Most debt reduction plans play a sort of “chicken” with your creditors. The way they work is that, when your situation becomes really dire, you stop paying as many bills as you can and start saving a pot of money that you will eventually use to pay all of them off at the same time. When you have saved enough, and when your creditors have become desperate enough, you negotiate to make them go away.

It sounds like a plan that might work – and it often does.

It works because of the crazy way the debt system works. There are unbelievably massive amounts of personal debt in the world, and a system set up to handle it. In this system, many people try to avoid paying their bills, but if the debt collectors keep after them long enough, they will pay. True commitment to debt avoidance is actually rare, and people being chased by debt collectors usually hide, but they don't resist. That means the average low-level debt collector is trained and required to keep after you and has little, if any, authority, to negotiate with you. And these are the only people you will encounter until your resistance has passed a certain level.

You must go higher up “the food chain” to reach people with real authority to negotiate with you, and this does not happen easily. In many cases it won't be until the company has hired a lawyer, or at least until they begin to consider the possibility of suing you.

So the idea behind the debt relief plans is to withhold payment until the company moves you up the debt collection food chain to the bigger guys with more authority – to force them to do that by withholding payments. Of course the company will sometimes sue you instead of negotiating at that point, and this has been one of my objections to the whole debt relief scheme. You will undoubtedly be doing your credit report some short-range damage if you do not pay bills you could, and you may increase the likelihood of being sued. A debt relief company will often encourage you to take risks and sustain damage before they will or can negotiate for you. If it doesn't work out that way, you are the big loser, and they simply find someone else to try it with. So essentially all the risk is on the person seeking debt relief, and people without anything to lose are pushing for action.

Another possible objection to the way debt relief companies have done business is that they charge a lot for their services. It is my belief that most people can, if they really decide to do it, probably do as good – or almost as good – a job at debt settlement negotiations as the “pros” they hire to do it for them. After all, most of what these pros have going for them is simply the knowledge that that most creditors will, eventually, negotiate.

People ask about doing debt relief often enough that I have simply had to recognize that some people would feel more comfortable having other people negotiate for them even if they have to pay for that service. Also, there are a few laws that now regulate the debt relief business to an extent, but I strongly suggest that you be a wise consumer in making this choice if that is what you decide.

Author's Bio: 

I practiced law for over fifteen years in St. Louis, Missouri before stopping practice and shifting my efforts to my website, While practicing, I represented hundreds of clients in consumer law cases and won numerous awards of monetary compensation, damages and punitive damages, credit reparation, and release from contract.

Eventually I came to the conclusions that many citizens didn't know their rights and couldn't afford an attorney, but that they could effectively represent themselves against the debt collectors if they had a little help. Therefore, I created, the YourLegalLegUp Litigation Manual and Forms, and other information available at my site.

My site has a great deal of information, much of it free, to help people understand their situation and begin to defend themselves from debt collectors. I have also posted extensive videos and articles on the subject. For more information of debt settlement, see: