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Debt Consolidation

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GETTING HELP WITH DEBT

The temptation for many people in debt is to bury their head in the sand or ignore the debts; this is a very dangerous practice that people are finding is not in their best interests considering we live in a time of credit ratings that can affect many areas of our life.

The important advice many financial experts are giving out is for people in debt to get help before it's too late, even if your debts have spiralled out of control then there are always options available to you which you may not be aware of. Debt Counselling is one of these outlets that can help you manage your debts but also can be offered by lenders to make sure the debtor and lender are kept informed of each other's situation and standpoint.

Some lenders may assume the worst when re-payments are not made or the debt totals start piling up and so rather than not getting any re-payments at all they will consult with debt counsellors to ensure that the debts can be settled amicably for both parties.

By involving a debt counsellor they are able to provide less emotional involvement and being detached can help see opportunities for a resolve that either party may not be aware of.

One such action is an in depth analysis of the total income and expenditure of the debtor. This can help to see how much can be realistically spent on re-payments as well as result in a recommended measure you can take such as debt consolidation.

For those who possess large debts or are struggling to pay off any debts they currently have there are a number of tips that a debt counsellor can help with to ensure your debts don't become a serious problem:

  • Make minimum repayments – Making minimum payments each month will show you are able to cover your debts and will ensure your debtors are not concerned about your ability to repay their loan.
  • Cut back on spending – There are many consumer advice outlets that can help cut back on shopping, bills and other expenses, by cutting back on spending you'll be able to make larger payments and get out of debt quicker.
  • Don't ignore your debts – Ignoring your debts or not paying attention to interest rates is very dangerous, being aware of your debts and making sure that you consider them when it comes to your income and expenses will ensure you don't fall further into debt.
  • Consolidate your debts – Sometimes you may be able to consolidate many high interest loans into a lower interest bulk loan, in some cases you can get a significantly lower interest rate if you have a secured loan against your home, although it's important to note that your home is liable to repossession if you fail to meet payments.

The important point to remember is to seek advice early when you first fall into debt in order to ensure you don't build up large unmanageable debts.

 

Local Debt Services

 

CCCS of Northeastern Ohio
Cleveland, OH 44115

CCCS of Northeastern Ohio
Beachwood, OH 44122

CCCS of Northeastern Ohio
Parma, OH 44129

CCCS of Northeastern Ohio
Mentor, OH 44060

CCCS of Family & Community Services, Inc.
Chagrin Falls, OH 44023

Midwest Credit Counseling
Streetsboro, OH 44241-5365

CCCS of Family & Community Services, Inc.
Kent, OH 44240

CCCS of Northeastern Ohio
Medina, OH 44256

Family and Community Services, Inc. Credit Counseling
Medina, OH 44256

CCCS of Northeastern Ohio
Akron, OH 44320

Family and Community Services, Inc. Credit Counseling
Akron, OH 44304

CCCS of Family & Community Services, Inc.
Ravenna, OH 44266

CCCS of Northeastern Ohio
Warren, OH 44483

CCCS of Ashtabula County
Ashtabula, OH 44004

CCCS of Northeastern Ohio
Alliance, OH 44601

CCCS of Northeastern Ohio
Canton, OH 44714

 

Avoiding Credit Repair and Credit Counseling Scams


With over a million Americans filing for bankruptcy each year, and with household debt at record highs, consumers are reaching out to "credit counselors" and "credit repair" companies with increasing frequency. Although there has been a recent surge in the number of these organizations that are available to offer help to consumers, there has also been an increase in the number of unscrupulous operators who are ready to take advantage of unsuspecting debtors. Following are some tips on avoiding credit repair and credit counseling scams.

Credit Repair Scams

Every day, companies appeal to consumers with poor credit histories -- promising, for a fee, to clean up their credit reports so they can get a car loan, a home mortgage, insurance, or even a job. The truth is, after consumers pay hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars in up-front fees, these companies do nothing to improve the debtors' credit. Worse yet, many "credit repair" companies simply vanish with the unsuspecting consumers' money.

The red flags that should alert consumers to credit repair scams include:

  • The company wants the consumer to pay for credit repair services before any services are provided.
  • The company does not inform consumers about their legal rights, and actions they can take themselves -- for free.
  • The company recommends that consumers not contact a credit bureau directly;
  • The company suggests that consumers try to invent a "new" credit report by applying for an Employer Identification Number to use instead of their Social Security Number.
  • The company advises consumers to dispute all information in their credit report, or take any action that seems illegal, such as creating a new credit identity. If consumers follow this illegal advice and commit fraud, they themselves may be subject to prosecution.

Credit Counseling Scams

As in credit repair scams, some so-called "credit counselors" prey on overwhelmed consumers, promising "a clean slate" (often for a flat, up-front fee). Some counselors promise to contact creditors and convince them to accept lower payments, or to charge lower fees and interest rates. In many cases, unfortunately, the only ones who end up in better financial shape as a result of these "efforts" (or the lack thereof) are the counseling organizations themselves, while the consumers are left with even fewer resources as a result of high fees and more delinquent debts.

There are, however, credit-counseling agencies that are reputable and actually provide valuable services to financially overwhelmed consumers. Tips that can help consumers avoid the scams include:

  • Beware of promises that sound too good to be true. Claims of helping you "get out of debt easily" are a red flag.
  • Deal with a reputable agency. Check with state consumer agencies and the local Better Business Bureau to make sure there have been no or few complaints against the organization, and that the complaints that have been raised were favorably resolved.
  • As a general rule, non-profit credit counseling organizations are the best choices. There are also reputable for-profit companies, but screening the good from the bad will require greater consumer diligence.
    • Verify that the organization provides counseling and education, as well as debt consolidation and payment services, to help consumers achieve financial stability and remain debt-free.
    • Carefully read through any written agreement that a credit counseling organization offers. It should describe in detail the services to be provided; the payment terms for these services, including their total cost; how long it will take to achieve the desired results; any guarantees offered; and the organization's business name and address.
  • Avoid paying up-front fees. Reputable agencies do not charge big up-front fees, but may take a small monthly fee for a debt repayment service. The initial consultation, however, should always be free.
  • Beware of any high fees or required contributions, like high monthly service charges, that may add to the overall debt load and defeat efforts to pay off bills.
  • Confirm payments with creditors. Some debt repayment services require the consumer to periodically send it one lump-sum check that it divides up among the creditors. Debtors who enter into these types of arrangements should verify with their creditors that the payments are actually being made.

From the Federal Trade Commission

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