One of the largest financial challenges that many people face today is dealing with high levels of credit card debt. While it can seem like credit card debt accumulates slowly over time, some end up waiting too long to pay off their debt and could be left with an insurmountable amount of debt. With some interest rates in excess of 30%, some borrowers may find that event the minimum payments are unaffordable. For those that are struggling with credit card debt, taking advantage of various government credit relief programs and laws could be beneficial.
Laws Protecting Debtors
If you have credit card debt that is becoming unaffordable to service, you should first be aware of federal laws that are designed to protect consumers. First, all creditors are required to provide you with notice of your payment at least 3 weeks before the actual due date. Second, creditors are required to provide you with 45 days notice if there are any changes to your account, including your interest rate or credit limit. Third, creditors are no longer allowed to increase your interest rate if you fall behind on payments or express your inability to pay in any way.
FTC Debt Settlement Plan
If your debt is too significant to repay, but you have the capacity to repay a lower amount, then taking advantage of the Federal Trade Commission’s debt settlement plan is a good idea. This plan encourages creditors to work on a way to negotiate with debtors in an attempt to find a repayment plan that works for all parties. While you can try and negotiate a settlement by yourself, there are a number of service providers that can better help you negotiate and settlement plan.
If you find yourself in a situation where you can repaying the debt is impossible, it would be a good idea to consider filing for bankruptcy. When filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy your debts may be eliminated completely after going through a full bankruptcy hearing process. If you file Chapter 13 bankruptcy a portion of your debts may be eliminated, but you will likely have your debts restructured into a more affordable plan. While bankruptcy is available to all consumers, it is not ideal as it will have a negative long-lasting impact on your credit score.
Non-Credit Card Consolidation Loans
For those that have other debt outside of credit cards, taking advantage of a consolidation loan could be a good idea. If you have a lot of student loan debt, with a number of different lenders, you could save money and time each month by consolidating into one government student loan. Government student loans often have much lower rates than private loans and refinancing into a government loan could save you money each month. The excess money that you save on student loans could then be applied to your credit card balance to pay down the outstanding balance faster.
Government Credit Counseling
If you have found yourself in credit card debt, it would also be a good idea to take advantage of the government’s credit counseling service. The credit counseling services can provide a great financial education to all consumers that will focus on budgeting, the risks of credit cards, how to live within your means, and how to invest. The counseling service will also include one-on-one sessions in which you can review your financial situation with an expert and learn how to make better financial choices going forward.