What’s worse than being deep in debt? Being deep in debt and then getting scammed by someone. While that sounds like an unlikely scenario, fraud can happen at any time to anyone. People lost about $1.5 billion in total to fraud in 2018. Here’s some advice for spotting debt relief scams.
Their Promises Sound Too Good to Be True
People often say that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This is most certainly the case when it comes to spotting debt relief scammers.
You might be in a real bind. You’re in over your head in debt and need to find a way out of it. When someone comes along answering all your hopes and prayers, you want to believe what they’re telling you.
Resist the urge.
There are people out there who make a living preying on individuals in financial distress. They know desperate people will do things that they wouldn’t do under other circumstances. Before you give any personal information to anyone promising debt relief, ask yourself this question: Is this realistic? If you can’t figure out how the debt relief agency benefits from the interaction, it’s best to walk away.
They Ask for Money for Basic Information
When you’re deep in debt, the best place to start out is with a not-for-profit credit counseling service. They’re going to give you plenty of free information about legitimate resources, and can even help you build a budget.
If you decide you want to skip the counseling and go straight to a debt relief agency, that’s an option, too. It’s just important that you keep your wits about you and watch out for certain telltale signs of fraud.
One of the most common indicators of a debt relief scam is if they require you to pay them upfront before any kind of service has been provided to you. Definitely run away from any organization that won’t offer you basic information about their program, including its risks.
They Have Lots of Negative Reviews Online
Listening to what other people have to say is one of the best ways to understand whether or not a debt relief company is legitimate. Fortunately, in today’s world we have the Internet to help us identify fraud.
User reviews are your friend. Don’t sign up for any kind of debt relief service without Googling it first. There are a few things that should raise red flags.
First, if you’re struggling to find any reviews at all, that should be a cause for alarm. Legitimate debt relief operations should have many reviews on several different websites. If you look for Freedom Debt Relief reviews, for instance, you’ll find that they have thousands of reviews from real program enrollees.
The other major indicator of a scam is if they have a decent number of reviews, but a majority of them are negative. It’s important to remember that not everything you read on the Internet is true. Make sure you read some actual comments so you can get a better idea for the nature of the reviews.
They Make Guarantees
Don’t work with any debt relief company that guarantees you anything. A legitimate debt relief agency will tell you that following their protocol can help you eliminate your debts; but they’re never going to tell you it’s a sure thing. Why? Because there are no guarantees.
There’s always a chance that lenders won’t want to work out a deal. There are a lot of moving parts that happen during the negotiation process, so no outcome is 100 percent certain. This is just the reality. Don’t trust anyone who tries to paint debt relief as something that’s going to work for everyone, every time.