When researching debt settlement programs most individuals will do a Google search for debt settlement in order to find companies that offer debt settlement services to consumers in a financial hardship. After looking for myself I noticed that there is an article diminishing the hard work and effort put into the current debt settlement programs. About 10 years ago when credit card counseling firms started to receive negative commentary from the media the general public lumped debt settlement companies into that category of credit counseling and debt consolidation agencies.
In a credit counseling program you are required to pay an involuntary donation every month for services rendered. Your current monthly payments to your creditors would be debited out of your checking account and transferred electronically to your creditors with a proposal for a lower interest rate. Debt settlement is different.
Debt settlement does have inherent risks and so does credit card counseling. As a consumer you need to be educated about how debt settlement works and what will be required of you in the program.
What debt settlement companies do tell you is important.
1. When you enroll in a debt settlement program make sure you have the contact information for the company you are dealing with.
2. Only work with debt settlement companies that allow you to control your savings account while you are in the program.
3. Having a plan of attack is always the best. Make sure your debt settlement company has detailed to you the amount of the monthly payments and the fees for the program.
4. See if the debt settlement company has already worked with your creditors. They may have sample settlement letters for you to see. No debt settlement company can force creditors to settle but existing relationships are always a good sign.
5. Creditors do not settle out of generosity and the process can take time to complete. Many factors are included in the debt settlement process such as your financial hardship, ability to pay, the age and balance of the account and your available savings in order to settle.
6. Debt settlement companies are compensated by a fees that are typically a portion of the total amount of program debt. Keep in mind that including the fees for the program in most debt settlement programs you will only pay back 50% of the amount owed upon enrollment.
7. When the creditors are contacted is a strategic coordination in order to ensure that your creditors receive communications at a time that is advantageous to the client.
8. You as the client have determined that this is your only option other than bankruptcy or just ignoring your creditors. That decision must be your own and enrolling in a debt settlement program may help your situation. While sacrificing your credit cards may be a smart thing to do the program will also adversely effect your credit while you are in the program.
9. Debts that settle may have tax consequences for individuals that are solvent or have assets exceeding what is owed on the debts. You should consult a tax attorney for further information or the IRS website under Form 982.
10. Some debt settlement companies are law firms some are not. Private debt settlement companies tend to offer better settlement rates and fee structures only because you are not retaining a high priced law firm.
11. As the customer you always have the right to express your comments and concerns to the management of your debt settlement company. Most companies provide a grievance form for quality control.
In the article on Ezine the writer discusses the fees and all of the break downs of how monies are collected and accumulated while at the same time dealing with your creditors to negotiate a reduction in your balances. Most of us would read the agreement for such a financial decision and crunch the numbers to find out if what you have in your hand is the right choice for you or not.
Mentioned in the article is the possibility of legal actions from creditors. This is always a possible however costly for the creditor and not all that reasonably anymore. With the collections industries evolving and realizing the benefit of debt settlement programs many lenders have hand shake agreements to not pursue these types of actions provided the client is meeting the terms for the program. This means that as long as your keeping up your end of the client agreement the risk of said legal ramifications becomes minimized.
The article also covers the BBB or Better Business Bureau. Did you know that the BBB is a privately held organization in most areas? In Southern California the BBB is owned and operated by an individual that owns a credit card counseling company. Seeing how the rising popularity of debt settlement has slowed business for many credit counseling firms the owner of the BBB Southland has decided to give all debt settlement companies in the area "F" ratings. Most of the reports show these "F" ratings and 0 complaints. The BBB is a good idea in theory however without adequate supervision it loses its value.
As a buyer of a service you should be educated and spend time analyzing any path you may take in order to make the best decision for your scenario. Discover if debt settlement is right for you and your family prior to utilizing any service.