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For the debtor who is already at the end of his rope and trying to figure out how to get out of debt, the last thing he needs to worry about is whether the debt counselor he has chosen to help him is going to make his problems worse. He needs to be assured that he is not making a mistake by choosing debt counseling over bankruptcy or working out a settlement with the creditors.
The first thing one should do to gain some certainty that the debt counselor they are planning to choose is reputable is to check with the Better Business Bureau. Of course, this isn’t a guarantee since they only have on file information from people who have filed complaints, so if it’s a new company or one who has had no complaints filed against it, you really aren’t going to know. Nonetheless, this is the best tool you have, and you should utilize it to the greatest degree possible.
Another way to find out the reputation of a debt counseling service is through word of mouth. If the company is reputable, they will not mind providing you with information about other clients. Of course you want to be sure that they are not giving out false or unsolicited information. If they are really reputable, they will likely have something on their application allowing them to release information to other potential clients.
If it’s a local company, perhaps you even know people who have utilized their services. If they are not willing to give you references you can check, then you’re much better off to move forward to someone who is willing to cooperate with you. In most, though not all, cases, refusal to provide references means there is something they are trying to hide, and this is not the kind of person with whom you want to do business.
The Internet is a wonderful place to search for information on various subjects, and if there is a company of questionable reputation, there is more than likely a forum that has been set up to complain about this company. Strange as it may seem, people on the Internet actually set up websites, forums, and groups on Yahoo and MSN to do nothing more than complain about companies they feel have treated them unfairly.
Utilize all the tools that are at your disposal, and if it’s a local company, be sure you check with all of the local agencies including the Attorney General’s Office who would know of any illegal activity that has been reported. If you have come this far, you do not have the funds to be taken for a ride, so you want to be very careful to whom you give your money. It’s not going to help your situation if the person you choose doesn’t do the job they promise to do, and you can’t even collect damages in court if they ultimately close down their operation.
Choose a company who has been in business long enough to have a record of clientele, and choose one you feel is looking out for your best interests and not just wanting to take your money. Choose a debt counselor as carefully as you would choose a babysitter for your newborn baby.