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Choosing a debt relief company is an important decision but how do you go about it? The debt relief company is offering a service and that service is to find ways to help you out of financial stress. As debt relief is a service and not strictly a product choosing a debt relief company is more akin to engaging a tradesman, like a plumber to fix the leaking faucet. Even though they are vastly different services and hopefully the debt relief company will be a once-in-a-lifetime choice, there are some common decision making processes involved when deciding on who will best carry out the service for you.
Some things to consider:
Recommendations by friends
The tradesman may be known to you by your friends or colleagues who have used the tradesman before and were satisfied with the results. It may also be that the tradesmen were used by your family for a long time but this is illegally to be the case with the debt relief company. On the other hand your friends and colleagues may have engaged a debt relief company, or know someone who has, who could offer their experiences with the company.
Friends can be a good source of information, but when it comes to money handling and debt reduction strategies you want to be sure that you are getting the best service available. While it is of little or no consequence which brand of washer the plumber uses to fix the faucet, not so with a debt relief company as small things can have a big impact. So, listen to the suggestions then start making more inquiries.
Firstly, and foremost, is the debt relief company accredited or licensed with federal agencies to perform the service? The fact is not all debt relief services require licensing or accreditation and as laws vary from State to State the only reliable way to find out is to contact your State Attorney Department.
Secondly, reputation can also be ascertained by referring to various Industry Associations such as the Association of Settlement Companies (TASC) and the United States Organization for Bankruptcy Alternatives (USOBA). Tomorrowmore, you can check with the Chambers of Commerce in your State.
Not all debt relief companies are members or listed with every consumer organization and this alone should not deter you from making a choice as to become a member of everything is both cost and time-consuming and often simply unnecessary. At the very least, the debt relief company should be a member of the TASC and USOBA which set industry standards for the companies.
The amount of complaints registered against a debt relief company will surely have a bearing on your decision. However raw data on the number of complaints must be viewed with a lot of caution. You should also bear in mind that some complaints can be both malicious and fraudulent sometimes intended to coerce a company to pay fees and memberships of an organization. Conversely, according to the FTC, a company with no complaints does not mean it must be legitimate. In reality complaints are simply a part of everyday life and business and, as the saying goes "You can not please all the folk all the time".
The more important data though, is the number of resolved complaints. If the number of un-resolved complaints is nil to low it is a good indication of the fairness of the complaints handling process and that the company is working to satisfy the consumer.
Again according to the FTC you need to be aware that, just because an organization says it’;s "non-profit," there’;s no guarantee that its services are free, affordable, or even legitimate. In fact, some "non-profit" credit counseling organizations charge high fees, which may be hidden, or urge consumers to make "voluntary" contributions that can cause more debt.
On the other hand, you should expect to pay something for the service. After all you are engaging experts to perform a service on your behalf which can be ongoing for several years and the main aim is to reduce your debt and save you money. So money paid to save more money does make economic sense. Like the car example, a slightly higher initial price in return for substantive ongoing savings in running costs is economically sensible.
Of course pricing information can only be found by inquiring from the individual companies and you would need to make your own inquiries with each company prior to making your decision.
Free assessments are usually what they say ie free. A company that requests for payment for an assessment should be viewed with caution, equally the company that provides a free assessment but with conditions.
Many organizations and businesses offer reviews of debt relief companies either online or through magazine publications. There is nothing wrong with this although just be aware it is possible that the review is advertising for the various companies. Neverheless you can get a good indication of what the company is like because all advertising and promotion of any company is governed by laws about misleading and false advertising.
Debt relief reviews have often done the legwork of finding legitimate companies that offer good solid services so saving you time, money, frustration and more confusion and therefore are definitely worth checking.
It can be a long and tiring process going through and checking each and every debt relief company’;s credits. The first place to start though would be to check the company’;s website to see if they are registered with industry bodies like the TASC and USOBA and what services they offer. By narrowing down your choices to sometimes 2-3 companies you could then further further due diligence if still in doubt.