You have heard the ads on the radio or seen them on the Internet.
“Avoid Bankruptcy.” “Affordable Payment Plan.” “Cut your payments in half.” Some even say: “Eliminate 70% of your debt.”In most cases, those are scams.Run away!
Many credit counseling or debt consolidation agencies cannot provide you with any benefits that could not obtain through negotiating with the creditors yourself or your attorney.
There are some legitimate debt consolidation organizations, but those are very few and are actually funded by the credit card Industry. Only one credit counseling firm is approved by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling in Georgia according to the NFCC website.That firm is the Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS). And CCCS is never the one advertised on the radio or that has all of the ads in your Internet browser.
If CCCS is able to restructure your credit card debts, it will often nevertheless take years to pay off the arrangement, and it will be reported on your credit report.
Any approved reduction that a credit counseling or debt reduction agency receives is partly funded by a kind of “kick back” from the credit card company, or what they call a “fair share” agreement.Why do the credit card companies pay credit counseling or debt consolidation agencies to do this? Because they do not want you to file bankruptcy!
The credit card industry, of which many credit counseling agencies are really a part, will try to scare consumers away from bankruptcy by overstating the negative consequences, and completely failing to discuss the benefits.
In fact, the IRS recently audited 63 credit counseling firms, and other audits are expected. Criminal investigations are also underway.The reasons for the audits and investigations are that the IRS takes the position that these firms are often profit-making entities, with fees benefiting executives or relatives of the firms, while doing little in the nature of benefiting consumers.The Federal Trade Commission warns consumers about the industry on the FTC website.
As bankruptcy lawyers, Wade H. Everett often meets people after it is too late.Many people come to see our firm after they have spent sometimes thousands of dollars on a fraudulent payment plans; they then find that one or more creditors were not participating, and are suing the consumer. Facing garnishment, they come to see a bankruptcy lawyer.
Before considering any credit counseling or debt consolidation arrangement, consider these facts when comparing bankruptcy to a private company that promises to “avoid bankruptcy.”
Bankruptcy courts are federal courts that enforce the laws passed by Congress. Creditors do not have to agree to what happens in bankruptcy; in fact they never would agree to most discharge orders that bankruptcy courts issue.
The results in bankruptcy are certain.
The cost is reasonable. <
You can get a fresh start in three to four months in Chapter 7.
Although the bankruptcy is reported on your credit report for ten years, as soon as you receive your discharge you can start reestablishing your credit. Although not typical, high credit scores over 700 are possible in as little as two years after a bankruptcy discharge. In fact, if you are reading this, chances are bankruptcy would actually improve your credit score almost immediately by eliminating that credit card debt. After reestablishing good payment histories, good credit scores are very common.
Credit counseling agencies, or debt consolidation or similar companies, are part of a totally unregulated industry, and the companies have virtually no power to enforce compliance with anyone.They can only obtain what each and every creditor will agree to. Further, if the firm is unscrupulous, as many are, they may not even tell you that a creditor is not participating with the procedure and is planning to file suit. Even if a reputable firm is able to acquire a payment plan, it will be reported on your credit report, and you may struggle for years to fulfill the arrangement.
If you want to try to avoid bankruptcy, use CCCS or risk being a victim of a scam. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. In most cases, bankruptcy is really the best option for honest people who have fallen on tough financial times.