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Spotting a crooked credit card debt relief agency

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It’s amazing how many people there are in this world willing to work harder to steal than earn. What’s worse, these criminals routinely prey upon people who are in difficult situations.

So yes, the debt relief industry does have its fair share of bad actors. The good news is the vast majority of these people operate from the same playbook. This can make spotting a crooked credit card debt relief agency easy.

Here’s what to look for:

Upfront fees

It's a violation of the FTC Telemarketing Sales Rule, which carries civil liability, to request payment for debt relief services of any kind before that service is provided. In other words, they can make all the promises they want, but you are under no obligation to pay until you get the relief you seek. Far too many scam artists have charged people up front for services they never provided. Any mention of advance payment during your initial consultation should be treated as a red flag. 

Guaranteed results

Every good debt relief agent knows there are far too many variables in play to promise they’ll get a specific resolution for a potential client. Each and every case is different. Debt amounts and loan terms vary.  The demeanour of credit card issuer customer service agents differ as well. 

This means regardless of how many times a debt relief professional may have dealt with a particular issuer, or even a certain person at that office, the situation is what determines the outcome. There’s no way to predict it. Anybody promising you a specific resolution is either inexperienced or dishonest. 

Either way, you’ll be better off working with someone else. 

Unsolicited contact

A legitimate credit card debt relief agency will let you come to them for help. They don’t go chasing customers down. Yes, they advertise, they have websites, blogs, and social media presences. But if anyone contacts you personally offering to help you with a debt problem, view him or her with suspicion.

Advises cessation of communication with creditors

That's a real good way to find yourself in court facing a lawyer arguing for your assets to be attached. Legitimate credit card debt relief agencies get in touch with your card issuers right away to let them know they’re advocating on your behalf. 

Further, you should also let their collections people know you’re working with a relief firm so they can make the proper notations in your files. If you just cut off communication and stop paying your debt, they’ll think you’re defaulting altogether and will take steps to protect their capital. 

Requires advance personal financial data disclosure

A lot of scammers are really out to get their hands on your personally identifiable data so they can steal your identity. These people will often try to require you to submit that information before they tell you anything about the services they provide. 

It’s amazing how many people have fallen for this. 

Under no circumstances should you ever disclose bank account information, your Social Security number, or any other data that can be used to compromise your finances without knowing exactly to whom you’re talking, what they can do for you, and what recourse you have if things go awry.

These tips for spotting a crooked credit card debt relief agency will help you find an honest firm with which to work. They are out there and a good place to start looking for one is with an accreditation agency such as the American Fair Credit Council. You can also run the name of any company you’re considering by the Better Business Bureau and your state’s attorney general.