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Credit Card Debt
If you are one of the millions of consumers struggling with credit card debt, this article aims to provide you with valuable advice and solutions. The good news is that there are many programs and services available that aim to provide real debt relief and give consumers a chance at a fresh start.
Bankruptcy is what most consumers think about when faced with a dire financial situation and a mountain of credit card debt. The word itself may tremble; It should also be that because bankruptcy can offer to wipe the slate clean (to a limited extent) it brings about a vast array of extremely negative and long-term consequences.
This includes the virtual destruction of the filer’s credit record, and the inability to obtain credit and loans in the future because a bankruptcy filing will remain on the filer’s credit for up to 10 years. That being said, bankruptcy has a place in the realm of debt relief. However, this is obviously an option of last resort and needs to be explored in depth with your family and attorney before deciding on the option that makes the most sense.
However, there are other programs and forms of debt relief that provide immediate benefits and relief to those struggling with credit card debt. A new program that doesn’t involve going before a bankruptcy or bankruptcy judge is called debt settlement. A relatively new program compared to bankruptcy, debt settlement is a program that can achieve spectacular results in the reduction and elimination of credit card debt.
A debt settlement firm negotiates with their creditors on behalf of consumers. Their aim is to seek a settlement and a large reduction from the principal amount owed by a consumer experiencing financial hardship. These days it is common to pay accounts at 50% to 25% of the original amount. The consumer enters into a new payment agreement with the credit card companies, and after the payment plan is completed, the creditors report the accounts as “settled” to the credit reporting agencies.
Consumer Credit Counseling
Another option that is available to consumers and can be very effective if they are not too deep in debt is consumer credit counseling. In fact, 6 months of consumer credit counseling is mandatory before being able to file a bankruptcy petition. Still, consumer credit counseling can actually prevent a small credit card debt problem from growing more severe, out of control. Credit counselors are able to sit down and examine a consumer’s entire financial situation. They can identify the positives and negatives in a consumer’s personal finances and create a plan that can prevent a financial crisis from occurring and prevent a debt situation from spiraling out of control.
One of the strategies used by consumer credit counselors is the development of a personal household budget. This budget is important for consumers, whether in debt or not understanding where their money is being spent. This can shed light on where funds are being wasted. When a person is going about their daily life, buying their daily coffee, buying their daily lunch and dinner, renting a DVD, going out, etc., it can be impossible to calculate or estimate how much money is being spent. and/or wasted. With a budget where you can see it on paper, or in black and white in an Excel spreadsheet, it’s much more surprising to know where all the money is going. A consumer credit counselor is undoubtedly able to provide advice and real-world solutions to those consumers who are not too far into debt.
Another program available to those consumers dealing with credit card debt is debt consolidation. Debt consolidation itself does not necessarily mean taking out a new loan, although it can happen. Debt consolidation can be helpful for consumers who are struggling with credit cards that are spread across multiple credit cards, and it is difficult to manage the payments on multiple cards. A new loan can be taken at a lower interest rate than existing multiple loans.
This program has the advantage of giving the indebted consumer a single, low monthly payment that is easy to afford. A disadvantage of debt consolidation is that the term of the loan is extended while the consumer benefits from lower monthly payments. Typically with a debt consolidation program the consumer will end up paying a higher amount, albeit over a longer period of time and at a lower monthly rate.
Finally, we can discuss the granddaddy of all debt relief programs – bankruptcy. Bankruptcy as an institution is established by the US Constitution. The last 2 major reforms to the system took place in 1978 – that reform became known as the Bankruptcy Code, and in 2005 major changes were made to the bankruptcy laws that tilted the system towards creditors. This was done to prevent abuse of the bankruptcy system and reduce the number of petitions filed and the number of consumers who file more than once in their lifetime.
Bankruptcy was enacted to provide the American consumer with a chance at a fresh start, although the consequences of filing for bankruptcy are extreme and severe. Unfortunately, the wide array of bankruptcy attorneys advertising bankruptcy on TV commercials tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Instead, they highlight the positive without informing the audience of the negative. And the negatives are many and considerable.
For example, filing for bankruptcy is a big and terrible stain on a consumer’s credit record. This stain will remain on the consumer’s credit record for 10 full years. With a bankruptcy filing on their record, the consumer will find it almost impossible to get any type of credit or loan during this time period. Home loans, car loans, almost any type of loan that they apply for will be denied because of bankruptcy scars. Another serious consequence of filing for bankruptcy will be the possibility of losing one’s property and assets. That’s because there are many forms of property that aren’t addressed by a bankruptcy filing. Also, assets such as homes that have liens against them do not offer any kind of shield or cover from standing up to bankruptcy and declaring yourself insolvent.
Still other consequences from a bankruptcy filing include the very possible possibility that a consumer who has filed a bankruptcy petition in the past may find themselves out of work and looking for a job (a very likely scenario in today’s economic climate). They got passed for the job they applied for. This will occur as a direct result of bankruptcy filings as more and more employers are performing credit checks as part of their routine process for screening job applicants.
Other effects of the bankruptcy filing will include the near certainty of requiring heavy deposits for basic home utilities such as water, gas, electricity, and phone and Internet service. When struggling with credit card debt, a consumer needs to be very aware of the benefits and very real pitfalls of filing a bankruptcy petition.
Credit card companies
One could make a very compelling argument for placing much of the blame on the credit card companies themselves for the viral-like spread of credit card debt in America today. It was and is the credit card companies that continue to flood consumer mailboxes and email inboxes with credit card offer after credit offer. They have made and continue to make offers to consumers that are sweetened with introductory rates that balloon to much higher rates at a later date. The consumer, quite frankly, is not unaware or concerned at the onset of such a scenario. Credit card companies have also taken it upon themselves to raise rates and hide hidden fees in plain sight in the small print in hopes of getting customers to make only the minimum monthly payment. This is certainly the business model in which credit card companies make their biggest profits.
Consumers who actually make the minimum monthly credit card payment will not pay off their credit card bill balance for 20 years or more—with astronomical dollars in interest paid to the credit card company in the process. It has been shown through calculations that if one pays only the minimum credit card payment on a balance of $2,000 – at the end of that bill payment 10-20 years later, one has paid almost twice the original principle amount. had a loan.
In the end, much remains to be said about how the credit card debt crisis came about. But there’s also much to be said for the good and valuable programs that provide true debt relief to consumers in America today.
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