What confuses many consumers is that these companies don’t always advertise the services that their name indicates. For example, many companies that claim to be debt consolidation services, actually offer debt settlement services. Here are some ways to know what type of company you’re dealing with and whether you’re actually enrolling in a debt settlement plan.
Does the company promise to reduce your total debt amount? One of the things that makes debt settlement different from other types of companies is that debt settlement aims to reduce the total amount you pay on your balances, not just your monthly payment or your interest rate.
What will the company do with your monthly payments? What happens to your monthly payments is another big indicator of whether you’re dealing with a debt settlement firm, a firm by another name that really provides debt settlement services, or another type of company.
With debt settlement, your monthly payments go into a savings or some other type of escrow account and are held there until you accumulate enough to offer a settlement. Payments to a debt consolidation company should go toward a debt consolidation loan that’s been used to pay off your debts. Finally, your payments to a credit counseling agency are to be divided and sent to your creditors.
If you’re confused about what’s happening to your payments and whether your creditors are being paid, check your credit report. Each of your credit accounts and their most recent payment history will be listed. If the accounts have been paid off, they’ve likely been consolidated. If the account payments are late, but you’ve been paying money to a debt consolidation or credit counseling company, check back with the company to see what’s happening to your payments. Your credit report will indicate accounts that have been enrolled with a credit counseling agency will be noted.
Are you getting late notices from your creditors? If you’re enrolled in a debt settlement program, you can expect to get phone calls or letters from your creditor or collectors unless the company has advised your creditors to contact them for information about your debt. However, if you’re being contacted about late payments that were supposed to have been received on time, you should so more investigating.
Differences in Debt Management Companies
Debt consolidation companies combine your debt using a lump-sum loan. Your accounts are paid off using the loan. Your monthly payments go toward reducing the loan balance.
Credit counseling sets you up on a debt management plan with a low interest rate and lower monthly payment. You make a monthly payment to the credit counseling agency and then, the agency divides your payments and sends them to the creditors.
Debt settlement negotiates a lump-sum payment as satisfaction for your debt. The debt settlement company does not send payment to your creditors until you’ve accumulated enough to settle the account. In the meantime, no regular monthly payments are sent to your creditors.