Credit card debt can be stressful. Interest rates can be high, and if you miss or can’t make your full payments, that growing balance can be overwhelming. Enter a group of companies that promised to reduce or eliminate your credit card debt. (For a fee.) But did they?
The FTC’s lawsuit against ACRO Services and related companies says no. Instead, the FTC says they operated a deceptive credit card debt relief scheme: claiming they could, for example, clear up your credit card debt. The price? You’d have to sign up for their program, pay an enrollment fee (usually in the thousands) — plus monthly fees for “credit monitoring” services.
So what could you expect from the program? Not much, says the FTC. Once enrolled, it was often hard to reach anyone. If you did, you might get a form letter to dispute your debts — even when the company knew those debts were legit. Even worse, says the FTC, these companies would tell you to stop making payments and stop communicating with your credit card companies. If you followed these instructions, you’d see increased fees, added interest, lower credit scores, and, sometimes, lawsuits from creditors.
If you’re looking for ways to pay off your credit cards more quickly, or get a lower interest rate:
- Don’t pay upfront. It’s illegal for a debt relief company to charge you a fee before they do anything to relieve your debt.
- Talk with your credit card company. For free. Call the customer service number on the back of your credit card. Ask for a payment plan that you’ll be able to afford.
- Consider a reputable credit counselor. They can help you develop a payment plan that works for you.
Spot a company making calls or claims like this? Report them at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
By Ari Lazarus, Consumer Education Specialist