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Settling your debts

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You might have seen ads for companies that say they can reduce your debt – sometimes for cents on the dollar. All you have to do is pay them. But these offers are not always what they seem.

Watch this video to see the story of Ms. Dorothy Council, an active 84-year-old from Philadelphia, and her experience with a debt settlement company. (And the legal services attorney who helped her sort it all out.)


Before you jump into any kind of debt reduction program, do some homework first. It’s a good idea to find a reputable credit counselor to talk over your options – and know that debt relief companies can’t charge you before they actually settle or reduce your debt. If they try to charge you, walk away – and then tell the FTC.


Hi, In the video on Ms. Council and the debt settlement company, the resolution does not seem all that fair. She's out $2,000, still owes the credit card company and the only resolution is that she does not have to pay the debt settlement company anymore even though they were ripping her off. How did that work out to her benefit? Why didn't legal services sue the debt settlement company for $2,000, then fix her credit score which must have been poor given the missed payments and then work out a payment plan with the credit card company?

Thanks for sharing this article!

I hope I am never in a situation like Ms. Council, but thank goodness she finally got some help. I know of family members taking advantage of their own grandparents. Thank you for writing this article to help our seniors, including me.

In 2012, I signed-up for one of these companies. A month later, my husband passed away. I cancelled the program but they never reimbursed me for the money I paid. Can I file a lawsuit against them?

You may want to contact the company and ask about a refund, or talk to someone in your state Attorney General's office about the business.

I had a 5 year plan to be out of debt, then my husband passed away. Now I am stuck and see no way out. I am disabled living on a fixed income. I dont know where to turn, cannot afford a lawyer, almost 20k is owed to the IRS as I fell for a scheme which I burned 85k from my pension money. Any suggestions, please help. My credit card debt is approx 30k

You could search on to programs that help people pay for housing, medicine, transportation and other needs. You could look for legal help on this site from the State Bar Associations or this Legal Aid website. Some people with lower incomes can get legal help for free or low cost.

Thank You

the best way to avoid these guys is to not go into debt. Go with out but don't go into debt period. Even if you can afford it, do not go into debt!

My aunt got caught up is a similar situation and nothing was getting paid and when she stopped sending the fake debt settling company the began harassing her regularly by telephone, snail mail, etc. I personally responded to them in writing stating I was having them investigated, guess what, she heard no more from them and I opened a checking account and had payments made via the banking institution and changed her home phone number.

Well, my opinion of this whole concept of companies who will help reduce debt is sort of pointless anyway, really. Excpet for maybe the percentage of those who are not in debt that is so over their heads, for example maybe someones debt has significantly decreased while working hard to pay off as much as they can.

Like in my case for example (and im one of the worst case spoiled, but not rich, but when i want something i want it now - it is an emergency !! so i end up in some debt kind of person.
I am learning, although beit the really hard way that credit is important and all the various reasons being in any debt sucks like interest and late charges and fees etc. to the point where it seems hopeless to even bother even trying to pay it off so let it be an excuse for why i didnt. 7 years went by and i missed them.

I'll be contacting you; I have a half dozen thefts from my account, I'd like to discuss with you. DB

We went to a Taco Bell in Florida, the boy at the counter was holding my debit card and walking around with it. I made him give it back but he had scanned my card with his phone credit card reader. He cost me 500 dollars.

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