Credit services

I’ve been seeing a bunch of ads for non-profit credit servies that contact your debtors and consolidate everything. The fact that they’re spending so much money on advertising makes me think that maybe it’s some kind of scam on some level or other. Anyone have any experience with them? MY girlfriend really needs help with her debt, but I’m not sure where to refer her…

There are probably a few scams out there, but most nonprofit credit-repair organizations are legitimate. They are closely regulated under federal law by the Consumer Credit Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. ch. 41, subch. II-A. They are often funded by a consortium of large creditors who are interested in working with consumers who are interested in paying off their debts, but can’t meet all their obligations; the creditors and consumers generally both get a better deal when the consumer sets up a consolidated repayment plan through the credit-counseling service, in which case the consumer protects his or her credit and the creditor gets half a loaf, than when the consumer files for bankruptcy protection or simply stops paying, in which case the consumer ruins his or her credit and the creditor gets little or nothing.

The industry leader is the National Foundation for Consumer Credit, a highly reputable nonprofit organization:

You should still be careful, even if they claim to be nonprofit; scammers are not above claiming that they are offering services on a nonprofit basis. Also check out sites like (check out the ‘rogues’ and ‘good guys’ sections).

You’ve got money and people with poor credit histories, so you’re right to be wary, but the basic idea is legit.

My father is a bankruptcy agent. Sometimes his clients don’t need or qualify for bankrupty protection. Usually, the people he sees have multiple credit cards, all with balances on them. (I have one credit card, and if I ever have a balance on it… but anyhow) What you’re asking about is sometimes what suits them best. Essentially, you apply for a loan, the lending agency pays your creditors, and you pay the lending agency at a (presumably) lower rate of interest, with perhaps lower monthly payments.

Both the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy and this other legit looking place [LINK REDACTED] list alternatives to bankruptcy [LINK REDACTED]. (Links are for Canada; you didn’t say, so I’m assuming U.S., but the same applies for just about every 1st world nation).
The one you’re looking at is this:

I suggest you also look into some credit counseling agencies before you decide on Debt consolidation [LINK REDACTED] (Again, check with a gov’t agency on who’s legit, or ask to speak to someone at a reputable bank). These are the best links I find on the subject, but please don’t think I’m recommending them over anything else. (Dammit Jim, I’m a programmer, not an accountant!) I don’t know how difficult this would be to get; sometimes this type of loan comes as a type of mortgage, as if you find yourself in need of this service, your credit rating is likely low, and thus you can’t get an unsecured loan - ironic.

Best of luck!