Educational Consumer Tips
Better Business Bureau
Companies or organizations offering debt consolidation services do not lend debtors money to pay off their bills. They may, however, offer to total all the money you owe and try to make arrangements with your creditors to pay them what they are owed in manageable monthly installments. Any company who tells you to stop communicating with or paying your creditors a red flag. These companies cannot obtain the removal of accurate, adverse information on your credit history from credit reporting agency reports.
A variety of providers offer credit counseling services. Costs and services vary widely among them. The costs of the services may range from nothing, or very little, to several hundred dollars in up-front fees plus a monthly membership or service charge based on a percentage of your total debt.
Debt consolidation services may have arrangements with local retailers and financial institutions, such as banks or loan companies, to help set up debtors' repayment plans. Before signing up with a debt consolidation service, ask your major creditors if they have--or are willing to make--these arrangements with the service you are considering. If there are no prior arrangements, or your creditors are not willing to make them, you may have a hard time structuring a helpful repayment plan and be better suited proceeding on your own behalf. There is little that companies offering these services are able to accomplish which cannot be accomplished yourself.