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Is using a debt reduction or debt consolidation firm a good idea? Possibly yes and possibly no. There are two key issues to be considered.
First, how comfortable are you in dealing with your bank or credit card company? Negotiating with lenders, while fairly straightforward in most situations, can be an intimidating experience for many people who lack the confidence to deal with them. Second, should you prefer to deal with a debt relief company, you must be sure they are reputable, experienced and, most important, effective. If you feel reasonably comfortable talking to your lender(s), you should probably attempt to negotiate your own arrangements.
You are the person with the most to gain or lose in this situation. Lenders are aware that you are intimately involved and may (the operative word is “may”) respond more positively than if they are dealing with a professional firm, whose goal is really to reduce the lender's income. Conversely, if you are uncomfortable or very inexperienced in speaking with lenders, you might be better served by letting a professional attempt to restructure your debt. These people have expertise negotiating with a wide variety of lenders in many different situations. They may have a better chance of getting approval for reduced payment terms or advantageous settlement terms than you might have on your own.