Consumers encouraged to look into debt assistance options

Americans still have nearly $825 billion in credit card debt as they attempt to recover from the 2008 recession. Families have gone back to focusing on paying down their debt and rebuilding their savings, but many are still struggling to find ways to pay their monthly bills. Now that new legislation has weeded out quick debt help scams, it may be time for Americans to reach out for help, MSNBC reports.

Debt consolidation allows borrowers to transfer their credit card debt to a card with a lower interest rate to reduce monthly payments. Consumers may also take out a home equity loan or a personal loan from a bank to pay off any outstanding balances.

Credit counseling is another option for individuals struggling with credit card debt, however, experts warn that companies may charge a fee. Seeking the help of expert has helped nearly a third of individuals manage their debt, according to MSNBC. The money companies make from fees eventually go back to lenders.

Nearly 3.2 people looked for help from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling in 2009, MSNBC notes. Statistics show nearly 45 percent of borrowers that apply for counseling drop out of their programs, but this may be the most efficient option for individuals failing to meet the minimum payments. Seeking assistance may show up on a credit report, but it does less damage to a payment history than defaulting on payments.