By Erika Paz | CalMatters
Before the pandemic, Graciela Gomez relied on two jobs to keep up with her expenses. After losing her part-time job at Macy’s in March 2020, she had to choose between paying off her credit cards or paying her rent. She chose the latter.
“I didn’t know who to talk to, who to contact. I was embarrassed,” Gomez said.
An ad for a debt settlement company appeared on her social media feed promising to lower her debt. After following up, she says what she got was a lawsuit from one of her credit card companies in March. She’s still fighting today.
As California emerges from the pandemic, some residents face crippling personal debt, even as many of the state’s richest residents have seen their wealth grow. Among the economic winners is the booming debt settlement industry, composed largely of online companies that promise to reduce personal debt by negotiating with banks and credit card companies on the customer’s…