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Debt consolidation companies, generally speaking, set you up on a "payment plan" in which you send it a certain amount of money every week, month, etc. They then save your money, minus their fees, until you have enough to make a lump sum payment to one or more of your creditors. The difference in going to your credit card companies directly is that you then are assured that your credit card companies are in agreement with your proposal. With debt consolidation companies, you have no such assurances. In fact, your creditors can continue to pursue legal action against you while you're paying your money to the debt consolidation company.
The only true "debt consolidation" that everyone has to participate in is a bankruptcy.
Also, be aware of the tax consequences that may arise with any debt settlement program through either a debt consolidation company or a direct deal with the creditors.
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