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Debt Settlement vs Bankruptcy

January 21st, 2008 at 09:56 am

On a credit report, when you settle debt for less, it has a very similar affect as Bankruptcy 13, except it doesn't follow you around as a public record for seven years.

I am choosing to do Debt Settlement because I ethicially feel it's the right thing to do under my circumstances. Yes, it would be much easier to just file the Bankruptcy 13 and I wouldn't have the added tax implications of "cancelled debt", but I would be in a five year plan;five years of my life on hold making payments to a trustee and answering to the same. Also, everyone in town would know my situation as well, bankruptcies are published in our local paper, there wouldn't be a bank in town that would hire me. I think it will be much easier for me to just settle up this mess and move on and maybe no one will find out.

I have spoken with an attorney about what I am doing. He of course wants me to file bankruptcy and has asked me not to settle with anyone until I speak to him first. He advises that the credit card companies will only get pennies on the dollar if I file and etc., etc. If I fail at settlement and end up being sued, I will probably be forced into bankruptcy for protection and I'm praying that doesn't happen.

I'm finding it very difficult to deal with anything else in my life with all this debt hanging over my head. There is not a day that goes by that I don't think about it or talk about it. This has been going on since last October, when I realized my work was not going to change, the housing market was not going to rebound and my sinking ship was going down. The more you make the more you spend and your debt is higher as well. I never planned on this economic disaster. It is true that "it is not the hard times that will get you, it is the good times", living beyond your means and living the good life will destroy you financially when the bad times come. I certainly earned this and should have known better and planned better. I guess I needed to learn another one of those lessons of life.

In my community I am a highly respected professional, no one would have any idea the mess I am in. When I'm out and about and I see another business person and they start talking to me about how everything is going and how is my business doing; I usually just tell them everything is great, but inside myself I just think about the horror of my situation and pray they never find out, that no one finds out that a professional like myself, got herself in such a mess.

In my business head hunters are always calling and making offers for me to go work for them. There is one in particular that has been after me for three years. I haven't heard from her in about 9 months and I know it is due to the declining housing market, but I know that when things pick up she will start calling me again and will make an offer for me to go work for her; sign on bonus, commission tiers and etc. If I accept, the first criteria is for them to pull my credit; that is considered character in my business. I am so screwed I can't even change jobs, I'm stuck where I am and if my employer finds out about all this, I risk losing my job with them. Although we have very little work right now and I am only paid on performance (you can't work if there are no customers), I could still be let go because of my credit. My once 700 plus credit score has crashed to below 500 I bet, I don't really know because I don't dare to look. Legally they would not come right out and tell me why I was being let go, they would just eliminate my position or something, I know how this works. Several years ago a very nice lady in a bank I worked in, filed joint bankruptcy because her husband's business failed, the powers that be kindly took her aside and her job was eliminated. A small community where everyone knows everything and bankruptcy is published in the local paper.

I've been struggling not to fall into depression here, but with the long winters here, the lack of work and my obsession with my debt, it's very hard not to. I never sleep through a full night anymore, I don't do much outside of the house and I really don't have a lot of energy right now. All classical symptoms of depression. Well now I can tell the credit card companies that not only have I lost my income, I'm now mentally ill; maybe that will help my case.

Guess I'm just having a bad day here and anyone who is in my position or has been, will understand. Sometimes you just need to ramble on. I think I will go cook something ... I love to cook.

21 Responses to “Debt Settlement vs Bankruptcy”

  1. Broken Arrow Says:

    Haunting.... I hope that you have better days along the way.

  2. Ima saver Says:

    I am so sorry!

  3. Brad Says:

    I feel your pain, man. I was in a similar situation. I would settle your debts with your creditors as quickly as possible and get on with your life. Tax implications probably a big deal, because you're probably functionally insolvent right now anyway, so no tax on the cancelled debt.

    Brad

  4. John Dunn Says:

    Dear I love to cook,
    You have several options. You can walk away from your debt and dispute that you owe the debt at all. You can dispute each entry on your credit report and as here in Arkansas, the Supreme Court says the burden of proof is that of the Credit Card Bank.

    If you are interested in what the law says, and I am not an attorney, but I do know of attorneys here and across the country that will work with you to win your case against them.

    Don't give up, never give up.

    oliver@ipa.net

  5. scfr Says:

    Gosh ... It sounds like such a tough situation.

    Is there someone you could trust to talk things through in strictest confidence, such as a clergyman?

    In the meantime, please remember to just take it one day at a time, one step at a time, one breath at a time.

  6. nance Says:

    It must feel absolutely overwhelming, but deciding to face the situation, make changes and do what you can, is the first step in changing your life for the better.
    scfr has a good point. Talking to someone you can trust can help with the depression. Just ventilating can also help. People here are good "listeners" and are very supportive.
    It took a long time to get so indebted, and you won't clear up the situation quickly, but each little victory will show you that better days are ahead.

  7. luxlivingfrugalis Says:

    So, is there no hope of being able to stop debting and work on getting caught up and repaying your debts? Work a second job? Anything that you can do to actually get back on track and current w/bills? Can you liquidate some of your assets or furnishings, etc.??

  8. lost in debt Says:

    My debts far exceed my income right now. If I sold everything I have I wouldn't have enough to pay my creditors. Stop debting? I have no credit available to me and my credit is trashed so no one would lend me anything else. A second job is not an option since an $8.00 an hour job is not going to solve this problem. I have to figure out how to settle for less with the assets I have left, I'll sell what I can and save everything I can until the creditors are ready to settle. No sense putting a bandaid on something that is bleeding all over the place.

  9. luxlivingfrugalis Says:

    You are in a commissioned job is that right?

    You must forgive me as I have no idea what kind of payment it takes to service that dollar amount of debt each month, but I'm assuming from reading thru your posts that up until recently you were able to make your payments and maybe a downturn in the economy is now making it difficult/impossible??

    Just trying to get a handle on where you're at - so maybe the folks here can assist with some more spot on advice...

  10. lost in debt Says:

    You are right that payments were made up until recently. I was "robbing from Peter to pay Paul" for almost a year to keep afloat. You can't borrow your way out of debt, but because I have such a strong believe of paying on time and etc. I was just hoping if I could keep it afloat and the housing market rebounded, I could dig out. My first mistake; I should have dealt with this at the first sign of a housing crash, it would have been more manageable.

  11. John Dunn Says:

    If you have a mortgage that has been refinanced in the last 3 years, you may be able to rescend your loan.

    I have helped others with their credit problems by doing a mortage audit on your closing documents.

    oliver@ipa.net

    Http://educationcenter2000.com

  12. Susan Says:

    Itís really impossible for me to realize the situation, how you are handling it? Simply great; I wish better prospects for you.

  13. Gloria Says:

    Wondering how you're doing now? I had to file bankruptcy in 2003 due to a delay in a cancer diagnosis and while I had insurance, I had many exemptions and deductibles and the constant harassment from the medical creditors were just unbearable as I faced a long recovery and uncertain future.

    My brother and sister are attorneys and I was advised to file for bankruptcy instead of settlement because a)my credit was equally ruined either way and b)with the future uncertain, I could have ended up filing bankruptcy anyway. I'm glad I took this advice and like you, I struggled with the decision.

    If you haven't settled yet, you may want to reconsider. I don't think your reputation will be a lot different whether you go with chapter 7 or with chapter 13--but the risk is higher. And you always have the option to repay when you have the money if you feel morally obligated. Good luck and hope you're doing well.

  14. lost in debt, too Says:

    As I read through your January 21st entry, I could have sworn that I wrote that. I am not in the same profession as you are but everything else is exactly the same. I am hoping that this is a God sent message for me to connect with you. I see this as an opportuniy for me to discern from which path is God leading me to. I hope that you would share with me where you are with your decision. How you are doing emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually?

    God Bless You...

  15. Tim Says:

    Warning - Do not contact or send anything to John Dunn "olivier@ipa.net" ... his operation is a scam!

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  17. seekingadvice Says:

    I feel your pain. I am in the middle of processing my debt settlement with a company but after reading the documents they've sent me I have to rethink again. In the agreement I have to pay thier fees upfront for 4 months before they begin negotiating with my creditors. I am already in a financial trouble. I don't know where to get this fees in order to pay them. I can't even pay my bills anymore that's why I seek for thier help.

    I lost my job last year. I have a good paying job before and we live comfortably until that horrible day happened. I pay my bills with another credit card just to keep afloat. After a couple of months I was able to find a full time job but I am not taking home the paycheck that I used to have and now I maxed out my credit card. I really don't know what to do. I am also scared to let my workplace know about this because I work in a financial institution.

    I continously look for a second job but no luck. My husband now works 7 days a week. He found a part time job on the weekends. We are only using one car because the other car is not safe to drive and I can't afford to have it repaired. I can't focus on my job because I am scared that my creditors will call me and to make it worst I don't have a direct line. The calls goes to a group of people who handle phone calls. It's tough. Not unless you are in this situation you won't know how difficult it is.I can't even sleep at night. Oh God please help us.

  18. Cindy Jones Says:

    I would like to know how lost in debt is doing now? I am contemplating doing debt settlement versus bankruptcy, and need to get some advice. Like LID, I too work strictly on commission and with the economy in the toilet, so is my income. Before the economy started failing, I was able to meet my obligations, and am current now, but, worry about the months to come when I know that I will not be able to meet my payments and it really frightens me to miss any payments or be late. I am not sure if I will make it thru this month financially, and am thinking strongly about debt settlement, but, once the debt is settled, wonder how difficult will it be to sell our house and move to a new one. We were thinking about this before the real estate market slowed to almost a halt, but, decided to just wait. We have never missed any payments , but, I know that it is coming and I really don;t know what I will do, when I can;t make that payment. I had a negative check two months ago, because of chargebacks from a vendor( seasonal returns( and luckily had savings to back me up, but, that is gone, now and the icing on the cake is that I owe Uncle Sam 10,000, and don't know if I can even make the payment that I negotiated with them, but, I did not have 10,000 to pay them. It is really hard working on commission and at 54, it would be difficult for me to find other work when I have so much experience in the sales field that I am in. How does a creditor view debt settlement versus bankruptcy? I would not have the ready money to settle with them personally. I could contact them to reduce my interest rate, but, still may not be able to pay the bill if my commission check is really low again. I am leaning more towards debt settlement thru an agency. Any advice on really reputable ones? Making myself sick and not sleeping either.

  19. Michelle Says:

    I'm in the same situation as many of those who have writtetn here. I feel like I'm on the verge of a breakdown.

  20. Poodle McClure Says:

    Michelle and others,

    I opted to settle. I did not declare bankruptcy as I did not want that on my credit report as well. I only had money in ONE place - my IRA. I was loathe to go there but I am glad I did. This is what I did.

    I called all of the creditors and found out the status of my account and if my debt was sold to other people. In some cases it was and I had to call other companies. When I finally got a rep on the phone I point blank told them I wanted to know my balance and if they were open to taking a lump sum settlement. After I got that information for all 6 cards, I looked at how much I thought I could negotiate things for with the ultimate goal being 50% or around $8000 - that's a small number for some people to know I had 15K in debt but considering I like many others lost their jobs and had to take one making less (plus less commission % as well). I told them I was getting a loan from family to pay off all my debt and made them an offer of 20% of what I owed. Most balked at that and it would go back and forth as I made it clear I had a limited amount of $$$ at my disposal to make this happen. In some cases, I wholly admit I lied and said I only had a certain amount of money left and told them they were the last people I was negotiating with and that ultimately worked in my favor. One I negotiated down to 4% as it turns out in talking to them they made an error that they never corrected that accounted for the majority of the bill...I got VERY lucky there as in talking with them I discovered their error. One I negotiated down to 25% of the balance, and two of them I got to do 40%. A few were harder but when you are firm (and do it to the end of the month) and say you only have X amount and you're living paycheck to paycheck they are more likely to accept. If they say no, you just call back another day or a week later and offer them the same amount. Make it clear you want to pay it all off at once. No monthly payments. You will get a better offer that way. Just go in there with confidence. Do not go in acting or thinking weak. Tell yourself I am making them go away. Do not accept their first offer. In fact, when you get an offer don't be afraid to say, "Well Bank X offered me 40% on the dollar to do a lump sum settlement." Always use a LARGE debt when you do that. It makes it more believable and trust me they pull your credit report. One person asked me who some of the people on my credit report were and if I was trying to get a house or a car. If they say that just say, "I know how bad my credit is. I'm not gonna get shit from anyone for a while." It will make you sound much more credible and also that you have a sense of humor. My rep burst out laughing when I said that...she also took off an extra 10%.

    It can be done. I know I am VERY VERY lucky to have pulled this off and I harbor no illusions that it is easy or possible for everyone. I just took a hard look at what assets I had and talked to a few people to get their thoughts. I did not want to declare bankruptcy. I know it's going to hurt taking money out of my IRA come tax time. But I'd rather put money in my IRA than the hands of the credit card people.

  21. MHY Says:

    This is brilliantly written. Based on the origination date, I would imagine you have found yourself in good company, by at least 20 million American souls who did not enjoy a congressional bail-out. Imagine, though, that people like us still can vote. We are a member of the disenfranchised "middle," those without governmental or even commercial safety nets. We, therefore, are the survivors and once we re-emerge have a duty to impart our wisdom for change.

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