Turn on the TV and chances are you will see a commercial advertising “free, no cost debt relief”, encouraging people to call a 1-800 number or email. Also featured is an illegible cluster of fine print at the bottom or end of the ads. The most recent addition to these commercials is a voice over stating that “this program soon will not be available in your area”. If you are in financial hardship, saw this type of ad and were considering subscribing to the service, walk away.   Actually– run away.

 Here are a few things you may not know.

1)      Just because a website has .org behind it does not mean it is a legitimate non-profit.

2)      If the organization is not located in NC, they cannot legally provide debt settlement services. Only licensed NC Attorneys and non-profit organizations can do so, and for good reason—When considering your options, a well versed professional is capable of discerning an appropriate strategy given both legal and financial considerations.   

3)      The NC Attorney General is actively prosecuting fraudulent debt service providers, including “out of state” law firms.

4)      Many debt service predators require their fee to be satisfied before engaging in any work on your behalf.

5)      Some make their money by gathering and selling your personal information.

For many Americans facing financial hardship, time is of the essence. Wasting time and money with an imposter debt relief firm is a costly error that they cannot afford to make;   It will compound, rather than solve your debt problems.   Many people I encounter share their horror stories where they send thousands dollars to an illegitimate “debt solution” for many months, only to discover that not one penny of debt settled was settled, several uniformed sheriff’s deputies appeared on their  doorstep, and collectors rang the home phone incessantly as a part of the experience.   In this scenario, just a few more months and bankruptcy would have been the foregone conclusion.   The way any legitimate service is offered means having some reasonably early success with settlements and achieving peace in the household.   The goal is to get all of our clients back on the path to financial wellness as soon as possible, and to help the family on the road to recovery.

If you are in need of debt relief or bankruptcy services, verify that they are licensed with the NC State Bar . Check with the Better Business Bureau. Look for a local number and address, not a 800-number and a PO Box.  A little research is well worth it as you will quickly be able to identify the “devil in disguise” and avoid falling prey to his predatory scams.

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