MEMPHIS, Tenn. — If you’re struggling to pay off credit card debt, you’re certainly not alone. So hearing from a company that promises to reduce or eliminate that debt for a small fee might sound like a good idea, but be careful because it could all be bogus!

The Federal Trade Commission recently announced settlements with several companies over deceptive debt relief scams.

The FTC says operators raked in millions by charging consumers fees to supposedly wipe out their debt.

But in the end, the customers didn’t get their debt eliminated, and in some cases, their credit was damaged as many were told they didn’t have to pay their credit card bills.

So how can you spot a scam?

First, never pay upfront. It’s illegal for debt relief companies to charge you before they do anything to relieve your debt.

Next, talk with your credit card company, which is free of course! You can ask for a lower rate and possibly a payment plan that’s more affordable.

Finally, consider a reputable credit counselor. 

You can connect with a non-profit credit counseling agency in your community by calling the National Foundation for Credit Counseling at 800-388-2227.