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Bankruptcy lawyers issue warning about debt-settlement companies, P. 1

People struggling with debt in Ohio know that there may be options to deal with the debt load. In recent have years, debt-settlement companies have cropped up in advertisements all across the company, offering to get people out of debt in short order. Recently, the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys issued a consumer alert to caution Americans about the debt settlement industry.

For some people, debt settlement may be the right option. Often, an individual settlement can be made directly with a creditor. But, it is important for consumers to talk with legal and tax professionals about what a debt settlement can mean for a consumer. The NACBA says that many consumers may not be aware what a debt-settlement company may actually be offering is a debtor wishes to find debt relief for more than one debt.

Debt-settlement programs offered by many companies across the nation can often leave a person in a much more difficult financial situation than that which existed before signing the debt-settlement contract with the middleman company offering debt-settlement services. Only about one out of every ten consumers winds up debt free within the promised time frame offered in the debt-settlement program, according to the NACBA.

People in the industry say that generally, a debt-settlement company tells consumers to stop paying their debts. The money normally applied to the bills is sent on to the company, where it is held until the company compiles enough cash to offer a lump sum settlement to the creditor. If the creditor takes the deal, that debt can be settled. In the meantime, however, the creditors often continue to seek to collect on the debt.

In the next entry, the discussion continues with a look at how many settlement companies operate.

Sources:

  • The Washington Post, "Debt settlement is rarely a done deal," Michelle Singletary, Oct. 18, 2012
  • NACBA, "The Debt Settlement Trap: The #1 Threat Facing Deeply Indebted Americans," Oct. 2012

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