THE STRESS OF DEBT
If you are someone who is struggling under a mountain of debt, then I imagine the stress of even contemplating a solution may be next to impossible to bear.
It goes without saying that the best method of clawing oneself out of debt is to increase your income so that it at least matches your income.
However, doing so isn’t always possible, at least in the short term, and may be impossible for some people due to their personal and domestic circumstances.
Therefore, tackling debt requires other measures too.
FAKE DEBT ELIMINATION SCAMS
It should come as no surprise then to realise that there are thousands, if not millions, of people who are searching for debt reduction or debt elimination plans every day, both locally and on the internet.
Scam artists, as ever, have an eye for an opportunity and anything financially related is always going to catch their eye.
A recent development in the field of debt elimination scams is for companies, or individuals, to trade under names that have a similarity to established financial institutions, thereby allowing them to trade upon the reputation and goodwill associated with these other businesses.
Some debt elimination scams also happen to trade under the guise of networking marketing schemes. This often means that the agents who are peddling such services have very little knowledge of legitimate debt reduction or elimination techniques.
This may mean that they will be blissfully unaware that the service they are selling is a scam. Others, however, know exactly what they are doing and continue to sell the service anyway.
IDENTIFYING A GENUINE DEBT ELIMINATION SERVICE
The most effective tool in identifying whether a debt elimination service is legitimate or not is common sense.
If their service sounds too good to be true then it almost certainly is.
The majority of debt elimination scams are based upon the (false) principle that most, if not all, credit card and other lenders are somehow operating illegally and so therefore do not have the legal right to lend you money.
The scammer will then explain that this means you are not legally compelled to repay any of it.
This is, as you should realise, a complete fallacy.
A court has never ruled that a debtor does not have to pay back sums owed under any credit arrangement that has been correctly set up.
The reality is that leaving debts unpaid for this, or any other reason, is just a quick means of becoming blacklisted, bankrupt or getting sued.
Debt elimination scammers will say that their methods will write off the majority of someone’s debts. All they want in return is a percentage of the debt they make disappear, typically 20%.
Anyone who falls for this scam will be paying out large sums of money that they are unlikely to see again. Additionally, their financial situation will likely end up being far worse as a result, with creditors chasing them and their credit rating looking far less favourable.
FAIR CREDIT BILLING ACT
Scammers behind these sorts of schemes will often try to quote laws in order to try and add an air of legitimacy to their claims.
Title 15 United States Code, Section 1692; the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, Section 1601; the Fair Credit Billing Act; and the Uniform Commercial Code, Section 203 is a piece of legislation that often gets referenced.
What exactly that means is never made clear though, which is fortunate for the scammers as it is has no real relevance to getting out of debt in the ways they imply.
The scam artists will be relying upon the fact that most people will not bother to check such a detailed law.
If you have fallen foul of one of these debt elimination scams then you should, in the first instance, try to reclaim your money from the company that sold you this misleading advice.
As such a course of action is likely to fail, the next stage should be to try law enforcement or the courts, though they may not be much aid in recouping your money either.
Contact creditors – they are often sympathetic in such circumstances and will work with people to come to a repayment agreement they can afford. After all, receiving some money is of more benefit to them than none at all.
Also, for a creditor, receiving a proportion of their money is preferable to pursuing someone through the courts or via debt collection agencies.
Be extremely wary of companies that promise to completely eliminate any type of debt, or who simply state that such debts are illegal in the first place.
Never respond to any unsolicited emails regarding your finances, credit card or other debt.
Use only legitimate companies and services and find means of keeping your spending under control.