5 Things To Look For In A Debt Relief Company
Not sure how to go about choosing a debt relief service? Here is what to look for:
While looking for a debt relief company, your first thought is to look at their pricing. After all, you are looking to reduce your debt without adding any more expenses. Unfortunately, many companies in the debt consolidation and settlement industry do not provide a whole lot of transparency on their website in regards to their pricing and terms, something which we believe should be easy to find.
While many websites do have a debt calculator that gives you an estimate, the following debt relief services go above and beyond when it comes to transparency regarding prices, terms, and frequently asked questions.
Freedom Debt Relief: Freedom Debt Relief prominently displays a complete step-by-step explanation of how their customizable program is designed to resolve your debt for significantly less than you currently owe (and as quickly as possible). Freedom Debt Relief even directly compares their program to 5 other debt strategies (like bankruptcy and debt consolidation) and clearly maps out the pros and cons of each, so you can fully understand why debt settlement may be the best option for you.
Accredited Debt Relief: As its name suggests, this highly accredited debt relief service not only works with bankruptcy, debt consolidation, debt management, and debt settlement, but they also have a page of detailed FAQs regarding program time, taxes on forgiven debt, how to work with creditors, and more.
Pricing And Fees
"What is the cost to reduce my debts?" This is probably high on the list of requirements when you are searching for a debt relief company.
Debt consolidation and settlement companies should never charge upfront fees and should only bill a customer after they negotiate, settle, reduce, or change the terms of one of the debt accounts. In the case of settlement, some companies may charge a monthly "maintenance" fee for a separate savings account used to eventually pay off your debts, which is legal but a fact that many consumers and experts believe is unethical.
Fees for debt consolidation and debt relief generally range from 15-25% of enrolled debt. For a 100% free quote and to speak with a certified debt consultant, we recommend contacting Freedom Debt Relief, our top rated pick for debt settlement.
One way to ensure that you are working with a credible debt relief service is to look at the accreditations. The majority of reputable services are FTC compliant and hold accreditations from the IAPDA (International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators), AFCC American Fair Credit Council), and the BBB (Better Business Bureau).
Debt relief services that are accredited by the BBB, AFCC, and IAPDA include Freedom Debt Relief, Accredited Debt Relief, and DebtAway Relief.
Time In Business
Debt relief is not a simple process, so a company with extended industry experience and a track record of success proves that it is a reputable service you can trust with your money.
Some companies with over 10 years in the business include:
Customer Service and Reviews
When choosing a debt relief service, it is always a good idea to check customer service and reviews to determine how a company really treats their clients. You can check the BBB (Better Business Bureau), Yelp, Google, or Trustpilot to see if actual clients rated the business positively or negatively. Some important questions to ask are:
- Are they easy to contact and do they respond quickly to any questions or concerns I have?
- Furthermore, do I have an account manager or someone I can contact 24/7 by phone, email, or live chat?
- Do they inform me of any changes during the debt relief process?
- Do they have an online portal or mobile app that allows me to check any progress?
- Do they have additional tools like educational blogs and resources to assist me in the future?
- Are the financial experts qualified and how many years of experience do they have?
- Do they have ethical practices? Avoid companies that ask you to pay up front, since that practice is banned by the FTC.
Here are a few debt relief companies that have many rave reviews and satisfy all of the above criteria: Freedom Debt Relief, Accredited Debt Relief, and National Debt Relief.
These guidelines can help you pick the right debt relief company to set you on the best path to a debt-free life. A new financial future is right around the corner.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some ways I can utilize debt relief?
- Debt settlement is a legitimate option for taking care of unsecured debt.
- A balance transfer credit card has a 0% APR for a period of time before it is raised, meaning you initially save much more on your payments.
- Personal loans allow you to pay off your high-interest debt and then pay back your loan in installments.
What are some other debt relief options?
If you are deep in debt but want to explore other options, then you may be interested in alternative forms of debt relief:
Consumer credit counseling: Credit counseling can help you enter a debt management plan with your creditors and give you the opportunity to reduce your monthly payments while still paying your full balance.
Hardship plan: You can work out a payment plan with your creditors in the case you have missed a couple of payments. Be sure to ask for a hardship program if you have any financial difficulty. This could help you receive a reduced payment for six to twelve months.
Bankruptcy: Declaring bankruptcy is another way in which you can take care of the overwhelming debt.
Unfortunately, this hurts your credit even more than debt settlement. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy stays on your credit report for up to ten years, while a Chapter 10 bankruptcy and debt settlement only stay on for seven years.
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy can take care of unsecured debt but your income can't be above a specific amount to qualify. Even if you do qualify, you may have personal property possessed that goes towards the amount you owe.
A Chapter 13 bankruptcy stays on your credit report for seven years, does not have required minimum income, and requires you to pay your creditors for up to five years. This payment is just one monthly payment based on your income and expenses paid to your creditors. Once this period is up, your debts are considered settled.
Debt consolidation: This method of debt relief consolidates your unsecured debt (such as credit cards)and lets you pay off your creditors with a personal loan. Over time, you will have one single (ideally low-interest) loan instead of many debts with different payment dates and interest rates.
Secured loan: You have the option of taking out a secured loan, which is backed by collateral like your car or other valuable personal property. This is riskier than an unsecured loan since lenders may collect your property if you default on your payments.
Negotiation: You can try negotiating your debts yourself with your creditors. Although this isn't as effective as hiring a debt settlement company, it is an option you may want to explore before going through with hiring a company.