DEBT RELIEF CHOICES
Debt negotiation is often the fastest and most effective way to get out of debt without filing for bankruptcy. Your debts can often be settled for less than your creditors are demanding and your credit can be repaired once the debt is resolved. There are pros and cons and Consumer First Legal Network representatives will make you aware of them.
Beware of debt negotiation companies offering low monthly payments; some will put you into lengthy programs, some that last up to 48 months. This is usually not going to work well for you and may prolong your distress.
If you make a lower payment in a long-term program, you are merely prolonging your debt problems rather than resolving them as quickly as possible. Aren’t you increasing the likelihood of aggressive collection action from creditors by making them wait too long for a resolution?
The lower payment may seem attractive, but it is designed to get you enrolled in a program, not to attack your debt problems. Once you are in their program, you may be required to send extra money on a regular basis in order to fund settlement offers; this can be as annoying as bill collectors if you are asked for more money.
At Consumer First Legal Network, we look at your income and expenses and complete a financial analysis. We will do the opposite of many Debt Negotiation companies and may encourage you to make the largest monthly deposit that your budget will comfortably allow. Why? You need to get out of debt sooner, not later. If we find that you can afford a monthly amount that is consistent with a reasonable program length, we will provide advice about enrolling you into an appropriate debt negotiation program. If you cannot afford a reasonable monthly payment, we won’t put you into a long-term program that has little chance at success; we may advise you that Bankruptcy might be the best option.
While we’d like to help you avoid bankruptcy, sometimes it is the best option. When you file for Chapter 7 protection, your unsecured debt is usually discharged and you may be able to keep most of your assets. Your credit, unfortunately, can be damaged for ten years when you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and you may suffer other adverse consequences.
If you qualify for bankruptcy relief, you certainly can take that path; however some people would rather try to resolve their debt through a debt negotiation program instead of being forced to follow the mandates of the bankruptcy court and having the stigma of a bankruptcy proceeding on their credit report. We first like to determine if debt negotiation is an available option. Consumer First Legal Network may be able to match you with a bankruptcy attorney in its network in order to help you seek relief under the bankruptcy code in the event it is the best path for you.
Debt Consolidation or Consumer Credit Counseling
Debt consolidation is the act of combining your numerous debts and paying them off with the proceeds of a home equity loan, refinance of your home, or another type of secured loan. We do not recommend turning unsecured debt into secured debt by borrowing against your home. There are better paths.
Credit Counseling combines your unsecured credit card debts into one monthly payment and is a viable option for many consumers. You make a payment to the credit counseling company and they disburse it among your creditors. Credit counseling works with creditors to reduce your interest rates but you still pay the debts in full plus interest, usually over a five-year period. This option may be suitable for someone who is not yet delinquent or who has just become delinquent and has not yet damaged their credit rating. While in a credit counseling program you are not receiving collection calls. Sometimes the credit counseling payment is not affordable and my not be much lower than the regular minimum credit card payments. If you can afford the credit counseling payment and want to avoid delinquency, you should give the counselors a call.
During our financial analysis (it’s painless and quick, really), we will look at your goals and budget and try to determine which path is best, debt negotiation, bankruptcy, or credit counseling.
You are entitled to receive one free credit report every twelve months from each of the nationwide credit reporting companies. Go to www.AnnualCreditReport.com for more information.
* An explanation of the quoted $486 monthly payment: The amount paid to creditors plus the Consumer First Legal Network legal fee divided by 36 months is $486. Please remember, we do not default to an offer of a 36-month program like most companies do. The $486 above is just for comparison purposes. Your monthly payment with Consumer First Legal Network will determine the estimated length of your program. We encourage you to be as aggressive as possible, paying as much as you can comfortably afford on a monthly basis. We even encourage occasional extra payments into your dedicated account whenever you can. Extra payments speed up the program. Whenever you can add an extra $50, $100, or more, a tax refund, etc., you allow us to resolve the next debt that much sooner. Consumer First Legal Network wants you to be on a serious and successful program, one that gets you out of debt more quickly.