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What’s The Difference Between Debt Consolidation And Debt Settlement?

Debt In Oregon: A Quick Look

While Oregon’s median family income is almost at the national average of $60,366, the state’s unemployment rate of 4.4% in March 2019 had the 8th highest in the U.S. So, what effect does this have on Oregon’s consumer debt?

The area of Oregon you live in may have a bearing on how much that figure impacts you and your capacity to pay off your debt. The Portland metropolitan area has the lowest unemployment rate in Oregon ranging from 3.6% to 3.9%. In general, the unemployment rate increases farther east or south you travel.

If you’re an unemployed who lives in Oregon and you’ve reached the stage where you’re paying as much as you can toward your debt each month but still aren’t making any headway, your worries are well-founded.

It’s difficult to be out of work and saddled with debt. Sometimes it’s tempting to just ignore or avoid a problem than deal with it head-on. However, if you go down that road, things will get much worse. Instead, you should take steps to limit the damage to your finances so that you can get back on your feet as soon as possible when you find a new job. There are several things you can do to get your finances back on track quickly.

Oregon (Portland, Salem, Medford) Bankruptcy Attorneys

If your credit is poor, you are usually better off consulting a bankruptcy attorney rather than paying exorbitant rates on a debt consolidation loan, or going through the risk of a debt settlement.

Northwest Debt Defense Law Firm offers competent bankruptcy representation at reasonable rates. Our law firm  will do its best to help you get your financial life back in order because we embrace the belief that everybody deserves a second chance. On top of  helping you in paying off your debt, we will work with you to get you back into good standing financially as soon as possible. There is no extra cost for this service! Reach out and call us immediately for an appointment!

Debt Consolidation vs. Debt Settlement: Are They Interchangeable Terms?

Debt Consolidation And Debt SettlementYou may have heard of two solutions from others – debt consolidation and debt settlement. You might think that these two terms can be used interchangeably. They are not.

Debt consolidation and debt settlement are both strategies to make your debt more manageable to deal with, but they work in different ways and give different results. 

In debt consolidation, you’ll have fewer creditors to pay back. Debt settlement is an effort to lessen the total amount of money you owe by negotiating with your creditors. The second option may seem more appealing at first, but it’s not quite as easy as it seems.

Debt Consolidation: What Is It?

Debt consolidation is the process of putting together several debts into one loan. This loan combines all of your other debts into a single monthly payment with only one interest rate, and from that point on, all of your debt payments are made to the new lender.

This way of consolidating debt can be good for your mental health because it takes away the stress of having to work with numerous debt payments every month. If you get a consolidation loan, it’s also possible that your total monthly payment or average interest rate on your debt will go down. Whether or not you can save on interest money over time depends on the loan repayment term’s duration and/or whether or not you pay any fees for the loan (application fees or origination fees).

Debt consolidation may be a good option when you are able to secure a lesser interest rate than you’re presently paying, the installments are affordable, plus the loan helps you to live debt-free sooner. Nevertheless, you should avoid debt consolidation companies whose upfront fees and interest rates. 

There are two kinds of debt consolidation loans:  

  1. Secured
    When applying for a secured debt consolidation loan, you will need to put up collateral in the form of your car, home, insurance policy, and retirement account. An illustration of a secured loan would be a home equity loan used for debt consolidation. In this scenario, your home will secure your loan.
  2. Unsecured
    Credit card debt, medical bills, private student loans, collection accounts, and also payday loan consolidation are examples of unsecured debt.

Debt Settlement: What Is It? 

When a company offers to help you minimize the overall amount of debt you owe, they are engaging in debt settlement. In most cases, you will stop making payments directly to your creditors and will make payments to a debt settlement company instead. This company will then try to negotiate a settlement with your creditors on your behalf.

Debt settlement could have a significant negative influence on your credit ratings, and creditors that refuse to settle may sue you. The debt settlement process can take some years, and you may be required to pay taxes on any forgiven debt (discharged debt) because it is regarded as your taxable income. When you factor in the fees charged by the debt settlement company, the money you save may be smaller than you anticipated.

If you are contemplating debt settlement, you must consult a bankruptcy attorney first since bankruptcy is frequently a quicker, less expensive, and safer alternative to eliminate overwhelming debt. Chapter 7 liquidation, the most popular type of bankruptcy, normally takes 3-4 months, stops collection efforts, legally eliminates many types of debt, and allows you to start repairing your credit right away.

Keep in mind that proposing a settlement necessitates having money ready and available to pay negotiated sums. If you don’t have the money to bargain with, a debt consolidation loan could be a better option.

Negotiating a Debt Settlement

Bargaining skill is necessary for debt-settlement although the process is really not very difficult. If you’re delinquent in one or several debts, you will start by contacting your creditor to see if they’re willing to negotiate a settlement. This can be done by phone, or you can send a written request if you’d rather have a paper trail.

The creditor has three options at this point: agree to your debt-settlement offer, reject your debt-settlement offer, or issue a counteroffer. If your creditor decides to make a counteroffer, you can decide if the amount they want is possible for you to pay.

When you and your creditor have settled on a sum, you can make arrangements to pay that sum. Again, depending on the creditor, you may be asked to pay all at once or in several installments. Your way of paying can be a wire transfer, a paper check, or an online payment from your bank account.

Once you have settled your debt, it is gone for good. But with unsecured debts like credit cards, you are at risk of having your account closed permanently after the settlement because the lender would not want to keep granting you credit. This, plus any past record of late payments on the account, could lower your credit score.

Can I Negotiate My Own Debt Settlement?

Step one in negotiating a debt settlement on your own is to determine the amount you owe and if you can pay it off without entering into a settlement. After you have done the homework and saved some funds, you can start to think about what your settlement offer will be. Creditors might agree to take between 40% – 50% of your debt.

Remember that most creditors will not negotiate or agree to a debt settlement unless you’re far behind on payments. And remember that the process of settling your debt can take anywhere from 2 – 4 years, depending on how much debt you have and how complicated your situation is.

What Happens To My Credit Score When I Settle My Debts?

Debt settlement can hurt your credit score because you have to stop paying your bills and get behind on your payments. In addition to hurting your credit score, some creditors may refuse to work with you and could file a lawsuit against you for not paying and take money from your paycheck. Debt settlement is not the best choice because it can be risky and is not always the best option.

Debt Consolidation vs. Debt Settlement vs. Bankruptcy: Which Is The Right Solution For Me?

The Debt Settlement Solution

Debt settlement needs preparation, perseverance, and a good amount of patience, as well as solid final documentation sometimes referred to as a Debt Settlement Agreement. When you decide to settle a debt, keep in mind that collectors, collection attorneys, and collection agencies can be tough to work with. 

You must be persistent, while also patient and conscious that their initial offer is usually not their best or last offer, even though they may say it is. You have to recognize when to take the phone call, when to put down the phone, and also when to call back. You cannot call back too soon or you’ll look like you’re too desperate and lose a fair deal. If you take too long, on the other hand, the debt may be sold or a collection attorney may file a lawsuit against you.

If you do strike a deal, be mindful about how you pay for your remaining debt, and most of all, make sure it’s written down. All settlements must be paid in accordance with the law and in terms of a legally enforceable Debt Settlement Agreement. If you aren’t careful, you could end up settling a debt without legal proof, which could lead to an extra tax, more collection efforts, or your debt being sold to someone else. You also need to have the right paperwork to clear your credit report and start building your score back up, since debt settlement will hurt your credit.

Before you try to settle your debts on your own, you should talk to an experienced Oregon lawyer for advice.

The Debt Consolidation Option

Debt consolidation is a popular but extremely unfair alternative for the vast majority of Oregon families. Most debt consolidators are companies from out of state that are unknown and haven’t been around long enough to show proof of worthiness. It usually has hefty upfront fees, unnecessary expenses, and lack personalized service or care. You should also know that consolidating your debt will take years and hurt your credit. 

Most debt consolidation plans are unfair from the start, and they can end months or years later with no debt solution, higher bills, and most of the time, a collection lawsuit here in Oregon. Also, your creditors have to agree to the terms of the consolidation on their own, and there is no guarantee that they will. This keeps you from getting the complete solution to your debt that you wanted. None of these debt consolidation companies are based in Oregon, so if you get sued, they will either leave you or give your case to an incompetent lawyer, who will then lose your case in Oregon courts. 

At the Northwest Debt Defense Law Firm, we see debt consolidation efforts fail each week. Because consolidation is the worst option, we tell our clients not to try it at all.

Consider Bankruptcy As An Option

Most of the time, filing for bankruptcy is the best way to get rid of overwhelming debt, especially if you can qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge. The following are the primary benefits of Chapter 7 bankruptcy:

  • Bankruptcy discharges (forgives) all unsecured debts, as long as they are dischargeable (i.e. child support, student loans, and most tax debt (tax debts are non-dischargeable.)
  • Bankruptcy solves your debts without the involvement of creditors, since they don’t have legal recourse against you if you file for bankruptcy.
  • When a debtor files for bankruptcy protection, all collection activities throughout the United States, including bank attachments, collection lawsuits, foreclosures, repossessed property, and wage garnishments are immediately stopped.
  • Creditors will no longer be able to collect or bother you in the future.
  • Bankruptcy safeguards personal assets such as your home, bank accounts, cars, personal belongings, and pay checks.
  • Bankruptcy has no negative tax consequences, unlike debt consolidation or debt settlement.
  • Bankruptcy completely stops any ongoing negative credit reports.
  • Bankruptcy raises your credit score by deleting all negative reports and adjusting your debt-to-income ratio. 
  • Bankruptcy is quicker and cheaper than debt settlement or debt consolidation, and it gives you a complete solution to all your debt.

While there are alternatives to bankruptcy, it’s not a surprise that bankruptcy is oftentimes the far superior debt solution – it’s a legislation designed by Congress with the explicit aim of resolving debt troubles for people like you.

Get in Touch with Debt Settlement Attorneys in Oregon

To learn more about bankruptcy as a debt solution option, contact Northwest Debt Defense Law Firm to schedule a consultation with our debt settlement attorney. We provide quality legal services at reasonable prices, and we will be able to show you the best way to deal with your financial troubles. Call us right now!

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Northwest Debt Defense Law Firm

650 NE Holladay St, Suite 1640
Portland, OR 97232, United States

NW Debt Defense Law Firm is a Debt Relief Agency. Where appropriate we file petitions for relief under the Bankruptcy Code solely for consumers in the District of Oregon. We represent both Oregon and Washington consumers in collections law suits in Oregon and Washington state courts.


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