- Debt help services include: credit counseling, debt consolidation, bankruptcy and debt settlement.
- Choose the right debt help service for your own budget needs.
- Debt help can help you, but is never a silver bullet.
Debt Help Services Overview and Tips
The commercials on the radio and television about quick debt help services claim they can get you out of debt in no time. But is this really true? What do these debt consolidation services really do? Most of the advertisements you read or hear are vague on the details. The bottom line is some debt help services are just better than others. Of course the actual service that’s best for you may not be best for your neighbor. Debt-related services vary in exactly how they provide debt relief. Some consolidate debt while others negotiate payment plans with creditors. Which services are best for you depends on your specific debt situation.
Below are individual debt help services and how they function. Use this information to find the best debt relief solution for you.
Debt Help Services — Loans and Debt Service Providers
Getting a loan to pay off your debt is often considered the most ideal way to reduce your looming debt. A loan allows you to pay your debt all at once. Of course you still need to pay back the loan, but at least your creditors are taken care of. However, many will say ’Why replace old debt with new debt?’ This is a valid point but there are specific types of loans that make it worth while ’ like a home equity loan. A home equity loan borrows against the equity you’ve built up in your home. This type of loan is easier to obtain and the interest is usually tax deductible. Not many loans can offer these benefits. You can often also schedule specific payment time frames with a home equity loan. By using a home equity loan to pay off your debt, you’re getting the creditors off your back, protecting your credit, and establishing a more manageable payment method.
Debt Counseling Services
Not everyone has the luxury of owning a home. And if you’re deep in debt, a home equity loan is obviously not an option. Debt counseling services work with you to resolve serious debt troubles, and we'll cover your main debt help services below. Debt services can be beneficial, but you do need to be aware of possible frauds. Here are some signs of a rip-off debt consolidation company.
Now we'll cover what the main debt help services are for you to resolve your debt troubles.
Debt Help Service #1: Debt Consolidation Loan
If you own a home, a secured debt consolidation loan may be right for you. This type of loan is essentially a home equity loan which is used to pay off your other creditors. Secured consolidation loans help many consumers by consolidating all of their debts into a single monthly payment with a lower interest rate and payment amount. However, be careful before you borrow money against your home to pay off credit cards and unsecured loans; you are converting what was previously unsecured debt into secured debt. This could cause you problems down the road if for some reason you are unable to make your payments, or if life circumstances force you to file bankruptcy, as you may not be able to discharge the secured debt as you would unsecured debt. However, secured debt consolidation loans work for many people, so this is an option to consider carefully — the Bills.com Savings Center is a great resource to help you find a lender for this type of loan.
Bills.com makes it easy to compare mortgage offers and different loan types. Please visit the loan page and find a loan that meets your needs.
Debt Help Service #2: Credit Counseling
Another option to consider is a Consumer Credit Counseling Service, or CCCS. CCCS companies offer numerous services, such as financial counseling and budget planning, as well as Debt Management Plans (DMPs). In a DMP, the CCCS would arrange a new payment amount with each of your creditors, usually based on a reduced interest rate. You would then make a single monthly payment to the CCCS which would distribute the funds to your creditors, based on the new payment amounts. There are several drawbacks to CCCS, though. First, depending on your creditors, it may not be able to reduce your monthly payments enough to improve your financial situation. Second, it may have a negative impact on your ability to obtain a loan, so you may not wish to enter into a DMP if you anticipate any large purchases, such as home or an auto, in the near future. Third, the average DMP takes around five years to pay off your debts, so you must be willing and able to commit to a long-term repayment plan.
Debt Help Service #3: Debt Settlement
You may also want to consider the services offered by debt settlement firms. Rather than making monthly payments to your creditors, these programs negotiate lump sum settlements with your creditors, frequently reducing your debts by 50% to 60% of your principal balances. These programs usually take only 3-4 years to complete, so this is a good option for many people to rid themselves of debt in a relatively speedy manner. In many cases they can also get you set up with a low monthly program payment, however you are making these special savings deposits in lieu of making minimum monthly payments... so you are NOT making payments to your creditors, which has negative consequences. There is one major drawback to debt settlement programs — they will significantly damage your credit while in the program and for at least a few years afterward. You will also be exposed to your creditor's collection efforts, including letters calls and possible lawsuits. However, if you are currently unable to afford to pay your creditors, the hit to your credit and the negatives may be worth the benefit of ridding yourself of credit card debt.
Debt Help Service #4: Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy may also solve your debt problems, but is a very different form of debt help (and not really considered debt consolidation). A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a liquidation of assets and liabilities, and is usually considered a last resort. Since bankruptcy reform went into effect, it is much harder to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and many families are forced to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy where you repay a portion of your debts over an approximately five year period. If you are considering bankruptcy, you should always meet with a qualified bankruptcy attorney in your area.
Debt Help Services Summary
Although there are many forms of debt consolidation, many people with good to perfect credit who own homes should look into debt consolidation loans, while consumers with high credit card debt and poor credit may want to explore debt settlement or debt negotiation. However, each consumer is different, so find the debt consolidation option that fits for you.
Lastly, here are some fast tips for your own quick Debt Consolidation Evaluator:
- If you have perfect credit and have equity in your home — consider a Mortgage Refinance.
- If you can afford a healthy monthly payment (about 3% of your total debt each month) and you want to protect yourself from collection and from going delinquent — consider Credit Counseling.
- If you want the lowest monthly payment and want to get debt free for a low cost and short amount of time, AND you are willing to deal with adverse credit impacts and collections — then evaluate Debt Settlement.
- If you cannot afford anything in a monthly payment (less than 1.5% of your total debt each month) — consider Bankruptcy to see if Chapter 7 might be right for you.
Bills.com makes it easy for you to apply for debt relief with pre-screened debt relief providers. If you want to see a very innovative side-by-side comparison, including a chart comparing payments, cost, time and success metrics then check out our recently published Debt Options Whitepaper.
Debt help services are designed to help you handle your debt and establish a solution to paying everything off. Each service has its benefits and disadvantages, so be sure to select the service that benefits you most.