A couple wants to go somewhere else, but their current company is charging them $1,500 first.

2 minute read

My wife and I entered into a debt settlement program in spring 2019. We have successfully resolved four of our credit card accounts. We have one more left that’s been in progress since February 2021.

Since that time, this settlement company has only paid a total of $65 towards this account – $5 a month for 13 months. Meanwhile, they have taken $929 in settlement fees. I want to cancel the program with this company. I know it’s a voluntary program, and I can cancel any time. But apparently, we still owe them $1,500 more for this settlement fee.

I feel they have really strung us along and are substantially slowing us down from rebuilding our credit – and moving on with our lives. I’d like to end the program and renegotiate a new settlement with the creditor myself. I’d appreciate any advice or feedback regarding our situation.

Dave from Massachusetts

Howard Dvorkin, CPA responds…

Dave, when the going gets tough, the tough need a lawyer.

Debt settlement has a terrible but improving reputation. Honest companies are struggling to prove that debt settlement can be a trustworthy solution to stubborn financial problems. Unfortunately, it takes only a few evil or incompetent companies to ruin an entire industry – and there have been more than a few.

It sounds like you might have run into one of the latter. For starters, there’s no excuse for taking 13 months to pay a mere $65 toward a delinquent account. Few people realize how long debt settlement can take before you see results, but this is ridiculous.

However, I’m not a lawyer. So, I talked to one who specializes in just these kinds of cases.

Resolving your issues with a bogus debt settlement company

Lyle Solomon is principal attorney for the Oak View Law Group in Los Altos, California. The first thing he told me: “Please remember, the debt settlement program is a voluntary agreement. You can cancel anytime, for any reason.”

Like any good lawyer, Lyle had a lot more questions. I’ll list some of them here to give you an idea of what a consultation involves:

  • “What was your total outstanding credit card debt amount?”
  • “What was your total settled credit card debt amount?”
  • “How much did you save for each account?”
  • “What is your credit card debt amount for the account that is under settlement negotiation since February?”
  • “How much did you pay for settlement fees in total to date? This includes the settled accounts.”
  • “How much do you still have to pay for settlement fees? Did they provide you an estimate or breakdown of these charges?”

As you can see, resolving problems with uncooperative or unethical debt settlement companies can be quite a process. I urge you to call an attorney like Lyle and get a free consultation. Reputable attorneys won’t take your case unless you walk away with more money than you’ll pay in legal fees.

Now that you know how to pry yourself away from your current debt settlement company, how do you find another one that’s much, much better? Read this first: 6 Steps for Vetting a Debt Settlement Company. Your other option is to call Debt.com at  and let us give you a free debt analysis. You might not even need debt settlement. Another option could prove cheaper and faster.

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About the Author

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

I’m a certified public accountant who has authored two books on getting out of debt, Credit Hell and Power Up, and I am one of the personal finance experts for Debt.com. I have focused my professional endeavors in the consumer finance, technology, media and real estate industries creating not only Debt.com, but also Financial Apps and Start Fresh Today, among others. My personal finance advice has been included in countless articles, and has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Forbes and Entrepreneur as well as virtually every national and local newspaper in the country. Everyone should have a reason for living that’s bigger than themselves, and besides my family, mine is this: Teaching Americans how to live happily within their means. To me, money is not the root of all evil. Poor money management is. Money cannot buy happiness, but going into debt always buys misery. That’s why I launched Debt.com. I’m glad you’re here.

Published by Debt.com, LLC