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Know you need a serious debt relief strategy but unsure how to go about engaging the right company to settle your debts? You’re not alone. Debt relief is a confusing topic, partially because it’s an umbrella term that can mean many things, but also because no two financial situations are the same, and few debt relief outcomes will play out identically.

Then there’s the whole scam stigma associated with debt relief, which undoubtedly has teeth, but is far from the whole truth.

If you need answers to all this and more, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll look at five key things to look for when seeking debt relief.

Sincere Customer Service/Transparent Advice

Just as you wouldn’t want a mechanic telling you to overhaul your car’s cooling system when it works just fine, you wouldn’t want a company selling you on a debt relief strategy that won’t help you. Any debt relief company you speak with should put your situation and needs first, educating you on your options and discussing every strategy in specific detail without trying to persuade you one way or another.

Track Record in Business

If a company hasn’t been in business very long, how can you trust their expertise and experience? With something as nuanced and varying as debt relief, the fewer years in business ultimately means fewer debtor situations encountered and creditor negotiations had. Due to the nature of debt relief, it’s unrealistic to expect any debt relief company to have completely positive reviews, but they ideally have at least a decade in business and the reviews to match. For an example, take a look at the 12,000-plus Freedom Debt Relief reviews on Consumer Affairs, which lists the company as having helped over 400,000 clients since 2002.

Affordable Fees

Whether you opt for debt management, debt consolidation or debt settlement, you’ll pay fees of some sort. While management and consolidation typically involve flat-rate monthly fees, debt settlement will include a percentage fee based on the original debt amount that was settled. This number is usually 20–25 percent but can range as high as 30 percent and beyond. This number should play a big role in the company you choose, because you need to keep in mind that the IRS taxes forgiven debt. The last thing you want is to hurt your credit without even saving money.


Accreditation means the company you’re working with has met strict qualifications and training to perform their services. In debt relief, the top accreditation to look for is approval from the American Fair Credit Council (AFCC) and the International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators (IAPDA). If you’re talking to a company that isn’t accredited by these two organizations, be assertive in asking them why. Regardless of their answer, you might want to resume searching for companies that have these stamps of approval.

Positive Reviews

The advent of the internet has made all companies’ services hinge on the quality of their reviews, and debt relief is no different. Consumer Affairs, as noted above, is solid place to read customer experiences. It’s also worthwhile to simply search a company name along with “reviews” or “experiences” to get a full breakdown of a company’s online reputation.

Undergoing a thorough research process probably isn’t what you had in mind when determining to get yourself out of debt, but it is essential in finding a company that can help get back on a road to financial safety. While your criteria should include more than these five things, it’s hard to go wrong with a company that’s been in business, focuses on helping debtors through education, is accredited, offers affordable fees and is positively reviewed.

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