The debt consolidation industry is filled with pitfalls for consumers. Many of these for-profit companies prey on those struggling with insurmountable debt. Debt consolidation refinances your debt and rolls multiple debts into a single, lower monthly payment. You can use either a personal loan or a credit card to consolidate the debt.
However, this option doesn’t come without risk. What you may not know is that some debt consolidation companies charge high interest rates to go along with the new monthly payment plans they set up for clients. It is important that consumers do their research through the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to make sure the debt consolidation company is not a scam, as many do exist.
Some of the biggest pitfalls in debt consolidation occur when a consumer falls prey to one of the many scams out there. The Internet is full of scam artists who pretend to be online lenders offering deals that are simply too good to be true to people who are struggling financially. Many of these individuals have been turned down for credit and loans in the past, so they may jump at the chance when someone offers them the opportunity of a reduction in debt. Debt consolidation is oftentimes a temporary fix to a bigger problem.
Before agreeing to any deal found online, the consumer needs to conduct a thorough background check on the company before going any further. If the company is asking for a large fee upfront or requires the person to make several months of payments before starting, these statements may raise some red flags that it is a scam. The Better Business Bureau is another good resource to see if the company has complaints filed against them.
Another mistake many consumers make is to apply for multiple loans at the same time in hopes that one will be approved. However, what they are not aware of is the fact that every loan application triggers a look into the person’s credit history. Every time a lender pulls someone’s credit history, this causes that person’s credit score to drop.
One helpful tip before making any decisions on a consolidation loan is to know where the consumer’s credit score stands before making any applications. That way the consumer can ask the lender what minimum credit score they require before applying.
Additionally, many consumers make the mistake of assuming that they do not need to keep making payments on their current credit cards while waiting for the debt consolidation process to finalize. Even if the consumer is approved for a balance transfer, he or she will still need to pay at least the minimum payments on the multiple credit cards since balance transfers can take a couple of weeks to process. Check the balance on each card even after the transfer goes through or loan payment is made to ensure that no balance is left on the card. If the card does still show a small balance, be sure to make payment by the due date to avoid a late fee and negative hit to your credit score.
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If you have questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.