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Are debt relief programs good investments or are they scams?

There are a few signs you can see that a company is a debt relief scam and not one that can actually help you free yourself from a life of worrying about past-due bills and financial pitfalls. Even if you're desperate to get out of debt, making the jump to working with one of these companies could land you in a position that is even worse off than you are now. The costs of these plans can range significantly, and some may end up putting you further into debt.

Your attorney may have spoken to you about bankruptcy, but there are other ways out of debt, too. Yes, some companies that work to provide debt-relief tools are good and provide you with strong services. Others are taking advantage of you.

How can you tell? Look for the signs. If a company promises you a quick and easy way out of debt, stay away. There are no easy ways out, unless you somehow come into money. Debt took time to create and even with some bankruptcy plans, it can take months to resolve.

Don't believe that a company can have information removed from your credit report, either. Your debts must stay on your report for seven years, even if you go into bankruptcy. Unless a debt or missed payment is untrue, the law requires it to stay on your report.

Debt relief scams take advantage of good people. If you have any questions about a program you're interested in, the best step is to speak with your attorney about your options and if the solution you want is viable for your situation.

Source: The Washington Post, "Learn to spot the telltale signs of debt-relief scams," Michelle Singletary, Oct. 16, 2015

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