Debt Settlement

Learn who is eligible and when it’s the best option for dealing with your debt.

How to Avoid Debt Settlement & Debt Relief Company Scams | Canada

By Jordan Evans 

Q: I keep getting telephone messages from a company that says I can get a 3 month break from paying my credit cards. They also say that I can settle my debts with my creditors and get out of debt sooner. It sounds great, but why would my creditors go along with this?

A: When something sounds too good to be true, it often is. We have been getting increasing numbers of complaints from consumers who entered into an agreement with different debt settlement companies only to find out that most of the money they paid to these companies went to pay fees. Worse yet, the people were now months behind on their payments and in many cases their creditors are taking action against them.

3 Ways to Spot a Debt Settlement or Debt Relief Scam

There are 3 things to be wary of if you are considering using the services of a debt settlement company:

  1. They require you to pay most of their fees up front before any of your money is used to settle your debts.
  2. They make unrealistic promises without any understanding of your financial situation. The truth is they have little if any influence with creditors.
  3. They tell you to stop talking with your creditors.
Confused woman listens to a credit counsellor

Pay Attention to the Details of Your Debt Settlement or Membership Agreement

Make sure you read and review the agreements from these companies carefully and pay close attention to the breakdown of the payment schedule. Are the majority of your payments applied to their fees first, before accumulating funds to settle your debts? Reputable credit counselling companies don’t require you to pay their fees up front before delivering any tangible service.

As the saying goes, “there is no free lunch;” everything comes at a price. If you stop making payments on your credit cards, it will negatively impact your credit rating…for years. It could also cause your creditors to initiate collection or legal action against you. That’s a heavy price to pay for a 3 month break from making your payments.

How to Choose a Good Debt Relief Agency

If you want your creditors to work with you when you are experiencing financial problems, you need to keep the lines of communication open. Refusing to speak with your creditors will not help you to gain their understanding or cooperation.

My advice here is the same I would give you when choosing any service; do your homework and check this company out thoroughly before signing anything. Also listen to your inner voice, it’s usually right and knows when to walk away. I suspect that after doing your homework your inner voice will be telling you to run not walk away.

See if debt settlement makes sense for you.

Speak with a non-profit credit counsellor.

Debt settlements are just one of 7 debt relief options available in Canada (5 are available in all provinces). Before deciding to pursue a specific option, it would be wise to speak with a credit counsellor, review your situation, and determine which option is going to help you achieve your financial goals. Speaking with our counsellors is always free and confidential.

Related Articles

Debt Settlements

Settling your debts for less than you owe is not a common way to deal with debt. Here’s why.

Debt Settlement Dangers

Working with a for-profit debt settlement company can cost you. Here’s what to watch out for.

Risks & Consequences

Be aware of what’s at stake when you settle your debts with a for-profit company.



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