Credit Repair Pros does not offer credit counseling or debt relief services. However, if you need help with debt, this resource can help guide you.
Getting out of debt is very important to your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Learning to control spending and manage your personal finances will help stop problems and prevent issues in the future. However, if your debt feels overwhelming and you need help there are resources available to help you learn about your options. Credit counseling with a local trusted adviser can be helpful. Identifying organizations that are trustworthy and credible is key in a profession that can be infiltrated by scammers. These are some helpful resources:
USA.gov: Dealing With Debt – Where to find free or low-cost credit counseling options.
Credit Counseling vs. Debt Settlement – The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau outlines the differences between these types of organizations.
FTC.gov Consumer Guide to Debt Relief or Bankruptcy – The FTC gives good guidance on where you can turn for debt relief and when declaring bankruptcy could be an option.
IRS Guide to Home Foreclose and Debt Cancellation – The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is a good resource for understanding when cancelled debt is taxable as well as the tax implications to having a home foreclosure.
Dave Ramsey’s 29 Ways to Leap Out of Debt – These are simple suggestions, but when followed can be very powerful in helping you get out debt fast.
The following standards are what consumers should look for in any company they approach for advice or for debt relief services. A reputable service provider will walk you through a suitability test. This test is a process to determine what debt relief option will likely prove to be the best option given your current finances and goals.
Fully Understand Your Action Plan
You must fully understand the steps you will need to take when enrolled in any debt relief plan. Prior to beginning any debt relief process, service providers should outline to you the action steps that require your participation and commitment. You should be informed of key elements involving your plan. Ask for a clear outline of the following:
- Estimate of time you will need to commit to in order to see your plan through to completion
- Estimate of money you will have paid to complete your debt payments
- Estimate of fees you will pay to the service provider throughout your program
- Timing of payments and fees, when and how they are calculated or applied
No organization offering direct debt settlement services should charge a fee until each settlement is achieved and at least one payment made toward the agreed upon terms in the settlement with your creditor.
Make Sure You Get Updates
Success in any debt relief process is partly attributable to how well you are able to communicate with those offering you assistance. Some of the items that will be important to you while working with your service provider include:
- Timely responses to your phone calls and emails
- Regular updates regarding all aspects of your plan on a minimum monthly basis
- Access to all accounting of your funds, payment disbursements and fee calculation either
- Ability to escalate any issues you may have to top management
Risks Should Be Disclosed
A competent organization will outline your initial plan and assist you in managing your expectations. All risks should be explained prior to enrollment. A good firm will carefully detail the risks and provide written disclosures not only in their enrollment paperwork, but also as a standalone disclosure document so that any risks are distinct and prominent for you to further evaluate. They must comply with all federal and state fee requirements for debt relief service providers.
Any fees for direct services should be clearly outlined. When entering debt negotiation you should not be charged an advance fee for direct debt settlement services. This is extremely important for consumers to consider as there are people and companies who continue to try to create loopholes to charge fees prior to earning them. Be wary of a company offering to settle your debt while charging fees prior to having settled at least one of your accounts. Check to see if the organization has met licensing requirements or is otherwise authorized to offer their services in your state.
Check on Past Performance
Advertisers and service providers make outlandish claims that are designed to entice you to enroll in programs that they will profit from, but that may not be appropriate for you. Success and savings claims must meet very strict criteria. Companies that publish their historical performance data for the world to see are embracing a level of truth and transparency that has unfortunately been a rarity in the debt relief services industry.
Source: American Association of Credit Counselors (AACC) newaacc.org