It is both sad and infuriating that con artists are targeting the people who can least afford to be scammed; those deeply in debt desperately looking for a way out. The scammers frequently call themselves "debt settlement" experts with special expertise in getting creditors to forgive all, or at least part, of consumer debts and make the customer "debt-free." The problem is, and the debt settlement industry admits this, about two-thirds of clients get no relief at all. Federal and state regulators say he success rate is more like 10 percent.
Eric and Cassandra Peoples of Carthage, Missouri were media sensations eight years ago when Eric won a $20 million judgment from a company that makes artificial butter flavoring for popcorn. Eric worked at a popcorn factory and sued over exposure to a chemical called diaceytl, the substance that mimics the butter flavor. It gave him a case of bronchiolitis obliterans, an incurable disease that will ultimately require him to get a double lung transplant. Despite the large jury award, Eric's failing health and problems with a contractor have landed them in bankruptcy court.
Did you know that private student loans can haunt your family from beyond the grave?
When it comes to a serious injury or illness, there is no such thing as a small medical bill. People trying to recover their health often find they have been stricken again; by credit agencies that use those medical bills as a reason to cut credit ratings and portray the debtor as a poor financial risk. An Ohio woman whose $6,200 medical debt tanked her credit rating got Congress' attention and began what has become an odyssey to amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Here's a great article from Vickie Elmer of the New York Times.