Anna Serio is a trusted lending expert and certified Commercial Loan Officer who's published more than 1,000 articles on Finder to help Americans strengthen their financial literacy. A former editor of a newspaper in Beirut, Anna writes about personal, student, business and car loans. Today, digital publications like Business Insider, CNBC and the Simple Dollar feature her professional commentary, and she earned an Expert Contributor in Finance badge from review site Best Company in 2020.
How much does it cost?
There are no upfront fees for CuraDebt’s services. Customers typically pay a fee of 20% of enrolled debt once they start to see results. Fees are included in your monthly payments to the program, which CuraDebt doesn’t get access to until after at least one debt settles.
Settled debt also is considered taxable income, so if you get a large settlement, it can shoot you up into a higher income tax bracket.
How much could I save with CuraDebt?
It depends on how much debt CuraDebt is able to settle. It claims to typically cut debts by around 50%, but states it has settled up to 100% of some clients’ debts in the past. When you factor in fees, this comes out to anywhere between a 30% and 80% savings.
What does this look like? Say you have $10,000 in credit card debt with an APR of 19% and sign up for debt settlement with CuraDebt. If CuraDebt is unable to settle your debt until the end of your three-year program, you could end up with $17,603.83 in debt by the time the negotiation happens. With negotiations, you could save between $5,281 and $14,083. Not too shabby. Just remember that you’re going to have to pay taxes on settled debt.
Savings on tax relief
With tax relief, how much you save varies widely depending on what type of debt relief option is right for you. You might not save anything at all if you go for an installment program. You might save everything if your debt is considered currently noncollectible.
What are the benefits and drawbacks of CuraDebt?
Higher savings. CuraDebt has been able to get some debts completely dismissed, meaning you’d only have to pay its fees — cutting your debts by around 80% or more.
Offers tax debt relief. Many debt relief companies don’t offer relief for back taxes you can’t afford to pay.
Goes after the legality of your debt. CuraDebt takes a unique approach to negotiating your debts down by first looking for legal violations committed by your lender to get them to forgive them all.
Lacks transparency. It’s difficult to get basic information from both its website and staff.
Sketchy website. It’s unclear from its site what kinds of services it offers or how they even differ. And good luck getting an estimate on its rates. Its site also has these spammy popups asking you to get a quote, which you can bypass by clicking anywhere else on the page.
Poor customer service. CuraDebt’s customer service representatives weren’t able to take the time to answer even the most basic questions when we called. It looks like we’re not the only ones either: Others have complained that CuraDebt was unresponsive when they had questions or wanted to withdraw from the program.
Debt relief companies typically charge a percentage of a customer’s debt or a monthly program fee for their services. And not all companies are transparent about these costs or drawbacks that can negatively affect your credit score. Depending on the company you work with, you might pay other fees for third-party settlement services or setting up new accounts, which can leave you in a worse situation than when you signed up.
Consider alternatives before signing up with a debt relief company:
Payment extensions. Companies you owe may be willing to extend your payment due date or put you on a longer payment plan if you ask.
Nonprofit credit counseling. Look for free debt-management help from nonprofit organizations like the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
Debt settlement. If you can manage to pay a portion of the bill, offer the collection agency a one-time payment as a settlement. Collection agencies are often willing to accept a lower payment on your debt to close the account.
What exactly is CuraDebt?
CuraDebt is a debt relief company that provides debt settlement services for unsecured personal, business and tax debt. It’s older than most debt settlement companies and has a track record of higher settlement amounts — sometimes up to 100%.
Debt relief and debt settlement
Like some other debt relief companies, its website makes it sound like it offers more services than it actually does by using different names for the same thing. Really, it offers a pretty standard debt settlement package: It negotiates with your creditors to reduce the amount of debt you owe for a one-time payment.
Qualifying debts typically include credit cards, personal loans, medical bills, lines of credit, business debts, collections and repossessions, IRS debt and back taxes. It works with some types of legal debts and student loans on occasion.
CuraDebt takes slightly different approaches to IRS debt and back taxes, including:
Offer in compromise. Similar to debt settlement, CuraDebt comes to an agreement with the IRS to let you pay a reduced amount to resolve your tax liability.
Installment agreements. Pay off your debt in smaller, more manageable monthly payments.
Penalty abatements. These usually go along with an installment agreement and mean you don’t have to pay as many penalties.
Currently noncollectible. The IRS stops collections if CuraDebt can help you prove you’re experiencing extreme economic hardships making it impossible for you to pay your back taxes.
Collection statute expiration date. The IRS sets an expiration date on your owed tax debt — usually 10 years.
Not much as of December 2018. CuraDebt isn’t rated or accredited with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). And while it earn an average 5 out of 5 stars on its BBB page, this is based on just 10 customer reviews. It also scores a pretty meaningless 8.1 out of 10 on Trustpilot based on just four reviews.
Most complaints revolved around its poor customer service, causing more than one person to call it a scam. Another customer was unhappy with the tax relief option the company decided to go with. CuraDebt isn’t always able to settle customers’ debts — that’s one of the risks of debt relief companies. But the difference is that it seems particularly difficult to withdraw from one of CuraDebt’s programs.
Is CuraDebt actually located in the United States?
Yes. You might have seen rumors floating around online reviews and forums that CuraDebt is licensed in California but mostly operates out of Caracas, Venezuela. CuraDebt is actually located in Hollywood, Florida and has offices that you can visit in person.
Is it safe to use CuraDebt?
In general, yes — though no website can guarantee your information stays 100% safe. CuraDebt does its part by using SSL security to encrypt the details you enter online. Its web security is also verified by Trust Guard, which performs periodic vulnerability scans of the site. While it does allow third-party data collection, you have the option to opt out.
It’s both a member of the American Fair Credit Council (AFCC) and a certified member of the International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators (IAPDA), which sets and protects industry standards.
How do I get started?
To qualify for CuraDebt’s program you must be 21 or older, have verifiable income, more than $10,000 in unsecured debt — meaning no collateral — excluding payday loans. If you meet these three requirements, you’re ready to get started.
You can sign up for a free consultation online. Follow these steps:
Go to CuraDebt’s website and click Free Consultation.
Select how much you owe in debt.
Select whether you’re behind on payments.
Select what state you live in.
Enter your contact information and click Free Consultation.
A representative from CuraDebt will get in touch to discuss your situation and offer ways they can help.
I’ve signed up. What happens next?
CuraDebt’s programs differ depending on what type of debt you have:
If you’re settling debt, CuraDebt guides you through setting up a trust account that only you have access to, where you make monthly payments throughout the duration of the program. While you’re making your deposits, the CuraDebt team starts working on identifying violations that your creditor committed to use as leverage in the negotiation process.
After this, CuraDebt begins to contact your creditors to negotiate your debt down or have it completely dismissed. Once it’s settled your debts, it will ask you for permission to withdraw the settlement from your trust account.
If you sign up for the tax relief program, CuraDebt first reviews your case to see what type of tax relief you might be able to qualify for. It then takes steps to make sure your taxes are compliant with IRS regulations by filing any missing returns or correcting mistakes. Once it’s clear you’re compliant, it contacts the IRS to get you the tax relief you agreed on in the first step.
3 tips for making CuraDebt a smart move
Make the most of your debt relief program by following a few simple tips:
Don’t stop paying off your debts. Make an effort to at least make your minimum monthly payments. Not only will your debts pile on late fees and skyrocket due to interest, you could also be vulnerable to a lawsuit if you fail to make repayments for a few years.
Don’t take on additional debt. With debt settlement, this isn’t much of a possibility — your credit score will be too damaged for you to qualify anyway. But you might be able to if you owe back taxes. Concentrate on paying off the debts you have first.
Stay connected. Keep an eye on your debt balances, your personal account and your CuraDebt trust account. If you have any questions, contact customer service by phone or email as soon as possible.
Debt relief should be treated as a last resort. But if you’re set on enrolling in a program, CuraDebt may be able to help. Its unique approach to negotiating with creditors means you could only have to pay 80% of what you originally owed. However, its poor customer service reviews and spammy website might make you want to look elsewhere.
Yes. You don’t need to enroll in a debt settlement program to negotiate with your creditors. You can do it yourself by calling the customer service line, demanding to speak to someone who can help you and make a case for yourself. You might not be successful, but debt settlement rarely is either.
Only around 10% of people who enroll in a debt settlement program actually finish.
You can’t if you’re settling credit card debt. Typically, creditors close your accounts after you enroll in debt settlement.
You can improve your credit multiple ways, such as getting current on your bills and reducing your debt-to-income ratio. You may also want to consider other credit repair companies that offer services besides debt relief.
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