Last night I did something I haven’t done in a while, I cruised the Craigslist ads looking for the latest claims and ads offering some magical debt relief solution. In the past it has been a treasure trove of problems and offers consumers should avoid.
After looking at the ads in New York, Miami, and Los Angeles, to my utter surprise, it appears that the vast majority of bogus offers are now gone. There are a bunch of ads from lawyers offering legal services like bankruptcy, consumer representation, etc.
We can imagine any number of reasons for this void of crap but I suspect the most logical is simply that overall demand for debt relief services is just flat out at a historically low point.
While many consumers still have debt, consumer debt isn’t the wild stimulus that it once was. Gone are the days of creditors arbitrarily jacking up rates which caused people to panic. Gone are the days of loading up on a seeming unlimited supply of easy credit. And gone are the days of abandon and the absence of concern over tomorrow being full of greater opportunity than yesterday (read that as consumer confidence sucks.)
In fact the most alarming debt is no longer credit card debt but student loan debt which has surpassed the amount of consumer debt out there.
Much of the shenanigans and silliness that we witnessed over the last five years seems to have wrapped up and that’s good news for consumers and the debt relief industry at large. By cleaning up that junk consumers are less likely to be harmed and there will be less need to pass new restrictive legislation to try to stamp out the fools.
Frankly it’s up to the debt relief players left as to the future of this industry. If you want to see this industry rebuild, cleanly, and create new opportunities for the future, you absolutely must not allow the weeds to grow again. You’ve got to expose and stamp out the debt relief scams before they grow and explode. Let me know what you find that needs to be exposed by alerting me here.
Regulation is the result of exploding scams, it’s reactive. If you don’t allow the debt relief scams to flourish then there is no need for regulators to react.
What will be interesting to watch will be the remaining companies or new companies grow in a more open and transparent way. I’m actually excited to watch that happen and I’d love to be able to lend a hand in that new industry.
But to grow in an open and transparent way we need to provide more transparency about the effectiveness of the debt relief solution being sold. So why are companies seemingly afraid of openly publishing their performance numbers? Is it a “tell” there is something to hide? It sure seems it is.
Logic would say that if a companies performance numbers were good they would be advantageous to publish as a strong marketing tool and not need “strong closers.” Yet debt relief companies, including credit counselors, have been hesitant to do so. The one example of a company that has embraced this approach wholeheartedly is Cambridge Credit Counseling and their transparency project.
In another post I plan to publish today I’ll share with you the results of my online ad snooping and show you a few of the current claims being made. The most concerning are the “closers wanted” ads for some debt relief companies.
I’d also like to make the open offer that if you run a debt relief company and would like to be featured on this site, I’ll gladly review your site and tell consumers about you. But you have to be willing to share your performance numbers.
The offer always stands though for any debt relief company to get free exposure on the site by filling out this form. There is no charge and no catch.
Now is not the time to be stuck in regret about the wild west debt relief days being gone but to be excited about the opportunity for a much better tomorrow that we can rebuild together in an open and sustainable way.
I’ve been encouraged of late that the attitude of companies is turning around. Just yesterday two companies openly responded to consumer complaints in a positive way that had been posted and commented the matter had been taken care of. Kudos to CNI and Legal Helpers of South Florida for doing that.
So what do you think are the keys to growing a more sustainable and consumer responsible debt relief industry?
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