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Finding a Reputable Debt Settlement Company

How do I find the right debt settlement company? Can you guide me to a solution?

I read your wonderful article on Debt settlement on your website. This is the first time that I have come across a well-written explanation of this subject, and its different dimensions. Great Job! In your article, you make several references to reputable Debt Settlement Agents/companies. Where can I find a list of such companies? I would really appreciate your response. Thanks.

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Bill's Answer
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Updated: Oct 23, 2014

Debt Relief Maze
Highlights

  • Make sure that debt settlement is the right solution for you.
  • AFCC accredited membership is a sign of a very reputable debt settlement company.
  • A reputable debt settlement company does NOT charge up-front fees.

I am glad you find our articles on debt settlement useful. Bills.com strives to offer top quality information, tips, advice, and resources to help you evaluate your financial situation and choose the most appropriate solution with reputable companies, and in your case reputable debt settlement companies.

Finding the Right Solution for Your Debt Problems

Since there are a number of options available to resolve your debt problems Bills.com provides a very useful, free tool, the Debt Coach. Debt Coach helps you analyze the different debt resolution solutions available- including debt settlement and credit counseling — and to choose the one that best fits with the goals you present to Debt Coach.

Many people, like you, have concluded that debt settlement is the best solution and want to find a reputable debt settlement company to work with.

Get a no-cost, no obligation analysis of your debt options from a pre-screened debt relief provider.

Finding a Reputable Debt Settlement Company

In order to find a reputable debt settlement company I recommend that you take the following steps:

  • Review the American Fair Credit Counsel (AFCC) list of accredited members
  • Get a free consultation from Bill.com's pre-screened providers
  • Review the debt settlement companies, by checking other resources

AFCC

The American Fair Credit Council (AFCC) is the leading industry trade group in the debt settlement industry. Here are some of the reasons you would want to use the AFCC member list:

  1. Strict Code of Contact: AFCC members are required to follow a strict code of conduct, which is strictly monitored and enforced by the AFCC. As the AFCC explains, the AFCC is ONLY for those willing to abide by the new Code of Conduct that emphasizes full compliance with the federal and state rules regulating what we do.
  2. Compliant with FTC Rules: AFCC members must remain fully compliant with the rules issued by the Federal Trade Commission that regulate the debt settlement industry that went into effect in October, 2010. These rules were created to protect the consumer. For instance, anyone now enrolling in a debt settlement program is not required to pay a service fee to the settlement firm until his or her account has been settled. This makes settlement an even more attractive option for the consumer. Pointedly ask any debt settlement firm you speak with if they are compliant with the FTC rules. If anyone expects you to pay a fee up front, you should look for help elsewhere.
  3. AFCC Mystery Shopping: The AFCC "mystery shops" its members. Mystery shopping is where the AFCC contacts a member and acts as a consumer. The AFCC then grades the member on how it represents its services. Some debt settlement companies have been barred from the AFCC for failing to meet the requirements of proper disclosure not only on paper, but also on the telephone (which is the most common way consumers enroll).
  4. Membership Tiers: There are two tiers of membership (Regular Member and Accredited Member). Accredited Members must go through a thorough onsite audit (sales, marketing, customer service, negotiations department, HR, etc.) every year conducted by BSI Group to make sure company is complying with the AFCC Code of Conduct, including full compliance with FTC Rules. Pointedly ask any debt settlement firm you speak with if they are compliant with the FTC rules. If anyone expects you to pay a fee up front, you should look for help elsewhere.

As you can see, AFCC has stringent rules which are monitored continuously, thereby providing an excellent list of reputable debt settlement companies. There are non-reliable companies and you should be careful not to deal with them.

USOBA (United States Organization for Bankruptcy Alternatives), another debt settlement industry trade group, does not require its members to comply with the FTC rules, such as not charging customers up-front fees, so Bills.com does not recommend any USOBA member debt settlement firms.

Bills.com Pre-screened Debt Consultation

Bill.coms offers a free consultation with pre-screened providers. You’ll receive a free, no obligation consultation with a reputable debt settlement company, where you will review the details of debt settlement and be able to ask questions, to make sure that debt settlement is right for you.

Other Resources

Additional steps you should take to find a reliable debt settlement company includes looking at the IAPDA site and analyzing the particular company for its longevity.

IAPDA: Another effective step for finding a reputable debt settlement / resolution company is to determine if the company is a member of the International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators (IAPDA). The IAPDA requires that its members have their debt consultants and account executives pass a certification test that requires them to understand and communicate the pros and cons of debt settlement to their clients.

Provider Reviews: You will be able to find many reviews of debt settlement companies that are based on individual experiences. These reviews can be helpful in giving an idea what types of experience people had with any given company (sometimes positive and sometimes negative, although it seems that people with negative responses tend to write more). However online reviews, even at sites containing multiple reviews, are not presented in a scientific method.

I hope this information helps you Find. Learn & Save.

Best,

Bill

Bills.com