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The alternatives to filing for bankruptcy in Washington, D.C.

Every year, hundreds of people file for bankruptcy in Washington, D.C. According to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Columbia, there have been 513 bankruptcy filings so far this year, including Chapter 7, Chapter 11 and Chapter 13. While that route may be beneficial for some, it is important that people who are struggling financially understand the other options available for getting a fresh start.

The Federal Trade Commission notes that one of the first things a consumer could do is to contact creditors in an effort to negotiate a new situation. This could mean coming up with a better payment plan, reducing an interest rate or extending the amount of time the person has to pay the debt.

There are also reputable credit counseling services that can help a consumer to do the following: 

  •        Put together a budget
  •        Manage money and debt
  •        Use credit responsibly

The FTC reports that the trustworthy credit counseling providers are typically nonprofit organizations and offer in-person sessions. When in doubt, a debtor can check with the local consumer protection agency to determine which counseling provider would be best.

While debt relief services may sound attractive, the FTC warns that there are many scams that prey on consumers who are having money problems. Additionally, the commission suggests that consumers weigh their options before diving into a second mortgage or home equity line of credit, both of which use a home as collateral and could lead to losing the property.

Bankruptcy will have a significant effect on someone’s credit score. Choosing to file should only be done after exploring all the options and consulting a professional for advice.

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