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New Era Debt Solutions Debt Relief Review

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Is your debt growing each month? Are you struggling to keep up with the number of creditors to whom you owe money? Debt settlement could be an option. For a fee, private companies negotiate reduced payments with your creditors, lowering the amount of debt you owe. This is a different approach than debt consolidation, in which your existing debts are combined into one account that you then pay off with regular monthly payments.

Camarillo, Calif.-based New Era Debt Solutions specializes in debt settlement and might be able to help you settle your debt. Here’s what you need to know.

What is New Era Debt Solutions?

New Era Debt Solutions has an A-plus rating with the Better Business Bureau. The company boasts competitive settlement agreements and a high success rate.

Breakdown of New Era Debt Solutions

Let’s break things down even further:

Services offered

Debt settlement

Minimum debt required

New Era does not specify a minimum debt level to participate in its services.

Credit score

New Era says participating in debt settlement will hurt your credit score.

Debt settlement timeline

New Era says the average customer completes its debt settlement process slightly more than 27 months.

Consultation fees

New Era doesn’t list specific fees, but does say it only charges clients after a settlement has been reached. It does not charge any upfront fees.

Service fees

New Era only charges fees after a settlement has been reached.

Types of debt accepted

New Era says it can settle unsecured debt. Everything from credit cards to unsecured personal loans can be negotiated. New Era can't work with secured debt such as mortgages and auto loans. The creditors behind this debt can simply take back the collateral by foreclosing on your home or repossessing your car.

Accreditations

New Era is an accredited member of the Better Business Bureau.

Ratings

New Era has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.

Service limitations

New Era does not operate in Iowa, Maine, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota or West Virginia.

Free tools and resources

New Era’s website includes information about debt reduction options. It also features a debt reduction calculator that can help you calculate how long it will take you to pay down your debt.

Customer service

It’s easy to contact New Era. You can visit this page to reach out to the company online or you can call New Era at 800-527-4421 .

Who’s eligible?

New Era doesn’t list any strict requirements for who can and can’t qualify for debt settlement. New Era doesn’t list a minimum amount of debt that you need to qualify or a minimum income or credit score.

The company, though, does provide some general guidelines:

  • New Era does say that consumers who are struggling mostly with credit card debt are the best fit for its services.
  • Those consumers who are fighting a financial hardship — caused by events such as a job loss, medical issues or a divorce — are also a better match for debt settlement.
  • Household income matters, too. As New Era says, participants will need to have money available to make payments on whatever debt settlement they reach.
  • New Era says participants in its program should be able to set aside about 1.5% of their debt amount on a monthly basis to cover the payments of a debt settlement. The company gives this example: If you owe $30,000 in unsecured debt, you should be able to devote $450 a month to pay back your new negotiated debt. If you do this, New Era says, it would take you about three years to pay back the average settlement.

Benefits and risks of New Era Debt Solutions

Benefits

Risks

There are no upfront fees involved with working with New Era Debt Solutions. You are only charged after you agree to a debt settlement deal. This is known as a performance-based fee model.

Your three-digit credit score is probably already dinged if you are looking to settle your debt. But, as New Era says, your score will fall even further if you agree to debt settlement.

Debt settlement could save you a significant amount of money. New Era says it settles clients’ debt for an average of 43.73% of what they owe.

It’s not the fastest process. New Era says it takes clients about 27 months to complete the debt settlement process.

Most people who start a program with New Era do finish. New Era says only slightly more than 18% of clients drop out before reaching a settlement.

The collection calls won’t necessarily stop. If you are stressed by the calls from collection agencies, New Era can’t promise that you won’t receive any new calls while in the program. Collection agencies don’t have to stop calling just because you are enrolled in a debt settlement program.

The odds are low that you’ll be sued once you begin the debt settlement process. New Era says only 6% of its clients experience any legal activity.

Not all debt can be settled. New Era says it can settle most forms of unsecured debt, but it can’t settle auto loans or mortgages — debt that requires collateral. New Era also can’t negotiate federal student loan debt, but it can settle private student loans that are in default.

How much does New Era Debt Solutions cost?

New Era Debt Solutions does not provide pricing information on its website. The company does, though, operate under a performance-based fee model, meaning that you are not billed until a debt settlement has been reached. New Era does not charge monthly administrative fees.

The amount New Era charges depend on several factors. The company says such factors like how much debt you owe, whether you can contribute monthly payments to pay down that debt after a settlement is reached and how long it takes for a settlement to be reached all affect how much you’ll pay.

How long does the program take?

New Era says debt settlement programs usually take three to four years from the time a client signs up. The company, though, says it acts faster, completing the debt settlement process in an average of 27.73 months.

Clients working with New Era who are struggling with debt from several creditors can expect to reach their first settlement within the first six months of starting the program, according to the company. In some instances, though, that first settlement can arrive even sooner. New Era states that some clients start receiving settlement offers from their creditors within 90 days.

It’s important to remember that no debt settlement company, including New Era, can guarantee that you’ll reach settlements with your creditors. New Era, though, does claim that most of its clients do agree to offers from their clients, saying that only 18% of its clients leave the program before settling their debts. New Era also says its clients usually pay about 43% of what they initially owed when signing up for the program. This, though, doesn’t guarantee that you will have the same success rate.

Is New Era Debt Solutions safe to use?

New Era Debt Solutions has been an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau since 2001. The bureau has zero customer complaints on file about the company.

Of the 19 reviews on the Better Business Bureau site, 18 were positive five-star reviews. Customers leaving reviews complimented the company on the regular contact and updates from New Era, the comprehensive way that employees explained the debt settlement process and the results that they received.

New Era also has no complaints listed in the Consumer Complaint Database maintained by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

How do I sign up for New Era Debt Solutions?

New Era offers a free analysis of your debt. The company says it will review your basic information and send you an estimate of how much time the debt settlement process will take and how much money you might save.

To get started, you’ll have to send New Era your name, phone number, the state in which you live and how much money you owe.

You can also call New Era at 800-527-4421 to speak directly with a representative.

What to expect after signing up for New Era Debt Solutions

Once you sign up with New Era, representatives from the company will start negotiating with your creditors. How long this takes will vary, though New Era says you should start receiving your first settlement offer within six months.

Before starting the process, New Era will review your debts to determine which can be settled and which can’t. Unsecured debt — debt not tied to collateral such as a home or vehicle — can usually be settled. New Era says it can settle debts from credit cards, department store cards, signature loans, personal lines of credit and private student loans that are in default. The company, though, can’t settle debt associated with mortgages, federal student loans, car loans, credit unions and medical/hospital bills.

You will have to set up an escrow account during the process. This is an account that you pay into on a monthly basis so that when settlement offers are made, you’ll have the funds necessary to pay them. How much you deposit into the account will depend on the amount you owe and your monthly income.

Alternative methods to pay down debt

We’ll take a look at debt consolidation, debt management plans, bankruptcy and DIY debt settlement.

Debt consolidation

Part of the challenge when paying down a significant amount of debt? You have so many creditors to pay back, deciding who to pay first can become overwhelming. Debt consolidation can help with this.

In debt consolidation, a private company consolidates all your loans into one package. You then pay this company a single payment each month, and the company makes your payments on your behalf.

Pros

  • Making just one payment a month can reduce the stress of paying down your debt.
  • Your debt consolidation company might be able to reduce the interest rate you pay on your debt.

Cons

  • Your debt doesn’t go away just because you are consolidating it into one payment. You still have to pay it off.
  • You might end up paying more than what you owe when you factor in the fees that a debt consolidation provider charges.
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Debt management plan

When you sign up for a debt management plan, you’ll work closely with a credit counseling agency that will set up a schedule for you to repay your debts. The goal is to leave you with a monthly payment that you can afford and that your creditors will accept.

After you agree on a debt management plan, you’ll send money directly to your credit counseling agency each month. This agency will then make payments to your creditors. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling says it usually takes three to five years to settle your debt through a debt management plan.

Pros

  • Enrolling in a debt management program won’t affect your credit score.
  • You can focus on making just one monthly payment, eliminating the stress of dealing with several different creditors.
  • Credit counselors might be able to negotiate lower payoff amounts or interest rates on your debt.

Cons

  • Debt management usually isn’t free. Your credit counseling agency will generally charge a setup and monthly fee.
  • It can take a long time to pay off your debt.

Bankruptcy

Declaring bankruptcy can eliminate your debt, depending on the type you declare, but it will also have a devastating impact on your credit score. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy sets up a repayment schedule that allows you to pay back your debts at a pace you can afford. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your unsecured debts could be eliminated. But you could also lose certain assets.

Pros

  • A bankruptcy filing could wipe away some of your biggest debts.
  • Collection agencies cannot pursue you for those debts that are discharged.

Cons

  • Bankruptcy filings will wreck your credit score, causing it to fall by 100 or more points.
  • Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings remain on your credit reports for 10 years, while Chapter 13 filings remain for seven.

DIY debt settlement

Instead of hiring a company to negotiate your debt on your behalf, you can try to settle your debt on your own. To do this, you’d have to contact companies, explain your financial situation and try to negotiate a lower payoff amount with them.
Pros

  • You won’t have to pay fees to an outside company to negotiate your debt.
  • You can tackle your outstanding debts in the order with which you feel most comfortable.

Cons

  • Negotiating debt on your own will take plenty of time.
  • You might not have the same negotiating skills possessed by private companies.

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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.

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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.

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