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Is debt settlement bad?

If you're deeply in debt, you're probably aware of offers from debt settlement companies that promise to help you settle debt for some small portion of the total amount you owe. They often claim that a debt settlement plan can enable you to settle tens of thousands of dollars in debt for just a few hundred bucks. In practice, debt settlement is rarely so easy, but it does work for some consumers. But is debt settlement bad when it comes to your credit rating and how financial institutions view your credit worthiness? Here's a brief look at the question "Is debt settlement bad?"

Is debt settlement bad?

The short answer: it depends on your financial objectives. If you're looking to settle credit card debt or personal debt quickly and don't care much about your credit rating, debt settlement can be an effective strategy. But if you're looking for a strong financial future, you may want to consider alternate ways of achieving debt relief.

Is debt settlement bad for credit scores?

Yes. Debt settlement will negatively affect your credit score for up to seven years. That's because, to pressure your creditors to accept a settlement offer, you must stop paying your bills for a number of months. Once your balances have become quite high and your creditors are worried they might not see any more money from you, it's believed they are more likely to settle your debt for less than what you owe.

Is debt settlement bad for your tax burden?

Quite possibly. Depending on your debt settlement agreement, you may have to pay taxes on any amount that is forgiven – often as much as 25% of the amount you saved.

Is debt settlement bad when trying to apply for credit?

Yes. When you settle debt, it means you have failed to make good on your financial obligations, which will make creditors unlikely to take a chance on you again. Your debt settlement bad credit impact means you may not be able to apply for credit cards, loans, rental agreements or mortgages for up to seven years.

Is debt settlement bad compared to bankruptcy?

Most financial professionals feel bankruptcy is a last resort, and it can have an even stronger impact on your credit score. After filing for bankruptcy, it may take a decade for you to restore your credit rating.

Is debt settlement bad compared to debt consolidation?

Debt consolidation typically has no impact on your credit rating. It is simply a strategy for reducing the amount of interest you are paying on your debts.

Is debt settlement bad compared to debt management?

Debt management also has little to no impact on your credit score. That's because, under a debt management plan, you'll continue making payments to your creditors until you have paid off your debt over time – usually in 60 months or less. Also, you'll be working with a credit counseling agency to develop the skills you'll need to avoid debt in the future.

To learn more about debt management, schedule a free credit counseling session with a certified credit counselor from American Consumer Credit Counseling, a nonprofit company working to help people just like you find the best way out of debt.

American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) is a not-for-profit organization that provides free credit counseling and low-cost debt services to individuals and families. Before consumers enroll in a debt settlement plan or sign a contract with a US debt settlement service, our certified and highly trained counselors can provide information about the pros and cons of debt collection settlement as well as debt settlement vs bankruptcy and share details about the debt settlement bad credit impact. We can also help consumers explore alternatives to engaging settlement companies to offer a credit card lump sum settlement. And consumers can find answers to questions like “What is credit card settlement?” or “What is debt settlement?” as well as “How does debt settlement work?”

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