How to Choose a Debt Relief Service
Debt is a cold hard fact. Many have evaded it but never totally in the end. The good news is, there’s a way to pay debt without drastic and undesirable consequences: use debt relief services. These companies have no magic to erase what you owe, but they will help you do that naturally, fairly and responsibly.
The question is, how do you choose a debt relief company? Many options are out there, but not all of them are right for you. Here are quick tips to help you make the right decision:
Seek personal referrals.
The best way to find a debt management company is by asking around. Debt is a huge problem in America these days, and chances are, at least one of your friends or family members has used debt relief before. You can also check out online reviews, but stick to reputable third-party consumer websites to avoid misleading, if not fake, information.
Are they a non-profit organization?
A non-profit debt relief agency is able to offer its services for free or for nominal costs because their costs are often underwritten by banks and credit card companies. If you can’t find a local agency and are limited to online options, take time to verify any claims of being a non-profit. Check the company’s background, and again, read reviews (but check your sources). Any debt management agency can claim to be non-profit until you actually check.
Review their credentials.
Definitely, a good credit counseling company will have an impressive rating with the BBB (Better Business Bureau). It should have been in the history for at least five years with a verifiable history. Choosing a member of credit counseling agencies, such as the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies (AICCCA) and the Association of Credit Counseling Professionals (ACCP), will be to your best interest as well.
Check the company’s records with your Attorney General.
If you’re interested in an online-based credit counseling company, approach your state’s Attorney General’s office to find out whether or not it has received complaints from consumers. Once again, online reviews on reputable consumer websites can help you learn about agencies and different people’s experiences with them.
Say no to upfront fees.
Reputable credit relief companies will never demand you pay them upfront. As mentioned earlier, non-profits will even charge you little to nothing, so an agency that’s asking for money upfront is highly suspicious and you must never take chances with them.
Ask for a contract.
Lastly, keep in mind that a trustworthy and reliable debt relief company will be completely transparent with you right from the beginning, with all information provided in writing. As a consumer, this will help you understand the structure of your agreement, their policies and any fees. Above all, a written contract is for your protection. In fact, don’t proceed with a debt management service that will not provide this document. And in case they do provide one but there are many items that you find questionable, don’t forget to ask. It’s your right and a reputable company will even appreciate that.