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Are you looking for ways to pay off credit card debt? Offers to help you cut down or wipe out your debt might sound like a perfect solution, but dishonest debt relief companies will take your money and do little or nothing to help. So how do you get real help and skip the scammers?

If you’re having trouble keeping up with payments, it can help to make a budget. Use this worksheet to help you figure out where your money goes and if there are ways to cut your spending. If you’re already behind on your bills, don’t wait. Call your creditors and explain your situation before a debt collector gets involved. Try to work out a payment plan with lower, more manageable payments.

Learn to spot scammy debt relief companies that make all kinds of promises to get your money upfront:

  • Never pay anyone who tries to collect fees from you before they do anything to help you deal with your debt. That’s illegal.
  • Don’t share your financial or personal information with someone who calls unexpectedly, offering to help you settle your debts. That’s probably a scammer.
  • Don’t do business with anyone who guarantees you results from a “new government program” for a fee, or tries to enroll you without first reviewing your financial situation.

Who can help? You could work with credit counseling program to help you manage your money and debt. Look for these services at credit unions, universities, military personal financial managers, and U.S. Cooperative Extension Service branches. Many of these organizations offer services with low fees, but make sure you ask how much they’ll charge you.

Learn more at Suspect a debt relief scam? Tell the FTC at

Looking for ways to get out of debt?  Learn to spot debt relief scams.

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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
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March 08, 2024

File bankruptcy if you must, the stigma behind it is overrated. It's not the "death sentence" creditors claim it is.

Cynthia fisher
March 08, 2024

Empire Flooring supplied me with Fortiva Retail Credit for $5600 that they were charging me to install what was suppose to be hardwood flooring in 4 rooms. The first invoice that I got from Fortiva was to pay $285 I paid $300 on the bill an it was on time. My next statement from Fortiva states that I now owe close to $5500. I called Fortiva and asked why was I being charged close to $200 finance charge when I paid the bill on time. I asked how do you avoid paying extra $200 a month. She stated you can not avoid finance charges even if you pay and you will be charge 35% every time unless you pay the bill in full. This can not be right. Something needs to be done.

March 11, 2024

I get a call everyday from different numbers saying I am pre approved for 3100. To pay off my bills credit cards ECT. Wasn't sure if it's a scam it tells you to call 5803605334

March 26, 2024

In reply to by Denise

I got the same call. Wasn’t sure either. Yours was the first comment related to my question.

Karl N Witter
March 11, 2024

Good idea.