Did you know that you can negotiate with your creditors?
This is known as a debt settlement, whether you do it yourself or through a third-party company.
It may apply to most types of unsecured loans and credit card debts.
Business, student, and mortgage loans are not eligible.
Debt settlement is a good option for many people, especially those with credit issues and huge loan debts.
However, this strategy also poses several risks.
As with debt consolidation, debt settlement will make your credit score take a hit.
Also, not all creditors agree to settle, which means your debt won’t change.
However, before determining whether debt settlement is a good option to reduce your credit card or loan debt, you should understand more about it.
Here’s all the information you didn’t know you needed.
What Is Debt Settlement?
The term “debt settlement” describes when you settle off your debts for less than what you currently owe.
However, settling your debts doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay what you owe.
Actually, there’s a promise you must keep: pay the settled amount in full.
In this regard, debt settlement is also known as debt relief or debt adjustment.
It’s often handled by a debt settlement company. However, many people take care of negotiations themselves.
While debt settlement or relief is a good option for those struggling to pay off their existing loans and credit cards, it can also cause more financial harm.
Also, as mentioned, not all lenders accept debt settlements.
What Is a Debt Settlement Company? Do You Need One?
When you think debt relief is the best option for you but don’t want to handle the negotiations with your creditor, using a debt settlement company as a middleman may be the solution.
Overall, a debt settlement company handles the conversations between you and your lenders or creditors to reduce or, in a best-case scenario, eliminate your debts.
While hiring a debt settlement company isn’t required, and individuals can handle the negotiations themselves, having helpful and experienced experts by your side can make the process easier.
However, before contacting a debt settlement company and using its services, you should understand the process and determine if it’s a good option.
You may want to find debt settlement solutions that are state-specific or nationwide.
Different debt settlement companies offer different services and terms.
Therefore, you must make sure they suit your needs and goals.
Understanding How Debt Settlement Works
Essentially, debt relief is an agreement between you and your lenders or creditors.
Therefore, you should reach out to them and explain your financial situation. The process is similar if you use a debt settlement company.
As part of a debt settlement, you can lower the amount of money you owe or the interest rate of your loan. If the lender or creditor doesn’t agree, you can try to find a solution that benefits both parties.
The main difference between using a debt settlement company and handling the negotiations yourself is that you must pay for experts’ services. They usually charge flat fees or a percentage of your savings.
Therefore, you should consider that even if you settle your debts for less than what you owe, you still have to cover additional costs.
Also, when working with debt settlement companies, people must put money into a savings account instead of continuing to pay creditors.
Debt settlement companies have access to those accounts and use the regular amounts you deposit to pay off your debt or collect their fees.
Whether you and your creditor settle your current debts by a lower monthly payment, a reduced amount, or a debt discharge, there will be new repayment terms. However, you don’t have to agree to all of them if you don’t want to.
After both parties reach an agreement, make payments on time as agreed in the new terms. Otherwise, your credit score can plummet.
What Are The Risks of a Debt Settlement?
Debt relief can be a convenient option for people with huge debts struggling to pay off their personal loans and credit cards, especially when debt consolidation is not an option.
However, there are some risks and drawbacks along the way.
Also, even if you find a reliable debt settlement company, you may have to wait for years while negotiations are handled.
Additionally, creditors aren’t forced to do business with debt settlement companies.
Many people try to settle their debts themselves by speaking directly with their creditors.
However, doing so doesn’t mean you’ll avoid paying a huge amount of money or affecting your credit scores.
There are also huge fees associated with debt settlement services, which often vary based on local and state laws.
Debt settlement professionals usually charge between 15% and 25% of the debt.
Finally, there are taxes.
If it’s over $600, the forgiven debt is taxable.
Therefore, after you settle your debts, you could be on the hook with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
How Bad Debt Settlement Can Hurt Your Credit Score?
Before negotiating a debt settlement with your creditor to reduce your monthly payments on your personal loans, you should obtain more information about how this strategy can affect your credit score.
Overall, this strategy will negatively impact your credit score.
Many debt settlement companies ask consumers to stop making payments on their credit cards or loans during negotiations.
Debt settlement professionals often ask their clients to stop making payments to credit cards because a lender or creditor won’t likely negotiate with a consumer who can still pay their bills.
As a result, while the accounts are in negotiations, your credit score can take a hit. Also, you can be sued.
An account marked as “settled” can also affect your credit score.
Alternatives to Debt Settlement
As mentioned, not all creditors and lenders will agree to debt settlement.
Also, there are some risks that could affect your personal and financial life.
Don’t forget to check that information!
If you think that debt relief is not the best option for you, consider the following alternatives:
Although it’s often considered the last resort, filing for bankruptcy can be an attractive option to remove most outstanding debt, such as most loans and credit cards.
However, filing for bankruptcy won’t work for student, mortgage, and business loans or debts related to child support.
Some people also opt for debt consolidation, which is when they take out another loan to pay off their existing debt.
It’s a great idea because it allows borrowers to make one payment instead of many.
Also, there are debt consolidation options for student loans.
If you work with a non-profit credit counseling agency, you can also develop a debt management plan that favors your personal finances.
Debt counseling agencies work in a similar way to debt settlement companies to reduce your credit card or loan debt.
There are also balance transfers, which allow you to transfer your credit card debt to a new credit card with 0% APR for one or two years.
As a result, the monthly interest payment will be lower.
Final Thoughts – Is Debt Settlement a Good Idea to Reduce Your Loan or Credit Card Debt?
Reaching a debt settlement with your creditor can be a relief if you have to make huge payments on your credit cards or loan debt, but this process also has some drawbacks.
Additionally, it is not available for student, mortgage, or car loans.
Many creditors don’t want to do business with debt settlement companies.
Others don’t settle at all.
Furthermore, even if they’re willing to reduce the amount of debt, negotiations can take a long time, and you may end up paying more money or a higher interest rate.
Debt settlement can also have an impact on your credit score and hurt your finances even more.
Therefore, you must evaluate all your options to make a sound decision. Fortunately, here’s all the information you need.