Affordable debt consolidation is just around the corner with Consumer Credit Counseling
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Discover what services a credit counselor may offer youHere is where you can find answers to frequently asked questions about consumer credit counseling

DEBTORS BEWARE! Credit Counseling Scams!

You're feeling up a creek without a paddle, the waves of debt crashing all around you, threatening to capsize your canoe. The last thing you need now is someone to rip you off of what little you have available to reach out for a lifeline. Well, welcome to the real world: there are wolves out there who would be happy to see you hand over your paddle too, your last means of rescue.

Unscrupulous and illegal scammers are out there, buying up web domains, setting up websites made to look legit, but mere fronts set up to separate you from your last resources. They know that those in a jam are the most likely to hope what seems too good to be true might just be their salvation. These fraudulent companies will promise quick - even instant - debt relief. But in truth, all they do is drain what you have left, pack up their virtual tent, and move on before you get the chance to find out what happen. Before you know it, you're left adrift wishing you at least still had that paddle.

But there are clues you can look for when seeking a consumer credit counselor. If you're careful and do your research, you can safely avoid scams and the scammers who perpetrate them. But as they say, knowledge is power. Take a look at these markers and make a mental note of them:

Christian in name only
Some stoop so low as to prey on the faith of Christians or on those who would assume that a religious connotation equates to a good heart and good intentions. There are legitimate Christian debt counseling centers. But don't let the use of Bible verses fool you. Be sure to ask for proof of their 501c3 non-profit credentials. And check around a little. Do some Internet research, and ask for references of happy customers.

Upfront payment required
The number one alarm that you are dealing with a bogus credit counseling service is if they ask you for money upfront. Legitimate credit counselors will allow you to meet with them, no obligation, to discuss your options first. And once they've assessed you situation, and made suggestions, then you can decide whether or not to proceed. Federal laws forbids up front payment to credit counselors. If they ask for this on the phone, hang up, and report them to your state's Attorney General's office. If they pull this in an office setting, politely get up and leave the premises. And again, report them and their company.

They'll erase your debt!
The only way to eliminate your debt completely is by bankruptcy, and even then certain debts cannot be dismissed, such as back taxes. In short, there is no legal way to get rid of your debt overnight. It isn't even possible legally to repair your credit score quickly. Both are time-consuming and they require negotiations with creditors as well as months of on-time payments, and so on. But scammers abound who will sell you special financial instruments - completely fraudulent - that they claim you can use like checks, or to help you change your identity, your name, your Social Security number, and so on. It is a violation of federal law to misrepresent any information to credit reporting agencies or to attempt to remove any legitimate debt through deception.

It's back to that adage: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Just sub in the word "legal" for the phrase "true." The last thing someone in dire financial straits needs is to be in legal hot water for having committed fraud at the behest of a scammer claiming to be a credit counselor. So, do your research. Check out the company and its claims. Enter their name into a search engine along with the words "consumer fraud complaint." And check with the Better Business Bureau.