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Debt settlement

For anyone who is overwhelmed by debt and possibly considering bankruptcy, getting advice about how to deal with debt may be a good idea. Credit counseling and debt management organizations may be able to assist individuals looking for a way out of their financial problems. However, you need to beware of scams and dubious "credit repair" schemes that also exist in growing numbers. Below are links to helpful resources for help in finding legitimate credit counseling services, as well as how to avoid scams and expensive mistakes. Choose a link from the list to get started.

Debt Negotiation Programs

Debt negotiation programs (DNPs) are the last resort for those struggling to manage their debt. These programs should not be confused with credit counseling or debt management plans (DMPs). Although some DNPs are legitimate and may provide significant benefits to some debtors, many DNPs can cause more trouble than they are worth and result in long term harm to the debtor's credit rating. DNPs may refer to themselves as "debt settlement companies" and make grand claims about their ability to reduce debts significantly. These companies often charge steep fees for this service as well as a final bill based on the percentage of debt purportedly eliminated.

Since creditors often refuse to settle debts until they are several months overdue the result can be significant harm to the debtor's credit as well as the possibility of lawsuits, liens, and wage garnishment as well as late fees, higher interest rates, and collections attempts. The amount of debt saved in these negotiations may also be considered taxable income by the IRS. Some common red flags that should indicate that a DNP should be avoided include:

·         Guarantees that all unsecured debt can be eliminated;

·         Promises that unsecured debts can be paid off at a fraction of the actual debt;

·         Claims that a DNP can save the debtor from filing for bankruptcy;

·         High monthly fees;

·         Fees for a percentage of supposed debt savings;

·         Requests that you cease communication with and payment to creditors;

·         Claims that creditors rarely sue debtors for payment stoppage;

·         Promises that your credit rating won't be negatively impacted;

·         Claims that negative information can be removed from your credit report.

Avoiding Credit Repair and Credit Counseling Scams

Over a million Americans file for bankruptcy every year and the average household debt is at an all-time high. It should come as no surprise that companies have appeared that play on the concerns of the many consumers concerned about their debt and credit score. "Credit counselors" and "credit repair companies" have proliferated. Many of these organizations conduct business in an unscrupulous manner that takes advantage of unsuspecting consumers. The following are some red flags to look out for so you don't get taken by these shady operators.

Credit Repair Scams

·         Fees before services are provided;

·         No information provided about consumer legal rights or actions they can take themselves for free;

·         Recommendations that the consumer NOT contact a credit bureau directly;

·         Suggestions a consumer get a "new" credit report by applying for an Employer Identification Number to use instead of their Social Security Number;

·         Advice that the consumer dispute all the information on their credit report or otherwise engage in fraud.

Credit Counseling Scams

·         Promises that sound too good to be true;

·         Complaints filed against the business with state consumer agencies or the local Better Business Bureau;

·         Generally speaking for-profit credit businesses are more suspicious than nonprofit credit businesses;

·         High fees and monthly service charges;

·         Unclear contract terms.

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Chad Thomas Van Horn
Chad Thomas Van Horn
170

330 North Andrews Ave. Suite 450 (4th Floor), Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301

Bar #64500(FL)     License for 2009 years

Practice Areas: Business | Chapter 7 bankruptcy | Debt settlement
Alex McClure
Alex McClure
127

255 Primera Boulevard Suite 160, Lake Mary, FL 32746

Bar #46366(FL)     License for 2007 years Member in Good Standing

Practice Areas: Bankruptcy and debt | Consumer protection | Contracts and agreements | Debt collection | Debt settlement | Litigation
Christopher James Jacobs
Christopher James Jacobs
126

601 21st Street Suite 300, Vero Beach, FL 32960

Bar #488852(FL)     License for 2001 years Member in Good Standing

Practice Areas: Bankruptcy and debt | Chapter 13 bankruptcy | Chapter 7 bankruptcy | Criminal defense | Debt settlement
Stephen Jeffrey Berlinsky
Stephen Jeffrey Berlinsky
92

501 Avenue S, NW, Winter Haven, FL 33881

Bar #117421(FL)     License for 1969 years Member in Good Standing

Practice Areas: Bankruptcy and debt | Chapter 13 bankruptcy | Chapter 7 bankruptcy | Debt collection | Debt settlement | Foreclosure | Real estate
Stephen Jeffrey Berlinsky
Stephen Jeffrey Berlinsky
92

501 Avenue S, NW, Winter Haven, FL 33881

License for 1970 years Member in Good Standing

Practice Areas: Bankruptcy and debt | Chapter 13 bankruptcy | Chapter 7 bankruptcy | Debt collection | Debt settlement | Foreclosure | Real estate
James Salvatore Giardina
James Salvatore Giardina
76

The Consumer Rights Law Group, PLLC 3104 West Waters Avenue, Suite 200, Tampa, FL 336296817

Bar #942421(FL)     License for 2004 years Member in Good Standing

Practice Areas: Bankruptcy and debt | Credit card fraud | Debt collection | Debt settlement | Litigation
Emil Jonathan Fleysher
Emil Jonathan Fleysher
52

715 E. Hillsboro Blvd. Suite 100, Deerfield Beach, FL 33441

Bar #81966(FL)     License for 2010 years Member in Good Standing

Practice Areas: Bankruptcy and debt | Chapter 13 bankruptcy | Chapter 7 bankruptcy | Debt settlement | Foreclosure | Real estate
Ian Richard Leavengood
Ian Richard Leavengood
47

Northeast Professional Center 3900 1st St N #100, Saint Petersburg, FL 33703

Bar #10167(FL)     License for 2005 years Member in Good Standing

Practice Areas: Bankruptcy and debt | Chapter 13 bankruptcy | Chapter 7 bankruptcy | Class action | Consumer protection | Credit repair | Debt settlement | Identity theft | Workers compensation
Gina Anitra Rosato
Gina Anitra Rosato
42

4124 W Linebaugh Ave, Tampa, FL 33624

Bar #182869(FL)     License for 1999 years Member in Good Standing

Practice Areas: Bankruptcy and debt | Brain injury | Chapter 7 bankruptcy | Debt settlement | Personal injury | Wrongful death
Ron S. Bilu
Ron S. Bilu
33

2760 W. Atlantic Blvd., Pompano Beach, FL 330695727

Bar #632651(FL)     License for 2003 years Member in Good Standing

Practice Areas: Bankruptcy and debt | Business | Class action | Commercial real estate | Contracts and agreements | Copyright application | Corporate and incorporation | Debt settlement | Estate planning | Foreclosure | Immigration | Insurance | Litigation | Mediation | Partnership | Personal injury | Power of attorney | Real estate | Residential real estate | State | local | and municipal law
Lisa Torelli McCue
Lisa Torelli McCue
32

6245 N. Federal Hwy., Ste. 418, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308

Bar #59536(FL)     License for 1995 years

Practice Areas: Debt settlement | Personal injury
Macarena Francisca Santos
Macarena Francisca Santos
31

800 E Cypress Creek Rd. STE. 301, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33334

Bar #122248(FL)     License for 2016 years Member in Good Standing

Practice Areas: Asylum | Debt collection | Debt settlement | Foreclosure | Immigration

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