I had a conversation with a colleague a few days ago that gave me the inspiration for this post.
We were sharing stories from clients who had been victimized by some rather unscrupulous characters presenting themselves as debt relief specialists before they found us. Our unfortunate clients, who were already dealing with life circumstances that lead to overwhelming debt issues, were bilked into paying thousands of dollars for the so-called debt relief company to act for them. The outcome resulted not in a partial reduction of debt which had been promised, but in bankruptcy.
Had the clients known, they could have done the same things for themselves at no cost and saved themselves a ton of grief. This is a great example of how a lack of knowledge can end up costing you – big time.
Like every other industry, the financial counselling and debt recovery industry is viewed by some as a lucrative market. It is also largely unregulated which means that anyone can hang up a shingle and call themselves a credit counsellor. With all the debt relief companies out there vying for business, it’s hard to know who to trust. It pays to be informed.
The Federal Consumer Agency of Canada has a great website that provides objective advice to consumers about how to choose the right product and service for their needs. It’s a great place to visit to get unbiased information. The tip sheets are easy to read and understand and may help you sift through the confusion when deciding who to trust with your money issues. Check out the tip sheet on Dealing with Credit Counselling Agencies, especially the part on finding a reputable credit counselling agency.
Make sure you understand exactly what you’re getting into before you sign. It can save you thousands.