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If you are looking at a debt settlement program in order to solve your financial problem, what you are seeing is a fairly powerful tool in terms of tackling particularly serious debt situations. It is only really viable for severe debt cases and is most often used as an alternative to declaring bankruptcy. Given that you are unlikely to go down this route unless your situation is very bad, it is very important to make sure that the settlement company you are dealing with is going to give you sound advice and really help you.
Make sure you spend time looking up the background and reputation of any companies offering a debt settlement program that you intend to approach. There are hundreds of blogs, websites and forums online that you can read through, or you can follow recommendations for some of the companies that have been around for a long time and are known to be reputable and trustworthy. Never be reticent about checking companies out and always apply to a few before committing yourself to one.
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With debt settlement programs, it is usually a lump sum of money paid over to one or more of your creditors, in full and final settlement of your debts. The creditors will usually agree to a settlement amount that is only a fraction of the full amount owed. Then you now only owe the debt settlement agency an agreed amount at regular intervals, if they have paid the settlement fee for you.
This can sometimes mean that your settlement agreement has a contract life longer than the original debt period, leading to possibly lower rates of payment to manage. This obvious benefit of settlement programs is that you can save up to fifty percent or more of the unsecured debt once the process has been completed. You will then know exactly where you are and have money still in your own pocket, hopefully along with some new skills in dealing with finances and debt.
It is crucial to first seek out the assistance of credit counselors as it varies from one agency to the next, regarding both fees for their service, as well as possible limitations to qualifying for debt settlement plans. In some instances you need to have a lump sum of money available to the minimum amount of ten thousand dollars, otherwise this option is not available to you. For other companies it is not necessary to have a lump sum put aside.
Other debt settlement programs offer a loan if you are unable to put a sizable cash amount down for a settlement program and other allow you to make monthly payments into an account to build up a pot of cash. Again, it is imperative to go through all the details of the settlement program. You could be dealing with these companies for a long time as you pay them back for settling the loan with your creditors. Understanding the terms of the repayment, the conditions of failing to pay along with details of costs of the service will determine your success in being debt free. Know what you are signing before you sign it and understand as much as you can about the company you are tying yourself to.
A considerable advantage of using a good debt settlement company, apart from the convincing percentage of money saved on your original debt, can be the increased leverage with creditors due to their reputation with most of your creditors. Reputable debt settlement agencies will have an existing or established business history with all the relevant credit card companies, banks, etc. This makes it easier for them to negotiate not only better rates but also come to an agreement much sooner. The fact that they are dealing on behalf of many other consumers as well as you gives them considerable leverage to negotiate larger discounts on your debts.
Understanding the details of the debt settlement process is very important in regards to it actually fulfilling your financial needs. This process of research, getting proposals and taking advice on the type of debt settlement program that will work best for you will help to establish what exactly you do need and what is available to you. It is important to find the solution that is right for your particular circumstances.
Outrageous upfront fees for debt settlement programs have just been made illegal in the US, which is great news for consumers and bad news for the less reputable companies who have been ripping people off. The use of debt settlement programs is a legitimate and far preferable alternative to bankruptcy and a powerful means to save both time and money when it counts. Just make sure you follow recommendations for reliable companies that can offer genuine help and trustworthy advice.
See the list of recommended Debt Settlement Organisations on the main Debt Programs page of this site.
Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on a mortgage, loan or any other debt secured on it. Think carefully before securing other debts against your home.