Give thanks for these consumer tools
Fee limits for debt settlement companies
Tool: The Federal Trade Commission's moratorium on upfront fees for debt settlement companies.
What it does: In response to waves of complaints from consumers and consumer activists, the FTC determined that debt settlement companies would not be allowed to collect fees from customers until after they'd actually settled a client's debt.
The fee also must be proportional to the settlement. So if the company only reaches a settlement on 50 percent of your bills, they can only charge you half of the fee, Hillebrand says.
Why consumers are thankful: "It's not perfect, but it's a real step forward," says Hillebrand.
Under the FTC's new debt settlement rule, "debt settlement companies can't take the money until they settle the debt," she says.