Settled debt (when a creditor agrees to accept less than the amount owed) is not the same as consolidated debt.Settled debt can be reported to the IRS, resulting in a tax liability on the amount forgiven.
Debt consolidation is most effective when part of an overall financial education program that leaves the borrower better equipped to avoid debt in the future.
The best thing a debtor can do is incorporate the consolidation plan into a new and better financial management strategy. Free and low cost help is available in all 50 states. Thorough understanding of the consolidation plan is critical.
Before you agree to anything, see learn the range of strategies for making debt more manageable. Bank loans tend to have more favorable terms (lower interest rates) than credit cards and some other consolidation options, but may not be available to borrowers with bad credit. Credit card issuers famously push low and 0% balance transfer offers in an effort to acquire more of a borrower’s debt.
A borrower can consolidate debt in a number of ways. For cardholders who qualify, the offers can be a great way to save money in the short term.
In a DMP, a credit counseling agency handles the consolidation and the borrower makes one monthly payment to the agency. It also negotiates reduced fees and interest rates. Also, the borrower may experience further credit score damage during the repayment period.
(See ) A consumer starting out with bad credit has limited options.Here are steps that will enable you to consolidate debt anyway and improve your financial health. Knowing where your credit stands is a crucial first step because consolidation options depend on it.Every consumer can get a free credit report once every twelve months from each of the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and Trans Union) by visiting the Annual Credit website.One disadvantage is that many home equity loans have repayment periods of 10, 15, 20 or 30 years and can drastically increase the amount of time it takes to repay the debts.And, of course, if you don't make the payments, you are risking your home. Borrowers who want to knock down their debt in three to five years and learn new financial management skills in the process are great candidates for a debt management plan (DMP).(See An Internet search for “debt consolidation” yields many companies that advertise great success in what they call debt consolidation.