In Tough Times Don’t Fall for the Fix it Companies
Unfortunately, at a time when people are losing their homes to foreclosure and excessive debit they also have to pay the most attention to who they are dealing with for help. Anytime you have a market where panic has set in, it is easy to work people on their fears by making large promises. All too often, however, these promises are fake and only take you for your hard earned cash.
So what is can you look for? Start with the slogans (these are ones I have heard and seen in my local papers):
- “We can reduce your debt to pennies on the dollar”
- “I paid off my house in five years”
- “We know the tricks to get your credit cards to reduce your debt by 50%”
- “Pay no tax and have the government pay you”
- “Refinance for 4% on a 30 year fixed”
All these statements set off red flags because they offer things that to good to be true. Maybe someone did pay off their house in five years, but how much did they owe? Sometimes credit card companies will negotiate your debit down, but it does come at a cost. Pay no tax? Good luck with that.
If you hear something that sounds appealing that you just have to call, do a few things first. Research on the internet some of the details of people in you same situation. 100’s of sites offer discussions, reviews, and advice to ways you can deal with your problem. Secondly, research the company you plan to call from the advertising. Check for reviews, go to the website and read the fine print, check with BBB, and ask around. In many instances you will find negative information that leads you to the right decision.
Ok, so now you have found nothing and choose to do business with a company. At a minimum follow these steps:
- Are there any upfront fees?
This is usually a red flag if a company is offering you things that seem to good to be true.
- Read everything.
Before signing anything, read the fine print and if you do not understand one thing take it home and ask someone else to review the information. Remember, people got in to trouble with home loans even with the all the rules and regulations regarding truth in lending documents. Many of these companies are not bound to such laws and can easily hide unrealistic terms.
- What are the policies on refunds, obligation of the provider, and performance warranties?
Make sure you have protection through some kind of refund process, performance obligation, or any other documentation that the company can and will do the things they say. Most importantly, it must be in writing. Many companies say yes to your concerns, but a verbal contract holds no weight when you take the company to court for stealing your money.
- Ask for references of people you can contact.
They should be able to refer you to people that have had success with their company. However, be cautious, they can set these up so don’t believe everything you hear. It would be best if you can find people that have used the company outside of their reference. Sometimes you can ask people sitting in the lobby or find reviews on the internet.
- A second opinion does not hurt.
Before you sign anything the commits you to obligations of payments, make sure to check with a few companies. It is best to check with known reputable companies to see what they say and bring up any red flags to the person you are working with to see how they answer the question.
- Lastly, don’t expect a miracle
Yes, there are cases that do live up to some of the claims, but they are unique and often very few. Remember many of these firms are feeding on your situation and have no real inside secret to dealing with your problem, they just make it look official and package it with paperwork. Many of the techniques they use can be done on your own with some research and time.