Debt Settlement Effect on Credit Score
If you’re buried deep in credit card debt, you probably shouldn’t be asking if debt settlement affects your credit score. Instead, you may want to consider if you should really care what your score is. Think about your situation very seriously for a moment. You’re losing sleep and can barely make the minimum payments due on your credit cards. This situation is making you nervous and you can’t shake the sick feeling in the pit of your stomach because you’re always thinking about the money you owe and how you’ll be able to pay it back. Should you be worried? Probably, because this is a legitimate concern, and one that has the potential to remain for several years if you continue making minimum payments.
Usually if you have them maxed out your credit score will drop down so it is important to try to pay off your credit card as soon as possible. Also make sure you do not miss any payments because the credit card company will raise your rate to the maximum and this will cause you to pay extra money in interest.
My first point: if the debt that you are considering is already with collection agencies, collection attorneys, or a debt buyer and is being reported as “charged off”; then debt settlement is going to be a respectable and intelligent decision. Once that debt was reported as being a charge off it cannot hurt your credit more than it already has. Additionally, paying the debt in full to the initial creditor will be literally throwing your hard-earned money away. So, if you were to pay back a fraction of that debt and have it reported as being paid in full, you would feel better, right?
This does come with a cost, though. In the process of reducing and eventually writing off the money that was owed, the lender will contact the appropriate credit reporting bureaus. The money will no longer be owed, but your credit report will show that it was settled and never paid. This will reflect negatively on your credit score.
If you have enough debt that you are considering consolidating it, then it is obvious that you need to. The key is that if you consolidate your debt and payoff credit cards, then you need to stop using the credit cards and get rid of them. If you consolidate your debts and then you run your credit cards back up to their limits you are doing nothing to help yourself. You will end up in a worse situation, then you were in to begin with.
What Should I Expect?
Even the accounts that are current once you start the consolidation program should be expected to run late for at least a month or two. Depending on your creditors the situation may be even worse. This is due to the fact that some of them require at least three periods of payments through the agency to reconsider the account state. This implies that your account will show late or missed for at least four months.
If you’re struggling each month to make the minimum payments on your accounts, and debt settlement seems to be your best option, a temporary reduction in your credit score probably shouldn’t influence your decision too much. Rather, peace of mind and the ability to pay your bills should be your main concern. If you take a realistic look at your finances, you may very well see that you’re in deeper than you thought. I urge you to gather all of your bills and add up your monthly expenses – including your credit card bills, and then minus your credit card bills. After you’ve made the comparison, you’ll likely understand that the benefits of debt settlement easily outweigh the few months you’ll need to deal with a reduced credit score.