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How to Avoid Debt Relief Scams

By: Michael Millington

Making the decision to handle your debt through a professional can be a wonderful thing. There are many benefits to having a professional debt relief company take care of your debt. With an established company representing you, you can avoid stressful interaction and time-consuming paperwork. However, there are a fair number of fraudulent debt relief companies out there. It is important to know what to look for in a debt relief company and what to research before committing to one. It could be the difference between thousands of dollars for you.


Fraudulent Settlement Claims


One way to spot a debt relief scam deals with the types of settlements offered. A reputable debt relief company will clearly state what they can and cannot do. If you hear a settlement that sounds too good to be true, chances are it is. Before you accept the word of a representative, be sure to ask for any corroborating paperwork to prove the statements to be true. Any settlements made through a professional debt relief company will have paperwork to back it up. You might even be able to view it on their website.

Another thing to look out for is debts that can’t be settled. Many people deal with credit card debt, medical debt and other types of unsecured debt. These kinds of debt can be dealt with through debt settlement. Any debt relief company stating that they can settle secured debt without proof is a scam. Also, companies claiming they can settle unusual debts (like casino debts, parking tickets or bank overdraft fees) are not to be believed without proof. Unless a company can show physical proof of being able to do what they claim, it would be best not to trust them with your business.

Your best defense against false claims is to be proactive. Any representative from a debt relief company should be able to provide you with the information you request. If, at any time, a certain piece of information cannot be provided, it might be a red flag to take into consideration. There are times when aggressive tactics might be used to pressure you into succumbing to a scam. Other times it all might sound overly beneficial to whatever. Trust your instincts, ask questions and never be afraid to decline services.


Do Your Research on Debt Relief


A legitimate debt relief option, like debt settlement, can receive harsh criticism from consumers based on rumors or other unfounded statements. In this day and age, information is readily available to anyone with a computer. Doing substantial research on a debt relief company can help alleviate any fears of doing business with them. Many people who have had negative experiences with debt relief companies, scam or legitimate, will put their findings on a review site. You have many options to check to make sure you know the company you’re dealing with.

A good resource to use when checking a company is the Better Business Bureau. Many people will report their dealings with a wide variety of businesses to this organization. The Better Business Bureau can list customer complaints and if they’ve been resolved. They can also report on any government actions levied against the company in question. If you find that a company has been acted against by the government, it might be a sign of bad business practices.

There are also many review websites and customer testimonials that you have access to if you want consumer reviews. As stated earlier, customers who have spectacular (or horrendous) experiences have the ability to report them to a third-party review site. Most review sites have reviews that are not influenced by the companies under review, so you end up with genuine reviews from actual customers. Even though there are many advertisements for debt relief companies, doing your own research can help to make your decision a more comfortable one.


Illegal Activity


One major way to tell a fraudulent debt relief company from a legitimate one is their payment tactics. As of 2010, it has become illegal for debt relief companies to charge money to their customers before reaching a settlement. Any company that requires money before rendering any services might not just be fraudulent, they’re also breaking a federal law.

There are other illegal practices that might tip you off. If a debt relief company offers to settle your debts, they must be able to provide you with an account that you have full control over. As a customer, you’re entitled to have a dedicated account for any funds meant to be used for debt settlement purposes. You are also entitled to have access to this dedicated account to withdraw funds at any time without incurring penalty. The company administering the account for your funds cannot have anything to do with your debt relief provider.

Before you commit to any debt relief companies for debt settlement purposes, make sure they give you the legally required information before you accept their services. Debt settlement providers are legally obligated to inform you on several specifics in regard to your debt settlement program. You are entitled to know approximately how long the settlement program should last, how much you should be charged, and any negative aspects that could result from using these services.


Not all debt relief companies have your best interests in mind. Shady operating practices, negative reviews and government intervention are all warning signs that the company in question might not be the best choice. If you’re looking for a reputable debt relief company then make sure you do your research, ask questions and avoid any offers that require upfront payments. As one of the leading providers of debt relief, Guardian Debt Relief follows all requirements necessary to make sure our clients receive the service they deserve. If you need reliable debt relief from a company you can trust, look no further than Guardian Debt Relief. Our debt relief specialists are standing by to answer your questions. Take the first step and contact Guardian Debt Relief today.

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