The debt problem is real for millions of consumers in the United States. According to Experian, overall consumer debt reached $13.3 trillion in the last quarter of 2018, while the total amount of unpaid revolving debt hit $4.1 trillion. Those who are burdened with the crushing weight of debt are looking for ways to get rid of debt without resorting to bankruptcy. One option debtors could take is to enroll in a debt relief program.

There are hundreds of debt relief companies across the United States offering the same debt relief programs as their competitors and making the exact same promise to help you deal with your debt and get your finances back on track. But how do you know that you are dealing with the right company and working with the right people? What are the factors that you need to consider before deciding which organization to work with?

Dealing with over $10,000 of debt is stressful and frustrating, to say the least, and the best way to solve it is to sign up for a debt relief program. But a lot of people are being skeptical about signing up due to reports of scam committed by fly-by-night debt relief organizations. If you are looking for a debt relief company to work with, here are the  four essential attributes that you need to consider before enrolling in a program:

1. Company Profile

Here's the thing: you can't just choose a debt relief company to work with, right off the bat. A debt relief program must be done correctly the first time and dealing with the wrong company and the wrong people will put you in a more precarious financial situation than what you are currently in. It is important that you evaluate all the important factors that make a reputable debt relief company. Here are four important factors that you need to look into before signing up a deal with them. 

A company's profile will give you a general idea of its history and tenure like how long has it been in the business, the awards it has received and its other achievements, and most importantly, its track record.

In an industry marred by news of scam and trust issues, integrity is everything. A debt relief company's tenure in the business speaks a lot about its integrity, reputation, and the quality of service it gives to its clients. No debt relief organization will last long if it's conducting its business in a devious way. 

2. Affiliations

One way to check if a business is legit is to check if the company has any membership or is affiliated with the right organization that will help it improve the way it conducts its business and make sure that its employees are equipped with the right skills to do their job.

When looking for a debt relief company to work with, check if it's affiliated or accredited with the following organizations:

United States Chamber of Commerce (USCC). The US Chamber of Commerce represents the interests of over 3 million of all sizes from all sectors across the country and it is dedicated to supporting activities that help promote new business growth throughout the USA. 

International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators (IAPDA). This organization provides training and certification to all affiliated debt relief professionals to ensure that they are equipped with the right skills and knowledge so they can help their clients resolve their debt issues.

American Fair Credit Council (AFCC). All accredited members of the AFCC must adhere to the standards set by the council to assure debtors who are looking to get rid of their debt through debt relief will have their rights are protected and that they will be treated fairly and ethically while on the program.

Knowing the company's affiliations will give you a measure of assurance that you will be working with people who can provide you with viable solutions to your debt problem and not just empty promises that get you nowhere.

3. Services offered

Not all debt relief organizations are created equal.

Almost all debt relief organizations in the country offers pretty much the same type of debt relief programs like debt consolidation, debt settlement, and debt negotiation, along with the promise to get rid of your debt, fast. Choose a debt relief company that can offer you a resolution based on your unique financial situation and can help you save as much money at the same time. 

It is important that debt relief companies give their clients a free and confidential consultation. This is where they can get a better understanding of your current financial situation so they can come up with a solution that's fit for you.

A truly reputable debt relief organization offers a program that focuses on saving you as much money as possible while having your debt balance negotiated so that you will only have to pay less the amount than what you originally owed. The more money you save while having your debts taken care of is a surefire way to getting your finances back on track! Because that's what's debt relief is all about: debt relief programs exist to give an indebted person the help they need to ease the burden of debt.

Avoid any debt relief companies that offer temporary interest rate reduction and focuses only on consumer credit counseling. These are just bandaid solutions to your debt problem and may cause you even bigger problems because, in the end, you'll still have to pay back the full amount of your debt plus the fees charged to you by your company of choice. What you need is a concrete plan and long-term solution that would actually get rid of your debt for good.

4. Fees

The fees involved in a debt settlement or any debt relief program is usually the deal-breaker for debtors. This is what makes them hesitate and be skeptical about enrolling in a debt relief program and we can't blame them. Hidden fees, high flat rates, and upfront fees are what makes a debtor think twice in signing up. 

While the FTC already banned the practice of charging upfront fees way back in 2010, this doesn't apply to all debt settlement companies and some are still practicing it to this day. Worse, there are some that are charging for a service they haven't performed and keeping the money without even paying for the debt. Now that is clearly a scam and it's something we don't wish to happen to you or anyone.

A debt relief company that truly aims to help offers free confidential counseling sessions to their clients. This way, a debt counselor can get a better understanding of your financial situation and help them come up with the best possible solution for your problem.

Lastly, make sure how much they charge for the service. A flat fee of 20% for an in-house program is a fair price to pay but if you are going to be billed 25% and above, you better think twice before signing up. What you want is a solution for debt and not another burden on your shoulders.

Published by Mohaned Gadnne