Assemblywoman Helene E. Weinstein Dear Friend,

We are facing historically difficult economic times. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the unemployment rate across the United States continues to rise, and New York State faces the same bleak picture.

The current fiscal crisis has put many New Yorkers in debt. People who never struggled to pay their bills are now being forced to consider defaulting on their debt. In this precarious economic climate, there are reports about deceptive debt settlement companies that have seized the opportunity to squeeze the last penny out of those who are desperately trying to pay their bills. Some of these companies promise relief by being the buffer between the credit card company and the debtor, but sometimes a debt settlement plan fails to solve the debtor’s financial problems and even makes them worse.

Over the last few years, the number of debt settlement companies has tripled to 2,000. At the same time, complaints to state attorneys general offices about how these companies conduct business have increased.

This brochure will outline how you can avoid being deceived and what you can do to help put yourself on firmer financial ground. If you have any questions or comments about this or any other subject, please don’t hesitate to contact my office.

Helene E. Weinstein
Assemblywoman Helene E. Weinstein
3520 Nostrand Avenue • Brooklyn, NY 11229

Take control by:
Managing your debt
Researching your options

Consider credit counseling agencies, which are often not-for-profits that offer financial guidance for a small fee or for free. If you decide to work with a credit counseling agency, follow these guidelines:

A debt settlement company’s smooth sell
Be aware
Additional signs of trouble:
If a company
Assembly is doing its part:
This year, the Assembly passed a package of bills that would protect consumers from improper debt collection practices and implement penalties for those who violate the law. Those bills:
Piggy Bank