Written by attorney John Thomas Black


If you are a consumer and you have hired a "debt settlement" or "debt negotiation" company, don't get taken for a ride. I have had many clients or potential clients that have been scammed by debt settlement companies.

In fact, it’s common for these services to not even be operating legally in Texas. In Texas, debt management or debt “pooling" services are regulated by the Texas Debtor Assistance Law, which is Chapter 394 of the Texas Finance Code. The Texas Finance Code is at (See Chapter 394).

These services must be registered with the Texas Consumer Credit Commissioner in order to be operating legally. A list of those services that are registered is on the web site of the Texas Consumer Credit Commissioner at Click on “List of Debt Management Services Providers" to see if your service is listed.

If you are a Texas resident, and your debt management service is not listed on that page, or if they have violated other provisions of the act, you may have a right to recover from them: (1) all the money you’ve paid them; (2) any actual damages you’ve suffered as well as punitive damages; (3) attorney fees for enforcing your rights; and (4) injunctive relief (a court order stopping them from continuing to operate illegally).

If you believe that your debt management service has violated this law, you are welcome to come in and visit with me about it, and your rights to recover money from them. There is no charge for your first visit. Please bring any and all documents that you received from the debt management service, and a list of the amounts and dates of your payments to them.

For that matter, if you need to settle your debts, there is no big secret to it. I settle debts for some clients, particularly if things have gone to a lawsuit or judgment stage. You don’t need to pay those extraordinary fees to the debt settlement companies. You can typically hire a law firm such as mine to settle your debts on an hourly basis, much cheaper than the percentage fees that a lot of debt settlement companies use.

Or, if you are having serious debt trouble and you want good unbiased advice, and you live in the Houston area or surrounding counties, call my office and make an appointment with me at 713-772-8037. I’ll tell you if a bankruptcy, debt settlement, or other option would be best for you, after reviewing all available options. Thank you, Tom Black

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