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Debt settlement, also known as debt arbitration, debt negotiation or credit settlement, is an approach to debt reduction in which the debtor and creditor agree on a reduced balance that will be regarded as payment in full. During a negotiation period, all payments by the debtor are made to the debt settlement company, which typically withholds payments to the creditors, even if the debtor has paid a lump sum or made payments. Once all the debtor's accounts are in default due to this non-payment, the debt settlement company has leverage to force the debtor to accept a reduced lump sum payment as settlement. The debtor's credit rating goes down significantly due to the default, especially if the debtor was not behind on payments before the negotiation period commenced. Even though the accounts are "settled," the default appears on the debtor's credit record for seven years. Nevertheless, some debtors prefer this method of debt reduction over bankruptcy.
Debt relief or debt cancellation is the partial or total forgiveness of debt, or the slowing or stopping of debt growth, owed by individuals, corporations, or nations.
Debt collection is the process of pursing payments of debts owed by individuals or businesses. An organization that specializes in debt collection is known as a collection agency or debt collector. Most collection agencies operate as agents of creditors and collect debts for a fee or percentage of the total amount owed.
A debt management plan (DMP) is a formal agreement between a debtor and a creditor that addresses the terms of an outstanding debt. This commonly refers to a personal finance process of individuals addressing high consumer debt. Debt management plans help reduce outstanding, unsecured debts over time to help the debtor regain control of finances. The process can secure a lower overall interest rate, longer repayment terms, or an overall reduction in the debt itself.
Debt Validation, or "debt verification", refers to a consumer's right to challenge a debt and/or receive written verification of a debt from a debt collector. The right to dispute the debt and receive validation are part of the consumer's rights under the United States Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and are set out in §809 of that act, which has been codified in Title 15, Section 1692-1692p of the United States Code. This debt validation procedure was expected to reduce the incidence of debt collectors dunning the wrong person or attempting to collect previously paid debts.
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