The following is a guest post:
As a community manager for a really large debt relief company, talking about debt is part of my daily routine. We produce a lot of content about all things personal finance, with an obvious focus on debt. The bulk of our bloggers are our customers and they talk about what life is like when you enroll in a debt consolidation or debt settlement plan.
I feel really fortunate to have the ability to showcase content like this, which provides honest and straightforward accounts of debt relief services. Debt help is a tough thing to research and brings some heavy skepticism. The skepticism is justified as there are many players in this industry who do not operate with the customer’s best interest in mind.
Offering our customers a platform to discuss their experience with debt relief plans, the good and the bad, really helps to overcome some of the negative stereotypes that plague credible debt relief service providers. It is also extremely important as a research and educational tool for people seeking help with their debt. Consumers really need to take the time to understand what is involved to be successful with these debt solutions.
Reading blogs similar to what we feature in our community can help to level set expectations about; how long it can take to pay off your debts, what happens to your ability to secure new credit while enrolled, and what educational resources will be available while you’re participating. We also share blogs by graduates of our debt relief plan so that consumers can see what life is like without debt and dependence on credit cards.
If you are seeking help with your debt, I encourage you to check out this checklist. It’s a great guide to help you evaluate debt relief providers.
Suzanne Coblentz is a Social Media and Community Manager for CareOne Services, Inc. a Provider of the CareOne Brand of Debt Relief Services.
This is a guest post from Kevin @ DebtEye. Kevin is the Co-Founder of DebtEye, which helps consumers find the best option when it comes to debt relief.
Being in debt is stressful and can wear you down. It can keep you up at night while you’re trying to figure out a way to pay off the debt. Over the past few years, debt relief companies have been targeting vulnerable consumers who are desperately trying to figure out a way to get out of debt. You’re an easy target because you would do anything to avoid bankruptcy.
It’s important for anyone who is seeking help from a third party to tread with caution before they pull the trigger. Signing up with the wrong company can leave you deeper in the hole from where you first started. Most of these debt relief companies advertise on the TV & Radio which can be heard on late night infomercials. These companies have deceptive marketing tactics to get you in the door by sugar coating the program. Here are 4 things to watch out for when seeking help from a third party company
- Who are you really talking to: When you speak to a representative, ask yourself if you’re speaking with a salesperson or a certified credit counselor. Most debt settlement companies you speak with are sales people who know NOTHING about the debt relief space except debt settlement itself. The problem with this is that they are specifically trained to have every rebuttal to sway you from other programs. Their goals aren’t aligned with the consumer’s best interest.
- Transparency: When speaking with a company, make sure they are completely transparent with the fees. Ask them to provide with you with the total amount of fees for the program. Most debt settlement companies will charge you anywhere from 15-18% of your debt amount, or 25-30% of what they save you. You need to be fully aware how much of your payment every month is going toward a designated escrow account and how much are going toward their fees.
- Refund Policy: What if you decide to file bankruptcy halfway through the program? What if you have an unforeseen emergency situation where you need to access your funds? Be sure that the debt relief company has a 100% money back guarantee for services they have not performed. On top of that, any funds in your escrow account is YOUR money and you should have access to it 24/7.
- How are they selling the program: Anything that sounds too good to be true probably is. This should definitely raise a red flag. Debt settlement isn’t the most glamorous program out there. This type of program is not right for everyone. There are a lot of downsides to the program, and if the company is sugar coating the program, definitely be cautious! One example might be, “Creditors don’t like to sue you because they’d rather work out an arrangement with us instead of spending money in courts.” If you call a debt relief company, I guarantee you that you will hear this statement 80% of the time!
At the end of the day, you should do your due diligence and use your best judgment. The best route to go is to do your own research online to figure out what the best program is. There is no “one size fits all” in the debt relief world.
CFM comment: I am away in Honduras on a mission trip so don’t be offended if I don’t quickly respond to your comments. I will be gone through the 30th and internet access will be incredibly limited. Thanks to Kevin for helping me maintain my posting schedule while I am away.