Recent news about Google changing its policy to attempt to block debt relief companies other than non-profit credit counseling has created a false party.
While some in the credit counseling world look at this new move as a way to reduce advertising competition and harm alternative forms of debt relief, that would be incorrect.
Here is one message I’ve already received.
“Also I did talk to an insider and settlement companies are going to start “masking” themselves as non-profits for google ads. There’s already one legit non-profit who is working deals to “rent” his company out to settlement companies so they can capture debt settlement clients without google noticing.”
Anyone who thinks this Google change is going to be a tremendous benefit to non-profit credit counseling either does not know debt relief history or can’t follow the trail of money.
Non-profit credit counseling agencies, some at least, already have behind the scenes relationships with for-profit debt relief alternatives. They earn money from those relationships because creditor funding has squeezed them so tightly.
The cost per lead or acquisition may go up with the recent Google changes but the dollars offered will become too attractive for some “legitimate” nonprofit credit counseling agencies to ignore.
Bad acts will follow from this shadow network and they will lead back to the lead vendor and will drag in credit counseling again to scrutiny and suspicion.
Any credit counseling industry executive who is celebrating this new Google Adsense policy change is what I like to call, wrong. I’m happy to play the long game here and wait to say “I told you so” because it’s coming.
The only remedy here will be if the nonprofit credit counseling agency develops a policy that no credit counseling agency can have any outside referral relationship or related debt relief companies to insulate the industry from the bad actors that will drag it down.
Time will tell.