Debt settlement companies often charge expensive fees, encourage clients to stop paying their credit card bills and cease communication with your creditors. Consumers should be aware that if you stop paying your bills, you may incur late fees, penalty interest and other charges, and creditors will likely step up their collection efforts against you. Using the services of a debt settlement company may lead to more debt, especially if the company is not delivering the services. Using the services of a debt settlement company can also have a negative impact on your credit score and your ability to obtain credit in the future.
Avoid debt settlement services that:
- Charges fees before it settles your debts
- Guarantees they can eliminate your debt
- Tells you to stop communicating with your creditors
- Tells you it can stop debt collection calls and lawsuits
- Guarantees that your unsecured debts can be paid off
- Claims there’s a "new government program" to bail out personal credit card debt
If you find yourself in debt, you may benefit from the services of an approved non-profit credit counselor. These non-profits can attempt to work with you and your creditors to develop a debt management plan that you can afford. They usually will also help you develop a budget and provide other financial counseling.
Also, you may want to consider consulting a bankruptcy attorney, who may be able to provide you with your options under the law.
More information can be found on BCA’s resource guide for “Credit Repair”.