Strictly speaking, you are taking out a form of a loan when you consolidate your debts. That means that when you look for a debt consolidation program, you still look for the characteristics that you would consider in a regular loan – terms, deadlines and interest rates, for example.
But given the sheer number of competing companies that offer different debt consolidation programs, you now have to consider characteristics that go way beyond the basics. Knowing and looking for these characteristics can make the difference between salvation from debt and sinking into even more debt.
Good Enough to Be False
Knowing about what to look for in a debt consolidation company isn’t just about comparing for the best rates anymore. It’s now a factor in protecting yourself from getting scammed of your hard-earned money.
Be wary when a company promises you free debt consolidation or a debt consolidation program without any fees. Those are either scam operations or quicksand loans; they suck you right up with all their preposterous hidden charges and fees. Don’t fall for a ‘free’ pitch because they’re rarely a real road to salvation from debt, if a road at all.
Other red flags are packages that have high rates, a short term, high upfront fees, high late fees and penalties when you pay too early. A combination of two or more of those characteristics (though one would suffice) is a clear signal that you probably shouldn’t get that package.
When an offer sounds too good to be true, an old saying says that it most probably is. This rings even more true in this case where you’re dealing with your own money and trying to solve a big problem. It’s pointless to try and get yourself out of a fix by getting yourself into another one because you took a risk with one such ‘free consolidation’ company.
Getting the Good
What would make a good debt consolidation company?
Credibility and a good history with customers should come as one of your top qualifiers. Try looking for a debt consolidation program from well-known banks and institutions. You can ask the institution itself for references or people from whom you could ask feedback. If the company is truly credible, it should be able to provide you the names of certain people you could ask about them. Of course, if location is a problem, internet searches and calls to consumer groups would also suffice.
Another thing that the company should be able to give is transparency and professionalism. That means they should give you all the costs and available options from the get-go. You can easily see this when you inquire and ask for a session with a professional. If they present you with a list of all mandatory and optional, that’s a good sign for the company. The professional or the staff should also be able to answer your questions regarding possible situations, such as if you are suddenly unable to pay regular fees.
The secret to getting a good debt consolidation program isn’t to just look for the program but to look for the right company as well. It’s them, after all, who will be handling all matters regarding your debt consolidation plan.
Zulika van Heerden provides valuable information on her site on how to live a debt free life. To read more tips and techniques like the ones in this article go to: http://www.globalproperty.co.za