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Debt Relief Review (Best Companies of 2020)

Carl Andrews

Financial Advisor

Debt Relief

It might not be surprising to hear, but debt is on the rise around the world, including the United States. In fact, according to Value Penguin, the U.S. Consumer Debt has reached over $3.9 trillion! Currently, over 38.1% of households have credit card debt, which can be equated to $10,308 in just credit card debt. The most unsettling part about these numbers is that they are sharply inclining.

Reason being, people have become accustomed to opening credit cards, using the entire balance, only paying the minimum balance, and, as a result, getting entrapped by the high interest rates. Now, match this with the rising costs of living, eliminating debt may feel more like a mirage than achievable. However, in the financial industry, there are many different tools that are available to consumers, just like you. These tools are known as debt relief.

In today’s article, we are going to explore the basic principles of debt relief, the advantages and disadvantages, and the four factors that you may employ to compare debt relief options. While this article serves more as an introduction to the topic, if you are looking to learn more specifics about debt relief programs, please click here! Let’s dive on in!

Understanding Debt Relief

Before we can jump in explore the deeper aspects of debt relief, we must begin with stage one: understanding debt relief. For beginners, debt relief is a terminology used in the financial industry to dictate an individual’s method or process towards eliminating debt. As the debt relief industry has expanded, more and more debt relief companies and programs have been developed and introduced to help consumers. Read our National Debt Relief reviews and Freedom Debt Relief reviews to determine if this is right for you. Some of the most common debt relief programs available today is:

Debt Consolidation

Debt consolidation is the process of taking an individual’s debt and combining it under one loan. In other words, instead of several monthly bills, this form of debt relief seeks to organize debt under one monthly payment.

Debt Management

A debt management plan is much different than debt consolidation. Instead of merging any debt, this form of debt relief is where an individual seeks the professional help and guidance of a counseling company. From here, these individuals or companies will craft an individualized debt relief plan for the consumer based on their budget.

Debt Settlement

Another common form of debt relief that is available for consumers is known as debt settlement. This form of debt relief is when the individual seeks a third-party, or debt settlement companies, to negotiate current debt with creditors. In the industry, debt settlement is known as the riskiest debt relief program.

Personalized Debt Relief

With the rise of the do-it-yourself movement in the world, another popular form of debt relief can be named the Personalized Debt Relief Plan. This is simply where, instead of consulting with professionals or debt relief companies, individuals craft their own plans designed to get themselves out of debt. The rise of this form of debt relief can be attributed to the rising negative connotation of other debt relief programs.

If none of these debt relief options seem viable to you, you may also seek a professional financial advisor who may be qualified to help in these situations. When an individual is seeking debt relief, typically what they are seeking is someone with excellent financial knowledge and expertise.

Now, it’s important to know that debt relief most certainly has its positive points. With that being said, in the next section, we are going to explore the different advantages and disadvantages of debt relief.

Benefits of Debt Relief

Pay Less Than You Owe

The first benefit to debt relief is that you can pay much less that your originally owed. Debt relief lets you dramatically reduce the amount that you’ll pay to settle your debts. That means you’ll save a lot more of your life-time earnings. You can use this money to help cover other debts, lower your credit card balances, or put it away for a rainy day. You can also use it to enhance your life in other ways, like going back to school or funding a vacation.

No More Collection Calls

One of the worst parts about having outstanding debts is the collections calls. Debt collectors are very persistent. That means they’ll be calling you multiple times a day, every day. As a result, it’s hard to focus on doing your work and living your life. This can quickly create a cycle where debt collections prevent you from earning income, causing you to fall further behind on your debts.

Start Rebuilding Your Credit

Late and missed payments are one of the biggest factors on your credit score. While you might see a credit score drop right after your debt relief, you’ll be able to start rebuilding your credit history. That’s because you won’t be accruing any more late or missed payments on your accounts. As a result, you credit score will start growing instead of steadily dropping.

Get Back on Top of Your Finances

Debt Relief also allows you to get back on top of your finances. You can start planning your budget again. It can be hard to budget properly when you have escalating payments from late fees. Also, if you didn’t have the money to pay one month, you almost certainly aren’t going to have a double payment the next month. That means you won’t have to juggle your different bills anymore, trying to decide who gets paid and who will have to wait.

Learn More About Finance

Finally, the process of debt relief exposes you to experts in the financial industry. That means you can learn how the pros manage their money so they don’t have to suffer the problems you’ve been dealing with. This will help you make sound financial decisions in the future. That includes understanding what financial products will help your money situation, and what products will only cause you to go deeper into debt. As a result, you’ll have a much brighter financial future.

The Advantages of Debt Relief

With a deeper understanding of what debt relief actually is, we are now going to begin exploring the advantages of enrolling in debt relief.

First and foremost, one of the most significant advantages of debt relief is the opportunity to reduce and even eliminate debt. All debt relief encompasses is different tactics and tools to reduce debt.

Furthermore, by enrolling in debt relief, you will unlock access to professionals and experts in the industry who are trained to help you get out of debt. This is one of the principle reasons why individuals must take their time in choosing the best debt relief program and company – to ensure the highest quality service and experience.

The Disadvantages of Debt Relief

As with anything – wherever there are advantages, there must be disadvantages. With debt relief, there are some significant disadvantages that consumers must take into consideration. There is a reason why debt relief is known as one of the riskiest financial ventures – and here is why. Debt relief promises no results or guarantees. In other words, when an individual signs up for debt relief, there is no certainty that their debt will be eliminated, reduced, or adjusted.

On top of this, debt relief may result in consumers breaking contracts with creditors, which may lead to lawsuits and other actions that can be credit-score debilitating. With that being said, it’s imperative to be aware of all the precautions before signing up for debt relief.

The last disadvantage of debt relief is the significant increase of false advertisement in the industry. With that being said, as a consumer, it’s essential to be aware of debt relief laws and what’s legal and not legal. Through performing proper research and utilizing the four factors below, consumers should find well-respected debt relief companies.

The Four Factors to Better Compare Debt Relief Programs

In the debt relief industry, there are many different options and programs that are available to help consumers. From debt management, debt settlement, to even debt consolidation, there is a tool intently designed for each type of consumer. With that being said, to better help consumers out, we have created the Four Factors to Better Compare Debt Relief Programs. Utilizing these four factors, you should be able to highlight what debt relief program is best suited for your specific needs.

Credit Impacts

In the debt relief industry, it’s imperative that consumers take into consideration how debt relief will impact their credit score. The truth is, when an individual signs up for any form of debt-relief, unless it’s a DIY method, it will initially negatively impact one’s credit score. With that being said, the degree to which it impacts your credit score will be dependent upon the type of debt relief program you pick.

Interest Rates and Fees

One of the best ways that consumers can compare debt relief programs is through looking at the different interest rates and fees. Each debt relief program will have different interest rates and fees, depending on the type of program you enroll in. For example, debt consolidation companies may charge a lower interest rate than debt settlement companies because those who are typically accepted in debt consolidation have higher credit scores. In other cases, different debt relief companies may charge higher fees, such as upfront fees or balance fees.

Lifetime Costs

All debt relief programs function entirely differently. With that being said, it’s important to always take into consideration how the lifetime costs will change per debt relief option. The rule of thumb in this industry is that the longer the debt relief option, the larger the lifetime costs will be. This can be attributed to higher interest rates and extended payments.

Monthly Payments

Another area to always take into consideration when comparing debt relief programs is their monthly payments. Each option will offer differing monthly payments, all of which may be entirely dependent on your personal finances. We do wish to highlight that, when select any debt relief option, be sure to enroll in debt relief that does not cause any additional financial stress.

Tips to Accelerate Debt Relief

If you are in a financial hardship and struggling to figure out how to handle your finances or debt, there are a few tips that people can incorporate into their everyday life to begin accelerating the debt relief process. Whether you choose to enroll in a debt relief program or not, here are some of the best tips and tricks that financial experts around the world have shared:

  1. Reduce Spending – If you are serious about accelerating debt relief, you must quickly begin to change your typical financial habits. If you are quick to spend a dollar, you must first learn how to cherish a dollar. Start by reducing your typically daily, weekly, or monthly costs. The moment you enroll in any debt relief program, this is something that professionals in the field will suggest. Get ahead of the game by establishing new and better financial habits.
  2. Budget!- Typically, people that are interested in debt relief are those that lack or lacked a financial budget at some point in their life. With that being said, if you are looking to accelerate debt relief in your life, it all starts with a budget. In fact, if you are planning on enrolling in any debt relief program, without a budget, chances are, you will resort to normal tendencies, resulting in even more debt. A budget is the guidance factor that will help keep someone on the same page as the goal: eliminating debt.
  3. Boost Income – Did you know that there are more ways for people to make money today than ever before? The truth is, you can boost your income in so many different ways. There are many, many different websites where individuals can sign up and sell their expertise. You can even boost your income by asking your work for a raise or growth in your company. Learning more about how to boost your income is only one search engine search away!
  4. Selling Unused Stuff – When is the last time you looked through your old, unused stuff? If you find yourself holding onto useless stuff, instead of throwing it away, jump on Amazon or other websites to sell it! This is a great opportunity to make extra income to invest in paying off debt. You might be surprised at how effective this method is!
  5. Plan Ahead for Taxes – One of the biggest mistakes that consumers make is not planning ahead for tax season. Take the time to figure out how you can begin investing in yourself and handling taxes early on. This way you can minimize the impact of taxes. You can guarantee that, when you sign up for any debt relief program, they will inquire about your taxes as well!
  6. Save, Save, Save! – One of the main reasons why people end up enrolling in debt relief is because they did not save any money or prepare an emergency fund. With that being said, ironically, one of the best ways to accelerate debt relief is through beginning to save! Take the time to invest in yourself, even if it’s a little bit each paycheck.
  7. Can You Refinance? – While it’s not always optimal to make any significant financial decisions prior to enrolling in debt relief, one way to accelerate debt relief and minimal financial stresses could be through refinancing your mortgage, if possible. Now, this can be another risky decision and must be thoroughly researched before making any choices.

Eliminating Debt and Achieving Relief

Debt can present some significant stresses and hardships for consumers all around the world. With that being said, before you are quick to cave into the stresses or hardships, it’s important to understand there are many different tools and programs that are available to you. Depending on your needs, situation, and credit score, there are debt relief programs that are intently designed to help reduce debt and/or organize debt.

In light of this, if you are passionate about eliminating debt from your life, it will take an added level of effort and knowledge – this we cannot stress enough. Through learning more about debt relief and creating an effective budget, anyone can act and begin eliminating debt from their life. You can be certain that debt relief companies and experts will be quick to ask what your budget is and how you are currently handling debt. Perhaps its important to answer those questions before moving forward.



There’s no doubt that many people get confused when it comes to the topics of debt relief, consolidation, and settlement. Some people might not even know the difference between the three. Before reorganizing your debt, it’s vital to know what hidden costs are involved and how it will affect your credit score. After all, your credit score determines whether or not you will secure loans in the future. To make this complicated topic easier to understand, we came up with various frequently asked questions surrounding debt relief, consolidation, and relief.

The Effect of Resolving Debt on Your Credit Score

No matter how you go about settling debt, it will always take a toll on your credit score. If you choose to go the consolidation route, your credit score won’t take as much of a hit (if any). At the end of the day, settling or consolidating your debt won’t hurt your credit score as much as filing for bankruptcy. Before resolving debt, take a look at the below questions and see how it will affect your credit score.

How bad does Debt Settlement Hurt Credit?
Debt settlement can lower your credit score as much as filing bankruptcy. Someone with a lower credit score could lose up to 70 points. If you have a near-perfect score, you could lose up to 140 points.
Do debt consolidation loans hurt your credit?
No, debt consolidation loans don’t necessarily hurt your credit. Taking out a consolidation loan to pay off credit card debt can actually improve your credit if you make timely payments.
How long does it take to recover from a settlement on your credit?
A debt settlement will appear on your credit report for seven years. Consumers can start to rebuild their credit score within 12 to 24 months of the settlement (the report recovery period).
How does Freedom Debt Relief affect your credit?
If you use Freedom Debt Relief’s debt settlement services, your credit score takes a hit. Depending on your pre-settlement score, your credit could drop up to 140 points after the debt relief.

A Glance at Debt Settlement

Many people decide to settle their debt when they have no other options. Cutting your debt in half sounds like quite the deal, huh? Even though it sounds like a good deal, there are several factors you need to consider. The debt settlement process can be both lengthy and costly. The below information will help you decide if it’s right or you.

How can I settle my debt?

You can settle your debt by either contacting the creditor directly or going through a debt settlement company. Start with a negotiation in your favor and see if you can reach an agreement.

Is it good to do debt settlement?

Yes and no. While debt settlement lowers the amount due to creditors, it’s not always good. Creditors can still take you to court and charge you high late fees during the settlement process. 

How much do debt settlement companies charge?

Most debt companies charge a fee based on how much debt you enroll, ranging from 15 to 25%. They used to charge an upfront fee until the United States passed a law prohibiting it.

How do I settle debt with creditors?

After your debt reaches 90 days past due, you can begin to negotiate a debt settlement agreement either by yourself or with a debt settlement company. Start by offering the lowest amount possible until you reach an agreement. 

Can you negotiate with creditors?

Yes, there are several strategies you can take to negotiate with creditors. Certain creditors may be willing to lower the total debt owed, set up a payment plan, or lower the interest rate.

Can you negotiate a lower payoff amount on a credit card?

Yes, you can work with the creditor to negotiate to pay less than you owe through a lump-sum settlement. Debtors with liquid funds on-hand are more likely to receive a lower payoff. There are more credit card debt relief options to consider though.

How can I get out of debt with no money?

The only way to get out of debt with no money is to settle the debt with the creditor or file for chapter seven bankruptcy and ask the court to dismiss the filing fees.

How can I get rid of credit card debt legally?

You can legally get rid of credit card debt by re-organizing your finances, settling the debt, negotiating lower interest rates, and consolidating the debt. Increasing your monthly payments also helps you get out of debt quicker. Read more: How to get rid of debt.

Everything you Need to Know About Debt Consolidation

Debt consolidation is a safer option than debt settlement because it doesn’t hurt your credit score. This debt reorganization method entails taking out additional loans with lower interest rates to pay off your outstanding debt. Before consolidating your debt, you should calculate the long-term cost and determine if it is financially feasible for you.

Is debt consolidation a bad idea?

No, debt consolidation is not a bad idea. If the new loan carries a lower interest rate, you’ll save money and be able to pay off debt fast and easier. The only time it can be a bad idea is if you don’t make payment on the new loan.

What are the disadvantages of consolidation?

Unlike debt settlement, you still owe the same amount of money after debt consolidation. In some cases, debt consolidation doesn’t save you money on interest. You may just end up paying less per month due to an increased payment term. Use a debt repayment calculator to determine if this option makes financial sense.

Who is the best debt consolidation company?

While everyone’s experience is unique, some of the most popular companies include Prosper, Lending Club, and Avant. The best debt consolidation companies work with low credit scores and have low APR.

How do you negotiate with credit card debt?

You can negotiate credit card debt directly with the creditor by calling or writing them and explaining your financial situation. From there you can work out a lump-sum agreement, payment plan, or a forbearance agreement.

How can I get out of debt fast?

The quickest way to get out of debt fast is to cut your spending and pick up a side job to increase your income. Don’t make the minimum payment – pay as much as possible to help eat away at the debt.

Debt Relief and How it Can Benefit You

Consumers, business, and governments negotiate debt relief with creditors to lower the amount of their outstanding debt. While many third-party companies offer debt relief programs, you can also attempt to settle debt on your own. Debt relief can help you fix a short-term problem, but it won’t help you manage your finances. Here is some general information about debt relief, different programs, and how the process works.

What is debt relief?

Debt relief is when a when a creditor forgives debt either partially or in totality or halts debt growth. Countries, individuals, and corporations all can have their debt relieved through negotiation or a debt relief program.

How does debt relief work?

An indebted party negotiates with a creditor (with or without the help of a debt relief company) to lower the interest rate, principal due, or increase the term of the loan to lower the monthly payments.

How do debt relief programs work?

After you qualify for a debt relief program, they take care of the hard part – negotiating with creditors. If they’re successful, your debt payment terms will be reorganized with the creditor.

How to get debt relief?

The first step to getting debt relief is to find a trusted debt relief company and make sure you meet their minimum debt requirement. After you find a company, you will have to complete an application to see if you qualify.

What are the best debt relief programs?

According to consumer reviews, the best debt relief programs are through National Debt Relief, Freedom Debt Relief, and Consolidated Credit Counselling Services. Not only do these companies have lower fees, but they also can reduce up to 50% of debt. Take a look at more of the best debt relief program options available.

What do debt relief companies do?

Debt relief companies act as the intermediary between the creditor and debtor. The debt relief company works directly with the creditor to reduce the amount of debt owed. 

How do credit card debt relief programs work?

Credit card relief companies first assess your financial situation to determine a monthly payment within your budget. Next, the company negotiates with the creditor to help lower your total debt and payment. The other thing can do is called credit card consolidation wherein they give you a lower interest loan to consolidate all you debt into one payment.

How do express settlement loans work with debt relief?
Express settlement loans work similar to other forms of debt. Relief companies help to consolidate your express settlement loans into one and stop the creditors from debiting funds out of your account.
What is injunctive relief in debt collection?
Injunctive relief in debt collection is when a remedy other than monetary damages is pursued in a civil lawsuit. For example, a credit card company banning an individual is an example of injunctive relief.
What is payday loan debt relief?
Similar to credit card relief, payday loan debt relief is a service that helps debtors reduce or refinance their outstanding balance of debt built up by using pay check cash advances
Why do I receive debt relief letters?
If you receive debt relief letters in the mail, data miners may have gotten your information from a bad credit list. Your information could have been shared if you inquired about debt relief in the past.
How do I get a copy of my debt relief order?

You can get a copy of your debt relief order by reaching out to your local debt relief order unit. Here you can find useful contacts for debt relief orders and more information on how to apply for one. 

What happens to bills with debt relief program?

There are several possibilities that could happen with your bills while in a debt relief program. Depending on your chosen debt relief program, you could earn partial or full forgiveness of debt. This means that you will also have the opportunity to pay off those existing bills, or stop acquiring interest on those unpaid bills.

What debt can you put in debt relief?

Debt relief works with all kinds of debts such as credit card debts, medical bills, personal loans, lines of credit, business debts, and even student loan debts.

How to get student loan debt relief?

You can opt for public loan forgiveness in your student loan, especially if you owe federal student loan. But you can also use debt relief methods on your student loan. Most debt relief programs on student loans work by restructuring the repayment program so that you will pay lower-interest for a longer repayment window. This will significantly reduce your monthly payments to ease your burden financially.

What is debt burden and debt relief?

Debt burden is a certain amount of money (usually owed by one organization to another) that is owed to another, which has become increasingly difficult to repay. On the other hand, debt relief is a method of debt cancellation wherein the debt growth is put to a halt, as an individual or organization seeks out partial or total forgiveness of debt.

What is the difference between debt relief and bankruptcy?

Debt relief is when you work with debt relief programs to work out a modified payment plan for your debts, or aim partial (or total) loan forgiveness. Bankruptcy has a more significant impact on your credit report and your financial life. Make sure you carefully consider before resorting to this option. When you file for bankruptcy, your creditors won’t be able to legally pursue your debts but it will remain in your credit report for several years. Read more: Does bankruptcy clear tax debt?

Can you lose your home if you enter a debt relief program?

Yes. Just make sure that your home mortgage payments are current. Even if you file for bankruptcy, you will still be able to keep your home in the process.

How do I know if I qualify for debt relief?

To qualify for a debt relief program, you need to agree to the monthly payment for your debt settlement fund, which will be used for paying off your debts. It is also a good idea to demonstrate financial hardship to your creditors for them to be able to agree to your debt settlement terms.

Debt Relief Programs and Companies

Dealing with creditors takes strong negation skills – something that most individuals lack. Due to this, many people use debt relief companies to help them lower their debt. These companies charge a percentage of your total enrolled debt and a handful of them offer money-back guarantees. When it comes to selecting a debt relief program, you have to be careful. Read the contract inside out and make sure there aren’t any hidden charges.

Where to file complaints against debt relief companies?

You should file complaints directly with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). The BBB sends your complaint to the debt relief company and asks them to provide a response within 14 days.

How to spot a debt relief scam

A big sign that a debt relief company is a scam is when they guarantee to get rid of your debt. No company can make that promise. Additionally, requiring an upfront payment is a major red flag.

What is a debt relief lawyer?

A debt relief lawyer typically helps an indebted individual file for bankruptcy or represents the debtor in a court case with the creditor. In some cases, the lawyer helps negotiate with the creditor.

Do creditors send accounts to collection when you are in a debt relief program?

Yes, creditors can still send your account to collection when you are in a debt relief program. Until a settlement is reached between you and the creditor, they will still try to collect the debt you owe.

How long do I have to be at a job to qualify for a debt relief program?

While most debt relief programs don’t list a job requirement, you do have to be able to make monthly payments. Without a job, it’s difficult to have extra funds to set aside. 

Why would you choose a debt relief company over bankruptcy?

Working with a debt relief company might hurt your credit score to some extent. However, bankruptcy can bring the most damage to your credit report. If you can think of other options to ease debt, aside from bankruptcy, then that would make more sense financially.

How do I know which debt relief programs are legit?

To ensure that you have a legitimate debt relief company in your hands, take time to learn about how debt relief works first. Being an educated consumer will enable you to decipher if the methods recommended by said company are legitimate or not. You can also do a background research on the company – there are plenty of online review sites that you can get information from. And lastly, study the laws around debt relief so you know if the methods recommended are within the legal bounds of debt relief.

Who oversees debt relief companies?

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the one tasked to impose certain laws to protect consumers from scams and other inconsistencies. They also restrict certain actions by the debt relief companies.

How to get out of a debt relief program?

A debt relief program is a voluntary agreement between you and the debt relief company. You can get out of that agreement at any time that you believe it is not benefitting you as you would expect.

Tax Relief and Federal Programs

Not only is there relief for credit card debt, but there’s also tax relief. With tax relief, the IRS forgives a portion of your debt. You must demonstrate a true financial need be at risk of a financial crisis if you pay your back taxes. In addition to tax relief, the federal government also forgives loan debt if you meet certain qualifications.

Is there a federal debt relief program?

Yes, there are several federal debt relief programs such as Teacher Loan Forgiveness and Total and Permanent Disability Discharge for those who are permanently disabled. 

How does tax debt relief work?

Similar to creditors, the IRS also settles debt for a partial amount. The IRS will forgive taxes under their Fresh Start Program if paying them would force the debtor into a situation of financial crisis.

Will the Mortgage Debt Relief Act be extended to 2018?

No, the Mortgage Debt Relief Act originally passed in 2007 was last enacted for the tax year of 2017. Under this act, taxpayers could deduct up to two million dollars cancelled mortgage debt from their taxable income.

What is a consumer debt relief program?

A consumer debt relief program acts as a third-party intermediary between a consumer and creditor. Companies offering this program work to lower debt as much as possible, so the consumer can afford to pay it off.

How to apply for public service debt relief student loans

Before you apply for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, you need to complete the employment certification form. If your employment qualifies, you can then fill out the application

Is student debt relief real?

Yes, student debt relief is a real service offered by companies to help debtors get their student loans forgiven. There are certain qualifications, such as teaching in a low-income area or joining the military.

How do tax debt relief companies work?

Tax debt relief companies start off with a consultation to analyze. After the consultation, they investigate your returns to see where they can save you money and then help to establish a payment plan with the IRS. 

How does debt relief affect taxes?

When your debt is forgiven through a debt relief program, or any other forms of debt settlement, any debt that is forgiven is considered by the IRS as income. For example, if you owe $20,000 in debt and you only paid $12,000. The difference of $8,000 that was forgiven will be taxable and indicated as income on your tax report.

Is the mortgage debt relief act still in effect?

The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 was only extended for 3 years after it was enacted. This applies only for debts within the calendar year of 2007 to 2009. This act meant that any discharged debt won’t be included as income in the borrower’s tax income report.

Carl Andrews

Carl has years of experience helping people tackle debt. As a Senior Financial Advisor, he knows the ins and outs of debt consolidation and debt management. He holds a Masters Degree in Finance and according to him, not all debt problems are the same and that’s why it’s important to take a look at the different options available for your situation.