21Investigates: Scam Tracker -- Debt relief and credit repair scams

Updated: Sep. 7, 2023 at 5:15 PM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - There are ways for you to get help if you’re struggling with lots of debt or bad credit, but scammers may try and take advantage of you.

“Debt relief and credit repair companies typically assist consumers with managing various types of debts such as mortgages, credit cards, student loans and more,” Better Business Bureau of Northern Indiana President Rick Walz said.

Walz says since 2020, the BBB has received more than 11,000 complaints of debt relief and credit repair scams. He says while there are several trustworthy companies, there are some that just want to take your money.

“These scammers make enticing promises,” Walz said. “They charge exorbitant upfront fees, which is a clear violation of FTC regulations And they fail to deliver on their commitment of reducing your debt or improving your credit score. "

Walz says these scammers will do anything. The easiest red flag to notice is when a company first asks for payment up front. Also, scammers may take a while to respond. Also, some services they may promote like debt negotiations and payment plans, are ones they can handle themselves by communicating directly with the creditors. In other words, you should want and need to be involved in those talks.

“If you are in need of the services, it’s best for you to go out and search them out on your own,” Walz said.

Walz suggests it’s important for you to familiarize yourself with your rights. There are laws to protect you, like The Fair Credit Reporting Act and The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Walz also says monitor your bank statements for purchases you didn’t make.

If you get scammed, here are some resources:

Do you have a scam you want us to look into? Reach out to 21Alive’s Tylor Brummett. You can send a message on Facebook or send an email to tylor.brummett@gray.tv.