Everything is bigger in Texas. Unfortunately, that often includes debt.

The Lone Star state is ranked No. 16 for credit card debt in the U.S. It also means that nefarious actors are targeting debtors hoping to take advantage of the situation.

Despite what those pesky Texas “debt relief” cold callers say, there's no magic bullet solution to overdue debt.

As the saying goes, if it seems too good to be true, it usually is—especially when it comes to money.

That said, there are genuine ways to take some of that financial burden off your shoulders—you just have to know what to look for

Red flags

Here are a couple of red flags to watch for when you are in need of emergency debt relief in the state of Texas.

  • “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” If someone reaches out to you about Texas debt relief before you’ve made inquiries, take that as a warning sign. Chances are it’s a scam because reputable credit agencies generally won’t contact you before you make the first move.
  • Upfront fees: The whole mission behind credit agencies is to help you find debt relief in Texas. If they demand high fees before they even get started, that’s another warning that they don’t have your best interest at heart.

Option No. 1: credit counseling

At the first sign of trouble, credit counseling is one of the first solutions a debtor is likely to suggest.

Credit counselors are experts at drumming up a game plan to manage debt. They may recommend debt consolidation in Texas so that you’ve only got one monthly payment at a more attractive interest rate (more on that later.)

But first, you’ve got to know where to start. A good place is the Office of the Consumer Credit Commissioner, whose mission it is to increase economic prosperity in the state.

They will point you to debt relief programs in Texas, where you can interview accredited, licensed counselors to find your perfect match.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends non-profit organizations for credit counseling such as:

  • Credit unions
  • Universities
  • Military personal financial managers
  • U.S. Cooperative Extension Service branches

Learn what to expect by asking the professionals questions about the specific tools they provide, their fee model, and the average time it takes to start feeling debt relief in Texas.

Keep in mind that a reputable credit counselor won’t make things worse with exorbitant fees or promise you the world. In fact, as a sign of good faith, they should offer to send you free resources before you agree to any of the debt relief programs in Texas.

A good credit counselor will not only help you to tackle debt but will also show you how to better manage your money so that you don’t wind up searching for Texas debt relief again.

This will generally involve creating a monthly budget to help you stay on track and directing you to educational resources that will keep you in the driver’s seat of your finances.

Option No. 2: debt consolidation

One of the best options you’ll find on your journey to Texas debt relief is the consolidation of your loans. In this case, you apply for a new loan, the proceeds from which are directed to pay off your other debts.

So, for example, if your combined credit card debt is $10,000, you’ll apply for a loan for this amount and proceed to make a single monthly payment on the new loan.

The sooner you pursue debt consolidation, the better because it can prevent your credit score from spiraling out of control due to missed payments. That credit score will come into play when you are trying to secure a lower interest rate than you’ve been paying.

One of the added benefits of debt consolidation in Texas is it will streamline your monthly bills, which should help you to stay organized when the due date rolls around.

Of course, not all Texas debt relief programs are the same, and this extends to debt consolidation companies.

Before you sign on the dotted line, be sure to find out what’s expected of you in the way of upfront fees, interest rates, and the payment term so you know when you will finally start feeling debt relief.

If a company is promising you the world and using terms like “zero interest” or guaranteeing approval, make a beeline in the other direction. There are no guarantees.

Option No. 3: debt settlement

Texas debt relief programs should also include the option for debt settlement, the details of which vary depending on the company.

With this option, the company negotiates a debt settlement amount with creditors on your behalf for less than the full amount you owe. The idea here for the creditors is that something is better than nothing.

While the settlement is made in one lump-sum payment, that might be too much to ask for someone seeking Texas debt relief.

So instead of paying your creditors each month, plan to direct a certain amount of money into a designated account, likely overseen by a third party, until your savings meet the requirement and your debts are settled.

The main risk with debt settlements is that your creditors will not go along with it. In the meantime, your balance may grow due to late fees and over-the-limit charges.

There are other risks to watch out for, too, and they have to do with debt settlement companies. Scammers run rampant in the debt relief space and can be spotted by overpromising and under delivering, all while charging customers exorbitant fees.

If you find yourself stuck in one of these emergency debt relief programs in Texas, creditors will hound you until the debts are settled, which could be years down the road.

That’s why it’s vital that you take the debt settlement company to task on the services they offer and learn what’s in the fine print before signing up.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Once you dig yourself out of this hole, the last thing you’ll want to do is fall into the debt trap again. Take advantage of any credit counseling services that are available to you as part of the debt relief programs in Texas.

When you do, you’ll not only learn tools to improve your credit profile but also how to spot any debt relief scams from a mile away.