Being aware of scams while paying your credit card debt

Credit card debt may be taking over your savings.

But experts said before you turn to a debt relief program to help you pay it off, watch out for scammers.

The Federal Trade Commission said there are plenty of offers that may sound like a perfect solution, but not all of them are legitimate.

“If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” Gregory Ashe, senior staff attorney in the Federal Trade Commission’s division of financial practices, told WTOP.

He said dishonest debt relief companies are out there looking for ways to take your money.

Know the red flags

“If they’re trying to collect a fee in advance, just hang up the phone. If they’re making guarantees of how they’re going to lower your interest rate or wipe out your debt without knowing anything about you, that’s probably a scam,” Ashe said.

He said never share financial or personal information with someone who calls out of the blue claiming to be from a new government program and tries to enroll you.

“People are out there drowning in debt. So, they hear these promises and their defenses are down,” Ashe said. “Most consumers, they want to pay off their debts. And so, when they hear these offers of quick fixes, you get desperate sometimes.”

He added there are alternatives to avoid being a victim of debt relief scams.

“First, reach out to the creditor, explain your situation. See if there’s some sort of payment program you can get on. If the credit card company is not being very helpful, there are credit counseling programs,” Ashe said.

He said if that doesn’t work, you can always set up a budget to cut your spending.

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Sandra Jones

Sandra Jones is an Anchor/Reporter for WTOP. She’s been in the news industry for more than two decades.

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