If you've been looking for help getting out of debt then you've heard the ads for debt settlement:
"Get out of debt in 3-6 months"
"Save 40-60% on your credit card bills"
"Avoid bankruptcy and improve your credit score"
All of the above statements contain some truth - and some non-truths. So the key is to figure out which is which. If you're looking for information on this controversial debt relief option, here are 3 people you should NEVER listen to when seeking advice on debt settlement:
1) Anyone who works for a debt settlement company.
When you pick up and call a debt settlement company you should be doing it for only one reason - to get information about the company. You should NEVER call up a company offering the service and ask them for advice on your situation. Why not? Because these people are NOT trained debt counselors who are trying to help you find the best solution to your financial problems. No matter how nice or helpful they seem to be, they are trying to get you to sign up for their solution. Now, signing up with their company and using their service may be right for you. But only after you've done a little comparison shopping to compare a few different options.
2) The "experts".
I know, this doesn't sound right. The experts should be the very people you should listen to, right? In some cases that is correct. But not when it comes to debt settlement. Most experts have no idea how debt settlement can help people in the right situation. And most speak very negatively about this option. Sure, there are many companies out there that are not much more than "Scams" and the experts are right when they tell you to avoid them. But some are very reliable companies, and sometimes settling your debt is the right solution. Unfortunately, the experts usually don't tell you what the right situation is!
3) Your friends & relatives.
There are lots of subjects I like to talk about with my friends. But my financial situation is not one of them. Maybe that's just my personal preference. But unless your friends or relatives have gone through some financial troubles, and dealt with credit card debt, DON'T ask them for their advice and DON'T tell them you need help. Not that they won't try to give you the right advice. But sometimes it is very tempting to listen to Uncle Joe or Cousin Mary and think they are telling you what you need to know. Most of the time it's much better to get advice from someone who is not so close to you.
So who should you listen to for debt settlement advice?
First, listen to those who have gone through it!
There's no better way to learn about how the process works than to get advice from someone who has used this option. Debt settlement is not something that everyone knows about (including many of the "experts" from above). It's a very specific option for a very specific type of financial situation. So listening to people who have settled their debts is a good idea.
Go to Google.com and type in "debt settlement forums" and visit a few of the personal finance discussion forums. You'll read about people who have had good experiences. And you'll read about those who had bad experiences.
Then if you have any questions you can join the forum and ask away. Take a few notes about which companies are the best, and what types of financial problems are most similar to yours.
Second, listen to your own instincts. Shop around and call 2-3 debt settlement companies and ask them lots of questions...read through their websites...get a copy of their service agreements and read through it carefully. You'll get a sense of how the process works, and which debt settlement companies are trying to help you - and which ones just want you to sign up as quickly as possible.
Struggling to pay your credit card bills is difficult enough. Settling your credit card debts can be even that much more stressful! So make sure you "do your homework" and find out as much information as you can.
Who is the best candidate for debt settlement? If you fit one or more of the situations below, then you should probably check out debt settlement as an option for getting out of debt:
If you cannot pay your bills any longer.
If you are more than 30 days behind in your payments.
If you've had a financial emergency (like losing your job).
If you're seriously considering bankruptcy
So, have you had any good or bad experiences with a debt settlement program? Have you learned any tips for getting out of debt? Or do you have any questions (I've used debt settlement so I fit into the first category above)? Use the comment section below to post your questions or comments.
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