Across Texas, consumers who are eager to get rid of their debt are being targeted by debt relief scams. Don't let your desire to end your debt let you fall victim to these cons.
2 Key Ways to Spot a Debt Relief Scam
The two most obvious signs of a potential debt relief scam are:
1. They Contact You First
If you receive an unsolicited call or contact from someone offering to help you eliminate your debt, be extra cautious. There's a good chance they're a scammer.
2. They Ask for Fees Upfront
This is the most obvious sign of a debt relief scam. If the person/company offers to help get rid of your debt but first you have to pay them a fee, they're probably lying to you. Cut off contact and file a complaint with us.
If You Need Debt Assistance
Here is some helpful advice if you need help dealing with your debt:
Credit counseling can help you create a debt management plan, which allows you lump all of your debts into a single monthly payment — often at a lower interest rate.
Before working with a credit counselor, check with the Office of the Consumer Credit Commissioner to find a licensed counselor. Ask potential credit counselors exactly what they offer, whether they charge a fee for their services and how long it will take you to become debt free.
With debt consolidation, you take out a new loan that pays off your existing debts — thus consolidating them — and you make a single monthly payment. If you use debt consolidation before you begin to miss payments, it can help minimize damage to your credit score.
Be cautious before choosing debt consolidation. You need to know whether there is an upfront fee, your interest rate, payment schedule and amount and when you'll be debt free. Avoid debt consolidation companies that make outrageous promises ("Low or no interest! Guaranteed loans!").
Debt settlement means you stop paying your creditors altogether and, instead, save the monthly payments you were making in a savings account. Once you have enough money in the account, the debt settlement company will contact the creditor and negotiate a lump sum payoff of your debt (often for a much lower amount).
Be careful before using a debt settlement company. Your credit will decline and you may be faced with extreme collection efforts. Debt settlement companies often do not have lawyers available to assist you.
Also, you will likely have to pay high fees to participate in the program. Find out what your total costs will be and who is receiving your money. And even if you save significant amounts in the program, you may owe income taxes on the amount of "forgiven" debt.