If you turned to AmeriDebt or DebtWorks to get help climbing out of debt, a check may be heading to your mailbox. The Federal Trade Commission starting mailing refund checks totaling more than $2 million to consumers who it says were defrauded by the so-called credit counseling/ debt management scams.
The FTC alleges that AmeriDebt and Debtworks deceived consumers about the fees for debt management plans The consumer protection agency also said Ameridebt falsely called itself a non-profit, and made false promises to teach consumers how to handle their finances.
The amount of your refund will be based on the amount of each consumer’s loss. But the FTC says you should cash the checks by May 9, 2011. If you did business with AmeriDebt or DebtWorks you can still file a complaint with the FTC and may be entitled to a refund. Find out more at the FTC's website.
Remember, if you are considering using a credit counseling organization to help you get control of your debt, do your homework first. Reputable credit counselors will advise you on managing your money and your debts, will help you develop a budget, and should offer free educational materials and workshops.
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The counselors should be certified and trained and should help you develop a personalized plan to solve your money problems. A reputable agency should provide some free information and should not require you to provide personal details about a your situation in the initial first meeting. Many organizations are nonprofit. But be careful, just because an organization says it is a “non-profit” doesn’t means its services are free or affordable.
Always check an agency with your state Attorney General, local consumer protection agency, and with the Better Business Bureau before you give over any personal information or money.