ONC Reporting – Millions of Americans find themselves financially underwater as monthly payments and interest charges stack up, and many are using debt consolidation and credit repair companies for help.

Ohioans seeking help from companies that promise to reduce or eliminate debt or fix their credit scores are getting duped – and often are left financially worse off, according to a new report.

Better Business Bureau of Central Ohio President Judy Dollison says the rise in student loan, medical and credit card debt has increased demand for these types of services. The problem, she says, is that not all companies are legitimate.

“BBB has had more than 12,000 complaints and negative reviews combined about credit and debit assistance companies. So, that just shows you that this is a problem.”

The Better Business Bureau advises using a credit report service such as ‘AnnualCreditReport.com,’ and calling the debt holders yourself to attempt to negotiate a lower payment or interest rate.

Dollison says sketchy debt relief, debt consolidation and credit repair companies offer quick and extensive financial fixes and use high-pressure tactics to get consumers to quickly pay upfront fees.

“But what we find is, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Credit and debit repair actually take months, if not years, to solve.”

If a legitimate company has bad business practices, Dollison adds, people can file a complaint or do a customer review. But if they believe the organization is scam, she says they should use the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker site to report it.

“Where you can not only report when you’ve been approached by a scammer, but you can also look up the situation that you’re in, to see if other s have reported that as a scam.”

She adds if you’re seeking out a company’s services, don’t be rushed, and avoid giving away any personal banking information until you have evidence it is operating legitimately.