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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Debt Settlement - What Does That Mean?

By William Blake

We all get into financial situations that we can't handle from time to time. Sometimes the debt we incur is more than we can cope with and we need help. If this applies to you, then debt settlement is one possible solution. However, be aware of all that it entails in order to make an informed decision about whether it is right for your situation.

Once a debt is past due it begins to grow at a rapid pace. This is because of the many late fees, over limit charges and other penalties that are charged to the account each month. If you have not been able to reach an agreement with your creditors you may need outside help.

There are agencies that specialize in helping people settle their debts with their creditors. A specialist can analyze your unsecured debt to see if you are a candidate for debt settlement.

An unsecured debt is one that is not backed by any collateral. It is a greater risk for the creditor because they extend credit to you with nothing to fall back on except your promise to pay. Credit cards are the most common unsecured debts.

Creditors have the right to report your debt settlement to credit reporting agencies. This means that a debt settlement will have an impact on your credit scores. These affects could be somewhat long term so you want to consider this before moving forward with debt settlement.

If the debt settlement agency determines that your debt does not exceed the amount that you could reasonably pay then you will not be eligible for debt settlement. If in your case the amount of your debt does exceed what you could reasonably repay the agency will begin to work up a proposal based on what you can afford.

Interest rates and late fees will be considered first. The settlement agent will see if he can negotiate a reduction of interest charges or the forgiveness of certain fees or penalties to help you focus on repaying the principal amount of the debt.

Once you have enlisted the services of a debt settlement agent all of you dealings will be with that company and you will no longer deal directly with your creditors. You will pay a determined amount to the settlement agent each month and that amount will be distributed by him to your creditors according to the agreements reached.

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