Debt relief dilemma

The economy isn’t exactly firing on all cylinders, and many people are still feeling the squeeze.

That’s forcing some consumers into the welcoming arms of firms promising to magically wipe away their debt. Chances are you’ve seen or heard Canadian actor Alan Thicke, delivering an energetic sales pitch encouraging those facing debt problems to take advantage of a “consumer relief program” that offers to reduce overall credit card debt by as much as 70 per cent.

At issue is the nature of the services Mr Thicke is helping to sell. Many of these debt settlement firms hail from the United States and offer services that range from debt reduction, debt relief, and debt negotiation, promising to save you up to 90 per cent on unsecured debt of $10,000 or more, which translates to paying creditors as little as 10 cents per dollar owed. According to many experts in the field, that amounts to little more than a fairy tale.

We’re joined in Toronto by Doug Hoyes, co-founder of Hoyes, Michalos & Associates, Ontario’s largest independent personal insolvency firm. With him is Laurie Campbell, CEO of the country’s largest and oldest credit counselling agency, Credit Canada Debt Solutions.