The pros and cons of debt settlement.
Debt settlement is a strategy for eliminating debt that involves working with settlement services to get creditors to settle your debt for a lower amount than what you owe. Before you apply for debt settlement, it's wise to understand the pros and cons of a debt settlement arrangement.
On the positive side, debt settlement may help you get out of debt more quickly and for less than the total amount you currently owe. When you work with a settlement company, their representatives will handle communications with your creditors, relieving you of the responsibility of some difficult conversations.
On the negative side, debt settlement is not guaranteed to work. Your creditors are under no obligation to settle your debt for less than what you owe. And because debt settlement involves not paying your bills for number of months, you may end up with additional penalties and interest, legal bills, and calls from collection agencies. Debt settlement can be expensive, too. You may pay as much as 25% of the money you save to the settlement company, and you'll likely have to pay taxes on those savings as well.
Does debt settlement affect your credit? Most certainly - that's one of the biggest drawbacks of a debt settlement plan. Regardless of whether your settlement arrangement is successful or not, your credit rating will be severely damaged for several years.
Considering debt settlement? Talk to ACCC.
Before you enter a debt settlement arrangement, it's helpful to get debt settlement advice by talking to financial professionals who can help you decide if this is the right course for you. At American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC), we offer free credit counseling sessions where you can work with professionally certified counselors to take stock of your finances, consider all your options, and choose the most advantageous path out of debt. Our counselors can help you understand the ins and outs of credit settlement and the debt settlement credit score impact, and determine whether debt settlement seems like the best choice for your financial situation.
An alternative to debt settlement: debt management.
As a nonprofit organization, ACCC is dedicated to helping consumers get out of debt fast and live debt-free in the future. That's why, for many clients who come to us for free credit counseling, we recommend a debt management program over debt settlement.
With a low-cost debt management plan, we'll help you create a budget you can live with while you pay down your debt as quickly as possible. Rather than paying multiple creditors each month, you'll make one payment to ACCC, and we'll pay all your bills on your behalf. This simplifies your finances, makes it easier to stay current with creditors, and gives us the opportunity to seek reductions in interest rates, fees, and payments that can help you pay your debt off more quickly. We'll also guide you to educational materials and resources that can help you learn more about managing money and developing financial habits that will help you learn to live without debt.