Is a debt settlement program right for you?
Considering a debt settlement program? Here’s some information you should keep in mind.
A debt settlement program is designed to help you settle debt with your creditors for less than you owe. Some settlement services advertise that they can settle your debt for pennies on the dollar. When you enroll in a debt settlement program, you’ll stop making monthly payments to your creditors and instead will put money into a savings account managed by the debt settlement company. After several months, when your accounts become seriously delinquent, the company will approach your creditors and offer to settle your debt for less than the amount you owe.
While a debt settlement program may work for some consumers, there’s no guarantee that your creditors will want to settle debt in this way. You may end up owing additional penalties or you may be sued by your creditors. If you’re able to settle, you’ll likely owe a hefty fee to the debt settlement program, and you’ll have to pay taxes on the debt that was forgiven.
How bad is debt settlement for your credit? When your accounts go delinquent, your credit rating will inevitably take a dive. For a number of years, you’ll likely have trouble applying for credit, buying a car, getting a loan, or building your financial future.
That’s why, before joining a debt settlement program, it’s wise to seek debt settlement advice from an objective, trusted professional.
Get advice on a debt settlement program from ACCC.
American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) is a not-for-profit organization that provides free credit counseling and low-cost financial services to consumers nationwide. Our goal: to help you find the best and fastest way out of debt, and to learn to live without debt in the future.
When you come to ACCC for free credit counseling, our professional credit counselors will work with you to get a clear sense of your financial situation and to explore the best options available to you. We can explain how a debt settlement program works, answer questions like “How does debt settlement affect my credit?” and help you understand the pros and cons of bankruptcy versus debt settlement. We’ll also direct you to social service referrals, if necessary, as well as educational materials and resources that can help you build skills to manage money more effectively.
Debt management: a great alternative to a debt settlement program.
When you want to reduce debt without the negative debt settlement credit impact, a debt management plan may be the right choice. Under a debt management arrangement, you’ll make one payment to ACCC each month and we’ll take care of paying your creditors for you, helping to simplify your financial life. We’ll also seek reductions in interest rates and fees to help you pay debt off faster. Unlike a debt settlement program, your credit rating will not be damaged for years. And we’ll work with you to develop a budget and the financial habits that will let you pay your debt off faster and live debt-free in the future.