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Once again, a harsh light descends on debt-settlement companies

The attorney general of one state calls it "the latest scam on the largest group of people who are struggling with the most debt."

What she is referring to is student-loan indebtedness, which has reportedly strapped consumers across the country with well more than $1 trillion in outstanding loans.

Proven bankruptcy attorneys know well from tenured experience about the scam alluded to above and the central role that is played in it -- and in many other efforts targeting hard-pressed debtors -- by debt-settlement companies.

Such entities operate in large numbers throughout the country, including in Florida. For many years, they have aggressively hyped claims of 100-percent relief for consumers who are staggering under weighty mortgage obligations, credit card bills and other repayment duties.

As is indicated through much litigation against these companies and a notably high level of consumer complaints, the promises of relief frequently don’t pan out. In fact, reliance upon actors in the debt-settlement industry often leaves debtors frustrated and even further in hock to both original creditors and to the very companies that pledged to help them.

That such companies are now sometimes touting promises of complete relief from student loan repayment duties is particularly troublesome, since student loan forgiveness is a relative rarity in the realm of unsecured debt.

Many people who face crushing debt levels seek foremost an honest appraisal of their debt and what can conceivably be done about it to help them regain a firm financial footing. Such analysis includes a candid discussion of their assets and liabilities, as well as the types of debt they owe, followed by a suggested course of action that truly promotes their best interests.

That type of work is what is engaged in daily by an experienced bankruptcy attorney, who is specially trained to help persons with financial problems, fully credentialed to do so, and with a fiduciary duty to put their interests first.

The same cannot be said of the troubled debt-settlement industry.

Source: The New York Times, “Companies that offer help with student loans are often predatory, officials say,” Rachel Abrams and Jessica Silver-Greenberg, July 13, 2014

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