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CuraDebt Debt Relief Review

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CuraDebt Debt Relief launched in 2000 in Irvine, Calif., offering debt relief services to individuals and small businesses across the country. The company states it immediately got to work creating strong relationships with major creditors to better help its clients negotiate relief from their debt. CuraDebt believes in offering a solution to consumer debt, but also working to help connect customers with other professional services, such as tax assistance, or local attorneys to provide guidance through the debt relief process.

CuraDebt manages all its debt relief clients in-house, claiming that it provides the best communication and ensures the best possible results. CuraDebt has over 200 settlement letters, with about 50 currently viewable online, showing savings of between 49% and 100% of the debt amount enrolled. It has over 150 five-star customer reviews on Shopper Approved, as well as five stars on Customer Lobby.

It is a member of the Online Business Bureau, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators (IAPDA) and the American Fair Credit Council (AFCC). It has been in the top 2 rankings of “Best Debt Relief Company” by TopConsumerReviews.com for over nine years.

Breakdown of CuraDebt

CuraDebt offers a range of debt relief services, helping customers gain the best possible service.

Services offered

  • Debt relief

  • Tax debt relief

  • Debt settlement

  • Debt negotiation

Minimum debt required

$5,000

Credit check

Not specified

Debt settlement timeline

Not specified

Consultation fees

Free consultation/quote

Cancellation fees

Not specified

Service fees

Average of 20% of the total debt amount enrolled

Types of debt accepted

  • Credit cards

  • Personal loans and lines of credit

  • Medical bills

  • Collections and repossessions

  • Certain business debts

  • Certain secured debts

  • IRS debt and back taxes

Accreditations

  • Online Business Bureau

  • HONESTe Online

  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce

  • International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators certified company

  • American Fair Credit Council

Ratings

  • 5 stars from Better Business Bureau

  • Over 150 five-star ratings on Shopper Approved

Service limitations

Doesn’t help with:

  • Lawsuits

  • Utility bills

  • Auto, student or government loans

  • Mortgage or home loans

  • Other secured debts

Free tools and resources

Free savings estimate calculator

Customer service

877-850-3328
counselors@curadebt.com
9 a.m.-8 p.m. ET Monday-Friday
10 a.m.-3 p.m. ET Saturday

Who’s eligible?

Individuals who are working to pay down these types of debts are eligible to work with CuraDebt:

  • Credit cards
  • Personal loans and lines of credit
  • Medical bills
  • Collections and repossessions
  • Business debts
  • Certain secured debts
  • IRS debt and back taxes

CuraDebt offers a variety of debt relief programs, including debt relief, debt settlement, tax debt relief, debt negotiation and debt consolidation. CuraDebt claims it’s often a better alternative than bankruptcy for individuals experiencing severe amounts of debt that they’re unable to repay or who are behind in their payment schedule.

What are the benefits and risks of CuraDebt?

Benefits

Risks

Quick debt relief: Working with CuraDebt means taking action to pay down or settle debt. Enlisting its help could result in debt relief that’s faster than continuing to struggle or declaring bankruptcy.

High cost: CuraDebt takes, on average, 20% of the total enrolled amount of debt as a fee.

Save money: CuraDebt negotiates with creditors for lower rates and lower payments or to settle the debt completely.

Can damage credit score: Working with debt relief or debt settlement organizations can damage credit scores.

Simplified process: Chasing down creditors can be emotionally exhausting. Working with CuraDebt can relieve the pressure and simplify the process of negotiating with creditors.

No guarantee: There’s no guarantee that CuraDebt can negotiate debt settlements.

Consolidate debt: Making one, easy monthly payment to CuraDebt is easier than servicing multiple debt payments each month.

Timeline is unclear: CuraDebt claims to help you become debt-free “as quickly as possible.” But there is no clear timeline for resolving your debt.

How much does CuraDebt cost?

All counseling and consultation sessions with CuraDebt are free. When CuraDebt is engaged in debt relief or debt settlement services, the fee is typically 20% of the total enrolled debt. CuraDebt also indicates a minimum debt of $5,000 is required from customers to initiate an engagement. Beyond that, CuraDebt outlines that its fees are calculated by:

  • Creditors you owe
  • Credit balances
  • Ability to contribute monthly dedicated account payments into the program
  • The amount that can be negotiated from your balance
  • How quickly your balance is negotiated
  • The fees the creditor charges

How long does the program take?

CuraDebt’s goal is to negotiate your debt repayment or to settle your debt entirely as quickly as possible.

Is CuraDebt safe to use?

CuraDebt has largely positive reviews on a variety of online consumer review sources, including the Better Business Bureau and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It is affiliated with the American Fair Credit Council and has over 200 settlement letters dating to 1998 highlighting savings between 49% and 100%. About 50 of those settlement letters are currently available to view online.

How do I sign up for CuraDebt?

To begin an engagement with CuraDebt, start by signing up for a free consultation. It can provide a free savings estimate on its website. From there, one of its representatives may be in contact, or you can contact the company directly by requesting a free consultation online, via email or via phone at 866-268-0424.

What to expect after signing up for CuraDebt

CuraDebt will begin to reach out to creditors after a session with a CuraDebt counselor. But it can’t help customers with:

  • Lawsuits
  • Utility bills
  • Auto, student or government loans
  • Mortgage or home loans
  • Other secured debts

It works to negotiate or settle your debt as quickly as possible. In some cases, having a lump sum to start paying toward your debts can help speed the process along.

4 alternative methods to pay down debt

If you’re looking to tackle debt repayment on your own, there are several different options you have available to you. Depending on the type of debt you’re facing, you can look toward consolidation, a debt management plan, a DIY debt settlement or filing for bankruptcy if your case is beyond repair.

Debt consolidation

Debt consolidation is a loan that’s used to pay off all existing debts, which allows you to make a single payment rather than tracking multiple outstanding debts and payment schedules. Debt consolidation can sometimes offer lower interest rates, extended terms or lower monthly payments.

Pros

  • Helps to keep you organized
  • Simplifies repayment with one repayment schedule to track
  • Can offer a lower interest rate or better terms

Cons

  • Doesn’t erase debt
  • Doesn’t reduce the total amount of debt principal
  • Can damage your credit score if you close other debts when you pay them off with your consolidation loan
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Debt management plan

A debt management plan is administered by a credit counseling agency. It helps you to organize your debt, meet with a credit counselor who will offer you guidance, negotiate with creditors and create a plan to avoid debt in the future.

Pros

  • Can reduce total debt amount if the credit counseling agency negotiates debt for you
  • Can offer sound guidance for getting out (and staying out) of debt
  • Helps you to create an organized repayment strategy

Cons

  • Debt management plans often cost money; there is usually a monthly fee
  • Only works for some kinds of debts
  • Requires a commitment to want to pay down your debt — and to stay out of debt

Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is a federal protection program that allows businesses or individuals to eliminate debt and recover financially. There are two kinds of bankruptcy for individuals: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is often called “liquidation” bankruptcy. In Chapter 7, borrowers may have to give up their assets to pay down part of their debt. The government may sell these assets to settle debts. Other debt may be settled or discharged. Chapter 13 involves approving a repayment plan that is negotiated between the borrower and creditors over a set period.
Pros

  • Gives you an opportunity to start over with a clean slate
  • You can have your debts negotiated by the government
  • The process is relatively quick — often taking six months at most

Cons

  • Bankruptcy stays on your credit report for seven to 10 years
  • You may lose your assets in the process
  • You may still have to repay your debts if you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy

DIY debt settlement

Working to negotiate, and potentially settle, your debt with your creditors can be an arduous and intimidating task. But if you can negotiate effectively, it could reduce your monthly payment, provide more flexible terms or even give you a lower amount to repay.
Pros

  • Repay less than you owe
  • You may be able to earn more flexible repayment terms
  • You’re showing your creditor that you’re working toward paying down your debt

Cons

  • You may have to pay tax on the forgiven difference; the IRS counts any forgiven debt as income, and it’s taxed accordingly
  • There’s no guarantee that creditors will be open to negotiation or a settlement
  • You may still owe a significant portion of your debt, even if it’s less than before you began the negotiation process

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Dave Grant is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Dave at dave@magnifymoney.com

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A Procrastinator’s Guide to Managing Your Finances

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Many of us fall victim to procrastination from time to time. And when it comes to managing your finances, avoiding or delaying tasks can get expensive very quickly.

“Our lives are busy, and sometimes we don’t want to deal with it,” says Gerri Detweiler, education director at the business credit management website Nav and author of “Debt Collection Answers: How to Use Debt Collection Laws to Protect Your Rights.

In fact, Detweiler remembers the price she paid the year she pushed off renewing her business filings with the state.

“I didn’t get it done right away and paid enormously for it,” she said.

No matter the reason behind your procrastination, it can lead to a financial mess unless you move it to the forefront of your to-do list. Know that it is possible to transform into a doer – even if you’re a habitual procrastinator – by adopting the small changes below to achieve big results down the line.

1. Automate as much as possible

If you’re prone to procrastination, keeping on top of payments can feel overwhelming, especially if you have multiple lenders you need to pay every month. Consider automating your payments so you can avoid late fees and charges. Detweiler advises setting up text or email alerts so you know when payments are due and if there are any changes to the minimum payment amount. You can set up automatic payments with either the lender or through your bank’s bill pay tool; all you have to do is just make sure you have enough money in your account to cover what you owe.

2. Consolidate debt so you have fewer bills to keep track of

The average person has 3.06 bank cards and 2.5 retail cards, according to Experian’s 2018 State of Credit Report. Detweiler advises keeping two credit cards active at any given time: one with a lower interest rate to use for bigger purchases where you can revolve a balance, and a second credit card that is used for everything else, including earning rewards, that you pay off in full at the end of month. Then, put the rest of your cards in a drawer once they’re paid off and use them only occasionally to keep the accounts from being closed by the issuer.

If you have multiple high-interest credit card balances, you may be able to qualify for a balance transfer card offering 0% interest for a specific period of time. While most balance transfer deals charge a 3% balance transfer fee, which is added to the amount you transfer, it may make financial sense to move multiple balances to one card with one payment. Then, devise a repayment plan to knock down that balance as much as possible during the no-interest period as your payments will all be directed toward the principal until the 0% offer has expired.

Another option is to consolidate multiple card balances or other debts with a debt consolidation loan. Depending on how good your credit score is, you may be able to find a lender offering an interest rate lower than what you’re paying on your credit cards. The beauty of a debt consolidation loan is that you can use it to pay off your debts and then have one fixed payment over a specific period of time, generally two to five years. Of course, this will only help if you have the discipline to refrain from adding new debts or purchases to your now-cleared credit cards.

If you’re really struggling and over your head with your finances, consider talking to a credit counselor that can put you on a debt management plan.

3. Turn to technology to help change behavior

If you’re a procrastinator, relying on your willpower can be challenging. Thankfully, technology can help with that. Consider turning to apps or websites to help change any unhealthy behaviors and transform any bad habits.

For instance, you could download a robo-saving app, such as Digit, or enroll in a savings program like Bank of America’s Keep the Change, that help make saving as painless and out-of-mind as possible. Remember that small financial goals (like saving $5 per day versus $150 per month) will seem more achievable and can help lead to big improvements.

Other apps or websites aggregate information about multiple accounts, so you can see what’s due and what’s outstanding on a weekly or monthly basis, can also come in handy. Detweiler suggests Mint, Credit Karma, or the EveryDollar budget app. She also suggests setting reminders so you can remember to log in regularly. When you see the progress you’ve made in a chart or graph, it acts like a reward that is sent to your brain, which is key to long-lasting behavior changes, as journalist Charles Duhigg noted in his book “The Power of Habit.”

Whether your procrastination is the result of being really bad at time management or overly demanding standards that result in unhealthy levels of perfectionism, it helps to be aware of what’s causing any counterproductive, irrational behavior so you can determine how to do better.

For instance, if you’re really bad at estimating how long it’ll take you to finish a task, then make a habit of starting earlier than you normally would. Or, if your overly demanding standards stop you from getting started, then remind yourself before you start the task that “done” is better than perfect and think back to times that procrastination has proven harmful to you.

Changing behaviors, like managing your time better or reducing any anxiety you feel when tackling big tasks (like paying multiple lenders every month), can be challenging, but not impossible. Breaking things down into small, simpler tasks and using technology to help you as much as possible can set you on a fresh path to break unhealthy habits and lead to big improvements on your finances.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Vivian Giang
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Vivian Giang is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Vivian here

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Got Tax Debt? Here’s What to Do

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Some people are fearful of the IRS. But if you are someone who owes tax debt to the IRS, you need more than a little bit of healthy fear to get you through — you need a plan. Here’s what you can do to pay off tax debt.

7 steps to pay off tax debt

Make an initial payment.

If you can’t pay your tax bill, one strategy — according to the IRS — is to make an initial payment based on how much you can afford, then work to determine a plan for paying down the rest of your debt.

Determine how much you can pay.

When faced with what seems like a staggering tax bill, don’t panic. The important thing is that you don’t ignore the IRS. One of your first steps should be to determine how much of your tax bill you can afford to pay. And keep in mind that whatever you don’t pay will be subject to accruing interest and penalty fees.

Choose a payment option.

Once you have settled on how much of a payment you can make, you have to make that payment. These are the main options for payments: using the electronic federal tax payment system, which is free, but is most suitable for businesses or large payments and requires enrollment; electronic funds withdrawal (which can be done during e-filing) straight from your bank account or from the IRS mobile app, same-day wiring (which may carry bank fees), a check or money order, or cash at a retail partner.

Ask for an installment agreement.

If you know you can’t make your payment in full, you can apply online for a payment plan through the IRS. Your eligibility for a payment option will depend on your individual tax situation.

To apply for an installment agreement, you have to fill out an application online that will include information such as your Social Security number, your most recent tax return filing date and your basic personal information. There are three options for a payment plan: a full payment, a short-term payment plan that will require paying in less than 120 days and a long-term installment agreement to pay over more than 120 days. In general, you are eligible to apply online for the installment agreement if you owe $50,000 or less in combined tax, penalties and interest fees and you have filed all your tax returns. The Federal Trade Commission also notes that the IRS usually can’t deny an installment agreement if you owe less than $10,000.

Ask for an offer in compromise.

Contrary to what you may think, the IRS is willing to work with you if you have tax debt and can’t pay what you owe. According to the IRS, it will consider what it calls an offer in compromise if you can’t pay your bills — and if doing so will cause a financial hardship to you.

An offer in compromise is something that can be considered after you have exhausted other options. It is based on several factors that the IRS will assess, including:

  • Your ability to pay
  • Your current income
  • Your total debt and expense obligation
  • Your assets and equity

If you can put together a reasonable offer in compromise, the IRS notes that it is generally able to accept the offer if it represents the most it can expect to collect within a “reasonable amount of time.”

There are some qualifications that you have to meet to be considered for an offer in compromise, which is detailed on the IRS website. When you submit your offer, you will have to choose one of two payment options to show the IRS your offer is serious: a lump sum or a periodic payment. The lump-sum offer consists of you including 20% of the total offer amount. If the IRS takes your offer, it will keep that 20% payment and you will pay the rest in up to five payments. If you go the periodic payment route, you’ll still submit an initial payment with your offer application, but you’ll make monthly installments while you wait to hear back from the IRS. If it does accept your application, you’ll pay monthly until your offer is paid off.

In some cases, if you meet certain low-income qualifications, your application fee, initial payment and monthly installments will be waived while your offer is considered. While the IRS considers your offer, you are required to make any associated payments with your offer, and any other collection activities will be suspended. If you don’t hear back from the IRS within two years of your offer, it is considered accepted.

Ask for “Currently Not Collectible” status.

Depending on your financial state, the IRS may determine that your account is not collectible at the moment and temporarily pause collection until your status changes. To be eligible for the status, you may have to complete a Collection Information Statement and submit proof of your finances, such as your monthly income and assets. Even if the IRS determines that you are in a not-collectible status, your debt will still be susceptible to penalties and interests until the full amount is paid. To request a delay in the collection process, you have to call the IRS.

Work with a professional.

Although it might seem counterproductive, it may be helpful to hire a tax professional who can help you sort through your options and make a plan. The IRS recommends that if you choose to work with a tax professional, you make sure you vet their credentials. There are certain rules pertaining to debt collection, and you always have the right to work directly with the IRS instead of a debt collector.

What you should know about tax debt

Tax debt can occur in large or small amounts. Essentially, as soon as you fail to pay what you owe the IRS, you have tax debt. Here’s what you should know about tax debt.

IRS collection practices. The official collection practice for tax debt begins after you have received your tax bill from the IRS and failed to make your payment in full. After you receive your first tax bill, the IRS will send you one more bill before enacting collection actions. But, in the meantime, the amount you owe will continue to accrue interest and possible penalties.

Once the IRS has sent your final tax bill, it will move to collection actions, which can range from using any future tax refunds to seizing your property and assets or showing up at your home or business.

Statute of limitations. In general, the statute of limitations on a tax liability for the IRS is 10 years. After the statute of limitations expires, the government no longer has the right to pursue collecting that liability.

Always file your taxes. One of the best ways to be proactive against tax debt is to make sure that you always file your taxes by the IRS deadline and work to make any type of payment that you can. Delaying, either with filing or with debt, never pays off. It’s always best to work with a tax professional to file your return to make sure that you reduce your chance of an error.

Don’t ignore notices from the IRS. As tempting as it may be to think that ignoring notices from the IRS will make them forget about any debt you owe, it doesn’t exactly work that way. In fact, the longer the IRS doesn’t hear from you or is unable to reach you, the more it may increase its efforts. For instance, the IRS could turn to seizing property, your bank account and your possessions, or issuing you a summons.

The bottom line

If you find yourself in a situation where you have tax debt, you have options. You can work directly with the IRS and submit details of your financial status to come up with some sort of payment plan or even temporary deferment depending on your specific situation.

The most important thing you can do is communicate with the IRS and take steps to show it you are serious about making some form of payment.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Chaunie Brusie
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Chaunie Brusie is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Chaunie here

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