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The Boston Globe

Business

The Color of Money

There’s no fast, easy way to get out of debt

When I hear the words, “What do you think of debt settlement?,” I cringe. I gird myself for a frustrating discussion with desperate debtors looking for a quick fix. They want to get rid of their debts as easy as it takes to bake a potato in the microwave. They want the phone calls and letters to stop.

And so they want to believe — need to trust — the advertising from companies that claim a significant reduction of debt for just pennies on the dollar. One firm promises in its online ad that “if you owe $30,000, you could resolve your debt in as little as 24 to 48 months.” The statement comes with a fine-print caveat saying that including fees, clients still end up paying as much as 75 percent of what they owe. And there is no guarantee the program will work.

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