New rules for debt settlement companies

credit card delinquencyCheck out this recent article from CNNMoney.com. I’m glad to see the government start to crack down on these companies. Search the web for “debt settlement scam,” and you’ll find thousands of horror stories.

Before agreeing to pay anything for help in reducing your debt, read these articles:

MSNBC – from 2007

Bankruptcy Law Network – from 2008

Consumer Reports – from 2009

Many of my clients come to me after they tried to pay their debts with a debt settlement company. While some of these agencies are legitimate, many others simply drain what’s left of your bank account, pay themselves for their “services,” and don’t pay your creditors a dime. You can pay into the program for months and your debt will not be reduced. When the creditors don’t get paid, they sue you. I’ve had clients who have spent thousands of dollars on these programs. In the end, their bank account balances were much lower but their debt remained virtually unchanged. Had they consulted with an attorney first, these clients would have learned about all their options from the start.

I have yet to meet a client who didn’t want to pay back at least some of his or her debt. But you owe it to yourself to learn about your options before signing up with any debt settlement agency. If your debts are manageable and you would like to try and pay back a portion of what you owe, a bankruptcy attorney can help. However you decide to proceed, a visit with an attorney is likely to save you both time and money. As I pointed out in an earlier post, visiting with an attorney and getting information should never be the last resort.

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