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It can also help to see if the company is part of a larger organization, such as the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC).

The NFCC requires member companies to follow a specific set of rules to maintain their certification with it.

Companies and non-profit organizations offer debt consolidation programs, advertising services such as “debt consolidation” or “debt relief,” among others.

But if you enter into one of their debt consolidation programs, what you’re getting involved in is one of two things: a debt management plan or debt settlement.

Finding out you can’t too late in the game could have consequences for your plan and your credit score.

Whether you opt for a DMP or debt settlement, it’s important to do some homework before you choose a company to work with. If your credit counselor can’t directly place you in a DMP and sends you to another company, check the reviews before you enroll.

And on that note, be aware that if you miss even one payment yourself, you could be kicked off of your DMP.

You can also do a check with the Better Business Bureau or do a Google search with the company’s name followed by “review.” And don’t forget to look for red flags in your research.

If you decide to work with a non-profit, that doesn’t always mean the service is free for you.

You could still be charged a fee, although it’s illegal for any debt relief company or nonprofit to do so upfront.

These include charging upfront fees, trying to get clients to pay a “voluntary contribution,” telling clients they can stop debt collection calls and lawsuits, and more.

Refer to this full list from the FTC before enrolling.

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