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On the Finances Blog

Bankruptcy: The Power of the Clean Slate

It doesn’t take many clicks online to find writing and advice on how to shape up your finances, even First30Days has a great financial advice section found here. There are...

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Our Reducing Debt Experts

Dave Ramsey

Dave Ramsey

Host of "The Dave Ramsey Show" on Fox Business Channel and...

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Scott Bilker

Scott Bilker

Author and creator of DebtSmart.com

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Liz  Pulliam Weston

Liz Pulliam Weston

MSN Money columnist and author

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The latest news on this change — carefully culled from the world wide web by our change agents. They do the surfing, so you don't have to!

Getting Debt Help

When you’re facing large amounts of credit card debt, those commercials on television offering assistance to help the calls from creditors stop can seem appealing. Before you sign up with one, you should know what you’re getting in to! "Today Show" finance correspondent Jean Chatzky has advice for people trying to reduce debt by getting third-party help.

First, you should know the difference between a debt-settlement company and a credit counseling agency. Debt-settlement is a negotiation process with your creditors in an effort to lower your monthly payments, and you will be charged a fee for this service. Using a debt-settlement service is a negative mark on your credit report. Credit counselors also charge a fee, but provide actual guidance on how to manage money while offering solutions to your debt problem.

Chatzky says that if you’re going to use a credit counselor, make sure they are accredited (try the National Foundation for Credit Counseling as a resource), get what they’re telling you in writing and make sure you know exactly what’s happening before you sign on the dotted line. While getting into debt sure seems easy, getting out of it can be much trickier, and you want someone who is on your side! [Today Show]

Posted: 4/11/08