Debt settlement is a great option for getting out of debt that is very popular among people who are in serious debt trouble. It involves negotiations with their creditors to arrive at a settlement amount (usually 40-50% of what you owe) that is much less than what you actually owe. Once you come to such an agreement, your creditor will write-off the balance of what you owed at the time.
However, debt settlement carries risks:
- Your credit score will go down once you default with your creditors. It will improve once you settle all of your debt.
- Completing a debt settlement can take a long time (2-5 years for most people).But it’s much shorter than Credit Counseling, Chapter 13 Bankruptcy or if you keep paying your minimum payments. It could take you 5-20 years to get out of debt this way.
- Creditors will call you sometimes every day trying to collect what’s owed to them. We tell you to block their phone number so that you don’t talk to them.
- You could be sued by a few of them depending on who you owe the money to. We always settle or setup a payment plan with them before they try to sue you. Most people don’t want to get sued so we always settle with those creditors first.
How the process works
Debt settlement applies to most of your unsecured debt (credit card & store cards, personal loans, medical bills, if you have a vehicle repossession or private student loans). Most of the time there’s a loss of income (job loss, business failure, divorce, medical problem or just unable to keep up paying your minimum payments anymore).
Your scores for your credit cards and loans will plummet. You’ll feel overwhelmed, far behind and your monthly income can’t cover your ongoing debt service on the current terms.
Debt settlement companies intervene on your behalf to negotiate with your creditors to lower your debt which will improve your credit score. Of course, you won’t be able to use a settlement firm for every type of outstanding debt. Debt settlement doesn’t work for secured debts, such as a home that can be foreclosed on or car that can be repossessed if you don’t pay. You also can’t include IRS debt or Federal Student loans. If you’re struggling financially you have 3 options for getting out of debt (Credit Counseling, Debt Settlement or Bankruptcy). Credit Counseling only lowers your interest rates where Debt Settlement lowers your minimum payments and debt amount by 50-60%. Most people only use Bankruptcy as a last resort.
By offering a settlement, you show that you are unable to pay any of your debts, making you less attractive to creditors. Currently around 3-5% of people are late in some way with there creditors. Instead of paying on your debt, you put a monthly payment into a savings account. Once the settlement company believes you have enough for a lump-sum offer, they negotiate with the creditor to accept a smaller amount.
Risks for debt settlement
We always suggest using debt settlement as a great option for getting out of debt, the final call is always up to you. But, don’t take our word for it. Ask yourself if using debt settlement is your answer after carefully weighing the pros and cons and determining if it’s really worth the risk.
“Here are potential downsides to getting out of in a debt settlement program”:
Your credit score will suffer but your credit score is already suffering if you owe more than 50% on any of your credit limits of your credit cards. Your credit score will be significantly lower (an estimated 100-150 points below average), which can take years to restore. Always use your credit first by buying the house or the car before you start a debt settlement program.
Penalties will start accruing to your balance, and interest will continue to rack up, adding to the total balance. Your creditors are allowed to charge you late fees and interest until the account charges-off (when you’re six months late).
Before you sign up for a debt relief program, you should understand what the fee structure will be. Most of them charge 20-30% of the debt amount.
You’ll pay additional fees: Most of the Debt Settlement company’s charge fees for setting up a dedicated account in the program and monthly maintenance fees for the account along with fees to pay your creditors each time an account is settled. We let you hold the money in your Savings account to settle with so there’s no additional bank fees.
Forgiven debt is generally considered to be taxable income by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). You might want to talk to an income tax specialist about your additional IRS responsibilities. You’ll receive a 1099-C on the forgiven portion of the debt. Most people don’t have to pay taxes on the forgiven portion of the debt as long as you’re insolvent and you file form 982 with your taxes.
It is important that you make sure you have all the facts before hiring ANY company who offers to help with your financial situation. Remember, if the offer sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
For borrowers who are overwhelmed by unsecured debt such as credit cards, consider how your options compare to, for example, bankruptcy (chapter 7 and 13). If you’re unable to pay off your debts in a timely fashion or earn enough to service your debt, you’ll likely face several consequences and should explore your options. Generally, if there’s no way to pay off debts within a reasonable amount of time, you’ll have to explore alternatives. If filing for bankruptcy is out of the question, for example, you may decide to consider doing a debt settlement program which has been around for over 30 years and have helped millions people avoid bankruptcy.
Don’t work with companies that tell you to make claims under specific laws or that suggest you lie on your forms. Many debt settlement companies make promises about what they will do, when in actuality; they can’t do those things. These companies also promise to have your debt “declared invalid.” Don’t work with these companies. The FTC could bring a law enforcement action against them.
If you don’t have the funds to pay your debt, use a debt settlement company to help you negotiate with your creditors. This is something that you don’t want to do yourself. The debt settlement company will usually get you better settlements than you could receive yourself. We’ve been helping consumers for over 17 years get out of debt this way and our owner has been doing debt settlement for over 25 years longer than almost every other debt settlement company.