Get Out of Debt Guy - Steve Rhode

It’s Time to Start Restoring Debt Settlement Into a Larger Debt Relief Industry


We’ve certainly been through a lot over the past few years. We’ve watched the debt settlement industry go absolutely crazy, opportunists invade, regulators need to step in, and now we’ve reached a low. But the good news is, it’s time to rebuild, but wisely.

In my talks with state and federal regulators and the CFPB it is clear that debt settlement has a bad name but that’s really just the tail end of all of the bad stuff that went on.

Debt settlement as an industry was hurtling towards death and it needed regulation for the necessary changes to take place. Up until the TSR the approach had been to lobby against all legislation which was not a sustainable position.

The reality is that while regulators and enforcement officers are left with a lingering bad taste about debt settlement, the tremendous bad stuff has significantly decreased from it’s downward terminal decent.

Sure, there are still lawsuits and cases coming out, but if you look closely, that’s all old stuff from the opportunistic days when advanced fees came first and provide value for money to the consumer was a secondary concern.

From what I see, those days are for the most part over. Well that is except for the attorney loophole models which are still ongoing and the subject of continued enforcement investigations. The key case is the Legal Helpers Debt Resolution case in Illinois brought by the Attorney General.

It's time to slow the descent and bring debt settlement in for a safe landing.

But debt settlement needs to grow and evolve from it’s lone niche of one solution to a broader approach of debt relief.

What is Debt Relief?

Debt relief encompasses a wide variety of solutions to help consumers in financial trouble. It’s not a one trick pony industry. In my vision debt relief encompasses all the best practices under one roof to collaboratively find the most appropriate solution for consumers in trouble. Those solutions should include:

There may be other less mainstream solutions floating about but to date, they are not safe or proven for consumers.

In the broader debt relief arena debt settlement has a role when it is appropriate. In the bad days of the past it was sold as a one-size fits all solution. It never was. That was just crazed marketers run amuck and we all can see the damage that was done.

Even TASC / AFCC Agrees

Even the association once known as TASC, that fought so hard to continue those bad practices now sees a better way forward by doing the right thing. Their new name and mission appears to be dedicated towards stamping out advanced fee debt settlement services.

The AFCC founders realized that the former trade association, The Association of Settlement Companies (TASC), did not fully represent the wave of change that has swept through the industry, and that the American public deserved a clearer, more forward-looking approach to consumer credit advocacy. TASC no longer exists. We are now the American Fair Credit Council (AFCC). We have a new vision and a new mission that focuses on the people we serve. – Source

What You Don’t Know

I’ve taken a whole lot of heat from the debt settlement industry for the work I’ve done over the past couple of years in outing bad actors. That work will continue when I run across any bad actor in the larger debt relief world.

But what you don’t know is that in my talks with reporters, regulators, legislators, advocates and the FTC and CFPB, I’ve been educating people on how the industry has turned around and supporting the need for legitimate debt settlement as part of a larger debt relief approach.

I make no room for bad actors that harm consumers in debt relief and I do champion people doing the right thing for people in trouble.

My ultimate goal is to champion the rights, solutions, and options of consumers at a time they are facing difficult obstacles. I always try to put myself in their position and do the right thing. And that’s how the larger debt relief industry will survive. It needs companies that can earn a fair profit from their services of providing best advice for people in a difficult situation.

Debt Relief Needs to Place the Consumer at the Center and Surround
Them With All the Best Options. Not Just sell the Widget of the Day.

But debt settlement is still not out of the woods entirely, there is still some more garbage to clean up.

Debt settlement providers can find their place in the larger debt relief industry and survive. Companies that try to hold on to what debt settlement was before, a lone widget, will find a tough go of it. It’s time to grow into a broader debt relief industry.

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