In the Consumer Federation of America’s annual list of top consumer complaints, credit and debt problems always rank high. In 2015, these complaints were only outranked by complaints about utilities, home construction, and auto leasing and sales. In general, people feel cheated by companies promising to help them get out of debt. In some cases, these people are the victims of a crime, but more often, they are simply being taken advantage of in a troubling time. We take a look at the most common credit and debt complaints of 2015.
What Consumers Are Complaining About
We all take on some debt—it’s a necessary fact of life. Having a couple of credit cards and a mortgage are usually manageable forms of debt, but when you get in over your head, the sharks will start circling to take advantage of you. The following are the credit and debt issues that consumers complain most about:
Billing and fee disputes. When a bill for a credit card, utility, or cell phone plan, is higher than you think it should be, it could be because of fees and taxes you didn’t know about. Always read the fine print when signing a contract for a service and ask the provider for the bottom-line monthly charge before agreeing to anything.
Mortgage modifications and mortgage-related fraud. When you are struggling to make mortgage payments, you may be contacted by companies offering to lower your payments or help you save your home. Unfortunately, these are often fraudulent offers. Avoid working with anyone who contacts you. Instead, you should contact your mortgage company to see if they can help you.
Credit repair. It is not easy to repair bad credit. It takes time, discipline, and a strict budget. If a company offers you a quick and easy fix, it is probably a scam. In their desperation to raise their credit score, may people fall victim to these scams. Avoid any credit repair company that requires up-front payment and promises a quick fix.
Predatory lending. When a consumer is unable to get approved for a loan due to a bad credit score, he may be tempted to work with an alternative type of lender. Through high interest rates, inflated fees, balloon mortgages, and other predatory practices, these lenders take advantage of desperate people. Unfortunately, if you can’t get approved for a loan by a reputable lender, your best bet is to focus on repairing your credit and not borrowing any more money.
Illegal or abusive debt collection tactics. We have talked here before about the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and what it allows. Despite these laws, people are regularly harassed by debt collection agencies and bullied into paying more than they should have to. Knowing your rights and standing up to illegal practices can end the abuse.
At the root of many of these common complaints is a desperate consumer’s failure to ask questions and read the fine print. We understand how easy it is to be taken in when you feel you are out of options, but when a lender or other service breaks the law, we can help you hold them accountable. If you are the victim of a credit or debt scam, call our office today.