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House bill is important for Ohio residents in credit card debt

An Ohio state representative is sponsoring a bill that aims to help people who use debt-settlement institutions for debt relief. Financial challenges such as credit card debt, bankruptcy, unemployment and foreclosure have, unfortunately, afflicted many Ohio residents during these harsh economic times. Many Ohioans have found themselves utilizing debt settlement options in an effort to gain a fresh financial start. Some of those same people have had serious complications with various debt-settlement companies which led to a 2008 investigation of the industry by the Federal Trade Commission.

Often times, debt can make people feel like they are drowning in despair and that there is no recourse. No matter what your financial situation is, virtually every financial setback can be corrected. Having creditors harass you, getting foreclosure notices in the mail and living paycheck-to-paycheck doesn’t have to happen. There is hope.

After conducting their investigation, the FTC released several guidelines in 2010. These regulations designate that companies should not be paid up front, must disclose more details to the consumer about the process, and companies must not handle any customer funds. House Bill 173, has tenets that are similar to the FTC’s guidelines, and they are also designed to protect Ohioans from unfair business practices.

These guidelines include:

  • Mandating debt settlement agencies to give the state Department of Commerce verification that they have an Ohio agent transacting business under a $50,000 surety bond.
  • Disclosing the total amount of time it will take for the client to be relieved of debt.
  • Showing the amount of money that the consumer will save by enrolling in their program.
  • Illustrating how debt settlement will change a consumer’s credit.
  • Allowing the debtor to end the program at any time without any kind of penalization.

Severe credit card debt is not a death sentence. There are many tools that Ohio residents can use to achieve a fresh financial start, and get back on the right track. It’s important that people know their options and make informed decisions. It helps to know the FTC and our local lawmakers are keeping a close eye on the process.

Source: Cleveland.com, “Debt-settlement legislation is “important remedy for Ohioans with bill problems: Ohio Sen. Dale Mallory,” Dale Mallory, Feb. 2, 2014

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