Thomas F. Miles, Attorney and Counselor at Law
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Avoid scams when addressing unmanageable debt

Living under a heavy debt load can be a difficult state of affairs. Unmanageable debt often leads to high levels of stress, contention among family members and a virtually chronic experience of uncertainty. For many in California, few lengths are too great when it comes to addressing this scenario. This can lead many to sign on for questionable debt relief programs, many of which are ultimately found to be little more than scams.

When a consumer signs up for a debt relief program, the structure is usually one in which monthly payments are made to the service itself. From that point, the debt relief agency is tasked with distributing those funds to the client's creditors, according to a negotiated repayment agreement. One of the biggest risks involved in this type of arrangement is that the debt relief agency may not make those debt service payments in the agreed-upon manner.

By the time the consumer realizes what has happened, he or she is often even further behind on the payments. The creditors are unlikely to have sympathy for the consumer and will take aggressive action to recover the amount owed. By that point, the consumer may have paid hundreds or even thousands of dollars toward a repayment plan that has not been effective.

California consumers have other options when it comes to unmanageable debt. Filing for personal bankruptcy is a faster, safer and more effective path toward debt relief than repayment plans. Even worse, many plans marketed as debt relief are in fact scams, which pose a significant risk to already beleaguered consumers. While there are certainly reputable debt relief services available, it can be difficult to determine which offers are legitimate.

Source: abcactionnews.com, "Not all debt management and credit repair customers have best interest at heart", Lauren Rozyla, Aug. 7, 2015

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