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Categorized | Other

Reduce debt by 70% and other false claims

The advertisements for debt settlement companies are all over the radio and television.   “Information the Credit Card companies don’t want you to know” and  “You are entitled to lower your credit card debt by 70%”.  “We can lower your payments substantially and cut your debt in half”.  “Be debt free in less than a year”. The words fraud and scam come to mind when I hear these phrases.

If you have ever heard the saying that its too good to be true, then it likely is. These ads fit that description exactly. You are not “entitled “ to lower your credit card debt under any law  that I am aware of.  “We can cut your debt in half”, well, only in very extreme and lucky circumstances.  Cutting the debt to 70% is a more reasonable goal (unless you are dealing with a debt buyer and not the original creditor. You can get a better reduction, but you should not pay anything to them) and this sort of reduction only applies where you can pay a lump sum or make substantial monthly payments.  “Be debt free in less than a year”? Only if you file bankruptcy or hit the lottery.

The truth of the matter is that these claims are false, misleading, and in my opinion, fraudulent. These claims are merely a sales pitch to get you to hire a debt settlement company. They know that you are having financial difficulties and will do anything to get out of it. The worst part about these false claims isn’t that they can’t back them up and make them come true. No, the worst part is that they charge you an outrageous fee when you sign on with the company, usually a large percentage of the debt (I have seen upwards of 20%) and an additional monthly fee.  The fee is typically paid up front, before any creditors are paid.

Here’s how the debt settlement companies work. They promise to reduce your debt. You hire them. They arrange for you to make payments to their account. When the account builds up enough money, they contact creditors one by one and try to settle cases. To be blunt, this is a horrible idea.  What do you think is happening while you are paying into the account? The creditors are getting upset and are filing lawsuits against you, all the while, the interest continues to accrue at a rate approaching 30%.

Let’s look at a hypothetical situation. Mike owes $25000 in debt to credit card companies. He hires XYZ debt settlement company to work on his debt problems. They establish an account, he pays $500 per month to the account. Since their fee is 20% (that would be $5000 here), and they get paid first, the first 10 payments are solely to pay the debt settlement company. I have to shoot out a common sense question here, is that money well spent? How much interest accrued during that 10 months? How many lawsuits were filed during that 10 months?  Even though they may tell you otherwise, signing on with a debt settlement company does not stop a creditor from filing a lawsuit. To the contrary, it may expedite the filing of the lawsuit because many creditors do not work with debt settlement companies.

The moral of the story here is to contact a consumer attorney in your area if you are faced with credit card debt. There are a number of issues that need to be reviewed, including who the creditor is, how old the debt is, who is representing the creditor, whether the debt has been sold, on and on. Perhaps negotiation is the way to go. On the other hand, perhaps defending a lawsuit is the way to go. Bankruptcy is always an option to consider. Spend the time to consult with a consumer attorney if you are struggling with credit card debt.  Hire the debt settlement company, and you are simply burning money.

Credit Card Lawsuits

If you are faced with a credit card lawsuit, whether its an original creditor or a junk debt buyer, contact my office at 412-823-8003 right away. We offer a free, no obligation review of any credit card based lawsuit that is filed in PA.

FDCPA Attorneys

Many Debt Collectors threaten people, that's a fact. Threats of wage garnishment, jail, fraud charges and contacting employers, friends and relatives happens every day to people just like you. The truth is that most of these threats are illegal. If a debt collector is threatening you, contact our office at 412-823-8003 for a free initial consultation.