I have been a Credit Counselor for ten years. I was very happy
when the FTC stepped in and tightened the regulations in the
industry as a whole. One could feel the breeze as the bad
actors left the industry. Unfortunately not enough of them left,
and I fear some have even made their way back.
It has now apparently become the norm of many affiliate
counseling companies offering a debt settlement program to
tell consumers just that.
First rule for a credit counselor, just like a physician should
be “Do no harm”. Some of the advice consumers are telling our counselors they
have been getting is just plain scary. So you ran up twenty
five thousand dollars on your credit cards. Received free trips
by cashing in your mileage points. Yes, things were good.
You were making plenty of money and living the good life. Then,
the bottom dropped out. Less money, illness, loss of a job, and
on and on. But somehow, if you run a budget you see
that while finances will be tighter, you can still make your
payments. The problem is you realize that it will take you thirty
years to pay the debt off.
You speak to a debt relief company and they immediately offer
you a debt settlement option and say, why struggle, you can
improve your cash flow by simply defaulting on your credit
card payments, waiting two months and then enrolling in a much
cheaper debt settlement program. Sometimes they conveniently
forget to tell you that in the process
you will destroy your hard earned credit and lose a little bit
of yourself in the process. I am absolutely not saying that
debt settlement programs are bad.
They can be financial life savers and often are. However,
rather than have someone try to sell you a program which may
or may not be right for you, wouldn’t it be wiser to have someone
take the time to get the big picture about your circumstances
and then offer you options. This is really a no brainer.
So, what should be the criteria for enrolling in a settlement
program or any program where you will not be paying back
all the money you owe? I put forward the
following. No matter what you do, you cannot make your
minimum payments going forward, and cannot afford an alternative pay back in full program,like a Debt Management Program, where you do pay back
in full.Or, you are presently so far behind that your accounts
have gone into collection. By the way, not a good policy
to incur yet another debt by taking a loan to pay off the credit
card debt or other unsecured debt. There are excellent debt relief
programs that will do the job better and be cheaper.
If you would like to know more, feel free to call for a no obligation
no cost consult. We would be happy to take the time.
American Debt Enders
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