Despite significant economic improvement in 2021, consumer debt in the U.S. has once again hit an all-time high. By the first quarter of 2022 it climbed to $15.83 trillion – more than double what it was in 2003 and 20.9% higher than the total pre-pandemic.
In these uncertain times, relief through debt settlement is an essential service. Below are a few things you should know about the debt settlement industry and how it can positively affect the consumer as well as the economy.
Watchdogs of the Debt Settlement Industry
The industry is federally regulated under the watchful eye of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Likewise, the American Fair Credit Council (AFCC) is an alliance that creates standards and guidelines to improve compliance, transparency and consumer advocacy within the industry.
Together, these organizations help prevent disreputable companies from manipulating consumers and provide accredited members with important updates and information. Only reputable companies can be accredited by the AFCC. The FTC takes complaints against deb settlement companies seriously.
AFCC Code of Conduct Highlights
- No Upfront fees
- Fee Transparency
- Fair and Reasonable Fees
- Good Faith Communication
- Upfront Disclosure of Program Risks and Benefits
- Zero Compensation from Creditors
- No Exaggerated Claims
- Program Cost and Duration Estimates Based on Real Data
The Debt Settlement Industry Offers Significant Contributions to the Economy
n addition to being one of the most consumer-focused financial services available, the benefits of debt settlement positively impact the economy.
When people move beyond crippling debt, they can spend more of their hard-earned money in the local economy, supporting small businesses and investing in their communities.
Debt Settlement Helps People Who Are Struggling With Debt Avoid Bankruptcy
Debt Settlement is one of the few reliable alternatives to bankruptcy. Many who qualify for settlement programs are ineligible for other forms of debt relief like debt consolidation loans. Keeping the option legal and accessible helps consumers who feel they have nowhere else to turn and puts them on a path to recovery.
Creditors Who Work With Debt Settlement Companies Benefit From the Program Too
Creditors participating in settlement programs in 2019 received more than $658 million in revenue that might otherwise have been delayed or not received at all. Although debt settlement companies and creditors are not necessarily allies, they are not adversaries.
Debt settlement companies have strong, good-faith relationships with creditors that allow them to negotiate fair settlements that are a win for both the consumer and the creditor.