Deeply in Debt? What Are Your Options!
If debt is mounting and you continually find yourself struggling every month, it may be time to seek debt relief. An important part of selecting the best way to eliminate your debt is to realize when it’s time to ask for help. Debt consolidation and debt settlement programs are both very popular ways to help consumers get out of debt in a short period of time, but are they right for you? Neither of these programs are available for people who are simply tired of paying their bills, but they are available to those who are already late with payments, have bills in collections or have had a sudden change in their income.
There are a number of non-profit organizations currently offering debt management services, which include both debt consolidation and debt settlement. Some companies may offer both, while others may specialize in one or the other. In order to be eligible for either of these programs, you must be able to show that there is not sufficient income to pay your bills as they currently require. If this sounds like your situation, debt relief may be just a phone call away.
If you are receiving calls from your creditor’s collections department, speak with them openly and honestly regarding your situation. Once you have signed up with a debt management company specializing in either debt consolidation or debt settlement, inform your creditor(s) of the name and telephone number of the company. In most cases, this will stop the collection calls while the creditor verifies the information that you provided. By explaining the fact that you are working with a company who will be submitting a proposal on your behalf, most creditors will accept this information as your good faith desire to repay your debts. As the telephone begins to stop ringing, you will gain some much needed relief from the stress associated with being constantly reminded of your financial woes.
When a debt management company sends your proposed new monthly payments, interest rates and/or debt settlement offers, the creditor(s) will either accept or deny the offer. Within weeks, you will be informed of their decision and will have the ability to call the debt management agency to remain updated with creditor’s responses. After 1-3 months of consecutive payments made through a debt relief agency, most creditors will begin to list your account as current with credit reporting agencies.
It is recommended that consumers check their credit report periodically in order to maintain the accuracy of the content and to prevent them from being a victim of identity theft. Each year, you are entitled to receive a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies, including Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. If you enroll in a debt consolidation or debt settlement program, it’s a good idea to check your credit report prior to enrollment and then again after six months. When you compare the two timeframes, you will likely see a great improvement as creditors begin to receive their payments and update your credit reports accordingly. If any of the information is inaccurate, you can file a dispute with the credit reporting agency and get the corrected version updated in a short amount of time.
Dealing with debt is not an easy task. In fact, it can be a very exhausting experience. Once you have faced your finances and made an important step toward eliminating your debt, your life will begin to improve right along with your credit score.
What Is Debt Consolidation?
“Drowning in debt? Give us a call today and we’ll get those creditors off your back for good!”
We’ve all heard the claims from debt-consolidation companies. The catchy television and radio commercials – promising to remove debt and make the endless phone calls from creditors stop – can be enticing for those who truly are drowning in debt. Desperate people can and do fall for these pitches every day, and end up with worse financial troubles than those with which they started.
The Better Business Bureau warns consumers against debt consolidation companies which make the following claims:
• The ability to remove all debt
• Warns clients against communicating directly with creditors
• Offers to pay down debt for an upfront fee from the client
• Asks client to pay a percentage of the total amount of debt being eliminated
• The ability to remove negative marks on a client’s credit report
• The ability to prevent bankruptcy
For every bogus debt consolidation company out there, a legitimate service exists that truly can help consumers who are overwhelmed with debt. But how do consumers tell the difference between a valid company and one that is just out to scam them?
To answer that question, a consumer must first understand what debt consolidation is and what it is not.
The way true debt consolidation is supposed to work is to take multiple sources of debt – such as from credit cards, mortgages, utilities and loans – and combines them into one manageable monthly payment. Properly combining debt can allow the consumer to still meet their financial obligations without draining their bank account each month.
True debt consolidation also should provide certain key benefits to clients who use a debt consolidation service.
One of the biggest benefits to debt consolidation is the reduction of interest rates on loans and credit cards. A big reason consumers get behind on payments and are unable to ever truly pay off debt is because they often are saddled with high interest rates. Even if they make the minimum payment each month, they may never realistically pay off the full amount due to compounding interest rates from month to month.
A quality debt consolidation service will make it a top priority to combine all debt and reduce the overall interest rate being applied to the monthly repayment process. If the company you have chosen does not offer this tactic, then they are not a company with which it is worth doing business.
Debt consolidators also should be able to combine all sources of debt into one monthly payment, and reduce or eliminate all late penalties and fees for their clients.