Some people might tell you it is easy to get out of debt; stop spending money and live within your means. That may be true for some people, but today’s economy has more people in debt than the US than ever before, and getting out of debt is not as simple as living within your means and stop spending money.
There are hundreds of companies who claim they will get you out of debt, and many of them are very reputable companies who help consolidate your debt, create a budget for you and charge you a reasonable fee for their service. There are even some companies like this that are non-profit, so there is no fee at all.
For some people using a debt consolidation company is their best option. It all depends on how much debt you have, what the debt is for, and if you really can’t figure it out on your own or need someone to make the plan for you. If you choose to use a debt consolidation company, do your due diligence about the company. As I said, there are many of these companies that are reputable and do a good job, but there are also as many that are basically a scam and will leave you in worse shape than before they got involved.
So how do you figure out who is reputable and who isn’t? Well, if you know anyone who has used a debt consolidation company, you can always ask for a recommendation. You can still let your fingers do the walking, although nowadays, it is likely to be in the form of typing into a search engine as opposed to looking in a phone book. Look at the websites of several companies and don’t forget to read the fine print. Then take the companies you think are the most promising, and go to the Better Business Bureau website and check them out. You can see how many complaints they have had, had the BBB has them rated, often there is also a comments section, so you can see what other people have said about them.
After you have done that, and maybe narrowed down your choices some, type the company name into your search engine. You should get not just that company’s website, but typically, you will also get hits from message boards or other types of sites where the company is discussed, so you can read those comments as well.
Two important things to remember when reading comments about these companies. First, many companies (especially the really bad ones) pay people to write positive comments and reviews. Typically, you will see screen names that are really similar following each other and for some reason, the reviews often have many misspelled words and grammatical errors. The other thing to watch out for is the really bad comments. Some people are never happy with anything and love writing nasty reviews. The truth about a company usually lies somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. Your best case scenario is being able to sort the comments from bad to good or vice versa, as well as the site listing how many comments there are in each section.
When you look at those counts see where most of the comments fall and how many comments there are in total. If most of them are one star (a typical rating system), and the company has a lot of reviews (more than a couple dozen) personally, I would dismiss that company right away. If there are NO bad comments at all, and mostly 5 star, I’m going to read those top comments very carefully and see how many comments there are in the two, three and four star sections.
The best comments will list both good and bad aspects the customer had. I have found through experience these are the most honest because people are listing the positives as well as the negatives. These types of comments give you the most well rounded opinion of the company.
Finally, you have to call your “finalists” (say your top three choices) and talk to them. You want to find a debt consolidation company that you can work with, so you have to “click” with them. If you are talking to one of their representatives and you just don’t feel right about them, follow your gut instincts and move on to the next company. Choose the company with the most reasonable comments, a good rating with the Better Business Bureau and people who make you comfortable when you talk to them, as opposed to people who are trying to sell their product so desperately, you feel like you are being pushed into working with them.
All of this takes time and energy, but if you are going to do something, it is worth doing right, and when it comes to getting out of debt, you certainly want to work with the right company.