Debt Services

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How do I get rid of all this debt?

Many people find themselves in this position. Under a mountain of bills, school loans and credit card mistakes that at the time felt like must haves. Is there any real relief?

The short answer is yes. The reality of it is, the solution is hard. No body wants to be in debt or a least have it show they are. And worse, nobody really wants to go through the tough task of cleaning it all up. Dealing with creditors that feel more like loan sharks and education financiers that resemble mob bosses. It all comes down to “where’s my money?” and you are thinking “that’s a good question”.  Well fortunately help is not far or hard to get. With a financial paradigm shift, habit adjustment and strong will you can see this through to the bitter sweet end.

Check out this list of services from The Simple Dollar to start you on your journey but keep in mind it all starts and ends with you.

3 Best Debt Settlement Companies

#1: New Era Debt Solutions

Transparency is lacking in the debt-settlement industry, but New Era Debt Solutions bucks this trend with the most transparent website of any company I evaluated. It is by far the most thorough in terms of what prospective clients need in order to qualify. The “truth and transparency” section not only lists important basics such as the length of the program, fees, and average debt reduction, but also other facts such as how many clients drop out of the program and their reasons for doing so. It even details how many clients are sued by creditors during the settlement process and is honest about the fact that clients will continue to receive calls from collectors. New Era has a shorter time frame than many companies, at 12 to 36 months. Its fees are lower than those of many competitors at 15%, and it has a higher average debt reduction at 41%.

Pros

Accredited by BBB and IAPDA
Incorporated in 1999
Very transparent website includes extensive FAQs, thorough description of what it takes to qualify for services, immediate disclosure of where services aren’t available, and statistics on how many people drop out or are sued during the program
Lower fees (15%) and higher average debt reduction (41%) than competitors
Cons

Only available in 22 states
$10,000 debt minimum is higher than some competitors
Does not work with business debt or anything other than basic unsecured debt
#2: National Debt Relief

A lot of debt settlement companies’ websites are short on specifics. It’s not hard to figure out why: They want you to call so they can hook you with a hard sell. National Debt Relief does a pretty good job telling you what you can expect from debt settlement. The site details what kinds of debt qualify, how much you need to enroll, the fee you can expect to pay (20%), and the average savings after fees (30%). The company works with a wider range of debt than most. National Debt Relief also has an A rating with the BBB and a relatively low $7,500 enrollment minimum. One big turnoff that kept National Debt Relief from the top spot: With a long list of state-specific links with unclear information, the site made it difficult to determine exactly where the company provides settlement services.

Pros

Accredited by BBB, AFCC, and IAPDA
Willing to work with wide range of debt types, including business debt, and even some student loans and secured debts
Low $7,500 debt minimum
Website includes thorough FAQ section, thorough description of settlement process, and clear disclosure of fee and average savings
Cons

Relatively new company (established in 2009)
Website unclear on where debt settlement services are available (“almost 40 states” from other sources)
Average debt reduction a bit lower than some competitors’
#3: CuraDebt

CuraDebt is another debt-settlement service with an impressive savings average: 40% after fees. It also has a low $7,500 minimum for enrollment, and will consider working with business debt on top of other major unsecured debt. It also offers a customer-service bonus with online chat, a nice perk for potential clients who may not want to call right away. It is accredited with the AFCC and IAPDA, but not the BBB (though it does have an “A” grade). CuraDebt could have been higher on the list with a more transparent website. Unfortunately, it lacks a FAQ section or even basic information about its fee, which is 20%.

Pros

AFCC and IAPDA accredited
Incorporated in 2000
Higher average debt reduction (40%) than competitors
Low $7,500 debt minimum
Website includes option to chat with customer service representatives
Cons

Not BBB accredited
Website lacks a lot of crucial information, including fees
Only available in 39 states
Runners-up

Donaldson Williams is one of the few companies that didn’t charge upfront fees for debt settlement before 2010 when federal regulations began prohibiting the practice. The company also doesn’t force you to open a separate account to manage your settlement money, which could be reassuring to potential clients. Its 17% fee, charged on what you save, is among the lowest I saw. However, it can be a bit harder to get in touch with a representative at this small company. Donaldson Williams also requires more debt ($15,000) to consider working with you.

Debt Relief a la Carte, run by a former collection agent, offers a unique service in the debt-settlement industry: A short-term debt settlement program that averages only 72 days to complete. The results are also impressive: 43% after fees, which are charged only on the amount saved, not the amount enrolled. The website is thorough, with answers to almost any question you may have. The catch? You need the financial resources to settle your debt very quickly when you join — for most people, this isn’t the case. The company is also small and must be choosy about new clients.

ZipDebt could be a viable option if you want to try settling your debt yourself but don’t know where to start. For a flat fee ranging from $197 to $777, you receive a range of materials aimed at helping you bypass settlement companies but avoid bankruptcy. ZipDebt backs its materials with a 365-day money-back guarantee. The downside here is obvious, however: The idea of attempting debt settlement yourself might be too daunting and time-consuming to seriously contemplate.