Credit card settlement – the best way to get out of debt!

Are you deep into debt and searching for a way out? We are going to explore some options which may help you make the right decision. Needless to say, credit card settlement could be the best financial option for you – it is cheaper, easier and faster than any other alternative that you have.

How to know if this article is for you:

  1.    Have trouble paying your bills
  2.    Get scary and/ or annoying calls from your creditors
  3.    Worried you might lose your home
  4.    There is an actual possibility that your car could be taken away from you
  5.    Find yourself unable to support your family needs
  6.    Have most/all your accounts already turned to debt collectors

You are not alone in your financial troubles. Many people have money problems at some stage in their lives. The good thing is, you can overcome them. You just need to take action while it is still possible. Don’t let your financial situation get worse!

There are many reasons that could have led you to this point, from family problems, loss of a job to overspending. Whatever it is, your financial woes can be put to an end even though it may seem overwhelming at first.

The main factors that land you in your current financial state could be the types and amounts of debt you have, your level of motivation and ability to deal with the problem and your current and possible future situation. Take a look at some of the methods which could help you reduce or resolve your debt here.

What are the ways to get out of debt?

You might have thought there is only one way to get out of debt – to pay what you owe your creditors. However, sometimes debts could reach such unimaginable amounts that it seems impossible for you to pay them all off in this lifetime. What you need to know is that you have several financial options to solve the problem at hand.

  1.  Credit card settlement
     Credit card debt settlement

    Credit card debt settlement

    Credit card settlement is an established method to deal with your debt. The good thing about it that you do not deal with your creditors – the credit card debts settlement company does that on your behalf. In addition, their job is to make your debt go away for less than it actually is. Meaning that they will negotiate with your creditors and reach an agreement for a smaller amount. At the end of the process, you can be debt-free which sounds like a dream but it is a real possibility as that is what happens to a lot of people. On our website, you can find detailed information on how the procedure goes step by steps and the risks involved and how you can easily overcome them. Credit card debt settlement is probably by far the best method to get rid of your debt.

  1.    Self- help
Self help

Self- help

Actually, every step you take to resolve your financial situation is a self-help. This means you do everything on your own and do not get any professional help. It will take a lot of organization, devotion and planning on your own. One of the most important things is to stay realistic and be honest with yourself whether you able to do it on your own. If you believe in yourself, here is how to get yourself out of debt without seeking professional help:

–    Develop a budget

You should always start with having a very clear and realistic idea of how much you have and can earn against how much you spend. The best way to do that is to make a list of all the payments you have to make every month such as insurance, car payments, mortgages and others. The good thing about this is they are all fixed amounts and are easy to calculate. Then you have to also list expenses that are unavoidable, such as food, clothes or entertainment. Follow your spending habits to find your weak spots. Do not forget to include all your sources of income. The goal is to be able to make ends meet and pay all your debts.

–    Try to negotiate with your creditors

Try to negotiate with your creditors

Try to negotiate with your creditors

When you start really having trouble with repayments, it is advisable that you contact your creditors straight away. They might be willing to consider your situation and offer a modified repayment plan. The sooner you do that, the better it is.

Once your accounts have been turned to a debt collector, it might be too late. Your creditors might be unwilling to negotiate with you. In those cases, it is better when you get a debt settlement company which has more experience than you and may have established relations with some of your creditors. They may also be able to settle your debt for less.

–    Deal with your debt collectors

An important thing you should know is that federal law actually regulates when your creditors may contact you and they definitely cannot contact you during 9p.m. and 8a.m. In addition, they are obliged to respect your will if you have made a written request not to be contacted anymore. There are many other bans imposed on debt collectors as well – they cannot lie or use unfair practice when trying to collect their debt from you. Do not let yourself be bullied.

–    Manage your loans

Manage your loans

Manage your loans

There are two kinds of debt – secured and unsecured. Although unsecured debt is harder to go away, it does not mean you should not worry about your secured debt. Secured debt is normally tied to something you owe such as your car or your house. It is called secured loan because if you stop making repayments, your creditors can repossess your property.

Most automobile finance agreements have a clause to do it by default. Meaning they do not even have to give you notice in advance. It is almost the same with your mortgage. The difference is that you are facing foreclosure. Contact your creditors and check what options they are willing to give you. Make sure you ask if there are additional fees to pay.

Credit card debt is unsecured debt. So are medical debt and signature loans. They are not tied to an asset and have a higher risk for the borrower. Therefore, your creditors on those types of debt would be more eager to receive your payments and are more unwilling to negotiate with you.

  1.    Debt relief service
Debt relief service

Debt relief service

Debt relief services may be used as a general term relating to both credit counseling and debt settlement. Credit counseling is a not very good alternative to debt settlement. Although they seem alike in many ways and share certain similar steps, credit counseling has more pitfalls and does not offer the same end result as debt settlement.

In credit counseling, you merely get advice on how to deal with your financial situation by credit counseling organization. They offer their services through local offices, online or by phone. Trained professionals will look at your whole financial situation and work with you on a personal plan which will help resolve your financial issues. There is no saying how this may end – will you be left with more debt or be debt-free? Will you have a higher or lower credit card score? How will it affect your credit report? The question you really need to ask yourself is how much can you trust the advice you have received from those organizations.

Many say it is an advantage that those services are provided by non-profit organizations compared to credit card debt settlement companies which are pro-profit. However, what they do not tell you is that this does not mean their services are free. In fact, in many cases, they have very high fees or even request you to make donations to the organization.

  1.    Debt consolidation
 Debt consolidation

Debt consolidation

It is a somehow complex method of debt refinancing. It involves you taking up yet another loan to pay off many other. You might be able to achieve it through a second mortgage or a home equity line of credit.

A second mortgage, as the name suggests, occurs when the first one is still in effect. It will receive payments only after the first has been paid off. Therefore, its interest rate tends to be higher. Naturally, the amounts borrowed would be lower than with the first one. It can also last from one to twenty years but the shorter the period, the higher the monthly payments. It also comes with lending fees.

Another thing is that those loans require you to put up your home as collateral. It is how the borrower secures the repayment of your debt. It serves them as a protection if you do not pay. For you, that means that if you cannot make the repayments or in some cases, you are late with your repayments, you can lose your home.

A line of credit is a flexible loan from a bank. The bank will offer you a limited amount of money you can access as needed (in your case to repay your debts). However, you have to repay the bank – either immediately or over a specified period of time. It is something banks have started doing recently and it might not really work for you. You have to be very careful. Plan everything in advance on your own and pray for the best.

Debt consolidation is very hard to achieve and is not recommended. Even after this procedure, you will still be in debts. It is meant to only settle a fraction of your debts. It may leave you in a slightly better financial position, but you will not be debt-free and will still have a lot of payments to deal with, not to mention you credit report situation.

  1.    Bankruptcy
people who file for bankruptcy sometimes pay less

people who file for bankruptcy sometimes pay less

You don’t want to go there. Although bankruptcy can be an option, it has effects that will last long and are far-reaching. Bankruptcy information goes on your credit record and stays there for ten years. It is true that people who file for bankruptcy sometimes pay less because the court order may say they do not have to pay some debts. However, it can cause you many problems, for example, when you are trying to buy a home or life insurance.

In some cases, bankruptcy may even prevent you from getting a really good job because your future employers would want to see your credit record and a bankruptcy case is always a red sign. The thing with bankruptcy is that it is a legal procedure – it is the legal way to do it. Not to say that other options are illegal, but filing bankruptcy is what you are supposed to do when you have too many debts you can’t repay. Needless to say, it comes with many negative consequences as well.

There are two main types of personal bankruptcy. They are dealt with in Chapters 7 and 13 of the Bankruptcy code. You should not forget that these are very expensive legal procedures. Both types of bankruptcy must be filed in special federal bankruptcy courts. Meaning you will need an attorney to represent you. Filing fees are several hundreds of dollars and attorney fees vary depending on who you choose.

What is the difference between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13?

What is the difference between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13?

What is the difference between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13?

Simply put, one is straight bankruptcy (Chapter 7) and the other is not (Chapter 13). With straight bankruptcy, all your assets are going to be sold and the money gathered would be used for repayment of your debts. When we say all, you should know for the purposes of bankruptcy, certain assets are exempted. The state makes sure that you have enough left to sustain a minimum standard of living.

For example, your only home (if its cost is up to a certain amount. If it is too expensive, it may be sold and you can get a fraction of the proceeds to get a cheaper place to live in), some work-related tools in your profession or basic household furnishings (again depending on their value) can be exempt. Your property will be sold either by an appointed court official or turned over to your creditors.

There are also eligibility requirements for both Chapters you need to make sure you cover. In some cases, you will not be allowed to file under a certain chapter. That is because  an individual filing under Chapter 7 will get a discharge on debts and will no longer be liable for them. For example, before filing under Chapter 7, you need to satisfy a “means test”. However, bear in mind that the right to a discharge is not an absolute anyway (some types of debt are not discharged, such as student loans or alimony and child support) and you might not even get it.

What does Chapter 13 offer then?

Chapter 13 offers a more lengthy proceeding to give you a chance to keep some of your assets. In this case, the court approves a repayment plan which allows you to use your future income to pay back your debts. This plan usually varies between three and five years. You get to keep things you may otherwise lose such as your house that has a mortgage or your car. You don’t have to surrender any property under Chapter 13. After the procedure ended and you have made all the repayments under the court-approved plan, your debts will be discharged. However, do not forget there are eligibility conditions here too.

You still need to hire an attorney and pay them, pay for the procedure and court fees. Plus, you have to be paying constantly over five years. That takes a lot of financial commitment. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is unlike what you will get with debt settlement where the procedure is much faster, easier and cheaper. With debt settlement, you will have to make regular payments for only a couple of months.

Important things to remember
Important things to remember

Important things to remember

A very important detail about bankruptcy procedure is that you must get credit counseling. It must be with a government- approved organization and must be conducted within six months before you file for bankruptcy relief. You can find a list of such organizations at the U.S. Trustee

Are there any options you most definitely do not want to try?

When you are very much in debt, everything becomes a problem. At some point, all your options sound bad. Most of them come with many risks (sometimes avoidable, sometimes not) and uncertainty. However, there are scam options which you want to stay away from.

–    Credit repair

This is a service usually offered to people who have a really poor credit history. A so-called credit clinic claims that they can clean your credit report. Of course, this service is provided at a fee. First of all, be aware that there are federal and state laws forbidding any company dealing with debts to request payment of a fee before it has performed any kind of service to the client.

Secondly, it is impossible for them to legally do what they had promised. Some of them could falsify documents (an actual crime) and they can be sued under the Crime code. No one will take that risk for you for the fee you are paying them. The truth is, in most cases, they will request an advance payment from you and you will never hear from them again. Make an honest effort to repay your debts and improve your credit report.

Stay away from credit clinics – they have nothing to offer you. The things they can actually do, you can do them yourself for free. Contact a debt settlement company and get your debts settled soon.

–    Advance free loans

The companies who offer this service require you to pay them in advance. It is illegal for them to request for payment before they have rendered any service. You must be wary of those loan guarantees. However, some creditors offer an extension of credit through different means such as telemarketing. They require an application or appraisal fee in advance. While what they do is legal but they can never guarantee you will get a loan. The truth is no one can promise you that.

The legitimate service will not even claim that you receiving a loan is likely to happen (to be honest, if it was, you would not have to use their service, to begin with). In some cases, the fees these scam companies require vary from  a hundred to several hundreds of dollars. Do you want to lose your money over nothing? We guess not.

In conclusion

We tried to give you a complete overview of what lies ahead of you, downfalls and how to avoid them. We believe debt settlement could be the best option you have because it is efficient, fast and relatively affordable. As any other scenario, it comes with some risks but they can be easily solved. Stay informed and be careful when choosing your financial options.

Settling credit card debt – hidden risks and how to overcome them

When you are deeply in debt and searching for a way out, it might get overwhelming very quickly.  You may discover that there are credit card debt settlement companies that could help you in settling credit card debt. In fact, they offer to make your debt go away and they could do it cheaply. Truth is, there are some risks debt settlement. However, it may still be your best option out of crippling debt.

However, you should know that the good offer comes with some downfalls which you should take note of when making your decision. Rushing into something is never a good idea. That is why we want to help you make an informed choice in this article.

What are debt settlement companies?

What are debt settlement companies?

What are debt settlement companies?

Debt settlement companies offer debt settlement programs which normally consist of a series of steps. Their job is to negotiate your debts with your creditors and resolve them either in part or in full. They will reach a “settlement” with your creditors which is a lump sum payment that is less than what you actually owe. Of course, you still have to pay that lump sum.

You will be asked to put in monthly payments in a special savings account until a settlement is reached. It might sound tough to keep up with those monthly payments. However, when you are in debt, you have to pay back one way or another anyway.

Another thing is that debt settlements are typically offered by pro-profit organizations, meaning that they make money in the process. For debt settlement companies, it is a business like any other and it is not unusual to benefit from what they do.

Moreover, some debt settlement programs will request you not to make any payments to your creditors while you are part of the program. They might even ask you not to communicate with them in any way. Even though that might seem hurtful for you in the first place, any action on your part might harm future negotiations with your creditors.

The risks of credit card debt settlement

risks of credit card debt settlement

risks of credit card debt settlement

Debt settlement companies are able to settle one or more of your debts. At what cost though?

  1. You would probably be required to deposit money in your special saving account for up to two years before all your debt can be settled. That equals to 36 monthly payments. Many people find it impossible to keep up and as a result, drop out of the debt settlement program. Although that is a bad way out of the situation, it can be easily avoided through careful planning. When you have reviewed and planned your budget, you will be able to make the monthly payments. All you need to do is make sure you can keep up with the payments until the end of the debt settlement program. In any case, that sounds better than being chased by your creditors
  1. Although it is the established practice, some of your creditors may not agree to negotiate your debt. They are under no obligation to negotiate with your debt settlement company once they approach them to reach an agreement. So there is some chance your debt settlement company may not be able to settle some of your debt. However, that was never the deal. They have promised to settle your debt either partly or in whole.It is your responsibility who you start owing and how hard it is to deal with them later.
    In most cases, your debt settlement company would be useful to you because they work with creditors on a daily basis and have established relations with your creditors.They know what to expect and how to proceed so they will have a realistic idea what can be achieved. All you need to do is discuss your expectations with your debt settlement company and be clear of what they can offer. You need to be realistic too. In case you don’t have your debt settlement to settle your debt, you will have to deal with those hard nosed creditors on your own.
  1. Your debt settlement company may settle your smaller debts first. That means interest and fees on your bigger ones might go up in the meantime. The problem with being too much into debt is you often end up with many different debts owed to many different creditors. To be debt-free, you need a strategy. Reducing the amount of debt is one of them. Many creditors would be much more willing to negotiate with someone who has two creditors than with someone who has 50.
  1.  You might get calls from your creditors or debt collectors requesting you to pay again. Although those might be unpleasant, you should know they do not have the legal right to be paid twice for the same debt. If you want to stay out of trouble, do not do anything rash. It is probably best if you consult your lawyer. The important thing is not to let yourself become an easy victim. If they see they have a chance to deceive you, they will use it and might even sue you for not paying up. All you have to do is be prepared and know your rights.
  1.  Being part of a debt settlement program might have some negative effect on your credit report. That is because debt settlement programs often encourage you to stop sending payments directly to your creditors. However, it is an inevitable temporary situation that will change once you are out of debt. What can be better for your credit report than being debt free? Anyway, in most cases, you have a choice how to proceed so it is up to you.

How to avoid debt settlement scams?

How to avoid debt settlement scams?

How to avoid debt settlement scams?

Take your time when choosing the right credit card debt collecting company. There area  few ways in which they might try to deceive you and leave you with nothing of what they have promised. The most popular debt settlement scams are:

  1.  Some companies try to charge you fees before they have settled any of your debt. Although at some point that may sound reasonable as they are providing you a service, you should know that in this situation, you are paying for nothing because you have no actual guarantee that they will fulfill whatever promises they have given you.Another thing is that such a practice is forbidden by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in its Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSL) for companies engaged in telemarketing those services. However, you can be certain that you will find a debt settlement company which will not try to scam you. You just need to be careful with your selection.
  1. Some companies fail to explain the risks that come with their debt settlement programs. Many of the things you can expect though you can find in this article and some of them surely you can figure out on your own. Your debt settlement company is not obliged to simplify everything for you. Their job is to make your debt go away. Usually, they will fulfill their promises to you, regardless of whether they have told you everything or not.
  1. Some debt settlement companies claim that they can make your unsecured debt go away or that it can be paid for pennies on the dollar. Although, this is exactly how it works with a secured debt, it might go in a slightly different manner when it comes to an unsecured one. That involved a higher level of uncertainty and risks that unsecured debt has for the lender. An unsecured debt is simply said- a loan that is not backed up by any underlying assets. Your credit card debt falls under that category.
    The only reason someone would be willing to extend such a loan is because they expect a full repayment. That is why many unsecured creditors are not be willing to negotiate with your credit card debt settling company. They might even want to sue to get back what you owe them. That is very reasonable behavior and it should not surprise you. However, some debt settlement companies can actually help you resolve your unsecured debt. Follow your track record, talk with satisfied clients of your preferred debt settlement company and decide whether to believe their promises or not.
  1.  Some credit card debt settlement companies will request you to stop communicating with your creditor.That is because it is the standard practice. However, you may want to avoid a debt collecting company that takes that step without explaining to you what risks may come with it.Some of which may include you receiving unwanted debt collection calls, be requested to make repayments or even get sued which may affect your credit record sometimes. You want to be aware of the risks you are taking even when the debt collection company’s requests for you to stop communication with your creditors seem reasonable and necessary.
  1. Some credit card debt settlement companies may even try to promise you that they are making all debt collectors calls and managing lawsuits. Although it is possible that those companies have worked with your creditors in the past and have reached some kind of an agreement on debt settlement, it is usually a wise choice to avoid debt settlement companies that make such promises.
    For one thing, those promises are very hard to keep. They depend entirely on a third party’s behavior and a creditor may change their mind anytime before the debt is settled. Be smart and stay away from credit card debt settlement companies that try to sugarcoat the process for you. If you really want to stay out of trouble and out of debt, find a credit card debt settlement company which you can trust.

How to choose good credit card debt settlement company?

How to choose good credit card debt settlement company?

How to choose good credit card debt settlement company?

The most secure thing you can do is choose your credit card debt settlement company carefully. There are a few things you can consider:

Research
You do not want to go into business with a scamming company. You will spend a lot of your money in the processes of collecting the lump sum required by the program. Don’t just throw those away. You have two options- you can check the company with your state Attorney General or with your local consumer’s protection agency.

Preferably, do both. From the local consumer protection agency, you can learn if there are any  consumer complaint against the company you are thinking of working with. Moreover, your state Attorney General can provide you with another kind of useful information – whether the credit card debt settlement company you have chosen is required to be licensed in your state and if so, whether it is licensed.

Another thing we recommend you to do is to enter the name of your debt settlement company of your choice into search engines. There you can see what others have said about it. You can also find out if there are state or federal lawsuits against it for being part of scam schemes.

You can also request the company to introduce you to some of their previous clients or ask for such among your circle of acquaintances. However, bear in mind that the things you heard may not be true. It is the same with the opinions you find on the Internet. Most companies are aware their potential clients will do a background check on them. Therefore, they can purposefully add positive comments on their business through fake profiles. Be critical of the information you receive.

What are the fees involved when settling credit card debt?

  1. What are the fees involved?

    What are the fees involved?

       Bank account manager fee
    When you become part of credit card debt settlement program, you would be required to put money in a dedicated bank account. However, this account will be managed by an independent third party. You may expect to be charged for this service.

    You are still entitled to the interest from your money in the bank but that money would be used for payment to your creditors and for the fees you owe your debt settlement company. It is your account manager’s job to make repayments from your account. That is why you are paying him a fee for his service.

  1.    Credit card debt settlement company fee
    As mentioned above, you are not supposed to pay your debt settlement company in advance. You are only required to pay them after they have settled some of your debts. Even so, you are not supposed to pay them the full fee. They can only receive part of the fee for the amount of debt they have settled for you.

    How does that work? For example, you have ten creditors and your debt settlement company has reached a settlement with only four of them. Therefore, they can receive only a quarter of their full fee or 40%. That goes for each successful settlement they make. For example, they managed to negotiate two more of your debts, they are entitled to another 20% of their full fee.
    In some cases, the company’s fee is based on the amount you save through the settlement. Because they are negotiating for you to pay cents on each dollar you owe. In case you owe $10,000 and they manage to settle your debt for $8,000, you are saving $2,000. They sometimes would base their fee on this amount. This is known as “contingency” fee.

What information should your credit card debt settlement company provide you with?

 information before signing up for any debt settlement service

information before signing up for any debt settlement service

Important: You should receive the following information before signing up for any debt settlement service. It is important for you to have know in advance to be clear about what you are getting yourself into.

  1.    Price and terms
    The debt settlement company you have chosen must provide you with detailed information of their terms and conditions. That is what they will require from you once you become part of their debt settlement program. They should also explain how much they will charge you for each thing so you are clear about how much the full service will cost and decide whether you can afford it.
  1.    Results

    results

    results

    They should clarify what they can help you to achieve within a certain time frame.The debt settlement whole process could take approximately three to four months but it varies from case to case. It is your debt settlement company job to set a time frame. You don’t want to be left disappointed with unrealistic expectations.

  1.    Offers
    This means that before they reach a settlement with your creditors, you should reach a settlement with them. They must tell you how much money you should save before they go make an offer to your creditors. That amount is the sum you need to have in your special savings account as part of the debt settlement program.
  1.    Non payments
    The debt settlement company must inform you whether you are required to stop making repayments to your creditors and let you know how that can affect you.

Other information you should know:

–    Although they stay in a separate saving account, you still own that money and you are entitled to interest from the bank

–    Normally, you should be allowed to withdraw your money anytime without a penalty unless you have explicitly agreed to something else in your agreement with the debt settlement company. Otherwise, you would be a victim of theft and should seek legal protection. In any case, make sure you know what you are signing with the debt settlement company.

–    The account administrated should be a third independent party. He should not be affiliated with the debt relief company. Therefore, he is not entitled to refer fee. Make sure they are not charging you for such.

What are the tax consequences of being part of a debt settlement program?

 tax consequences

tax consequences

Although you are saving a lot of money by joining a debt settlement program, some of them may be considered income and taxable by the relevant authorities. This depends on your personal financial situation. What savings from the debt settlement program may be considered taxable?

In some cases, credit card companies may report your settled debt to the IRS. For taxing purposes, that would be considered income. There is one exception and that is the case of insolvency. If you are “insolvent”, it will not be considered as income. However, it is a complex issue and may be hard to determine.

It is recommended that you talk to a tax consultant to be sure you are classified under this exception. Insolvency occurs when your total debts are more than the fair market value of your total assets. A fair market value is an estimate market value that an average knowledgeable buyer would be willing to pay to an average knowledgeable seller on the market. This value should represent an accurate valuation or assessment of its worth.

What other debt relief options do you have?

  1.    Talk with your credit card company on your own
debt relief options

debt relief options

Depending on how good you are at negotiating, you may consider consulting your credit card company on your own. Remember, this can go wrong in many ways as there is no way for you to know how they may respond. The last thing you want is to get on the wrong foot with your creditors. Also, they may turn you down.

If you don’t pay your debt for 180 days, your creditor will write it off as a loss. After that, they may be unwilling to negotiate with you. That is because they are already at a loss and don’t have the interest to reduce your repayment. They might be better if they sue you for the full amount you owe them. On the other hand, a debt settlement company in most cases will be able to negotiate a better deal on your behalf.

  1.    Contact a credit counselor

Credit counseling organizations can advise you on how to manage your money if you believe advice would be enough to help you make your debt go away. Credit counselors will discuss your financial situation with you and come up with a plan. Although they work for non – profit organizations, it doesn’t mean their services are free. In many cases, their services will be neither affordable nor legitimate. Many credit counseling organizations charge high fees or encourage their customers to make “voluntary” contributions (that can lead you into more debt).

You should also check if the credit counseling organization is government-approved. The U.S. Trustee Program (part of the U.S. Department of Justice) has a list of all government-approved organizations.

  1.    File for bankruptcy
 File for bankruptcy

File for bankruptcy

Filing for bankruptcy has serious consequences. In fact, it can be one of the worst options. It will lower your credit score dramatically. Also, the filing process is hard and long. You are facing a repayment plan again – the only difference is that it should be approved by the court. It will also last longer from three to five years.
The only good thing is that after you have made all payments under the plan, your debts are discharged. Have in mind that you may not reach this point and find it very hard to make the required payments should you consider filing for bankruptcy.

There are also some specific requirements in the filing process. You must get credit counseling for six months before you can file for bankruptcy. It should also be done by a government- approved organization. There are many government fees you need to pay on top of varying attorney fees.

Filing for bankruptcy is the one thing you should try to avoid. Seek help from a professional credit card debt settling company instead.

Which option is best for you?

The financial situation for every individual is different. There are a couple of possible solutions for your current debt situation but you should bear in mind that everything comes with certain amount of risk and possible negative effects. Credit card debt settlement remains the easiest and fastest way to become debt-free by far.

Getting out of debt: pros and cons of debt settlement

If your debt has started to get overwhelming, you are bound to start looking for a way out. In fact, you have several options, from self-help to filing for bankruptcy. It depends on your personal financial situation as to which option suits you better. However, many people opt for  debt settlement.

Debt settlement is an option that helps you settle your debt for a lot less that what you actually owe. It may sound good but you should be aware of its pitfalls. In this article, you can find out the advantages and disadvantages of debt settlement to help you make an informed financial choice.

What is debt settlement?

What is debt settlement?

What is debt settlement?

Debt settlement is performed by a debt settlement company of your choice. Their main objective is to negotiate on your behalf with your creditors. A debt settlement company could manage to settle your debt for less than what you actually owe. You will literally be paying pennies on the dollar. It is no wonder why so many people go for debt settlement as that is perceived to be an established way to deal with debts.

What is a debt settlement attorney?

A debt settlement attorney basically does the same thing as a debt settlement company. The only difference is that he is a legal professional. For a debt settlement attorney, settling your debts is not his main work for him him unlike debt settlement companies whose main business is helping their clients settle debts. Another difference is  the fees. With debt settlement lawyers, you will probably be getting a contingency deal. That means that he will get paid depending on how much he saves for you. However, some attorneys may be specialized in bankruptcy and advice you to take that option. The choice is completely yours. You need to make sure you compare other options you are presented with. If you have your mind set on debt settlement, do not let yourself be bullied or persuaded into changing your opinion. It is important to know what is the best for yourself.

How do debt settlement companies work?

How do debt settlement companies work?

How do debt settlement companies work?

First, debt settlement companies will discuss with you what kind of debt settlement program you can take up. After that, the company and you will have to reach an agreement on how much you will pay them for their service. You will also have to agree on how much you will be paying for your debts and you will have to prepare that amount in the following months. For this purpose, the debt settlement company will require you to open a separate bank account operated by a third independent party and make a monthly deposit into it until you reach the agreed amount.

Once that is done, the debt settlement company will start contacting and negotiating with your creditors. They will reach a debt settlement agreement between themselves. That agreement states how much you will have to actually pay for what you owe. When your debt has been settled with a certain creditor, you do not owe them money anymore. You have to pay the debt settlement company for their services after they’ve helped you settle your debt.

What are the advantages of debt settlement?

Your debts get settled fast

Your debts get settled fast

There are many benefits of debt settlement. That is why many people decide to go with this option to help themselves get out of debt.

1.  You do not have to deal with everything on your own – In fact, very little is required of you. All you need to do is make your monthly payments. Compared to self-help, you have to organize everything on your own – from your budgeting, negotiations with your creditors or debt collectors. It might get really hard and overwhelming and there is no saying how self-help in negotiating with your creditors may end. The good thing about debt settlement is you can just relax and let debt settlement professionals do all the hard work for you.

2. You have a trustworthy partner on your side – Whenever you are confused about the debt settlement process or have questions on how to improve your financial situation, you have your debt settlement company to help you.

3. Your debts get settled fast – Although it is not a magic tool that will make all your debts disappear overnight, debt settlement is relatively fast. It only takes up to several months. Debt settlement is fast compared to other options which may take two or up to seven years. During your debt settlement period,all you need to do is make monthly payments.

4. Your debts are getting settled for less than what you actually owe – Many times, your debt will get settled for less than 50% of the original debt. That is a really great deal and will save you a lot of money, time.

5.  It is simple  – Debt settlement is simple to understand and in its proceeding. It is only three steps – find a debt settlement company, deposit the agreement amount of money in your special bank account, sit back and wait for the debt settlement company negotiate your debt with your creditors.

6. It is easy – You don’t really have to do much except deposit the agreed amount of money in the special account.

7.  It gets you great savings – your debt could get settled for less than 50% of the original amount

What are the disadvantages of debt settlement?

disadvantages

disadvantages

Debt settlement has few downfalls too.

1. You need to do careful research on your debt settlement company

Debt settlement might be your best option but there could be people out there who try to take advantage of your situation. There are scams and scam companies. Don’t trust the first debt settlement company that you see Unfortunately, there is not dependable listing of debt settlement companies which could make it difficult when choosing the company you want to work with.

However, there are a couple of steps you can take in order not to be deceived. First, enter the name of a company you think is good into a search engine and see what people say about it online. Second, check the company with your state Attorney General. Third, check the company status at the local consumer protection agency. They will let you know if there are complaints against that company. After these three simple steps, you are about done with your debt settlement company research. All it is left for you to do is contact them and see how they conduct themselves professionally.

2. You should be careful about the scam schemes out there

You can find a lot of information warning you about scam schemes. The most popular scam is related to the fees. Some companies would require their clients to pay them in advance. Under federal law, they are not allowed to ask for this. Company may only request for their fee after they have finished some kind of service for you or when they have settled some of your debts. Even then, they can only ask for the payment for the debt they have already dealt with. For example, if you have 5 creditors and they have negotiated a successful deal with two of them, they can only receive two-fifths of their fee or 40% of their fees.

3. Debt settlement might temporarily damage your credit report

Debt settlement might damage your credit report

Debt settlement might damage your credit report

In some cases, you might be required to stop all payments to all your creditors. That will lead to negative effects on your credit report but those are only temporary. The important thing is that at the end of debt settlement, you will be debt- free and there is nothing better for your credit report than that.

4. You may continue to get calls from your creditors

Even after your debt has been settled, some creditors may keep trying to contact you and ask for repayments. Although that might seem worrying or annoying, you can deal with it. The best thing to do is consult your lawyer to advise you on how to get rid of your creditors because in some cases, those creditors may even try to sue you. However, when your debt has been settled, they have no basis to ask you for more money. Do not let yourself be bullied or harassed.

5.  Some creditors may be unwilling to negotiate

Nevertheless, that is your debt settlement company problem. If they are not able to convince your creditor to settle or negotiate with them, they will not get their fee. So the debt settlement professionals are actually highly motivated to achieve the agreed goal. The problem is that creditors are under no obligation to enter any kind of negotiations. However, for many of them, it is the reasonable thing to do to get whatever money they can have than to chase after you forever. When you are too much into debt, they may be willing to settle for less.

6. You may have to pay some bank fees   

You reach an agreement with your debt settlement company and you have to open a special bank account and make a monthly deposit into it. They will be used for the repayment of your debts. The account should be operated by a third independent party and you will have to make some payment to maintain. In reality, the money you pay to maintain that special account is just a drop in the ocean compared to how much money you are saving through the debt settlement.

It is obvious that with debt settlement, you have almost nothing to lose and a lot to win. It is the best choice you can make to be debt-free and improve your financial situation. That will not only benefit you but your family as well. Struggling with an impossible amount of debt is of no good for anybody, not even for your creditors. They want to see your debts settled too and that is why they agree to let you pay less than what you actually owe.

Should I try to settle myself, use a lawyer, or a specialist company?

This is the question that most debtors ask themselves when trying to figure out the best way to go about clearing their debt. Each situation is different and the circumstances of your debt will determine whether you will have to settle by yourself or if you will have to hire the services of a lawyer or the services of a specialist company. Debt settlement is a situation whereby you negotiate with your creditors, using lawyers or specialist companies or by yourself, to have the amount owed reduced. Before considering how to solve your debt issues, please first read our debt consolidation myths page.

Hiring a lawyer will come in handy when you need someone to analyze your situation and give you legal advice that is practical.

Hiring a lawyer will come in handy when you need someone to analyze your situation and give you legal advice that is practical.

Hiring a lawyer will come in handy when you need someone to analyze your situation and give you legal advice that is practical. A lawyer will be able to advise you if you will have to settle your debts or file for bankruptcy, depending on your situation. Also, should the creditor sue you, a lawyer will be able to defend your case in court. Ensure that your attorney is licensed and one who values integrity by upholding the ethical standards.

You may opt to use a company to help you to consolidate your credit card debt or for payday loan help and make the process of clearing debt easier although this is completely unnecessary. The debt settlement companies require that you pay them a monthly amount while they negotiate with your creditors. The amount that you pay is then divided into savings that will be used in paying off your debt as well as the service fee charged for the work they are doing on your behalf. When you have a number of credit card debts, you may opt to take a credit card consolidation loan and worry about one payment. When you consolidate credit cards, you will be able to get the lowest interest rates and benefit in making lesser payments over time as compared to paying the credit card debts individually. The debt consolidation companies will be able to advise you on how to consolidate credit card debt. This will enable you to sort your finances as there will be no more hassle of making multiple credit cards and debt payments and you will be able to possibly increase your cash flow because bill consolidation reduces the monthly expenses.

Choose to settle yourself,

Choose to settle yourself,

You may opt not to hire the services of a lawyer, specialist companies such as a debt settlement company or to settle for debt settlement so as to get credit card debt relief. This may be because you are wondering how you may afford such services yet you are already struggling with your debts. Should you choose to settle yourself, you will have to equip yourself with the knowledge and laws related to debt collection. It is better to do debt settlement by yourself when you are certain that this is the choice that you will settle for and if your creditors are yet to start suing you for the debt owed.

While considering debt settlement, the option that you will settle for depends on your financial situation. Also, while you may hire the services of a lawyer or specialist companies, be sure to get legitimate ones so that you may not end up losing your money to scams.

The effect of debt settlement on credit score

The common myth is that a debt settlement has no effect on a debtor’s credit score. Contrary to the myth surrounding debt settlement, debt settlement may affect your credit score. However, the impact may be negative or positive, depending on various conditions that may be in the present or future instances. Your credit score reflects if you have paid the debt owed as per the original agreement with your lender. A debt settlement, on the other hand,

Common myth is that a debt settlement has no effect on a debtor’s credit score

Common myth is that a debt settlement has no effect on a debtor’s credit score

negates or modifies the credit agreement. Therefore, this will possibly affect your credit score and a potential creditor will take note of the accounts that were closed by your previous creditor closed an account due to such changes brought about by debt settlement. The following are some of the factors that influence the impact that debt settlement has on your credit score:

  • the present condition of your credit
  • your creditor(s)’ reporting practices
  • the amount of debt being settled
  • if your settled debts are in good standing at that moment
  • reduced amount by which the original balance of the debt was settled for.

However, in some instances, it will be beneficial to settle your debts. This is when you factor in the opportunity cost of not having debt settlement and having your credit score affected. An example of this is when you have a situation in which you continuously submit payments late or default on the payments. Therefore, it would be better to have a payday loan debt settlement company assist you in sorting out your financial issues as not doing so in the present will lead to a bad credit score in the future. Debt settlement programs aim to reduce the amount of debt attached to your name and in so doing, this will be able to assist you if your credit score is already lowered due to late payments. Settlement of debts may be the much needed relief that you will need to manage your finances.

Debt settlement is suitable for large amounts of debt

Debt settlement is suitable for large amounts of debt

A point to note is that debt settlement is suitable for large amounts of debt. This is because the larger amounts of debt have a greater impact on your credit score. If you settle the smaller amounts of debt when you have a larger amount of debt, this debt settlement will negligibly affect your credit score. Therefore, when you feel that you are stuck in your finances and would like to improve your credit score, you will need to consider the factors that influence the impact that debt settlement has on your credit score as well as the opportunity cost of not having a debt settlement program.  At times, it would be better to have your consumer credit report reflect a debit account as ‘paid-settled’, especially if this will do away with severe delinquency.

How to negotiate with a debt collector

Falling behind your payments for a credit card debt

Falling behind your payments for a credit card debt

Falling behind your payments for a credit card debt or any other type of loan is never pleasant. You might also have a debt collector who is also on your case and constantly following up on the progress of your payments. It can be draining to receive constant emails or calls from your debt collector yet you are already trying your best to clear the credit card debt. So, how can you negotiate with a debt collector so as to be relieved from such situations?

You’ll have the option to use a company to get you payday loan relief, or if you prefer DIY then here’s how to do it:

The important thing in such situations is working on improving your credit score. You could do this by negotiating with your debt collector and have them report your debts in a certain way. This will enable you to have a credit report that does not have negative information. Therefore, you will be in good standing when a potential creditor views your credit report in the future.

The other option that you have is to offer to make monthly payments. However, before doing so, the debt collector may have you fill out a statement, declaring your income, expenses and assets. Ensure that you give out information that is true because false information may do more harm to your case, if you are signing the papers under the penalty of perjury. Also, you may give information that may work against you, so be cautious of what information you will provide. You should ensure that the monthly payment does not strain your finances and you will be able to cater for your other expenses and bills comfortably. Ensure that you have written agreements with your debt collector after you are done with the negotiations.

If you can afford to make a lump sum payment, you may negotiate for this with your debt collector. You have to set a

Lump Sum Payment

Lump Sum Payment

specific amount that you are willing and able to buy and stick with it. Do not agree to pay a lump sum that amounts to more than what you are able to pay off at that time. This is because a debt collector may assume that since you are willing to pay a lump sum amount, you are able to pay off the debt with an amount higher than that which you have suggested. Most creditors will settle for half the amount that you owe them, whereas others may want 70% to 80% of the amount owed. In cases where the debt collector thinks that the chances of you repaying the debt are minimal, they may settle for a third of the amount owed or less.

Negotiating with a debt collector is beneficial for you and the creditor. This is because you will be able to settle the debt with less pressure and they will achieve their objective of maximizing their returns. The debt collector will be pleased if you are willing to pay back a percentage of the amount owed. However, you need to consider your financial situation and not promise what you cannot deliver. This avoids the vicious cycle being continued as you may get from one debt to another. Be realistic when negotiating with your debt collector and you may just turn around your financial situation for the better.

When will credit card companies settle and when not?

It is possible to settle debts yourself or by using the services of a lawyer or a payday loan consolidation company. You may also choose the option of debt settlement so as to clear your loans. However, it is not always expected that the credit card company will agree to credit card debt settlement as a way to clear the debt. You need to be familiar with the circumstances that may be considered for debt settlement and those in which debt settlement will not be agreed to by credit companies.

Instances when credit card companies can settle:

Instances when credit card companies can settle

Instances when credit card companies can settle

  1. If you are almost bankrupt and you have been delaying on making the payments, but you are willing to make a lump-sum payment. Your credit card company will agree to settle in such a situation, even for half the amount owed, as this will be better than not receiving any money at all.
  2. If a debtor encounters hardships such as permanent job loss, the credit card company may agree to lower the minimum payment amount. This is if the debtor communicates with the credit card company and explains his or her situation to them.
  3.  If you are a new credit card holder, the credit card company may offer to waive the annual fee that is due in the first year. To the credit card company, this can be overseen as they would like to retain you as a client.

 

 

Instances when credit card companies cannot settle:

  1. If you have been a card holder for a number of years, the credit card holder may not easily waive the annual fees that are charged to your account.
  2. If you have been in the habit of making late payments, your credit card company may hesitate to offer you a debt settlement agreement. This is because a new agreement will cancel the previous one, which was not being acted upon duly by you.
  3. If your situation does not justify the hardships that qualify for debt settlement, you may not benefit from getting credit card debt relief. The creditor will assess your situation and if it is found that you still have a steady flow of income and are able to pay off the amount owed after sorting your monthly expenses and utilities, you may probably not get debt settlement.
bankruptcy-worksheet

Filing for bankruptcy is not necessarily

As you can see, filing for bankruptcy is not necessarily the best option if you would like to get out of debt. If your conditions are those that may be considered for credit debt settlement, approach your creditor and explain your situation to them. Be polite but persistent in your approach, as there is a possibility of your request being rejected. Debt settlement is a better option and solution to avoid having your credit score affected should you fail to pay amounts owed over a period of 180 days. Remember, you have got nothing to lose by making your request but you may stand to lose it all if you hesitate on getting credit card debt settlement. Keep your records well as this will enable you to have the numbers on the tip of your fingers and present your case better.

Myths about credit card debt settlement

There are various myths that surround credit card debt settlement. A debtor may not tell apart the truth from these myths that are often told. The following are some of the myths associated with getting out of debt and the truth about credit card debt settlement:

You Need to pay someone so as to get yourself out of debt

You Need to pay someone so as to get yourself out of debt

Myth 1: You need to pay someone so as to get yourself out of debt.
Fact:
This is not often necessary in some instances. There is an increase in the number of debt settlement companies that are scams. Do yourself a favor and avoid losing more money to such scams. The situation is only well understood by you and you can negotiate the debt settlement terms for yourself. A debtor will put in more effort to get out of debt than one who is hired to do this. However, it is agreed that in some instances, it will be advantageous to have a negotiator or a payday loan debt settlement company.

Myth 2: An individual’s credit score will not be hurt by credit card debt settlement
Fact:
Settlement of debt, just like bankruptcy can affect your credit score. Although debt settlements and defaults may not influence your credit score if they are not reported, this is just a temporary situation. The truth of the matter is that debt settlements are normally reported, eventually.

Any individual with a good reason can get their credit card balance slashed into half

Any individual with a good reason can get their credit card balance slashed into half

Myth 3: Any individual with a good reason can get their credit card balance slashed into half
Fact:
There are underwriting criteria that are looked into so as to enable a debtor to have his or her credit card balance halved. Debt settlement companies and creditors will conduct a thorough screening to prove that one is experiencing the hardship that meets the underwriting criteria. A debtor experiencing hardships such as a divorce, temporary job loss and medical problems may get debt settlement.

Myth 4:  The debt will stay forever if I do not settle it
Fact:  
There are statutes of limitation in each state that limit the duration in which debt collectors may file lawsuits over credit card debts that are yet to be paid. Therefore, if a debtor has an unpaid amount over a number of years on a charge account, such a debt is not legally enforceable. This is because at such a point, the payment to be made will be considered voluntary and not in a debtor’s interest as negates the argument of the credit card debt collection limitation.

Myth 5: Filing for bankruptcy or getting debt settlement are my only options when I am unable to pay the credit card debt.
Fact:
These are options that are extreme, which may lower your credit score and you have other options such as getting forbearance. This is a situation whereby you may still be charged an interest on your loan, but you will be allowed to make payments in smaller amounts or to make no payment at all. Instances such as a job loss are considered for forbearance.

These are just some of the myths about credit card debt explained. However, if you find it challenging to settle your debt, do consider managing your finances well and be well informed on the options available to you.