It’s unfortunate for the good debt settlement companies that so many bad companies have ruined the industry’s reputation. New additions to the debt relief laws in the United States hopefully means that bad settlement companies will be less prevalent and the good companies will be easier to find. When you’re shopping for a debt settlement company, here are some tips to help you pick out the best ones.
They don’t ask you to pay upfront.
Perhaps the best indicator that you’re dealing with a good debt settlement company is that they don’t charge a fee on debts they haven’t settled. Instead, the fee is typically charged after the settlement agreement has been signed and the settlement payment has been made to the creditor. You’ll probably have to contribute some money to the settlement firm each month for debt settlement to be successful, but that money will probably be deposited in an account to pay your creditors once you’ve accumulated enough.
They take time to understand your debt.
A debt settlement company shouldn’t be in a rush to enroll you in their program. Instead, they should take time to figure out how much debt you have, to decide whether debt settlement is right for you, and to calculate your likely monthly payments toward debt settlement. Every person’s debt situation is different, so the settlement company should take time to understand every situation.
They give you a realistic idea of how long it will take.
Debt settlement companies can’t necessarily guarantee that all your debt will be settled by a certain date because it depends on your creditor’s willingness to accept a settlement. The settlement company should, however, give you a general idea of how long it will take to settle your first account and how long you should expect the process to take. Be wary of companies that promise to have your accounts all settled by a certain date.
They’re a member of AFCC, formerly known as TASC.
The American Fair Credit Council (“AFCC”), formerly known as Association of Settlement Companies, encourages its members to protect the interest of their consumer clients. Members must have a business license, have not committed felonies or fraud, and are accredited through a third-party accreditation agency. Being a member of AFCC should give the debt settlement company a little more credibility especially since they’re required to go through an accreditation process. Not all companies who aren’t members of AFCC are bad companies. Use the other criteria in this list to decide if a non-AFCC debt settlement agency has your best interests in mind.
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