The Hazards of Seeking Debt Consolidation Online

As the number of people online continues to grow, more and more people are turning to the internet as their primary source of information. When it comes to private matters such as personal finance, people are even more likely to seek the anonymity of the web. As a result, millions of consumers who are in debt turn to the internet for answers: it is estimated that the term “debt consolidation” is searched for nearly 3,000 times a day. Unfortunately, many consumers are unaware of the dangers of searching the web for debt help or debt consolidation.

The large amount of people searching for financial help online has made debt consolidation websites a booming business. The large market has opened the door for misleading business practices. Many sites claim to offer a variety of services such as debt consolidation, consumer credit counseling, debt settlement, credit repair, or refinancing and consolidation loans. Often, the site promises a free debt consolidation quote for consumers who enter their contact information. Most consumers believe they will be contacted by an employee of the company who owns the website. However, more often than not, the consumer’s contact information has just been entered into a lead capture page, usually operated by a marketing firm. This marketing firm then sells this information, or “lead,” to any company that is willing to pay for it! The customer has no way of knowing that this information is sent to a legitimate business.

When the average consumer gets online to look for debt help, the majority of the time he will turn to a search engine. As a result, the first few websites that are returned for a particular search term get the majority of the web traffic. While many search engines constantly try to make search terms relevant and immune to manipulation, many companies are still able to pay their way to a good ranking. Many websites, particularly the “lead capture pages,” are able to pay for links and other “optimization” techniques that translate into high search engine placement. Because many legitimate businesses are oblivious about the impact of search engine rankings, there is a high probability that consumers searching for debt consolidation online will fall victim to some sort of misrepresentation.