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How to Cut Your Credit Card Debt in Half with Debt Settlement – is this all hype?

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One of the biggest questions I get via email or comments on our Facebook page is how to get out of credit card debt the fastest.  In addition to all the Debt Snowball strategies we’ve mentioned on past shows (Waging a War On Debt!), many have been very intrigued in the area of debt settlement.  I mean, who wouldn’t like to take $50,000 of debt, get someone to negotiate for you and bring down the final bill to $25,000 or lower?  Sounds to good to be true?  Perhaps.  Just like anything, do your research.

I’m glad we can bring another friend of Money Smart Radio and fellow Facebook friend, Jesse D. Niesen aka. The Debt-Go-to-Guy, to write a guest post on this particular topic…which happens to be his area of expertise.  By the way…he is also a former jarhead, as in…a United States Marine! OOOORAAAAH!

If you like his article as I do, you outta give this guy some props and enter a comment below saying, “SEMPER FI!”  This means, “Always Faithful”, the Marine Corps motto.  I’m sure it would mean a lot to him!

Enter Jesse D. Niesen:

Debt settlement is the fastest way to get out of credit card debt for the least amount of money and avoid bankruptcy.  If you are one of the millions of Americans struggling through financial hardships today, debt settlement may be your very best option to be debt free ASAP.


(WARNING: This is a BIG “BUT”…)

Debt Settlement “Nightmares” (Scams) Abound…

THOUSANDS of new companies have popped up in recent years, flooding the TV, radio and internet with promises to “cut your debt in half.”  Most of these ads are simply generating “leads” to sell to one or multiple “bad operators” (who will gladly take your money in the form of upfront fees without ever delivering on their promises).  It’s gotten ugly as untold numbers of people have seen their financial hopes turn into financial nightmares.  In fact, the debt settlement industry has become so bad, the FTC is stepping in to regulate.

Sadly, for the past few years, over HALF of my personal clients have come to me for financial help AFTER failing a debt settlement or credit counseling program (a very different option) because they simply made a poor choice based on biased or incomplete information given to them from the counselor / consultant / salesperson they “talked to” before enrolling.  These shady salespeople are never around after the sale is made to take care of the poor people they’ve sold a bill of goods to, leaving them in worse shape than when they asked for help.

What About All That Debt Settlement “Jazz”?

Still, debt settlement IS a legal, ethical and moral option for consumers to get out of debt ASAP, and get your financial future back on track from a hardship situation.  Typically, you are able to settle for 50% or less of your outstanding balance.  So it’s true, you actually can “cut your debt in half” – Plus, monthly payments are often cut in half during the process, allowing consumers to quickly get out of debt and breathe again.

I work with consumers across the country every day to solve their debt problems, and refer my clients to debt settlement programs, as well as credit counseling agencies and bankruptcy attorneys nationwide (IF a good, old-fashioned “accelerated pay off” plan is not an option).  I wish everyone could get out of debt through a “Total Money Makeover” as Dave Ramsey suggests (who I admire and strongly recommend), but the fact remains that many Americans are in too much of a financial hardship to even keep up with minimum payments, and paying significantly more than the minimums is simply not possible.  If you find yourself in a similar situation with large amounts of credit card debt, please understand you are not alone.

If I can offer anything here, let it be these three simple “rules of thumb” to help you avoid being another casualty of bad debt settlement companies, because getting out of debt ASAP and getting your money earning interest for you instead of paying interest is ultimately most important for your financial future.

3 Quick-Tests to “Cut to the Chase” and AVOID a Debt Settlement Nightmare

Here are three simple things any consumer with an internet connection can do in two-minutes, or less, to avoid the majority of “bad companies” and find a good company “needle” in the debt settlement haystack:

Guest post by Jesse Niesen the "Debt-Go-To-Guy"

(Yeah Haw!)

#1) Time in Business OVER Five Years?

According to the SBA, 90% of new business FAIL within their first five years.  So why would you trust your financial future with a start up?  Also, most debt settlement programs are 2-3 YEARS long, and you want to make sure you are with a good company who has a proven track record serving clients all the way through the programs they offer.  Stack the deck in your favor and go with a company who has stood the test of time.  This will cut out at least one thousand new debt settlement companies; the vast majority you will see on TV, radio and the web.


Go to BBB.org and search any company you consider, and check their BBB Report for their “Original Business Start Date”.  If it’s less than five years, especially if it’s only a year or two, then STOP considering the company and seek help elsewhere from a company with a proven track record.

#2) Excessive BBB Complaints?

Check this same BBB Report for complaints.  A short time in business with a high number of complaints (especially unresolved complaints) is a sure sign of a financial nightmare ahead if you enroll with such a company.  A good company should only have a handful of complaints.  Hundreds or thousands of complaints is inexcusable and a major red flag that the company consistently fails to meet the expectations they set with their clients.

Here’s an example of two companies who pass test #1, but only one passes test #2:

FreedomDebt.com has been in business since Dec, 2002 with only one single, resolved complaint in its entire history:


“D” rating due to concerns with the industry (because of companies like the one below), not due to any concerns with the company itself.

Keep in mind FreedomDebt.com is HUGE, with regular national exposure on TV Talk Shows and News programs:


Credit Solutions has been in business almost as long, well over five years, but there is a striking difference: their BBB report lists over 1,600 complaints (including unresolved complaints and government actions against the company):


#3) Attorney-Based Debt Settlement Program?

The future does NOT look good for NON-attorney based debt settlement programs because, due to the bad operators who have harmed many consumers in recent years, the FTC is stepping in to regulate, as they should.  Debt settlement companies who are not operating under a licensed attorney are subject to these looming FTC regulations, a major threat to the survival of these companies.  I would NOT recommend my mother, so I wouldn’t recommend you either.  Instead, choose a debt settlement law firm operating under a licensed attorney because they will not be harmed by these inevitable FTC regulations.

Note About Debt Settlement Fees

Much can be said about fees for debt settlement services, and that is another entire conversation.  Just make sure your payments are NOT going entirely to fees during the first X number of months, and stay away from anyone asking for some kind of a large upfront fee.  If a company passes the three tests above, then they obviously are giving their clients enough value in service and results to justify whatever fees they are charging, however they may structure the payments.  If it were not so, then you would see excessive BBB complaints over time.

Final Thoughts About Debt Settlement…

By following these three simple rules, you are sure to quickly find a debt settlement company who has passed the test of time, serving its clients and delivering on its promises without excessive complaints, legally.  After helping people get out of debt through debt settlement and all other debt relief options for over eight years, this is my best advice to “cut to the chase” with this debt settlement jazz so you too can “cut your debt in half.”

However, BEFORE seeking out a company to settle your credit card debt, get educated about how credit works and all options for debt relief to determine if debt settlement is really your best choice to get out of debt in the first place.

Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. Semper Fi Jesse! Great article here…keep up the good work…we have to get you as a guest on our financial talk radio show and podcasts!

  2. Jesse Niesen says:

    Thank you Mathew. Semper Fi! The topic of debt settlement brings up many questions. I would be happy to answer them all on your show to help your listeners make their very best choices to win their own personal “war on debt”. OOOORAAAAH!

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