Home / debt counseling services near me / Beware of Debt Settlement Services - New York City
Beware of Debt
Over your head in debt? Struggling to pay your bills? Beware of services that claim they can eliminate or
"settle" your debts. In the majority of cases, debt settlement does not work and can cost you thousands of
dollars in fees, leaving you even further in debt.
Get free help at the City's Financial Empowerment Centers. Financial Empowerment Centers offer free one-
on-one professional financial counseling. Call 311 and ask for an NYC Financial Empowerment Center near you
or visit nyc.gov/ProtectYourMoney
What is Debt Settlement?
? Debt settlement companies promise "debt relief," claiming they can wipe out your debts by negotiating
lump-sum payments for less than you owe.
? Debt settlement companies may tell you to stop making payments to your creditors and instead pay into
a special "settlement" or escrow account. Meanwhile, your creditors keep charging you late fees and
interest, so your debt may double or triple. And you can still face legal actions by creditors trying to
collect your debts.
Know Your Rights about Debt Settlement
As of October 27, 2010, debt settlement companies that sell their services over the phone must comply with new
? Be aware: Up-front fees may be illegal. For-profit debt settlement companies that sell their services by
phone cannot legally charge a fee before they settle or reduce a debt. (Sales by phone include calls to you
through direct telemarketing and calls by you in response to an advertisement.) Debt settlement companies
that charge up-front fees may be breaking the law.
? The money you pay into a settlement account is yours! Money that a debt settlement company asks you to
set aside in an "escrow" or "settlement" account belongs to you. You may cancel the account at any time, and
the escrow company must refund all of your money minus any fees the settlement company legally earned.
Warning: Consumer protections do not always apply.
If you enroll in debt settlement online or face-to-face at a sales presentation or storefront, you do not have the same
protections when it comes to up-front fees, disclosures, and escrow accounts. Do not sign up for a fee-based
plan online or in person at a debt settlement workshop where the company can charge you up-front fees
without violating the law.
Beware of Debt
Tips to Protect Your Money
? Get free help with debt. Visit an NYC Financial Empowerment Center
for free one-on-one professional financial counseling. Call 311 or
? Don't pay up-front fees. Walk away from any company that tries to charge fees
before services are performed. If a debt settlement company tries to
charge you before achieving a settlement, file a complaint with the Federal Trade
Commission (FTC). Go online to ftc.gov or call 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357).
? Be wary if you are directed to enroll for debt settlement online or in person.
Debt settlement companies that use these tactics may be trying to evade the ban
on charging fees up-front.
? Don't assume that debt settlement companies are acting in your best
interest--or are legitimate. Companies will claim to be nonprofits, to use
lawyers, or to be affiliated with the government to try to lure you in.
? Know that debt settlement plans initially will increase your debts and
are extremely unlikely to reduce any of your debt in the end.
? Beware of damage to your credit score and risk of legal action. Debt settle-
ment can do long-lasting damage to your credit score, affecting your ability to get
a loan, a credit card, or even housing or a job in the future. Your creditors may
take legal action against you, such as legal judgments, lawsuits, collection activi-
ties, and freezing your bank accounts.
? Save your paperwork. If you've been in contact with a debt settlement company,
save any advertisements, letters, contracts, statements, or other documents you
receive. And take notes about your phone calls.
Call 311 and ask for an NYC Financial Empowerment
Center or visit nyc.gov/ProtectYourMoney
What is the best credit counseling service? Debt Management. GreenPath does not charge for a credit counseling session. ... Housing Services. GreenPath does not charge for mortgage delinquency or rental counseling. ... Student Loan Counseling. ... Bankruptcy Services. ... Credit Counseling Services Credit and Debt Services Housing Services Bankruptcy Services. ... Educational Services. ...
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