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Debt Management vs. Bankruptcy

Aug 17, 2007
Every day, individuals and families are forced into bankruptcy simply because there is no other way out of their financial distress. It is important to realize that, before having to file for bankruptcy, every possible option should be explored to help avoid the single most damaging blemish that a credit report can possess.

Companies that offer debt management, also known as debt relief, provide special programs to help those eligible to repay their debts without having to file for bankruptcy. Many people assume that just because their payments are already late and their credit is already bad, bankruptcy cannot possibly hurt them. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Bankruptcy is severe and is only for those who have exhausted all other efforts. When you file for bankruptcy, your credit report will reflect the filing for up to 10 years. Whenever you apply for a credit card, a mortgage loan or even apply for a job, they will know that you filed for bankruptcy.

So, how will debt consolidation or debt settlement services prove to be more beneficial? Quite simply, either of these methods will show your attempt to repay a debt and will only be reflected on your credit report for up to 7 years. With a debt consolidation service, most creditors will begin reporting your account as current within months of enrolling in a program. A debt settlement notation will appear as "Settled account" and will show future lenders that you repaid your creditor(s) according to a mutually agreed upon amount.

Now that we have explored the long reaching effect of debt management and bankruptcy, take a moment to consider the immediate differences of each. When you enroll in a debt consolidation or debt settlement program, you are simply picking up the telephone and speaking with a credit counselor about your finances. If approved for a program, you will sign a contract and payments will be deducted from your bank account according to the agreement. If you file for bankruptcy, you will be required to disclose every asset that you own, your income and expenses. If you own more than you are permitted to keep according to your state's exemption laws, you may be forced to surrender it to the bankruptcy court who will liquidate the item(s) to repay creditors. In addition, you are required to appear for questioning by a court-appointed trustee hired to oversee your bankruptcy case. When you look at the immediate differences between debt consolidation or debt settlement and filing for bankruptcy, it's obvious that the latter should only be chosen as a last resort.

Debt consolidation is designed to lower your monthly payments and interest rates in an effort to make your budget more feasible. Debt settlement, on the other hand, is a fast and permanent solution to your debt providing you have the funds available to negotiate a fair amount. Most debt management companies will conduct a brief telephone interview, evaluate your situation and explain what options are available for your own individual situation. There is no one universal method that works for everyone, which is why debt management is a uniquely customized program that is as individual as the debtors themselves. Choosing the right debt relief program is all about recognizing the need for help and not being too proud to ask for it.
About the Author
Brian Dolezal is a contributing editor for TopConsumerReviews.com, a leading provider of independent reviews and rankings for hundreds of consumer products. You can find out how top debt relief programs compare by visiting TopConsumerReviews.com today.
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