Be sure to check to see if a car you’re planning to buy has a recall issue
More than 8 million laundry and cleaning products are being recalled due to possible bacterial contamination

Watch out for credit card debt relief companies that will make your finances worse

Credit-card-g7a3e0f279_640For years, I had credit card debt. As a single woman, the expenses of running and maintaining a household, plus some travel to visit my daughter in Spain, were more than I could manage on my salary.

However, when I paid off my house early, I was able to pay off my credit cards quickly.

Credit card debt can be stressful. Interest rates can be high, and if you miss or can’t make your full payments, the growing balance can be overwhelming.

You might look for help from companies that promised to reduce or eliminate your credit card debt, for a fee. But, are they any good?

You need to be really careful when considering paying these companies, as a lawsuit by the Federal Trade Commission shows.

The FTC’s sued ACRO Services and related companies saying they operated a deceptive credit card debt relief scheme: claiming they could clear up your credit card debt. And they charged a lot of money. You’d have to sign up for their program, pay an enrollment fee (usually in the thousands) — plus monthly fees for “credit monitoring” services.

The FTC said consumers didn’t get much from the companies. After enrolling, it was often hard to reach anyone. If you did, you might get a form letter to dispute your debts — even when the company knew those debts were legitimate. 

Even worse, these companies would tell you to stop making payments and stop communicating with your credit card companies, the FTC said. If you followed that advice, you’d see increased fees, added interest, lower credit scores, and, sometimes, lawsuits from creditors.

If you’re looking for ways to pay off your credit cards more quickly, or get a lower interest rate, the FTC recommends:

  • Don’t pay upfront. It’s illegal for a debt relief company to charge you a fee before they do anything to relieve your debt.
  • Talk with your credit card company, for free. Call the customer service number on the back of your credit card. Ask for a payment plan that you’ll be able to afford.
  • Consider a reputable credit counselor. They can help you develop a payment plan that works for you.

If you’re approached by a company making claims like this, report them at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)