What Your Mama Never Told You About Debt Consolidation Services
When someone is extremely deep in debt, and he or she has no other options to prevent bankruptcy, debt consolidation can be his or her savior. Debt consolidation can also be a very wise choice for someone who has many debts on high interest credit cards. Debt consolidation, quite simply, is the process of taking loans and debts and bringing them into one low-interest loan that can be paid off over varying periods. This is a very good choice for many people because it saves them from having to file bankruptcy. Debt consolidation merely requires collateral (such as a home or vehicle) for the interest rates to be lowered and the customer to be on his or her way to debt free living.
Most people understand the basics of debt consolidation, however there are several dos and don'ts in the world of consolidating debt. Most importantly, make sure you research the company before you choose to consolidate your debt with it. Some companies will take advantage of unassuming consumers. Here are a few underhanded tricks unfavorable companies will employ when you are trying to consolidate your debt:
1. Some companies will take advantage of high interest loans, and the benefit of consolidating those loans, by charging exceptionally high fees in the debt consolidation loan. These fees can sometimes even be near the state maximum for mortgage fees. Any company with fees that seem unnaturally high should not be your choice for debt consolidation.
2. Watch out for companies that wait until you are "backed into a corner." Some companies will let a customer get further and further into debt until the customer is forced to refinance. Someone who has put his or her house will be willing to refinance in order to save his or her collateral (again, usually the home). The unscrupulous company will then charge an excessive refinancing fee.
3. Lastly, be wary of companies that employ "predatory lending." Predatory lending is when a debt consolidation company allows a customer to be in such debt that they are unable to find another debt consolidator to help them with the debt. The person is forced to stay with their current company and sometimes even file bankruptcy anyway. The company that knowingly led the customer into the dregs of debt comes out on top. Most companies don't use predatory lending, but it is always a good idea to be extra careful when choosing a debt consolidator.
Good debt consolidation companies naturally don't do anything underhanded. On the contrary, a worthwhile company offers the customer all the information he or she will ever need about their loans and interest. The company is helpful and concerned for the financial safety of their customers. Companies that realize that the decision to consolidate one's debt is a weighty one are usually the best companies to opt for. Approaching each case uniquely is the sign of a debt consolidator that understands the importance of every customer.
Debt consolidation can be a weighty decision for many people to make. If you keep in mind the dos and don'ts of choosing a debt consolidation company, you will have no worries. Some companies try underhanded methods to increase their profits, but if you know what to watch out for, those companies cannot swindle you. Debt consolidation is a wise choice for anyone who has high interest credit cards, and substantial loans. Follow my advice, and I'm sure that you'll be debt free sooner than you can say, "Consolidate!"
Mike McDowski writes about a variety of financial matters and advocates debt consolidation with Credit Solutions ( http://www.creditsolutions.com ).
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Recently passed by Congress, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 will require people who are filing for bankruptcy to first undergo mandatory credit counseling.This is probably not a bad idea; after all, many people with problem debt could probably benefit from credit counseling. A good credit counselor can assist clients with problem debts in establishing a repayment schedule, creating a personal budget, and learning how to avoid debt and credit problems in the future.The problem is that with the estimated one and a half million additional people seeking credit counseling each year, there will undoubtedly be more credit "counselors" entering the market, and many of them are only interested in reaping huge profits at the expense of their clients. There are already a number of credit counseling firms working in the marketplace that advertise themselves as "nonprofit", when they actually are closely tied to for-profit debt consolidation firms. These agencies will strongly encourage their clients to consolidate debt through their partner company, and the result may be a long term loan for the client that doesn't help them at all, but reaps huge profits for the consolidation firm. How can someone who is genuinely seeking legitimate, helpful credit counseling choose a counseling agency wisely?*Counselors should listen. If they start pitching a solution to you during the first fifteen minutes you are there, you should be suspicious. A credit counselor should be gathering information about you in order to determine how best to help you. They can't possibly know how to help if they don't understand your problem. Unless, of course, they don't care about your problem and only want to sell generic "solutions."*Watch out for firms that want excessive fees up front. Be particularly wary of nonprofit agencies that ask for fees or "voluntary contributions" or nonprofit agencies that tell you that they cannot help you if you do not pay a fee upfront.*Sometimes, bankruptcy is unavoidable. Watch out if the agency doesn't mention bankruptcy at all, or if they change the subject if you bring up the topic. Debt consoldators cannot make any money on bankruptcy cases, but sometimes, that's your only option.*Shop around. Talk to several different agencies and compare what they tell you. Any agency that differs dramatically from what the other agencies are telling you should probably be avoided.*Check with your local Better Business Bureau, and ask if they've had any complaints about the agency.*Watch out for firms that offer quick solutions to your problems. You didn't get into financial trouble overnight, and you won't get out of financial trouble overnight. Any competent debt or credit counselor will know this and will undoubtedly tell you that working your way out of debt takes time.*See if the agency belongs to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling or Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies. Many do.By taking a few simple precautions before agreeing to work with a credit counselor, you may save yourself a lot of grief and a lot of money later.
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