What actions could be taken if a person gets into financial difficulty because of overusing credit?

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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There are a few options you can look at in such a situation, but all of them have both benefits and drawbacks.

There are companies out there as well as some government-sponsored non-profit agencies that work with overextended consumers.  They negotiate with creditors and work out a payment schedule at a reduced interest rate.  The accounts are closed, but the phone calls and letters stop, and the amount of debt reduces much more quickly than at the higher interest rates.  Be careful to research the credit counseling agency you choose though, as some of them have hidden fees and are shadier than  others.  The drawback to this method is that it goes on a person's credit report, and may make it more difficult to get loans or good interest rates in the future. (Then again, so does defaulting on credit card debt, so they may not be losing much.)

Another way is for the person to talk to the credit card companies directly. Sometimes they will work with the consumer to make a similar arrangement as the Credit Counseling services do.  They don't like to do it, but they like losing all of their money even less.

A last resort is declaring bankruptcy.  This stays on your credit report for seven years, and pretty much means the person can't get a good loan, credit card or favorable interest rates for at least that amount of time.  It is also harder to declare bankruptcy than it used to be, and the court may still order a person to make payments to creditors.

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