Many Americans are struggling with out of control credit card debt. As a result, several debt relief options have been introduced to the market including debt consolidation, debt settlement, and credit counseling. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently passed provisions regulating the credit card debt relief industry, mainly targeting for-profit debt settlement companies. Many of these companies promised they could help consumers “cut credit card debt in half”. The problem was, however, that there was no guarantee for consumers, many of which had to pay large upfront fees to the debt settlement companies. Too many of these companies, instead of leaving consumers better off, push them deeper into debt, even bankruptcy.
The Credit Card Debt Relief Act 2010 prevents settlement companies from charging heavy fees even before the completion of the deal. This legislation is intended to provide significant protection for consumers who enter into a debt relief program and stop deceptive and abusive practices by debt relief providers that have targeted consumers in financial distress.
The purpose of the Act is to give consumers with over $10,000 in unsecured debt, who are facing financial hardship, a real and legitimate option for achieving debt relief. Since creditors and card issuers receive nothing in a bankruptcy filing, they are eager to work with genuine debt settlement companies to collect at least some of their money back.
Other provisions of the Act require settlement companies to specify to the defaulter exactly how long the total process will take and also the cost in such a circumstance. Moreover, the borrower can, at any point in time, choose not to continue with the program and in such a case, all his or her funds have to be refunded. The FTC debt settlement provisions also make it mandatory for the companies to inform the concerned customer about the negative effects, if any, of going for such a program.
Will these new regulations put legitimate debt management companies out of business along with the abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt companies? It’s very possible that this Act will have a detrimental effect on consumers, leaving many of them to resort to bankruptcy instead of debt management. Although the intention of the FTC is to protect consumers, it’s yet to be seen if the Credit Card Debt Relief Act will achieve the Commission’s desired result.
DMCC is a 501 (c)3 nonprofit organization committed to educating consumers on financial issues and providing personal assistance to consumers who have become overextended with debt. Education is provided free of charge to consumers, as well as personal counseling to identify the best options for the repayment of their debt. To speak to a certified credit counselor, call toll-free 866-618-3328 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.