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