Debt settlement isn’t “one-size-fits-all.” Your financial situation, needs, and goals are unique, and you’ll want to find the company that can best serve you. We understand that searching for your perfect debt settlement solution may seem overwhelming, so we’ve outlined several factors for you to consider when weighing your options to hopefully make the process a little easier.
How Do I Research Debt Relief Companies?
Before you begin comparing the finer details of different debt relief companies, you first have to find reputable ones to analyze! You should consider information from many different sources, including the Internet, close friends and family, the various accrediting organizations, and consumer reviews.
Doing a quick search on the Internet is an excellent starting point! Just typing “debt relief companies” into your favorite search engine will bring up thousands of results and hundreds of organizations.
Try several different variations of search terms and look at what names seem to come up the most in articles. Make a note of these companies and use this list as a starting point for your more in-depth research. By focusing on a handful of options, you’ll feel less overwhelmed and allow yourself to focus on thoroughly vetting your list.
Friends and Family
Whom do you trust more than your friends and family? While debt is a hard subject to talk about, if you know someone who has gone through the process before, it may be a good idea to speak to them about not just the company they went with, but the ones they did not. Hearing the pros and cons from a trusted source may help you make a decision.
Any reputable debt relief company should carry some form of accreditation. An easy one to spot is the Better Business Bureau (BBB) badge—you can usually find this badge on the company’s website and click on it to view their profile (if not, just go to the BBB website and look up the business’s name). There, you’ll find reviews, complaints and resolutions, and key company data.
Additionally, you can reach out to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to learn if there are any complaints about the organizations you’re looking at and how those complaints were settled.
There are several websites—Trustpilot, Best Company, and even Google—where consumers can leave ratings and reviews about their experiences with the company. Reading these reviews will help you to get a feel for the trustworthiness of each company and how well they may be able to help with your situation.
What Factors Should I Look At?
After you’ve narrowed down your list, it’s time to start comparing. As we said before, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to debt relief. When looking at your list, you’ll want to keep your unique debt needs in mind first and foremost. That said, there are a few general factors you’ll want to consider as well.
Thorough Client Support
Getting in touch with a company representative should be easy. You should be able to easily find contact information and hours of operation, as well as multiple ways to reach a representative—phone and email at the very least. These client support representatives would serve as your primary point of contact and informational resource during the initial signup process and may even be the ones to guide you through the program itself, so you should make sure that they are easily reachable. You should also look for a free initial evaluation to make sure that the company can serve your needs before you commit to anything.
How Long They’ve Been in Business
It may seem obvious, but it’s still important to note—companies that have been in business for longer generally have more experience in settling different types of debt. As a result, an experienced organization is likely to be better at creating a customized plan to fit your unique financial situation. The debt relief industry has been around for a while—try to find a company with at least ten years of experience for the best results.
The Types of Debts They Can Settle
Nearly every debt relief program will be able to settle credit card debt. However, you’ll want to see if they can also settle debts like student loans, medical bills, or business debt if these situations apply to you. Depending on your needs, you’ll want to go with the organization that has the most experience in settling the kind of debt you have.
A Realistic Timeline
A realistic debt settlement timeline is around two to four years. While some companies may be able to settle faster than that, any company that promises or “guarantees” a quicker timeline is one to be wary of.
A Comprehensive Website
The best debt settlement companies have answers to common questions and concerns clearly and comprehensively laid out on their website. Look for a clear description of services and strategies, fees, FAQs, and testimonials.
How Much They Can Save You
While the dollar amount you can save is dependent on how much you owe, a good debt settlement company should be able to reduce your total debt by around 30%. They should also work with you to optimize your monthly program payment so that you’re paying less each month towards your debts than you were before enrolling.
What Fees Are Involved
A debt relief organization should be upfront about any fees they charge for their services. Ask if the fee is based on the settled debt amount or the original debt, and if there are any additional service fees involved.
What Red Flags Should I Look Out For?
They Initiated Contact
Be wary of companies that reach out to you before you’ve made any kind of contact with them. Bad actors are more likely to aggressively seek out potential clients.
They Charge Upfront Fees
In 2010, the FTC banned the practice of collecting fees upfront. If a company asks for money in advance in exchange for their service, they’re breaking the law.
They Guarantee Results
While a reputable, experienced debt settlement company is more likely to achieve results than a less-than-stellar one, it ultimately comes down to your creditors to decide whether or not they will accept a settlement. No debt settlement company, not even the best of the best, can truly “guarantee” successful settlements. If you see sweeping promises like that, keep looking.
They’re Not Transparent
If the company and its representatives are keeping you in the dark about crucial information like fees, timelines, and processes—that’s a major red flag. The debt resolution program you choose should support, motivate, and encourage you along your entire journey towards becoming debt-free.
With over ten years in business, we here at ACCS pride ourselves on our honest, transparent approach. With zero cost and zero obligation to explore your options for debt relief, there are no gimmicks—just freedom from the debt that’s holding you back. Learn more about your options by requesting a Custom Debt Relief Plan today!