Being in debt can be a crushing and scary thing. Those in debt are often looking for help, a magic formula or even a little luck. It is out of this desperation that many scammers rise to the surface. They often lure their victims in with promises to help eliminate or drastically reduce their debt and high interest rate credit cards. They make great sounding claims that they can work with your creditors to lower your rates, but they need you to just pay them a fee first. Instead of looking for a magic formula or a little luck, those in debt need to know what their options are, and how navigate these waters when it comes to credit card relief scams and how to safely consolidate debt.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns customers to beware and to operate with extreme skepticism when looking into debt relief companies. Remember the saying, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is? This is usually the case with credit card relief calls. The best course of action is to just hang up or delete.
Investigators for the FTC have found that by and large, people who pay for these services don’t actually get the promised interest-rate reductions, they don’t save the promised amount of money, and they don’t pay off their credit card debt three to five times faster than the rest of us. Instead, they often get taken advantage of, and then struggle to get a refund, when requested, from these companies.
You Can Settle Your Own Debts
Remember that you can do for yourself for free, what many of these companies promise to do for you at a premium. You have just as much clout with your credit card company to seek a rate reduction. Call your credit card customer service line and ask for a reduced rate. Remember, be calm, be polite and be persistent.
Not all of the debt relief companies are scammers
Usually the first interaction someone receives with a credit card relief scam is through an automated call, in which the company will tout their claims to help alleviate or eliminate your debt. If you feel that the company is legitimate, there are some rules that have been made by the FTC that you should be aware of before entering into a contract, and so that you don’t fall victim to a credit card relief scam. According to the FTC, these companies are not allowed to charge you a fee before your debt is settled or reduced. You may be required to put money in a dedicated account which will be administered by an independent third party. These account administrators can charge you a reasonable fee, and they are responsible for dispersing funds and making transfers of funds when a settlement is reached.
How to Protect Yourself
The temptation to believe some of their claims can be great. But the best bet is to hold off, or just hang up. When pressure mounts to act now, act fast, or don’t delay, these are all red flags that it is probably a credit card relief scam and you should hang up. Consider these principles to protect yourself, your finances and your credit.
- Don’t give out your credit card information. Once a scammer has your data, the damage they can do is alarming.
- Don’t share your personal financial information or give out sensitive numbers like your Social Security number.
- Be skeptical of an unsolicited sales calls that are prerecorded.
- Visit DoNotCall.gov to register with National Do Not Call Registry. You should not get recorded pitches unless you have specifically agreed to accept such calls.
- A telemarketer may only call you if have purchased from their company within the last 18 months, or if you have requested information from them.
- To report violations of the National Do Not Call Register visit: DoNotCall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222.
Why Hiring a Debt Attorney Can Help You Consolidate Your Credit Card Debt
While you are able to settle debts on your own, you may feel that you need the assistance of a licensed debt attorney to help negotiate or settle your debt. After analyzing your situation, a skilled attorney can provide you with the legal advice you need (something a debt consolidation company cannot do). A good attorney will go over all of your options and advise you whether you should move forward in that direction or if you should file for bankruptcy (as an example). Working closely with an attorney helps ensure that you aren’t falling prey to a credit card relief scam, and you can safely consolidate credit card debt. We’re here to help you discover what your options are. Please give us a call at 855-976-5777. We look forward to helping you navigate these waters.
Kevin Fallon McCarthy
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