Debt collection settlement: advantages and disadvantages.
Debt collection settlement, or debt settlement, is a strategy for eliminating debt by offering to make a lump-sum payment to creditors in exchange for a reduction in the total amount you owe. Does debt settlement work? It depends on who you ask. Debt settlement agencies will tell you they can settle your debt for a fraction of what you owe. But many consumers who have hired an agency to settle debt will tell you that the advantages don’t always outweigh the disadvantages.
So, is debt settlement a good idea? Here’s a short introduction to how debt collection settlement works that can help you make your own decision.
How does debt collection settlement work?
When you enroll in a debt settlement plan, your settlement agency will instruct you to stop making payments to your creditors, and to put money in a savings account instead. After a number of months, when your accounts are significantly overdue, and your creditors are getting worried they might not get any more money from you, the agency will make a debt collection settlement offer to each creditor, proposing to make a lump-sum payment for some portion of the amount owed. If your creditor accepts the offer, you’ll make the payment from the amount you have saved, and you’ll pay the debt collection settlement agency a fee, usually 25% of the amount saved. You’ll also have to pay tax on any debt that is forgiven. However, if your creditor refuses the debt collection settlement offer, you’ll still be liable for the amount due – plus penalties, interest, and potential legal fees if they decide to sue you.
Is debt settlement bad for your credit rating? Definitely. Whether your debt collection settlement plan is successful or not, your credit rating will be damaged for years and you may have trouble applying for loans, taking out a credit card, getting a mortgage, or renting an apartment.
Objective advice on debt collection settlement from ACCC.
When you want professional advice about debt collection settlement and other ways of paying off debt, the professionally certified counselors at American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) can help. As a nonprofit agency, our mission is to help consumers like you find the best way out of debt and learn to live debt-free from this point forward. We offer free credit counseling services where you can learn about all the options available to you for paying down debt, including credit settlement services, debt consolidation and bankruptcy, as well as ways to pay off debt that won’t harm your credit rating. Contact us today to schedule your free credit counseling session and take the first step toward a debt-free future.