People who are tired of struggling every month to pay their bills and are tired of being harassed by creditor calls are often desperate to find debt relief. Does this sound familiar? If it does, here is a word of warning: Debt reduction companies are not always what they seem and some are even downright dishonest.

Many of these so-called “debt-relief” companies who promise to negotiate with your creditors, reduce your debt and be the middle-man for your payments are nothing more than scammers. They promise you that you can make one monthly payment to them and they will negotiate with your debtors to have your payments and interest reduced. Then will be on your way to being debt-free.

It all sounds pretty good, but “buyer beware.” The Federal Trade Commission has been hard at work shutting down companies just like this. Many of these companies have swindled consumers out of millions of dollars.

There are some telltale signs to look for if you are considering working with a debt relief company. They should provide no guaranteed reductions or long-term contracts and no large upfront costs or hidden monthly fees. You don’t want to find yourself sending money to a company that is pocketing your money and not paying your creditors, which is what many of these scammers have done.

There are legitimate nonprofit credit counseling services that you can contact, or another option may be to file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. These are options that can legitimately help you get out of the monthly stress and struggle that you may be under with debt overload.

Another scam on the market is from debt collectors. Some debt collectors are trying to collect debts from consumers that have been falsified. If a debt collector contacts you about a debt that you are not certain about, make them verify it for you before giving them a dime. The Federal Trade Commission also just put the brakes on two robocall operations that had defrauded consumers out of more than $5 million dollars this way.

Source:, “Tips how not to fall victim to debt relief offers” Connie Thompson, Sep. 13, 2013