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Clean Slate Podcast – Episode 4

In episode 4 of the Clean Slate Podcast, Wayne and Juan discuss what to watch out for when finding someone to help you get out of debt.


About the Speaker:Juan Valladares

Juan Valladares is the Vice President of CreditGuard of America, Inc. and has been working in the credit counseling industry since 1997.

Juan began his career at a major answering service center, responsible for the training and supervision of over two hundred employees. Now in charge of managing CreditGuard’s counseling department, Juan’s management, organizational and motivational skills are all vital to the company’s success.

Juan is a devoted father of two and a passionate racquetball player who competes regularly to satisfy his competitive instincts. He has dedicated his professional life to helping people get out – and stay out – of debt.


“Clean Slate” Podcast Episode 4: What Red Flags to Watch Out For

Wayne: It seems to me like there are businesses that put out ads for credit cards, or ads for get-out-of-debt-quick schemes or ads for shopping opportunities. These advertisements, are they Better Business Bureau rated? It’s just that some of them sound too good to be true.

Juan: You’re kind of hitting it on the spot when it comes to that. Every time I’m listening to the commercials or watching T.V., I don’t fast forward them, especially nowadays when we can record everything and do exactly that, I pay special attention because I’m always looking to see what my competitors are doing.

Over the years there have been few items that I’ve noticed– let’s look at it from a commercial perspective- -there are companies out there that simply don’t even say who they are, they don’t even say what their names are, they just say, “Hi, call us today and we’ll get you out of debt.”

Really, if you’re not willing to put your name out there, your location, where you reside, in an effort to make it a little more personable, you want to know who that company is, I think that’s a pretty big red flag. What is it that you’re hiding? If you’re not even willing to give us your name, and a lot of the time most of these organizations are referral agencies so they are referring you to some organization that you have no idea who that organization is, you expect them to be a creditable organization.

The other thing is, like you had mentioned, is to look at the Better Business Bureau. The Better Business Bureau is a first indicator for consumers to see complaints, and to see what the ratings are. When it comes to your finances, you should only be conducting business with a company that has an A rating. You should definitely have an A rating in order for you to proceed forward; anything less than that is really not a good option, and, at least from my perspective, a pretty big red flag.

I’ve done a lot of research when it comes to companies and my competitors all over the country, most of the competitors I’ve seen with a B rating or even less typically just really are not performing good services on behalf of the consumer and when it comes to financing. You really have to be very specific; you really have to go with an organization that has a significant amount of experience with customer service, with their finances, budgeting, and managing because a little mistake can really cause people a significant amount of money.

Another thing I’ve seen around is companies that say they can settle on your account. They say, ‘Hey! If you owe $10,000 we’ll go ahead and settle for only $1,000 or $2,000.’ In those cases, if it sounds too good to be true, then it is. It really is not a good thing. Consumers have to understand that if they made the debt, there really are a lot of good financial things they can do to get out of debt but there’s never going to be some formula or type of magic wand that’s going to say, ‘Poof! Disappear! And you only have to pay me 10% of money that you owe.’

That’s another thing, when you start to see things or people promising you that they can lower your payment by 90%, they can get rid of most of your debt and you only have to pay a portion of your debt, those are things that should make you worry.

Wayne: So you mentioned something, Juan, about the Better Business Bureau in regards to companies such as CreditGuard that can help consumers get out of debt, but it’s interesting to me that that doesn’t just apply to solutions for debt management, it seems to me that it would go for credit cards or banks or anyone you would allow to have access in helping you mange or conduct your financial life–you know, you and your family.

Juan: Absolutely. The Better Business Bureau is a good organization; it’s been around for quite some time, and it’s really a first indicator, and it’s something that most consumers should really take the time to go online and just look at what the rating is. Especially when you’re talking about potentially borrowing money, getting a new credit card, or looking for services that will help you manage your finances.

“Any good company will disclose who they are, and they should have an excellent rating with the Better Business Bureau.”

So then this way they can provide the highest level of service, whether that’s in credit counseling or debt management. For whatever it is, the Better Business Bureau is almost like the recommendation from a friend. That’s kind of like the place you go first.

Every time I do something for my house, I’m always like “Hey, I need a plumber, do you know anyone?” You just don’t simply go to the Yellow Pages like you used to before, so if you’re unsure of where to start the Better Business Bureau is a really good place to start and see what the ratings are. You can also see some of the comments from consumers and do your research before you get involved with anyone.

Wayne: Yeah, I couldn’t agree more.

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