Watchdog agency warns of debt settlement scams

The Better Business Bureau released new warnings this week that advise consumers to remain wary of debt settlement scams, despite recent prosecutions and legislation.

Debt settlement businesses have increased 30 percent in the last year, and many of their revenue platforms are based on charging high upfront fees and offering no results.

“None of these are new, but they’re persistent,” Gary Almond, president of the BBB’s California office in Sacramento, told The Sacramento Bee. “Every time the economy wanes, job scams, advance-fee loans and debt settlement scams become even more common.”

Debt settlement came in second on the agency’s Top 10 most-reported consumer scams list, which is based on complaints it receives from consumers in the U.S. and Canada, the news source says. Job hunting scams were more common due to the high unemployment numbers in recent months.

Consumers who are looking for debt relief should avoid debt settlement as an option because many of these companies continue to operate outside the boundaries of the law.