For consumers with debt problems, life can be stressful and problematic. It is no fun living in the modern world without money.
For consumers with serious debt problems and a need for professional assistance, there are a myriad of options available, none of which seem to be a clear solution.
This means that individuals need to assess and select debt management assistance. Unfortunately, many people who need this help are amongst the most vulnerable in society and may not be able to make an informed decision.
The debt management industry is one that has little or no regulation and oversight. This can make it hard for consumers to tell fact from fiction and honest, reliable assistance from rogues. Yet, it is vital that these vulnerable consumers make this decision wisely.
In a bid to assist the public and begin to bring the industry under some sort of control, trade bodies are springing up. These debt management associations are actually designed to help the reputable companies to further distinguish themselves from the rogues.
Members must adhere to service and ethical guidelines, operate a complaints system and generally do their best to serve the client. Some will even put themselves through audits and examinations to try and further elevate themselves from the crowd.
It is also very likely that charging structures will be organized in a more responsible manner. Though it should be pointed out that these companies may well charge more than the average. However, in an industry with so many pitfalls, it seems a false economy to pay less and take the chance of using a less reputable firm.
This can be a great help to consumers. For people trying to find a competent and honest professional, a debt management association is an ideal place to look. Debt management associations keep a directory of member firms, usually on their website, for members of the public to search. Finding a reliable and honest adviser is highly likely if this route is followed.
In the US, AADMO is just such an organization. In the UK, DEMSA does a similar job. These are not the only trade bodies, obviously. As with any market, there is competition. Both operate a website search facility to help the public find member firms. The low number of member companies highlights earlier comments about the industry lacking oversight and regulation.
It is also worth noting that if a consumer is unhappy with a service, it is possible to make a complaint to the debt management association about a member firm. There is never any guarantee that this will aid your situation, but an extra level of responsibility and authority is often very useful.
Stuart Langridge has experience as a mortgage consultant, financial adviser and personal finance columnist. To read more of his down to earth financial wisdom, please click here: www.debtmanagementresources.com