When your finances start to spiral out of control, it can leave you feeling desperate. Some for-profit companies may prey on that desperation in an attempt to get you to sign on and utilize their services. Unfortunately, though, many debt settlement companies operate in an unethical manner, and they may be more about building their profits than helping you dig your way out of debt.

Just how does the debt settlement process work? In most cases, a debt settlement agency will tell you that it will negotiate with your creditors so that you have to pay only a small fraction of what you owe. There are numerous problems that can arise when you agree to work with a debt settlement agency, though, so it may serve you well to think twice before signing on with one. Also, you would be smart to be extremely wary of any company that makes what could potentially be false promises about eliminating or greatly reducing your debts. Why? In most cases, your creditors have no obligations to go along with any settlement terms such a company proposes. So, how can you identify a potential debt settlement scam so you can steer clear of it?

Possible indications of debt settlement scams

First and foremost, be wary of any debt settlement company that attempts to charge you money upfront. Also, question any company that makes you any guarantees or promises about eliminating your debts for a certain amount or stopping all creditors from contacting you, entirely.

Think twice, too, before agreeing to work with a company that instructs you to stop all communications with your creditors, and particularly if the company does so without warning you about the possible trouble this could cause for you. If a debt settlement company tells you it can help you get out of debt using a new government program, know that this, too, could be a sign of a scam.

Before agreeing to work with a company that says it can help settle your debts, do your research. Find out if the company has complaints filed against it, and if so, find out exactly what those complaints allege before agreeing to do business.