On Your Side: Debt relief and credit repair scams

Published: Aug. 22, 2023 at 5:58 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - If your credit is not so great, a consumer group says to be careful about using a debt relief company.

Whether it’s a job loss, medical emergency, or just a few bad decisions, debt can happen to anyone. If you hire a company to tackle the problem, ensure your situation doesn’t get worse.

Twelve thousand seven hundred complaints and negative reviews. That’s why the Better Business Bureau did this study on companies that offer debt consolidation, relief, settlement and credit repair companies. Experts found high fees and overestimated promises.

“Guarantee of an improvement of score or guarantee a debt will be settled. They can’t guarantee that. And you shouldn’t pay anyone upfront for a service. Or provide bank account information before that service is performed,” said Pamela Hernandez with the Better Business Bureau.

Sometimes scammers pose as these companies. People reported they lost a total of more than two million dollars.

Keep in mind there were some good experiences. There are legit businesses that will help.

“We give them ways on how to improve their report. We can give sample letters on how to dispute,” said Beth Blaisdell with Consumer Credit Counseling Service.

Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Ozarks is a non-profit and charges around $30 for its credit report review.

“We find that a lot of people don’t know how to talk to creditors. Or their emotions are high,” said Blaisdell.

If you are overwhelmed, it might be best to do your homework and hire a pro.

  • Understand the terms of your agreement
  • Understand what the company can and cannot do

Otherwise, you can do a lot of this yourself. It starts by going through your bills line-by-line. You can negotiate the amount you owe and ask for a different payment schedule. One phone call can go a long way.

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