Enroll as little as $5,000 of unsecured debts in this straight-forward debt relief program.
CountryWide Debt Relief has competitive fees, a low minimum debt and a guarantee that you don’t have to pay debt settled for more than 80% of its original value. However, some red flags might make you want to take a closer look at this company before enrolling.
- Free consultation. Yes, by phone after filling out an online form.
- Costs. Settlement fee of 18% of debt at time of enrollment.
- Types of debt accepted. Unsecured debts.
- Services offered. Debt settlement, debt consolidation loans, legal aid.
- Minimum debt considered. $5,000
- Typical turnaround. 12–48 months
- Memberships. American Fair Credit Council (AFCC)
- Ratings. BBB: A+
- Direct or third-party negotiations. Direct negotiations for debt settlement program, third-party debt consolidation loans and legal assistance.
- Free resources or tools. None.
- Customer service options. Phone.
- Other details. Fees only apply to debts negotiated to 80% of original value or lower, can connect you with legal services and debt consolidation lenders.
What exactly is CountryWide Debt Relief?
CountryWide Debt Relief is primarily a debt settlement company — though it’s sometimes referred to as debt consolidation — which negotiates with creditors to reduce your debts in exchange for a one-time payment. It also connects you with debt consolidation lenders and even provides legal assistance if bankruptcy is a better option for you.
CountryWide Debt Relief — like any debt relief company — is not for people who simply want to reduce the amount they owe. You must be able to prove you’re facing serious financial hardship in order to qualify. Qualifying hardships might include losing your job, divorce, death of a spouse or family member or a medical emergency.
How much does it cost?
It depends on how much debt you enroll. CountryWide charges a flat fee of 18% on your enrolled debt at the time you sign up. You don’t pay this fee until it settles your debts, and CountryWide is able to negotiate your debt down to below 80% of its value.
How does this work? Say you enroll $10,000 of credit card debt. No matter how much your debt accumulates, your fee will always be $1,800, unless it’s unable to negotiate some of your debts below 80%. In those cases, your fee would be lower — though you’ll still have to find another way to pay off that debt.
How much could I save with CountryWide?
How much you save depends on how much CountryWide is able to negotiate your debt down, how much debt you originally enroll and how much your debt accumulates during your enrollment.
Say you start with $10,000 of enrolled credit card debt with an interest rate of 17%. CountryWide’s able to negotiate all of it down to 50% of the original value over two years. While you were enrolled, your debt would have ballooned to $14,016. You would end up saving $7,008 minus the $1,800 fee for a total savings of $5,280. That’s almost a 50% savings from your original amount.
Benefits and drawbacks of using CountryWide Debt relief?
- Flat fee based on debt at time of enrollment. CountryWide Debt Relief charges a flat rate of 18% of your debt at your time of enrollment — not when your debt is settled.
- Exemptions to fee. CountryWide doesn’t charge fees on debts settled for more than 80% of its balance.
- Physical locations. If you live in California and are close to one of its locations, you can call and make an appointment to visit one of its offices in person.
- Not fully accredited. While CountryWide is a member of the American Fair Credit Council (AFCC), it doesn’t have accreditation through the International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators (IAPDA).
- Sketchy website. Its liberal use of comic sans, poorly edited stock photos and obvious grammatical errors make CountryWide Debt Relief’s website look like a 10-year-old’s blog circa 1997 — instead of a company that’s capable of helping you reduce your debts. It also doesn’t contain clear information about the program, including who qualifies, how long it takes or how much it typically negotiates your debts down.
- Spotty customer service. You won’t always get an answer when you call CountryWide Debt Relief.
Compare more debt relief companies
What’s debt relief accreditation?
Most legit debt relief companies are accreditied with the American Fair Credit Council and the International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators which set and maintain industry standards.
What does the Internet have to say about CountryWide?
Mostly good things. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) gives CountryWide an A+ rating, though it isn’t accredited. It only has one customer complaint filed against it, despite being in business for nearly a decade. All of its 28 reviews on the BBB website are positive (though some sound suspiciously like they were written by the same person). It doesn’t have any reviews on Trustpilot, though it has four stars on its Yelp page.
Customers were mostly pleased with how much CountryWide was able to settle, the customer service and its flexibility when they needed to make adjustments to the enrollment schedule. Some complained that customer service representatives started to act rudely toward them after they enrolled, but this didn’t appear to be the norm.
Is it safe to use CountryWide Debt Relief?
It’s relatively safe. Its application uses a secure connection and McAfee software to monitor the site for malware, phishing and other attacks (we verified this on McAfee’s website). The rest of its site doesn’t always have a secure connection, however.
The fact that it’s not an accredited member of the International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators (IAPDA) is also worrying. The debt relief industry has a shady history and this trade organizations were created to help enforce standards and protect consumers from scams — which are less of a problem than they were a decade ago, but still exist.
With that said, CountryWide Debt Relief does meet most basic standards set by the Federal Trade Commission: It doesn’t guarantee anything and doesn’t charge fees until at least one of your debts has been settled. Still, it doesn’t have much information on its website, which is more than a little sketchy in terms of aesthetics and content.
How do I sign up?
- Go to CountryWide Debt Relief’s site and click Getting Started.
- Select the amount of debt you want to enroll and click Continue.
- Select how far behind you are on your payments and your estimated credit score (you don’t need to know an exact number) before hitting Continue.
- Enter your contact information and select your state, unchecking the box at the bottom if you don’t want CountryWide to contact you by phone, email or text just yet, before clicking See Your Results.
- If you’ve been preapproved, you should get a message telling you to contact CountryWide Debt Relief by calling 800-954-3362 for your free consultation.
- If the representative deems you eligible for debt settlement, they’ll send you an email with the application and a list of documents you need to provide. Otherwise, they might put you in touch with one of its partners that provides debt consolidation loans or with legal services that can help you out through the bankruptcy process.
A representative will call you after you submit your debt settlement application to finalize your payment plan before enrolling your debt.
Step-by-step application with screenshots
I signed up. What happens next?
- CountryWide requires you to stop using credit. This means you shouldn’t sign up for any loans or, more importantly, use your credit cards. You’re still required to continue to make repayments on your debts.
- Start making monthly payments into a third-party account to save up for your debt settlement fund, based on the payment plan you agreed to before signing up.
- CountryWide starts negotiating with your creditors.
- Your negotiator presents you with a settlement offer from your creditor, asking your permission to withdraw from your settlement fund to pay for it.
- CountryWide repeats this process with all of your creditors until the program is complete.
Making debt settlement a smart financial move
- Continue making as many repayments as you can. Just because you’re enrolled in debt settlement doesn’t mean you should stop making repayments. The more you’re able to repay, the less your debts will increase while you’re enrolled.
- Make a budget. Keep track of what you spend and make your monthly payments to your settlement fund — and your creditors — a priority as high as rent, food and other essentials.
- Contact customer support. If something happens and you aren’t able to afford your payment plan, reach out to customer service by calling 800-594-3362. You’ll likely be able to draw up another plan that better suits your new situation.
- Have a Plan B. Debt settlement isn’t guaranteed to work — in fact, it usually doesn’t. Be prepared to take other actions, like filing for bankruptcy applying for a debt consolidation loan.
CountryWide Debt Relief could be a good resource for someone facing an extreme financial hardship that they weren’t prepared for. It offers relatively competitive rates and offers more comprehensive services than most other debt relief companies. If you’re just struggling to repay your bills and not facing bankruptcy, you might want to consider other debt relief options.