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According to the United States Census Bureau, 69 percent of Americans are in debt by an average of $70,000.
The same report indicated that consumers with the greatest amount of growing debt were those in the age group of 35 to 45, with roughly $108,000 in debt. Those aged 45 to 55 were carrying $86,500 in debt and people aged 55 to 64 were saddled with $70,000 in debt.
So how do people get so far in debt in the first place?
All it takes is one job loss, one health crisis or one unexpected expense for the average American to become financially stressed. Once a person's credit is over-extended, it creates a vicious cycle of paying only the minimum balance and accruing penalties and fees until the original amount owed has tripled or worse.
If you are among the 69 percent of Americans who are carrying around more debt than you can reasonably pay off, then it's time to explore options for reducing the financial burden.
There are a plethora of companies which offer debt negotiation services. However, not all debt negotiators are created equal.
The concept behind debt negotiation is to convince creditors to reduce the total amount of money owed in lieu of a set fee. The set fee usually is required to be paid up front.
Sounds like a great idea, doesn't it?
There's only one problem - most for-profit debt negotiation companies are nothing more than crooks. They require hefty, upfront fees for their services, and then not only fail to contact your creditors on your behalf, but also will not put any of the money you gave them toward your owed debt.
So how do you know if you're about to be taken by a company that has no real intention of helping you reduce your debt?
The Federal Trade Commission offers the following warning signs for identifying fraudulent debt negotiators:
Debt negotiators are not lying when they say they can negotiate with creditors on your behalf. However, what many fail to disclose to clients is that creditors are under no obligation to agree to a debt negotiation.
Debt negotiation can be a very effective tool for consumers looking to get out of an overwhelming debt situation. Finding a quality debt relief service is an important first step in the process.
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