The hazards of a debt settlement plan.
When you find yourself deeply in debt and can’t see a clear way out, a debt settlement plan may seem like a good idea. Perhaps you’ve been contacted by a debt settlement company or seen an advertisement that promised to show you how to settle debt for pennies on the dollar. But before you enter a debt settlement plan, it’s wise to seek advice from a professional credit counselor, because debt settlement programs aren’t always what they seem to be.
What is a debt settlement program? Under a debt settlement plan, you’ll stop making payments to your creditors and you’ll begin paying a debt settlement company instead. After several months, as your accounts become delinquent, the debt settlement company will approach your creditors to try to settle the debt for a fraction of what you owe. The downside of a debt settlement plan is that your credit score will take a hit, and you may be unable to get credit or loans for years. And because creditors are not obligated to settle your debt, a debt settlement plan may leave you more deeply in debt.
Get professional advice before starting a debt settlement plan.
Before you decide to apply for debt settlement, it’s a smart idea to talk with a financial professional like the credit counselors at American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC). As a nonprofit agency, we’ve been helping people get out of debt and make a plan to live debt-free since 1991. We provide free credit counseling that can help to evaluate your financial situation, identify all the options getting out of debt – including debt consolidation vs debt settlement – and help you decide which option will help you best achieve your financial goals.
Debt management: an effective alternative to a debt settlement plan.
For many consumers, a debt management plan is a more effective approach to getting out of debt than a debt settlement plan. With a debt management plan, you’ll work with our credit counselors to create a budget you can live with while you pay down your debt quickly – usually in five years or less. Rather than paying your creditors directly each month, you’ll make one payment to ACCC, and our team will take responsibility for paying your creditors on your behalf. This helps to ensure your payments are made on time while simplifying your financial life and reducing your stress. We’ll also work with your creditors to ask for reductions in finance charges, interest rates, late fees and over-limit fees to reduce the amount you owe. We’ll also work with you to develop financial habits and practices that will let you live debt-free in the future. And with service fees that are among the lowest in the industry, you can be sure that a debt management plan with ACCC will help you save money over the cost of a debt settlement plan.