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How to Protect Yourself from Credit-Repair Scams
Equifax Credit Team
If you’re drowning in debt, you might be tempted to partner with a debt-relief service or a credit-repair company to help you pay down your debt. In recent years, some companies have preyed on consumers’ financial insecurities, prompting the federal government to get involved by passing new laws regulating the industry.
Credit-repair companies promise to restructure your debt or settle with creditors on your behalf to change the amount you owe. They may also offer budget counseling or classes, or create a debt-management plan for you.
New Federal Trade Commission regulations require that these companies be clearer with customers about what they can do, how long it will take, and how much the customer may or may not save.
The FTC regulations also make it illegal for such companies to charge a fee before they are successful in helping a customer with his or her debt.
Keep in mind that these rules apply only to companies offering services by phone or over the Internet. If you meet with a company face-to-face before signing up, these new rules do not apply.
How Can You Protect Yourself?
Before you get involved with a credit-repair company, ask your state attorney general or Better Business Bureau if any complaints have been filed against the company.
You can also check with your state attorney general’s office to see if the company has a valid license. Remember: just because a company claims to be a nonprofit organization, it doesn’t mean it is.
A reputable credit counseling agency should provide you information without requiring you to provide money or details about your situation. The company should tell you your rights and what you can do for yourself for free.
Ask how the company will handle your sensitive financial information to make sure it stays private.
Finally, be sure it is clear how much you are expected to pay the company, and get that number in writing.
Credit-Repair Scam Red Flags
Be cautious if the credit-repair company
To file a complaint or ask questions, visit ftc.gov, or call toll-free at 1-877-FTC-HELP.
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