If you are one of millions of Americans drowning in debt or experiencing financial hardship, that puts you at a greater risk for becoming victim of a scam. Criminals are often on the lookout for those that may be desperate to find relief from their debts and may be looking for a way to avoid bankruptcy. While there are plenty of reputable companies offering debt relief help, there are a fair number of scammers as well.
Knowing What To Look For
Two popular scams that are surfacing more these days are debt relief scams and credit card scams. Many consumers seek debt relief through credit counseling agencies or debt settlement companies in order to gain control over their debts. While these services are not inherently risky, there are a few ways to spot a fraudulent agency.
Charging upfront fees for services is a red flag. Consumers should not be paying for any service until it has been rendered to their satisfaction. Another warning sign is unsolicited advertising of their services. Phone calls, fliers in the mail or emails selling these services should indicate that a consumer has been singled out and is being pursued for a reason. Consumers can find more information about legitimate debt relief services available by visiting www.nfcc.org or www.aiccca.org.
Many scam artists target consumers who have recently paid off their debts or exited bankruptcy. Just as a consumer gets out of debt, these criminals are lurking around the next corner to take advantage of a fresh credit standing. The typical case involves an unsolicited phone call or email to the consumer, where the scammer poses as a bank or credit employee. They convince the consumer that there have been fraudulent charges to their account and need personal information in order to investigate the claim further.
This should immediately signal a problem. First, never trust an unsolicited contact without written and verified confirmation that they do, in fact, represent the bank or credit company. Second, never give personal information over the phone or email, a true representative should already have access to this information.