An offer of help can seem like a blessing in dire situations — and even more so when it comes out of the blue. However, sometimes such offers can be too good to be true, which is why it’s important to look behind them — especially in financial matters — before availing yourself of the assistance offered.
If you’re currently struggling with debt, you’re likely on the receiving end of such invitations. With this in mind, having the ability to spot debt relief fraud — before it happens to you — can be the difference between discovering an effective solution and finding yourself in an even deeper hole.
The following signs should be considered bad omens.
Up Front Fee Requirements
Federal law prohibits debt relief companies from charging you a fee for their services until after they’ve settled your first account. It’s a safe bet you’re dealing with someone who has no regard for the law if you’re asked for money up front.
Even the best, most experienced companies out there cannot guarantee results. Yes, they are likely to achieve them. However, each and every situation is different. Where they might have reached an easy agreement with the exact same creditor in a previous case, yours could be declined. There are no guarantees in legitimate debt settlement — just the promise a company will do everything it can to help. And again, you’ll only owe them when they get results, if you’re dealing with a reputable organization.
Rushing You into a Program
Legitimate firms, like Freedom Debt Relief, begin each potential relationship with a thorough investigation of your circumstances. They’ll look at all of your debts, evaluate your income streams and look for alternatives to debt settlement. They’ll do everything they can to ensure you’re a good fit before enrolling you — and they’ll be forthcoming with all the information you need to make a confident decision.
Any program that accepts you sight unseen without an evaluation is probably not concerned about helping you achieve positive outcomes.
An Abundance of Negative Online Reviews
Debt relief, by its very nature, does leave some enrollees dissatisfied. Again, everyone who signs up won’t necessarily get his or her offers to creditors accepted. Consequently, a few negative reviews along those lines are to be expected. However, you should steer clear if the vast majority of the reviews you find about a company are negative. What’s more, a lack of any reviews at all should be looked upon with suspicion as well. The best companies have helped many thousands of people settle millions of dollars in debt. No way are you going to have that kind of track record and not get mentioned somewhere on the ‘net these days.
Touts of Government Affiliation
Yes, the Department of Consumer Affairs and the Federal Trade Commission keep an eye on the debt settlement industry. But they do not endorse, authorize or affiliate themselves with any companies offering the service. Anyone telling you they’re sanctioned by a government agency is lying — pure and simple.
Your Gut Says — FLEE!!!
Most of us are more intuitive than we believe ourselves to be. If something sounds way too good to be true — it usually is. If you encounter a person promising to settle all your debt for pennies on the dollar, in no time at all, with no consequences to your credit history —
Yeah, that simply isn’t going to happen.
Debt ain’t pretty and getting out of it ain’t easy. You’re going to have to endure some discomfort to make it work. However, if you take your time and become adept at spotting debt relief fraud — before it happens to you — you’re far more likely to come out of it with desirable result.