Debt settlement companies are trying to set up shop in Georgia, but the state House banking committee defeated a bill that would permit the companies to operate there. HB 465 may be revived and presented in the state Senate or be attached to another bill. Lead sponsor Rep. Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta) argued that the measure would help consumers by giving them alternatives to bankruptcy. Many consumer advocates, however, counter that debt settlement firms charge high fees and often fail to protect consumers from creditor lawsuits, wage garnishment, or harassment from collectors. HB 465 would require that companies disclose alternative forms of assistance and forbid them from charging for settlement services until the consumer agrees to a plan and makes a first payment toward debt. Critics of the bill would prefer to see a cap on the fees charged by debt settlement companies.