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Being deep in debt is terrifying. Creditors are calling constantly, a pile of unopened late notices threatens to take over your kitchen table and you’re not quite sure if you’re going to be able to scrape together enough money next month to pay the mortgage. What do you do? How do you get out from under this burden? Those debt settlement commercials you see on TV might start looking like a pretty good option. Before you go down that path, take warning – their promises are often too good to be true. In a choice between debt settlement or bankruptcy, filing for bankruptcy is usually the better option.

Debt Settlement Companies Do More Harm Than Good

Many debt settlement companies promise they can reduce your credit to “pennies on the dollar,” sometimes within a short period of time.

The truth is that very few can deliver on these promises. Your creditors have no obligation to reduce your debts and these companies are often no better at negotiating a settlement than the average debtor is.

In fact, not only will hiring a debt settlement likely not work – it will probably hurt you too. Many debt settlement companies will advise that you stop paying your creditors while the company works out a settlement. In the meantime, you’ll continue to rack up late fees and your creditors will make sure every late payment gets on your credit report.

If the company is successful in negotiating down your debt, the IRS will consider the amount you saved as taxable income. If you’re not prepared to pay that bill, you could end up in even worse trouble.

Even more troubling is the fact that many debt settlement companies knowingly prey on vulnerable consumers. A United States Government Accountability Office investigation found that a number of debt settlement companies “engage in fraudulent, deceptive and abusive practices.” It found that the companies collected fees before any work had been done, gave deceptive or misleading advice and made unreasonable and unfounded claims of success.

Bankruptcy is Safer and More Effective

If you think debt settlement might help your situation, it’s best to avoid hiring a debt settlement company and instead contact your creditors directly. Even if your creditors agree to a settlement though, there is no guarantee that they won’t sue you.

Bankruptcy is often the better option for consumers who are deeply in debt. Because of the automatic stay, bankruptcy not only guarantees that creditors won’t sue you, but it will also stop creditor harassment.

Different types of bankruptcy are available to address your unique situation. In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the court will liquidate your debts. If you need to catch up on house payments or are looking to avoid repossession of your car, you can set up a manageable payment plan in Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Bankruptcy can give you a fresh start without the risks posed by debt consolidation companies.

The truth is that there is no easy way to get out of debt. Don’t take risks with your future by looking for a quick fix. If you are interested in more information about how bankruptcy can help you and are looking for straight talk about your options, you should speak with an experienced Los Angeles bankruptcy attorney as soon as possible.

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