Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Getting Out of Debt Blog Series #1: Consumer Proposal

With summer winding down and consumer debt levels remaining at all-time highs, we thought it was a good time for a back-to-basics ‘getting out of debt blog’ to help you ease into fall with less worries on your plate. This first blog in the series will talk about the consumer proposal, giving you the ins and outs to help you better understand your options for getting out of debt. Other blogs in this series will focus on debt consolidations, debt settlement and bankruptcy. 

What is a consumer proposal? In a nutshell, a consumer proposal is a proposal that is administered by a trustee where you offer your creditor(s) a sum of money to be repaid over a term of 5 years. This sum could be less than the total debt you owe. Also, a consumer proposal will stop legal action being taken against you by unsecured creditors who are included in the proposal, stop collection agency harassment and freeze the interest accumulating on your debt.    

A consumer proposal has to be conducted by a licensed trustee in bankruptcy – you cannot negotiate one on your own. A financial consultant can consult with you on your financial options and if a consumer proposal is the solution you elect, he or she can co-ordinate a fair deal for you with a trustee. 

Unlike bankruptcy, once a consumer proposal is in place you have no ongoing obligation to the trustee whatsoever – you simply have to make your monthly payment. Consumer proposals can be repaid in full at any time. This is a major plus for folks who want to rebuild their credit quickly. A consumer proposal will be completely removed from your credit report 3 years from the date it has been paid in full. Beginning with a secured credit card or RRSP loan, those who make consumer proposals have many options available to them for rebuilding credit.

With anything there are caveats. A consumer proposal must be accepted by your majority creditor. Because trustees represent you and your creditors it is important to understand how consumer proposals work and to have your own representation through the process. Negotiating a proposal that is accepted by your creditor(s) and that is the best deal for you is key. Having representation ensures that you have someone who has expertise in this area to ensure that you do get the best deal and that all aspects of your financial situation have been considered.

Filing a consumer proposal is, for many people, a smart solution for getting out of debt. That being said, it needs to be approached correctly, and you will need the help of a professional to carry it out.

For more information about consumer proposals or other ways of getting out of debt, please contact DebtCare Canada by calling 1-800-890-0888.