With millions of people around the world struggling to get out of debt, you would guess that large numbers of experts would come rushing to help. You guessed right! But the helpers range from certified non-profit agencies to some who do it for profit and ultimately to scammers out to fleece the debt-bound.

Rosario Méndez, an attorney in the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s Division of Consumer and Business Education, writes that people who call you offering help are not always your best friends. “If you feel smothered by your monthly bills, a call from someone who says they can reduce or eliminate your debts might sound like the answer to your problems. But in many cases, unscrupulous people are behind these calls. They don’t have any intention of helping you but are very interested in taking your money. How can you tell if you’re dealing with a debt relief scammer? Because they ask you to pay them before they do anything for you.”

Méndez reports that’s what the FTC and the Florida Attorney General said happened in a massive debt relief scam they were able to stop. The defendants told people they would pay, settle, or get rid of their debts. But they didn’t. Instead, they just took people’s money. Over time, people found out that their debts were not paid, their accounts were in default, and their credit scores were severely damaged. Some people even got sued by their creditors or were forced into bankruptcy. Unfortunately, scammers try to take advantage of those dealing with debt but there’s legitimate help available, writes Méndez. You can talk to your creditors directly to negotiate a modified payment plan. You also can look for credit counseling. To find reputable help, start with a credit union, local college, military base, or the U.S. Cooperative Extension Service. And if you decide to work with a debt relief service, remember this: A legitimate debt relief company won’t make you pay up front. That’s illegal. And no one can guarantee that your creditors will forgive your debts. So, your report can help stop a debt relief scam. If you spot one in any country, tell the FTC immediately – the FTC partners with 35 nations FRAUD.


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