Fear or Freedom: The Debt Relief Story
If you’ve watched daytime television recently, it’s hard to avoid them. They’re a three-ring circus of fear and spectacle: where grinning Great Whites and singing repo men entice you to call an 866 number. They sell you an abstraction called ”freedom” to the tune of a gospel choir. These are commercials for debt relief companies.
But can this circus live up to its barkers? Can it cage you from sharks and make collectors quiver in terror?
No matter what a debt relief agency claims, it is up to you to investigate.
If it’s too good to be true, it is. If the agency claims to greatly reduce or eliminate your debt through a tiny monthly payment, something’s likely amiss. These sorts of companies are more interested in making a profit off what you have left than serving you. Don’t let your emotions interfere with your decision making— which is what the TV ads try to do.
Is the company real? There are a startling number of scams out to take advantage of the most vulnerable of debtors. Overt compassion may be a front for taking your check and disappearing. Work through the FTC or the Better Business Bureau to explore a potential agency.
What’s your plan? Don’t go with any debt relief companies because their ad has the coolest stock footage. Like everything else in life, you must shop to find what will work best for you. MSNBC reports that an agency should spend at least 20 minutes reviewing your finances before making you an offer. Any less points to a scam.
Could counseling work? There are non-profit groups dedicated to serving people who are in desperate need of negotiating and debt restructuring. It’s possible that they could be as effective, or more so, than the commercial groups. There are also lawyers who specialize in working with credit card companies.
There are workers out there who know the system and would like to act as your agent. Debt settlement is a realistic practice, but the details depend on the case. The trick is telling a cage apart from another shark— that responsibility rests with you.
Anyway: my name is Alexander Carl. I am a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I spent four blissful years earning a degree in Communication Studies. Now I face the real world of economic downturns, student loans, and the absence of “academic” camaraderie.
Yet I refuse to be bummed. My economic philosophy is to live simply, save, and maximize whatever I can. Consumer culture is undeniably pervasive, but you don’t have to sell your soul to co-exist with it— there is great power from using your economic resources wisely.
I started writing when I figured out how to hold a pencil. Since then I’ve written short stories, poetry, screenplays, and have blogged. In fact, three of my screenplays have been produced into short films, two of which I directed. I’m no stranger to the media, having served as a DJ at a freeform radio station and worked as a crew member for live TV.
Pastimes include traveling (I’ll visit virtually anywhere), swimming, jogging, hiking, and hunkering down with a good movie.
Overall I’m a peaceful person, though not in a creepy New Agey way. I get my energy from music, good conversation, and the outdoors (I was an active Boy Scout, earning my Eagle). I consider myself “inquisitive” and “wry”, and for the sake of autobiography I’ll assume that I am.