Many people who find themselves in debt find their finances to be, at best, disorganized. Debt is unfortunately overwhelming for many people. It’s because it seems so insurmountable that many people choose just to ignore debt, rather than to pay it.
If this sounds like you, you may be interested in debt relief programs. There are many types of these programs, and they can help you organize your finances and improve your credit. The best debt relief programs won’t only help you pay down your debt, but may help to lower it, too.
Let’s look at how these work.
What are Debt Relief Programs?
Debt relief programs come in two flavors: programs which help you organize your debt and programs which help you lower the amount you owe. Both are extremely useful, but before you choose it’s important to know what, exactly, these companies will do.
Some debt relief programs are very simple. They may come in the form of a community college offering, during which a professional will sit down and look at your finances with you. The professional may advise you as to the best way to budget and take control of your money, as well as teach you valuable money management skills.
You can find these programs at government agencies, local universities and colleges, banks and even at accounting offices. Some are free, while others will charge you for the service.
The second type of debt relief program is more involved. The best debt relief programs will take a look at your finances, but also your credit report. Analyzing what’s what, they’ll work with you to develop a plan to pay down your debt. They’ll also contact your debtors; negotiating settlements can actually lower the amount of debt you owe.
There’s no one size fits all debt relief program. Choosing a program will depend on your personal situation as well as the types of debt you owe. That said, a good debt relief program can relieve you of a lot of worry, and eliminate much financial stress.
Choosing a Debt Relief Program
The first thing we need to remind you is this: don’t give any debt relief program your money until you’ve properly checked them out. There are many scam artists out there who’d take your money and never do a thing to help your credit or your budget.
There are a few places you can go to check out debt relief programs to ensure they’re legitimate. First, look at the company’s Better Business Bureau rating. Many times, consumers will contact the BBB with complaints – that’s normal, but take a look at how those complaints are resolved. And remember, just because a business isn’t BBB Accredited doesn’t mean they’re not legit.
Secondly, check with your state’s Attorney General’s office. The Attorney General’s office handles complaints about scams, identity theft and other financial crimes. Most states will allow you to look up a business by name just by going online.
Finally, check consumer reviews on the web! While they’re not always completely reliable, you can tell a lot about a company just by checking customer reviews. In particular, look for the 3 star reviews and the 1 star reviews. These are usually the most telling.
To help you out, we’ve looked at consumer reports of the best debt relief programs available, and compiled them here for you.
The Best Debt Relief Programs
Please note that the debt relief program you choose is entirely up to you. Your financial circumstances will play a large part in that decision. For instance, a bankruptcy may cause you to seek legal guidance instead of a debt relief program.
With that in mind, here are the best debt relief programs according to consumers.
Guardian Debt Relief
Based in New York, Guardian Debt Relief is a comprehensive service. That means they’ll evaluate your credit and your debt, then work with you to find a solution tailored to your specific needs. Guardian will help you to plan your budget, and will also negotiate with your debtors.
Debt consolidation options may be recommended by Guardian Debt Relief, but the company specializes in debt negotiations. In other words, their first line of defense is to actually settle your debt, reducing the amount that you owe.
Guardian offers a free phone consultation. Only unsecured debt qualifies for the program – your home or auto payment will not qualify but your credit cards, medical bills and other types of unsecured debt are eligible.
Note that the negotiation doesn’t occur until after you’ve completed their savings plan. As with any debt relief program, there are no guarantees.
National Debt Relief
Like Guardian Debt Relief, National Debt Relief focuses on reducing the amount of your debt before you’re obligated to pay it. National Debt Relief is a Better Business Bureau Accredited company with a rating of A+. They, too are based in New York City, and while they’ve had a few complaints, most reviews of this company say it’s one of the best debt relief programs out there.
National Debt Relief works as a sort of savings account. The company will help you organize your finances, then assist you in allocating funds which you pay directly to the creditors. While your savings is accumulating, National Debt Relief will work to negotiate settlements on your debt.
As always, be sure to speak with a representative before you sign up for the program to ensure the product is the best debt relief program for you.
Pacific Debt is a debt consolidation program based in San Diego, California. The service is available in most of the United States; check with the website to make sure your state is included.
Unlike the previously mentioned debt relief programs, Pacific Debt will help to consolidate your bills into one monthly installment plan. Customers who have used this program say what they love most is that there’s no credit check.
Many debt consolidation programs require that your credit score be in the 700s or so. If that were the case, you likely wouldn’t be in debt! There’s no minimum credit score required with Pacific Debt. And while the interest might be slightly higher than some other lenders’, the consolidation makes it easy to pay off all your debt, with just one bill.