If you are at your wit's end and have exhausted every other option available to you to try to reduce your debt, short of filing for bankruptcy, debt reduction negotiation may be the solution to your debt problem.
Obviously, your situation is dire, otherwise you wouldn't be researching debt settlement options. Stress and worry is mounting and you just want everything fixed and fixed now.
This is the time you will need to be very careful. When researching and choosing a debt reduction negotiation firm do not just go with the first one that comes down the pike. Be diligent and ask questions to make sure they have your best interests in mind and not theirs. If you are not careful you could find yourself in deeper than you were when you started.
The company you choose should be a member of The Association of Settlement Companies, or TASC. The Association of Settlement Companies holds their members to strict industry standards and is the leading trade association of the debt negotiation industry.
Beware of companies that ask you for their fee upfront. Some debt settlement companies charge their fees based on a percentage of your debt and do not guarantee results. Which means you pay whether or not they help you at all. You should only have to pay when the debt company gets results for you and negotiates a settlement you agree to. Ask the company you choose if they can guarantee they will save you money and get that guarantee in writing. If they will not give you the guarantee in writing then do not hire them.
A non-reputable company may tell you they can definitely get your creditors to stop calling you. Sounds good, doesn't it? But, a reputable company will tell you they will try but may not be able to stop all creditor calls. A reputable company should also be honest enough with you to tell you they cannot promise that you will not get sued by one or more of your creditors. If they are worth their salt though they should promise to continue to negotiate a settlement even if a lawsuit is filed.
You may have heard that dealing with a debt reduction company has a negative impact on your credit rating. This is true but in the grand scheme of things your credit report is the last thing you should be worried about right now. Your focus at this point should be on eliminating that pile of debt you have been buried by for so long.
Since everyone's situation is different it can be difficult for a company to pinpoint how long it will take for you to receive a settlement offer and to completely pay down your debt. Look for settlement offers to start coming in from your creditors any where from 3 to 12 months after hiring a debt settlement company.
Also beware, if the debt settlement company you are looking at tells you to send them the money that is supposed to go for paying down your debt. The money should be held in an FDIC insured account with a third party escrow company and should stay there until a debt reduction negotiation is completed and agreed to.