This NBC article from the US talks about the unscrupulous debt settlement companies that are currently trying to take advantage of people with high student loan debt. Previously it was credit card debts or people underwater with their home equity that they were pursuing.

Unfortunately this is not just a US problem but is rampant in Canada as well. There is always someone trying to make a living off of the vulnerable, the people that can least afford to be taken advantage of. Debt settlement, debt assistance companies or credit counseling firms, charge fees for a service that you normally wouldn’t have to pay for or charge fees to refer you to the people who can actually solve your problem.

The government of Canada has put programs in place to help people with their debt. These programs are run by licensed, regulated, and highly monitored firms with educated staff. These are Bankruptcy and Insolvency firms; you don’t have to file for bankruptcy. Debt settlement firms are not part of this program and are the nemesis of the industry. Debt settlement firms mislead people or debtors into thinking they are going to solve their financial problems when in fact most times they make the problem worse. Unfortunately, even an informed consumer will have trouble telling the difference. Some of the advertising for these companies is so misleading you think you are dealing with the real deal and they are everywhere.

A licensed Trustee can only provide services in the jurisdiction that they are licensed for, normally a province or territory, so watch for a local address. A licensed bankruptcy and insolvency Trustee is also required by law to state in all advertising that, that is what they are, a “Licensed Trustee”. They are the only people who can truly help you, and remember you don’t have to file for bankruptcy. They can legally settle your debts and without interest. Buyer beware.