Debt Settlement vs. Filing for Bankruptcy: The Pros and Cons

October 3, 2017 Posted by kingcade

If you are having trouble affording your monthly expenses and are in over your head in debt, you may consider reaching out to a debt settlement company to alleviate some of the burden.  The commercials are appealing enough, touting promises of getting your debt negotiated with the lender for a fraction of what you owe.

Here’s how a debt settlement works and some of the risks involved:

The process starts by explaining your financial situation to the debt settlement company. You provide the names of the creditors and the amount you owe. The debt settlement company then gives you an estimate for reducing your debt along with a new lower monthly payment. As advised by the settlement company, you stop paying your creditors and instead send payments directly to the company.

The debt settlement company puts your monthly payments into a savings account. Once the account has grown to a certain amount, the debt settlement company calls your creditors and begins negotiating a settlement.  If the creditor agrees to a settlement amount, the settlement company pays the creditor and assesses a fee for the settlement.

Creditors typically do not settle debts until they are a few months past due, which means if you have not already done so you must stop paying on your accounts and allow them to become past due.  During this time, late payments will be reported to credit bureaus, your credit score will drop and you will begin receiving collection calls.  Late payments will remain on your credit reports for up to seven years and during this time you will have difficulty qualifying for new credit.

Debt settlement companies typically tackle the smallest debts, first which means your larger debts will continue to accumulate interest and additional fees. Add all that interest you are accumulating to the fees and you do not really end up saving much.  If you are unable to meet the terms of the debt settlement, ignore the debt or try and repay the debt and ultimately fail you run the risk of being sued.

Many consumers who have researched debt settlement options should also consider Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which erases credit card balances, medical bills, personal loans and other unsecured debts in three to four months.  Filing for bankruptcy will impact your credit score more than a debt settlement, but it legally erases the debts and prevents creditors from filing a lawsuit against you.

If you have any questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at

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