Debt Management Group
Debt management groups : independent reviews
Hacking your way through the forest of debt management groups can be a tedious and frustrating process. The whole debt management industry has a bad reputation thanks to a number of unscrupulous companies that have ripped off customers and left them even worse off than before.
Finding independent reviews of debt management companies is the only way you can be sure that the company you have chosen is legitimate, reputable and going to assist you with your financial problems. Our page on online debt management help gives lots of tips on managing your money but if you want information on the legitimacy and track record of a debt management group the organizations below can help you.
Federal Trade Commission
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulates the debt collection industry and offers advice on dealing with credit and debt problems. The FTC investigates and takes action against companies that use deceptive practices or fraudulently strip consumers of their money. Their website (click here) contains information on current and past commission actions so you can check if the debt management company you are considering has had any actions taken against them The site also contains copies of rules and acts relevant to credit and debt, offers a complaints procedure, and reports on consumer fraud.
Better Business Bureau (BBB)
The Better Business Bureau was founded in 1912 and works across the United States to resolve marketplace problems and encourage better business practice. A network of local offices can also help consumers. The BBL website (click here) allows consumers to file complaints against debt management groups and helps resolves outstanding issues. The site also offers access to independent reports on businesses so you can search for an independent review of debt management groups and read any complaints made about them.
Council on Accreditation (COA)
The Council on Accreditation aims to improve service standards in debt management groups by developing and promoting accreditation standards for all counselors and groups. You can check if an organization is accredited by COA on their website (click here) or file a complaint about any organization with accreditation. The COA evaluates debt management groups against best-practice standards developed from input from financial experts, policy makers, funders and consumers, and regularly assesses their working practice against these standards.
This is not a definitive list of where you can find independent information about debt management groups. Always check an a potential credit counseling agency with the state attorney general's office to ensure there are no legal proceedings pending against them. Ask your bank or credit union for a recommendation, speak to the welfare officer at your housing authority, or look for a local consumer protection agency that may be able to give advice.