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What Is Debt Consolidation?

"Drowning in debt? Give us a call today and we'll get those creditors off your back for good!"

We've all heard the claims from debt-consolidation companies. The catchy television and radio commercials - promising to remove debt and make the endless phone calls from creditors stop - can be enticing for those who truly are drowning in debt. Desperate people can and do fall for these pitches every day, and end up with worse financial troubles than those with which they started.

The Better Business Bureau warns consumers against debt consolidation companies which make the following claims:

For every bogus debt consolidation company out there, a legitimate service exists that truly can help consumers who are overwhelmed with debt. But how do consumers tell the difference between a valid company and one that is just out to scam them?

To answer that question, a consumer must first understand what debt consolidation is and what it is not.

The way true debt consolidation is supposed to work is to take multiple sources of debt - such as from credit cards, mortgages, utilities and loans - and combines them into one manageable monthly payment. Properly combining debt can allow the consumer to still meet their financial obligations without draining their bank account each month.

True debt consolidation also should provide certain key benefits to clients who use a debt consolidation service.

One of the biggest benefits to debt consolidation is the reduction of interest rates on loans and credit cards. A big reason consumers get behind on payments and are unable to ever truly pay off debt is because they often are saddled with high interest rates. Even if they make the minimum payment each month, they may never realistically pay off the full amount due to compounding interest rates from month to month.

A quality debt consolidation service will make it a top priority to combine all debt and reduce the overall interest rate being applied to the monthly repayment process. If the company you have chosen does not offer this tactic, then they are not a company with which it is worth doing business.

Debt consolidators also should be able to combine all sources of debt into one monthly payment, and reduce or eliminate all late penalties and fees for their clients.

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