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When Promised Debt Relief, Proceed with Caution

By some estimates, the average American household has over 8,000 in credit card debt. In the midst of a continued recession many of us are dealing with job loss, high monthly bills, and we are all looking for ways to make our money go farther.

In comes the wolf in sheep’s clothing, a debt settlement solution specialist. The advertisements claim they can provide you with financial freedom from your high interest credit card bills, help you get out of debt by striking a settlement with your creditors, and keep your phone from ringing day and night with calls from creditors.

While we wish for an easy and honest solution, there is no federal regulation of debt counseling services and many states do not have any specific regulations that govern debt counseling, creating a potential for hardworking people to lose their money to fees, yet never get out of debt. In fact, last month, the New York Attorney General accused Nationwide Asset Services and Credit Solutions of American of charging high fees, placing its clients further in debt, and failing to provide any debt relief as promised.

With offers to get you out of debt coming in everyday, who do you turn to when you need help?

Here are some suggestions:

• Be leery of any company who advertises on television or radio, calls you on the phone, or sends you spam emails asking for financial information.
• Look for an agency that is a member of the National Foundation of Credit Counseling (NFCC), a 50-year-old organization with strict accreditation guidelines.
• Don’t give your credit card or bank account number to any agency over the phone.
• Don’t believe anyone who says that they can wipe out your debt.
• Do not trust anyone who charges you high fees to help you get out of debt.
• Insist on getting all terms, conditions, and payments up front and in writing before agreeing to use a specific agency.
• Place your name on the do not call list to cut down on the number of solicitations that you receive over the phone.
• Check with your local better business bureau to see if any complaints have been made against the company offering assistance.
• If you have already been a victim, contact an attorney who can help you protect your rights.

Strom Law Firm is a personal injury and criminal defense law firm centrally located in Columbia, South Carolina. Our firm proudly handles personal injury, criminal defense, defective products, class actions, pharmaceutical liability, toxic torts, medical malpractice, nursing home neglect, workers compensation, social security, veteran’s benefits, qui tam, predatory lending, tax investigations, business litigation, and wills and estates. Our lawyers proudly edit the Columbia, South Carolina Injury Board as well as the Strom Law Blog as a pro bono effort to provide the public valuable information. Our lawyers are licensed in: South Carolina, New York, Georgia, Florida, and the District of Columbia.



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