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Bud Zeller's Blog

By Bud Zeller | Broker in Placerville, CA

Tip of the Week: Dept. of Justice warns of Debt Relief scams!

The Dept. of Justice Consumer Protection Branch is warning consumers about debt relief scams and providing tips to avoid such scams.  Tips include:
Fraudulent debt relief companies will often make claims of being able to negotiate a one-time settlement with creditors that will reduce a consumer’s principal by 50 percent or more.  The Consumer Federation of America, an association of non-profit consumer organizations, warns that such a promise is a virtual impossibility.
If you have trouble making credit card payments, immediately call the creditor to work out a payment plan.  If that is unsuccessful, a non-profit credit counseling service may be able to help you.  These services may charge a small fee, but the cost will be substantially less than using a debt relief company.  An excellent resource for locating a local credit counseling service is the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, at www.nfcc.org.
If a company offers a “one size fits all” solution, what they are really offering is a “no size fits anyone” problem.  Legitimate credit counseling services tailor a consolidation plan to each consumer’s individual needs.
Do not be afraid to ask questions. Demand that the company disclose set-up and maintenance fees, and that these fees be set in writing.  According to the Consumer Federation of America, consumers should not pay more than $50 for the set-up fee and $25 for monthly maintenance of the account.
Do not rely on the company’s website.  Conduct your own research of the company – the Better Business Bureau and the state consumer protection agencies are valuable resources.
For more information on debt relief scams, see the Federal Trade Commission’s website. Additional information on legitimate debt relief services can be found on the Consumer Federation of America’s website.

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