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Should You Consider Debt Settlement?

Aug 21, 2008
If you are dealing with mounting debt and old unpaid bills, you may be a candidate for debt settlement. Some individuals have found it to be the best way to get out from under a large amount of debt. Debt settlement is most successful with unsecured debt such as credit cards, medical bills, and store credit. It is not as effective with secured debt such as a car loan because the asset the debt is secured against, in this case the car, will be repossessed, if the loan isn't paid in full. And of course debt settlement is not at all appropriate with mortgages.

You should consider this alternative when you find that you are unable to keep up with current credit card payments or have credit cards that are frequently over limit. Once these things start to occur, it is very difficult to break the cycle. Over the limit fees, late charges, and other fees start to kick in and increase your debt total.

Debt settlement is just that: settling your debt with each of your creditors. Not surprisingly, many creditors would rather accept partial payment on a debt, as opposed to no payment at all. When accounts reach a critical point credit card companies realize the odds of receiving payment in full drastically decrease. Many debtors consider bankruptcy at that point which legally eliminates the debt.

If you consider debt settlement as an option, you have the choice of working with a debt settlement company or performing the task yourself.

Settlement companies charge a fee to contact and make arrangements with all of your creditors. Sometimes the fee is in advance of reducing your debt. You pay regardless of whether the settlement company is successful or not. Others charge a portion upfront and the remainder when the settlement is complete, and still others charge a percentage of your entire debt load paid after the settlement is completed. These companies are skilled at performing this service and may you countless hours of negotiation and frustration.

Many creditors are more inclined to negotiate with a company rather than the individual consumer. They have even been known to lower interest rates and remove late charges and over limit fees. It's easier on you if you don't negotiate with the creditors. Some creditors may try to browbeat you into a higher settlement or no settlement or threaten you with legal action. Creditors are less likely to do that with a settlement company.

Until the debt is actually settled, not just agreed to, but the payment has been made, the creditor can still take legal action. Or the creditor can turn the account over to a collection agency which means the settlement process starts all over again.

There are several valid reasons to consider debt settlement. First and foremost, you get a fresh start. All your unsecured debt is gone. That means that with hard work and timely payments on any new credit you can re-establish a good credit standing.

Because the majority of creditors are willing to settle for less than the total balance due, your mountain of debt will be paid off more quickly as well. The downside is that each creditor will most likely report the short pay to the credit bureaus and that will hinder you in obtaining new credit.

Debt settlement can stop the credit nightmare if used wisely.
About the Author
Dee Power is the author of several nonfiction books. Find out more about debt settlement and debt consolidation Dee's blogs about finance.
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