Looking for debt relief companies may not be on top of your list this new year. But if you, like everyone else in the country, is intent on improving your personal finances, your debts should be a main concern for you. This is especially true if you have a lot of credit card debt – which is notorious for their high interest rates.
This type of debt is not uncommon after the Holiday season. Some parents would agree to the sentiment that they would rather add to their credit card debt if it ensured that their kids would have a great Christmas season. After all, happiness and generosity reigns true during this time. But once all the festivities have ended and all the wrappers have been thrown, it is time to face the truth about your finances. For sure, most of our finances have taken a beating the last few months and now is the time to repair the damage that had been done.
Tips when looking for a debt professional to help with your credit situation
While it is highly encouraged that we learn how to take care of our own credit situation, some people just do not have the time to take care of these things. This is why searching for debt relief companies to help becomes an option. However, it is very important that you are aware of the presence of scammers. Unfortunately, there are debt relief scams that have taken much out of desperate consumers who are buried in debt. You do not want to be a victim of these malicious companies and this is where this article can help you out.
Here are some tips that you can use to help you find reliable and trustworthy companies that offer sincere debt solutions.
Start your search with a reputable organization.
If a company wants to fool people, you can bet that they will not waste time with accreditations nor will they be members of any reputable organizations. You can bet that they will not have complete papers or properly trained employees too.
If you want to look for reputable companies, start your search via the website of organizations like the American Fair Credit Council (AFCC) or the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). They have a list of companies that you can look into. By looking at the membership requirements of organizations, you will get an idea of how reliable debt relief companies are – at least, those who are in their list.
Get referrals from trusted people.
If you have family, relatives or friends who have gone through difficult financial situations in the past, you may want to get referrals from them. If one company helped them through a difficult time in their finances, then the same company might be able to do the same for you.
Just remember not to rely too much on the feedback of the person who referred the company to you. While they might have helped, it is not a guarantee that their experience will be the same as yours. The financial situation and probably the agent who will handle your account might not be the same. If the company does not feel right, then feel free to move on and search for another debt relief company.
Conduct due diligence before signing any contract.
Even if you were led to the company through a reputable organization or a trusted friend, make sure to conduct your due diligence still. It is very important that you do your own research about any of the debt relief companies that you will consider. Check out reputable review sites and testimonials about the company. You can even look into the Better Business Bureau to see if there was a complaint filed against this particular debt relief agency.
Know the law and your rights.
Lastly, you need to know your right and what the law says about the best practices of debt relief companies. You can start by looking into the Telemarketing Sales Rule in FTC.gov. This law protects consumers from being duped by scammers posing as legit companies. Among the rules stated in this law includes prohibitions about misrepresentation, asking for upfront fees or promising unrealistic results.
In the end, you have to trust your gut instinct. When it is too good to be true, it probably is. If something does not feel right, feel free to walk away. Even if a company comes highly recommended but you disagree with some of their policies, you can always look for another agency to work with.
Signs of a sincere and trustworthy company offering debt solutions
When you are looking for debt relief companies, it is important for you to recognize the signs that make them trustworthy. It pays to know what you are looking for. There are actually a couple of questions found on the Consumer.FTC.gov that could help you figure out the qualities that you need to look for in a debt relief company.
Here are a couple of signs that you may want to look into when hiring a debt relief company to help with your debts.
- Does not ask for upfront fees. The TSR states that companies are prohibited from asking upfront fees. If the company asked you to pay them upfront, stop talking to them. No legitimate company will violate the TSR. This is usually one of the first things that you will notice.
- Provides information freely. A sincere and trustworthy company will give you information about themselves when you ask for it. They will not hesitate to do so.
- Free counseling. Or if they do not have free counseling, they should offer it at a very low-cost fee. But you should know that a lot of nonprofit companies offer this for free. In fact, offering this service at no cost to the consumer shows their sincerity. It speaks volumes about how the company is after the financial well being of the consumer – and not the business profit that they will earn from them.
- Inclusion of financial education. Like counseling, financial education is very important to help the consumer improve their finances. If the company does not offer even simple budgeting lessons, then you may want to look for another company. There are other debt relief companies who will offer this automatically and you do not even have to ask for them. It will not just help you as you get out of debt, it will also help you stay out of debt. Make sure you get financial management tips from them.
- Honest discussion about fees. Another important trait of a great company is the way they talk about their fees and charges. If you ask a question, they should be able to answer you clearly. Those who mask hidden fees will try to beat around the bush when talking about costs. Be wary of them.
- Offers a lot of services. Great debt relief companies offer a lot of services. It shows how extensive they have trained just to help out struggling borrowers be free from their debt problems.
- Shows professionalism. This is a tough one to define so we will just mention examples. A company that shows professionalism is one who will tell you facts about your debt. They will never offer you a solution without knowing what the problem is. They will also not impress on you a product that is not helpful in eliminating your debts. The professional debt relief companies will also not hesitate to point you to an affiliate and trustworthy company if they think that their services will not be a fit to what you need.
If you want to avoid debt relief scams, you need to find reliable and trustworthy companies that will sincerely help you get out of your debt situation.