Are you still afraid to answer phone calls from numbers you don't recognize? Take a look at debt settlement after considering 3 important points of which you need to be aware. Debt settlement is a viable option when you're still trying to make monthly payments only to see your balances continually rise and the ol' pick-up and hang-up routine hasn't scared away the debt collectors.
Debt settlement is a program where you hire a company to act on your behalf in settling your debts with your creditors and may be a strong consideration for you if you owe a high dollar amount (10k+) in unsecured debt.. Typically these debts have already landed in a debt collection agency. The program works like this: you stop making monthly payments to your creditors and pay instead to a savings or escrow account set up by your debt settlement company. They negotiate with your creditors and use the accumulated funds to settle your debts. Sounds good doesn't it? There are negative impacts to debt settlement programs you need to be aware of before you begin.
#1-Your credit record will take a negative hit
When you stop making payments to your creditors, that is going to show as a negative mark on your credit record. If you are to the point of using a debt settlement company, your credit record has probably already absorbed several negative hits and you may be thinking that it can't get any worse. Well, it certainly can. Read on to the next section.
#2-Watch out for the summons
Any of your creditors may elect to turn the debt over to an attorney in your area who will secure the debt as a judgement. No, you don't have to own assets to get a judgement filed against you. To avoid this happening to you, make sure your debt settlement company is actively working your file and not making ridiculous offers for settlement that are damaging to your efforts. If they keep making offers that are too low and decide instead to sit back and let your escrow account get a little bigger, that is a good way to wear out the patience of the creditor. Next thing you know, someone you have never seen before walks up to you at your kids baseball game and hands you an invitation to defend yourself in in court. If it gets to this point, settlement is no longer an option. It's balance in full and you may even get awarded the attorney fees and court fees it your creditors had to pay to sue you.
#3-The forgiven amount of the debt remains on your credit
Debt collection agencies used to have a great tool to entice debtors to settle. After the money changed hands, creditors would show the debt as "settled in full" on your credit record and show a zero balance. Not anymore. The forgiven amount remains on your credit record. One other little known fact: you get a 1099 at the end of the calendar year if the forgiven amount is $600 or over. You may have been forgiven a large part of your debt, but now you have an obligation to the IRS to pay income tax on the forgiven amount.
Still a good option
Debt settlement is still a good option for those facing insurmountable principle balances and interest charges that just keep piling up. Just make sure your debt settlement company is making fair offers based on your ability to pay and not based on how much they want to try to stick it to your creditors. Also be sure to get letters from your creditors showing your account as being settled and hang on to those letters forever. Despite the best efforts, sometimes things fall through the cracks and you get a call from someone demanding payment on a debt you already settled. If that happens, dig out the original settlement letter and fax it to them. Case closed.