Consumers with overwhelming credit card debt may be tempted to seek help from companies that promise to erase their debt for pennies on the dollar, but the Federal Trade Commission urges caution.
In a new consumer publication, Settling Your Credit Card Debts, the FTC says that there is no guarantee that debt settlement companies can persuade a credit card company to accept partial payment of a legitimate debt. Even if they can, clients must put aside money for their creditors each month and may have to pay hefty fees up front to the debt settlement company – putting them further in the hole before they get any relief.
The publication lists additional red flags to watch out for from companies that promise to settle credit card debt, and discusses practical no-cost and low-cost options for help, including dealing with creditors directly and contacting a credit counselor.
To learn more about getting out of the red without spending a whole lot of green, go to ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre02.shtm.
The FTC, the nation’s consumer protection agency, has free information to help consumers with their personal finances. Visit www.ftc.gov/MoneyMatters to learn more.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,800 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.
(FYI debt settlement)