Debt management fees can vary vastly from one company to another. Knowing what to look for and ask when seeking help through debt management will leave you better off by not making the mistake of working with an unscrupulous agency that charges excessive upfront fees or can't disclose or won't disclose why they have structured their fees as they have.
Many debt reduction agencies operate as a non profit organization so why are they charging fees? As a non profit organization there still needs to be a form of income that helps offset the expenses of the particular agency. This is usually accomplished through a nominal monthly fee that an agency charges to their clients. Several states have put a cap on the maximum fee that may be charged in an individual's certain state of residence. This prevents an agency from abusing their fee structure. Not all debt reduction companies operate as a non-profit company but they are still held to the same standards as far as being licensed to offer debt management services in several states. Find out what your state requires from the debt management provider you are looking into. Are they compliant?
Debt management providers usually charge what is called a set up fee. This is to help offset the cost of getting the client enrolled onto their debt management plan. This process can be time consuming for the agency therefore it is reasonable to expect a nominal charge for that service. However be wary of companies that charge high upfront fees. Typically anything above $60 should be a red flag. Some agencies have been known to charge several hundreds of dollars as a start up fees. What will typically happen in that scenario is the debt management provider will actually keep the first payment you make to them as their fee. Watch out for this as it makes the consumer more past due with their accounts and is an unnecessary fee that usually only result in the client being further in debt.
Make sure to ask if your agency follows state regulations as far as what they charge for their monthly fees. Also ask if they send out the first payment to your creditors. There are several companies that offer a good debt management service at a reasonable cost but there are those that take advantage of their clients. If you are being charge a high monthly amount I recommend shopping around for another debt management provider that may be able to do the same if not better job for you at a lower cost.
Rick Munster is the Media Planner for Debt Reduction Services, http://www.debtreductionservices.com. He resides in Boise, Id. In his spare time he enjoys writing, hiking and finding a nice lake to drop a line into and do a little fishing.