Managing massive credit card debt

I often see TV ads (and have received automated phone calls) offering ways to manage or consolidate credit card debt at interest rates lower than the credit card companies charge.

Is this a scam, or a “Polish blanket trick” (making your blanket longer by cutting material off one end and sewing it on the other), or can it really be beneficial?

If the latter, which companies/programs are the best to choose, and which are to be avoided at all costs? is a great and well written series of articles and suggestions.

I have heard good things about which is a debt consolidation service. You can always go to the and do a search for reputable firms as well.

I used to work for the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (five years ago, mind) in Leeds (UK) which is originally an American charity. From what I could make out it is the only decent ethical firm which consolidates debts, funded, oddly enough, by the creditors themselves, plus the interest they earn briefly keeping clients’ cash before the negotiated reduced payments are made to the often numerous unsecured debts.

A lot, if not all, of the other debt consolidation firms either charge the debtor to negotiate reduced payments on their behalf (which the debtor could frankly do by themselves, simply by furnishing their creditors with a financial statement outlining their hardship) or worse, convert debtors’ unsecured debts into one huge one secured against their house, leaving them ripe for repossession.

Many unscrupulous companies are willing to cash in on people’s shaky money management, ultimately leaving the debtor in a worse position.

My husband and I used one funded through the United Way that helped us completely eliminate credit card debt. They negotiated with the creditors and we made a lump sum payment to them each month, which they disbursed to the creditors. One of the rules is that you cannot apply for new credit and must destroy all credit cards while in the program. It was great for us.

There’s an entire class of these companies that annoy the hell out of me.

“Consolidate all your debts into one manageable monthly payment. In fact whilst you’re at it, get some extra for a car or a holiday!”

Yeah, that’s how to deal with excess debt, add to it…

We used Momentive, which used to be Consumer Credit Counseling. They changed their name because too many for-profit companies had names very close to theirs. Momentive is a not-for-profit agency that worked exactly as SCL described above. However, we did buy a house while we were in re-payment. We’ve only got two months left to make payments! Whee!!

While I’m sure the UK branch you were working with was above-board, in recent years the US version of CCCS and its licensees have come under serious fire for tax fraud…

I didn’t know that, nor about the name change. My only criticism of the set-up was that CCCS, bank-rolled largely by Barclays, could be seen as simply the ‘good cop’ to the debt collectors’ ‘bad cop’.