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Are there any legitimate credit card debt relief companies?

I owe $35,000.00 in credit card debt. I’m making the payments now but won’t be able to for long. My credit score is down to 640 due to my D/I ratio. Since my credit is already going down, I wonder if I should contact a debt relief company to at least put a term on the debt.

Are there any legitimate credit card debt relief companies?

Mark

Are there any legitimate credit card debt relief companies? by

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  • The other Nancy

    Taking the time to look at all the options available is good advice; personally, I went to Consumer Credit Counseling in my area, and the only solution she kept hammering on was bankruptcy.  I was too freaked out at the time to feel that I had time to consider options; now I wish I had.  Good Luck to you.

  • Joann

    I am currently working with Cambridge Credit Counseling.  I haven’t completed the process yet to finalize my DMP but they have been able to substantially reduce the amount of interest I will pay on two of my four credit cards (one of the four is zero interest so they didn’t consider that card in the DMP and it appears the other one wouldn’t deal).  I would suggest going through someone like Cambridge or a similar debt counseling agency.

  • pet

    try calling your creditors and see if they can lower your monthly payments, if that doesn’t work check out debt relief like: http://www.careonecredit.com
    good luck.

  • pet

    try calling your creditors and see if they can lower your monthly payments, if that doesn’t work check out debt relief like: http://www.careonecredit.com
    good luck.

  • Anonymous

    Although you might not want to, bankruptcy might be a good option. I recently went thru bankruptcy and it has allowed me to have a fresh start.

  • Rkmcclain

    Know up front that many of these debt settlement people are going to charge up to 20% of the face value of the debt you wish to settle.  Know your fees and charges going in.

    • http://www.consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ Michael

      High fees are unfortunately the norm across the debt settlement industry. There are notable exceptions that only charge for DIY education and ongoing support and also companies (even some attorneys) who charge 15% of what they save you. Because there are so few firms offering fair and affordable fees they will be harder to find. You can establish legitimacy, in my opinion, by those charging no fee in advance of a direct settlement service, and by how high those fees are.

      Debt Management Plan (DMP) companies on the other hand – who will set you up on a lower monthly payment plan with your creditors through prearranged interest rate concessions – all pretty much charge what they are allowed to based on the state rules where you live. Typically their monthly fee will not exceed 50 dollars and may be as low as $25 a month in NJ, or 10 dollars per account enrolled (but not over 50.00) in some states. Legitimate DMP providers are a bit easier to locate as they all offer the same payment reduction benefits that are dictated to them by your creditors.

      The OP mentioned putting a “term” on the debt. A DMP will last 4 to 5 years on average. Debt settlement is typically sold as a 36 month or longer program. There are very good reason to avoid enrolling in a debt settlement plan if all you can afford to do is set aside enough money each month to support a settlement plan that will take several years to complete.

  • Fitz

    My two cents: Talk to a lawyer in your area who is experienced in all aspects of debt relief. Talk to a couple of them. Be a client, not a customer. There is a difference. Know your representative, see your representative. Be part of the process, ask questions, get real about the problem and follow what makes sense to you. Good luck.

  • http://www.emergeamerica.com Michael Reilly, Emerge America

    Mark

    Lots of good advice coming at you but, in my opinion the one sentence that stands out the most comes from Damon Day “I would need to know a lot more about your financial situation to help you determine that”, I concur, this requires more information. You started the process, continue with your due diligence, make lots of calls and you will find the right firm.

  • http://Community.CareOneCredit.com Suzanne Coblentz

    Hi Mark,
     
    There absolutely are legitimate debt relief companies, but you are right to be cautious. As a consumer, you need to make sure that you fully understand the various options available to help you pay off your credit card debt in an expedited way. There are significant differences between the services, but the language used can be very similar and therefore confusing for consumers.
     
    I would recommend that you first familiarize yourself with the different solutions so that when you begin to speak to different providers you understand the options. Most reputable providers have a ton of free information and resources available, so that you will also have a better idea of which debt relief option is the right fit for your personal financial situation. Once you feel more knowledgeable about the services you can call and speak with somebody. Never feel pressured to make a decision, a reputable provider will take the time to answer all of your questions and give you the time you need to make a decision.

    The Providers of CareOne Debt Relief Services will help you to walk through this consideration process, if you decide to call and speak with one of our certified credit counselors. Here is a great checklist you can leverage to help evaluate providers: http://www.careonecredit.com/guide/checklist.aspx
     
    Good luck!
    Suzanne Coblentz
    CareOne Services, Inc.

    • Tip

      Suzanne you are ISO audited as well - that might help inviduals find the companys that went the extra step and have had a 3rd party verify their operations w/o the cert no license and potential to higher risk- these orgs are the indutry leaders 

  • http://Community.CareOneCredit.com Suzanne Coblentz

    Hi Mark,
     
    There absolutely are legitimate debt relief companies, but you are right to be cautious. As a consumer, you need to make sure that you fully understand the various options available to help you pay off your credit card debt in an expedited way. There are significant differences between the services, but the language used can be very similar and therefore confusing for consumers.
     
    I would recommend that you first familiarize yourself with the different solutions so that when you begin to speak to different providers you understand the options. Most reputable providers have a ton of free information and resources available, so that you will also have a better idea of which debt relief option is the right fit for your personal financial situation. Once you feel more knowledgeable about the services you can call and speak with somebody. Never feel pressured to make a decision, a reputable provider will take the time to answer all of your questions and give you the time you need to make a decision.

    The Providers of CareOne Debt Relief Services will help you to walk through this consideration process, if you decide to call and speak with one of our certified credit counselors. Here is a great checklist you can leverage to help evaluate providers: http://www.careonecredit.com/guide/checklist.aspx
     
    Good luck!
    Suzanne Coblentz
    CareOne Services, Inc.

  • Seanboyett

    MMark,

    You stated that you are current now, but won’t be for long. Have you tried contacting your creditors and explaining your situation? Your creditors may be willing to work with you if you can show a.legitimate hardship. If they refuse or if their solution is still not affordable, then you should look at other options, starting with.a.non-profit Consumer Credit Counseling Program. If this.isn’t affordable, then AND ONLY THEN, should you look into Debt Settlement or BK. If you would likeep more info, let me know and we can discuss further. Knowledge of all options is your key to success .

  • http://DamonDay.com Damon Day

    Hello Mark,
    Yes there are some legitimate programs out there. Unfortunately though, I wouldn’t recommend that consumers touch most in the industry with a 10 foot pole. The most important thing would be to first take a look at your situation and determine what the best strategy for dealing with your debt would be.

    I would need to know a lot more about your financial situation to help you determine that. One of the biggest issues consumers face is they don’t have many great options to determine what strategy is going to work the best for them.

    Whether you should file bankruptcy, settle your debt, enroll into a credit counseling program or do something else entirely is not something that will be easy to determine during a free consultation with a debt relief company, even if the rep does have your best intentions in mind.

    So we first need to determine how you should take care of the problem and then we can determine if you need to hire someone to help you, and if so, who some good candidates would be.

    • Markaec

      Damon,
      Thanks for the reply. In your opinion, how is this determined?

      • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

        You might want to use the free How to Get Out of Debt Calculator to review your options.

      • http://DamonDay.com Damon Day

        Yes, Steve’s get out of debt calculator is a good place to start. Ultimately it is going to come down to your current and expected financial situation. It is pretty much impossible to give anything more than general advice in a forum like this though. An actual interview would be required to fully understand what you need.

        In general you should speak with a credit counselor to see what your monthly payments in that program would be. Then you should fully research debt settlement and determine how long it would take you to raise about 15,000 to 20,000 or so to settle all of your debt. Decide how comfortable you are with the idea of stopping your credit card payments until you have enough money saved to settle them. (one at a time, you don’t have to wait until you have the total amount saved).
        Then you should meet with a bankruptcy attorney and discuss your financial situation to determine if you would fall under a chapter 7 or a chapter 13.

        Once you have all that information you can determine if any of those options sound palatable or possible. If not, we can look at other options.

        Once you feel confident in the strategy that will best fit your financial situation and your mindset, we can look at how to best implement that, either on your own or with professional help.

        If you would like to speak with me in detail about your situation and how to best handle it, you can schedule a phone call through my website by clicking on my name at the top of this comment.

      • http://DamonDay.com Damon Day

        Yes, Steve’s get out of debt calculator is a good place to start. Ultimately it is going to come down to your current and expected financial situation. It is pretty much impossible to give anything more than general advice in a forum like this though. An actual interview would be required to fully understand what you need.

        In general you should speak with a credit counselor to see what your monthly payments in that program would be. Then you should fully research debt settlement and determine how long it would take you to raise about 15,000 to 20,000 or so to settle all of your debt. Decide how comfortable you are with the idea of stopping your credit card payments until you have enough money saved to settle them. (one at a time, you don’t have to wait until you have the total amount saved).
        Then you should meet with a bankruptcy attorney and discuss your financial situation to determine if you would fall under a chapter 7 or a chapter 13.

        Once you have all that information you can determine if any of those options sound palatable or possible. If not, we can look at other options.

        Once you feel confident in the strategy that will best fit your financial situation and your mindset, we can look at how to best implement that, either on your own or with professional help.

        If you would like to speak with me in detail about your situation and how to best handle it, you can schedule a phone call through my website by clicking on my name at the top of this comment.

  • Guest

    Check with your state’s regulator (normally the AG) to see which providers are registered/ licensed in your state.  Registration/ licensing is never a guarantee of legitimacy, but it *can* be a potential indicator of compliance, as registration/ licensing requirements can be huge hurdles for firms to jump.

    Some states require a surety bond too – so if the worst happened, you *might* be protected (to an extent).

    Of course, all the above requires your state actually requiring registration/ licensing for debt settlement firms. Not all do.

    The main thing is NEVER sign up with a debt settlement company that charges any kind of upfront fee.  The 2010 FTC rule prohibits most debt settlement companies charging any kind of fee until a debt is settled.  An agreement has to be in place, and you have to have made at least one payment to the creditor before a fee can be collected.

    Good luck.

    And don’t forget there are other options – including bankruptcy.  Debt settlement does work for some consumers, but for many others it simply doesn’t work.  They end up getting sued long before they have sufficient savings to actually settle a debt. 

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