OK, so you’re thinking debt relief might be the way to go to get out from under your oppressive debt situation. Having read all sorts of advice about what to look for in a debt relief company, all of the writers suggested paying attention to reviews. However, none of them have specifically stated what to look for in debt relief reviews.

Well, this article does just that—read on.

Reading Between the Lines

If the review doesn’t specifically state why a firm is strong, odds are it isn’t. If you see a lot of empty platitudes such as, “They were awesome, I didn’t know what to expect, but they crushed it!” it’s possible that someone who didn’t actually work with the company probably wrote that. Sadly, a lot of reviews you find online these days are bought and paid for. Knowing how to read between the lines will help you separate the real from the manufactured.

Look for Sources with a Reputation for Honesty

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Sites like The Simple Dollar conduct in-depth investigations and report on their findings in unbiased language. The organization is ranked as a “Top Ten Personal Finance Blog” on Kiplinger and is in the Technorati “Top Twenty” for business and finance blogs. It has also been featured in some of the world’s largest publications, including Inc., Forbes, Business Insider, and TIME. Outfits like this are very concerned about their reputations. If they’re saying a company is good, it’s good.

What to Look for in a Good Company’s Review

The key traits of a reputable debt relief firm include:

  • Accreditation: Affiliations with organizations such as the American Fair Credit Council and the International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators usually signal veracity.
  • Longevity in Business: Typically, 10 years or more means the company is on the up-and-up. Nefarious organizations would usually have been run out of business before lasting a decade.
  • A Transparent and Informative Website: Answering all of your basic questions about the process and what to expect is a good sign. A solid example of this is the FAQ page touted in Freedom Debt relief reviews.
  • Low Fees and Low Minimum Debt: Most people are in trouble because they don’t have a lot of cash on hand. A debt relief company charging outsized fees is more about helping itself than clients. Similarly, if you only have $7,500 in debt, should you be out of luck because a company wants to make a bigger commission? (The higher the outstanding debt, the more they can charge to help you with it.)
  • Types of Debt: While nearly all of the good firms will go after credit card debt, the best ones are willing to go after business debts and certain private student loans.
  • Expeditious Timing: This should be a given, based of course upon your ability to amass settlement funds. In most cases, programs should require no more than from 24 to 48 months.
  • Effective Support: Every relationship should begin with a free consultation, but beyond that there should always be a way to get in touch with someone who knows the particulars of your case. Firms should also provide the ability to monitor accounts online. Emails, as well as text messages, should always be responded to in a timely fashion.

These seven traits are among the hallmarks of the best debt relief companies in the business. They are also what you want to be on the lookout for in debt relief reviews.

Finding information supporting these qualities will serve you well. Another factor to consider is determining in which states different companies are authorized to practice. This will vary from company to company, so you’ll want to avoid becoming enamored with an organization not licensed to serve where you live.