We have previously written about the fact that overwhelming student debt can be particularly tricky to navigate. This kind of debt cannot generally be discharged in bankruptcy save for the most desperate of situations. In addition, while some student debt can be consolidated and other debts can be deferred, deferments generally are only available for a certain period of time.
To add insult to financially injurious student debts, it seems that many so-called debt settlement companies are beginning to target former students with overwhelming debts and are promising them that they can help to clear these debts. Many of these companies are not legitimate enterprises and only succeed in stripping already strapped former students of their time and money.
It is important to speak with an attorney before agreeing to sign any debt consolidation or debt settlement papers. Too many companies disguise themselves as legitimate businesses and then swindle individuals in debt out of what little money they have. In addition, many consumers find that they incur even more fees and interest during the time that they are seeking to negotiate with these seemingly legitimate companies which turn out to be at least somewhat fraudulent.
Please, think twice before agreeing to work with a debt settlement company which is especially interested in your student debt. This kind of enterprise is relatively new and few lawmakers have been able to prevent this kind of fraud from occurring simply because related schemes are still evolving. However, one state attorney general recently announced that she is suing multiple companies swindling former students out of their money, so hope is in sight.
Source: Forbes, "Debt Demons Discover Student Debt," John Wasik, July 16, 2014