06/04/2013 11:57 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Who Can I Trust When Getting Out of Debt?

Huffington Post Reader Question

Dear Steve,

I'm a 30 year financial sales guy.

Made lots of money in the 90's only to give it all to ex wife in divorce in 2001. Had to pay alimony of $5000/month until May 2009.

Lost money in real estate crash and the market crash of 08/09. I have serious credit card debt as a result and need help.

Steve, I have around $70k in unsecured credit card debt that is choking me. I do not know who to trust relative to debt settlement & reduction.

Are you in the business ? Can you help or can you recommend a couple of honest firms?

Thank you,

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Dear Dave,

Thank you for writing to me and asking for help.

I do not provide any services for a fee as I spend all my time helping people for free.

I certainly understand your situation and can see that events most likely led you to make up shortages by putting expenses on credit cards. It happens almost quietly at first but as time goes on it is easy to unconsciously watch the balances build.

The primary mistake I want you to avoid is the Ready-Fire-Aim scenario where you have already selected a solution before evaluating the situation. Getting out of debt requires similar skills as selling financial products.

What we need first is some good data and research. Educating yourself about the most logical ways to deal with your debt is going to best help you to make good educated decisions.

Recently I wrote the 8 Easy Steps to Eliminate Your Debt Checklist and that's a really good place to start.

It will guide you through gathering the right data, what the numbers mean, and actions you can take to best address your situation.

If you picked up the telephone now and called some for-profit and nonprofit debt relief companies you are primed to be sold just about anything.

Here is a video I made to help you not get scammed.

If you do decide to use a debt relief company to deal with your situation, I would suggest you spend some time and read my free guides on how to checkout a debt relief company.

  1. The Ultimate Consumer Guide to Checking Out a Debt Relief Company Before You Sign On the Line
  2. 10 Must Do Steps to Find the Best Credit Counseling or Debt Settlement Company for You
  3. How to Check Out a Business or Company to Avoid Getting Scammed or Ripped Off

Gathering data and education about all the tools available, including bankruptcy, are going to be the secret to dealing with the situation now and not robbing you of a better financial future.

The primary goal now needs to be getting you back in a position where you are both able to get back to building your emergency savings account and saving for retirement.

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