2023 Guide to Debt Consolidation and Relief in Georgia

Georgia ranks No. 1 in the U.S. in non-mortgage household debt at $45,778. This places the Peach State ahead of No. 2 Maryland ($45,663) and No. 3 Texas ($44,850).

Unfortunately, Georgians also earn a lower-than-average median household income at $65,030. That’s a bad combo.

If you’re a Georgia resident struggling to repay debt, here’s everything you need to know to become debt-free.

How to Become Debt-Free in Georgia

Here is a look at each program to help you determine what works best if you’re seeking debt relief in Georgia:

Debt Consolidation Loan

Works best for: People with 670+ credit scores

Debt consolidation loans involve using a new, larger loan to pay off your other unsecured debts, including credit cards. A debt consolidation loan should typically have a lower interest rate than your current debts to be effective. 

This leaves you with one monthly payment and one creditor, saving money and simplifying your payments.

READ MORE: How to consolidate your credit card debt

Debt Consolidation Company / Debt Consolidation Program

Works best for: Anyone with more than $10,000 in unsecured debt who is struggling to make their payments and wants to avoid bankruptcy. 

Debt settlement involves negotiating with creditors to repay less than the total amount they owe, sometimes as a lump sum and sometimes as a longer-term payment plan. 

In Georgia, debt settlement can help you pay off different forms of consumer debts, including:

  • Credit cards/lines of credit
  • Personal loans
  • Department store cards
  • Old judgments
  • Student loans in default
  • Other unsecured loans or debts

To make debt settlement work, you must stop paying your debts for three to six months until your creditor charges off the debt. This will damage your credit score but will incentivize the creditors to negotiate. Once settlements are reached, and payments are made, your credit score will rebound. 

The average debt settlement customer ends up debt-free while paying about 75% to 80% of the total enrolled in the program after all fees are paid. 

READ MORE: Is debt settlement the fastest way to get out of debt?

Debt Settlement Risks
  • Your creditors aren’t obligated to settle
  • If a creditor refuses to settle, you could end up having to pay accrued interest and late fees
  • Missed payments will show up on your credit report
  • You may have to report the forgiven amount as income tax to the IRS

Alabama debt consolidation companies

Are you looking for a debt consolidation agency in Alabama to help you get a handle on debts? Here are a few firms that could help:

Best Overall: DebtHammer

DebtHammer helps borrowers overwhelmed by unsecured debts ranging from payday and tribal loans to credit cards and medical bills. 

After a free consultation to review your situation, the DebtHammer representative will offer you a menu of options. You will decide on the course of action you prefer. These options may include debt settlement, debt consolidation, bankruptcy or others. DebtHammer requires a minimum debt of $7,500 for program enrollment or $1,000 in payday loans. The company charges 25% of the total enrolled debt.

READ MORE: DebtHammer review

Though based in Texas, DebtHammer currently provides solutions to residents of Georgia, Alaska, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming. Some service options may not be available in all states.

Click here to schedule a free consultation.

More Debt Relief Companies

  • Debt Relief Agency: 118 S Commerce St, Hinesville, GA; (912) 369-3569; www.gadebtrelief.org
  • Alleviate Financial Solutions 4 Park Plaza Suite 1500, Irvine, CA; (800) 308-2935 alleviatefinancial.com
  • Guardian Litigation Group: 17922 Fitch Suite 150, Irvine, CA;  (949) 312-4226 guardianlit.com
  • New Era Debt Solutions: 330 Wood Rd., Suite B Camarillo, CA;  (805) 303-8773 neweradebtsolutions.com
  • Global DS 675 W Indiantown Rd. Jupiter, FL;  (866) 677-5044 globaldsgroup.com
  • InCharge Debt Solutions: Orlando, FL; (800) 565-8953 incharge.org
  • Golden Financial Services Debt Settlement Corporation: Lake Worth, FL, (619) 600-5189 goldenfs.org
  • National Debt Relief 180 Maiden Ln 30th floor, New York, NY; (800) 300-9550 nationaldebtrelief.com
  • DebtBlue: 1125 E Campbell Rd Suite 200, Richardson, TX; (855) 269-9462 try.debtblue.com

Georgia Debt Settlement Attorneys

  • Debt Freedom GA: 10475 Medlock Bridge Rd STE 310, Johns Creek, GA; (770) 671-8830; debtfreedomga.com
  • The Kent Law Firm: 3355 Lenox Rd NE #600, Atlanta, GA; (404) 504-7090; www.thekentlawfirm.com
  • CMC Law: 5 Concourse Pkwy # 30, Atlanta, GA; (404) 585-0040; bankruptcylawyeratlantageorgia.com
  • Saedi Law Group, LLC: 3006 Clairmont Rd, Atlanta, GA; (404) 919-7296; georgiabankruptcylawgroup.com
  • Woodruff Law LLC: 123 Powers Ferry Rd, Marietta, GA; (770) 565-7924; www.woodrufflawga.com
  • The Ballard Law Group: Suite 203A, 3664 Club Dr, Lawrenceville, GA; (404) 800-9939; www.blgbankruptcy.com
  • Clark & Washington Attorneys and Counselors at Law: 3300 Northeast Expy Building 3, Atlanta, GA; (770) 488-9334; www.clarkandwashington.com
  • Jeff Field & Associates: 342 N Clarendon Ave, Scottdale, GA; (404) 499-2700; www.fieldlawoffice.com
  • King & King: 215 Pryor St SW, Atlanta, GA; (404) 524-6400; kingandkingattorneys.com
  • Cherney Law Firm, LLC: 103 Springfield Dr #204, Woodstock, GA; (770) 485-4141; cherneylaw.com

When seeking debt relief in Georgia, it’s important to note that not all types of debt are eligible. Debts that can be included in the state’s debt settlement programs include:

  • Credit cards
  • Department store cards
  • Signature loans
  • Personal lines of credit
  • Old repossessions
  • Other unsecured debts
  • Old judgments
  • Private student loans in default

Debts that don’t typically qualify for debt settlement in Georgia include:

  • Home mortgages
  • Federal student loans
  • Car loans
  • Other secured debts
  • Credit Union debts
  • Medical bills

Debt Management

Works best for: People with primarily credit card debt. Many credit counseling agencies work exclusively with credit card debt (and thus won’t be a help if you need to consolidate medical bills or student loans.)

A debt management program will usually reduce the interest rates on your credit cards from the current average of about 20% to around 9%. This will lower your monthly payment. However, unlike debt settlement, you will repay the full amount you owe plus a lower amount of interest. The program usually takes 3-5 years to complete. 

Pro tip: It’s important to note that only 55% to 70% of customers who enroll in DMPs successfully complete the program. If you enroll in a Debt Management Plan but don’t complete it, your financial situation could worsen. 

So, for example, if you had $5,000 in credit card debt and were paying 25% interest, your monthly interest rate would be $105. If you reduce the interest to 8%, you’ll pay $33 per month in interest. That’s a $72 savings you could apply to reduce your debt and pay it off faster.

These programs are usually set up and administered by nonprofit credit counseling agencies. 

Like with debt settlement, debt management does not involve a loan. Credit scores won’t matter. But if you default on payments, your creditor could raise the interest rate back to its original amount. 

READ MORE: Debt management vs. debt settlement

Credit Counseling Agencies in Georgia

  • American Consumer Credit Counseling, Inc.: 260 Peachtree St NW Suite 2200, Atlanta, GA; (800) 769-3571; www.consumercredit.com
  • Buckhead Credit Repair Company: 3500 Lenox Rd NE suite 1500, Atlanta, GA; (404) 947-5592; buckheadcreditrepair.com
  • Consume Credit Counseling Services: 1350 15th Ave, Columbus, GA; (706) 666-5070
  • New Freedom Financial Services: 1216 Dawson Rd #202, Albany, GA; (229) 435-9160; www.newfreedomservices.com
  • Consumer Debt Management: 433 Cherry St, Macon, GA; (478) 239-0485
  • Grove credit repair: 1700 Northside Dr NW Suite A7-1633, Atlanta, GA; (404) 333-8531
  • Advanced Credit Help: 3235 Satellite Blvd Bldg. 400 Ste. 300, Duluth, GA; (877) 256-5646; advancedcredithelp.com
  • Credit Building Professionals: 800 Battery Ave SE Suite 100, Atlanta, GA; (877) 376-6479
  • The Credit Redeemer: 1708 Gillionville Rd Suite B, Albany, GA; (800) 843-2303; www.thecreditredeemer.com


Works best for: People who can see no other way to get out of debt within the next five years, who’ve already suffered significant credit score damage or who have tried one or more of the other options and failed. 

For some Georgia residents seeking debt relief, bankruptcy could offer a fresh start. The two main types of personal bankruptcy are:

  • Chapter 7: Usually the most common option for individuals, Chapter 7 involves selling off (liquidating) the debtor’s assets to repay their creditors. Afterward, any remaining eligible debts are erased. Chapter 7 cases usually last 4 to 6 months.
  • Chapter 13: With Chapter 13, the debtor gets to keep most or all of their property and assets. Instead, they must set up a 3 or 5-year payment plan with their creditors to pay as much of their debts as possible. These cases are usually much more complicated and often require a bankruptcy attorney.

Most people don’t get to choose which type of bankruptcy they file. For instance, to qualify for Chapter 7, you must first pass a means test.

This test considers the individual’s income, expenses, and household size when determining if they have enough disposable income to repay their debts. 

In Georgia, those limits are:

  • One-person household: $60,490
  • Two-person household: $77,183
  • Three-person household: $87,742
  • Four-person household: $103,638
  • Five-person household: $113,538
  • Six-person household: $123,438
  • Seven-person household: $133,338
  • Eight-person household: $143,238
  • Nine-person household: $153,138
  • Ten-person household: $163,038

READ MORE: Types of bankruptcy explained

Georgia Bankruptcy Exemptions

In certain states, including Georgia, you may keep some property you’re allowed by law to claim as exempt. In Georgia you are allowed to keep: 

  • $21,500 worth of home equity in your home (per person – the amount is doubled for a couple)
  • Your vehicle, as long as you have no more than $5,000 worth of equity.
  • $5,000 worth of furnishings and other household items
  • An additional $1,200 “wildcard” exemption to protect other property, like investments
  • Any unused portion of the homestead exemption limit can be used to protect up to $10,000 of other property.

What is the Statute of Limitations on Debt in Georgia?

The statute of limitations determines whether a creditor can legally sue a debtor (borrower) over an unpaid debt. After the statute of limitations ends, the creditor can no longer initiate a lawsuit on the outstanding debt. However, they can still try to collect the debt.

  • Oral agreements: 4 years
  • Written contracts: 6 years
  • Promissory notes: 6 years
  • Open-ended accounts: 4 years

The statute of limitations is four years for auto loans and seven years for state tax debts.

Contact: Georgia Attorney General’s Office

READ MORE: States’ statutes of limitations on debt

Debt Collection Laws in Georgia 

Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the following debt collection practices are prohibited in Georgia:

  • Sending written communications imitating any form of legal process
  • Claiming the debt collector practices law unless they are a lawyer
  • Attempting to collect any additional fees or expenses the debtor isn’t legally obligated to pay
  • Threatening to sell the debtor’s obligation (account) to a third-party agency
  • Claiming the debtor owes more than they do on an account
  • Stating or implying that the debt collector is working on behalf of any state agency

READ MORE: How to deal with debt collectors

Where to Make a Complaint

The Georgia Department of Banking and Finance is the best place to register a complaint about illegal payday or installment loans within the state. Here’s the contact information: 

  • Regulator: Georgia Department of Banking and Finance
  • Address: 2990 Brandywine Road, Suite 200, Atlanta, Georgia 30341-5565
  • Phone: 770-986-1633
  • Email: dbfgila@dbf.state.ga.us
  • Link to website: https://dbf.georgia.gov/payday-lending

More Debt Statistics in Georgia

Many residents struggle with consumer debts, including high-interest credit cards, student loans, and auto loans. Fortunately, there are many solutions for those seeking debt relief.

Georgia averageNational average
Average salary$58,000$59,428
Median household income$65,030$70,784
Per capita household income$34,516$36,430
Household debt$57,570$59,580
Auto loan debt$24,673$22,612
Credit card debt $6,569$6,194 
Mortgage debt$206,319$236,443
Median mortgage payment (30-year fixed)$1,501$2,823 
Average student loan debt $41,639$37,338
FICO credit score694714
Average VantageScore674701
Retirement savings$435,254$255,000
Child poverty19%5.2%
Overall poverty 12.7%11.6%
2022 consumer bankruptcy filings22,815387,721
2022 foreclosures762248,170
Identity thefts reported (2021)50,4411,108,609 
Percentage of unbanked residents19.4%4.5%
Average credit utilization ratio30%31%

Payday lending status in Georgia: Prohibited

Payday lending has been illegal in Georgia since 2004. That year, the state’s government limited lending rates to 10%. This effectively eliminated storefront payday lenders in the state. 

  • Maximum loan amount: $3,000
  • Interest rate (APR): 10%
  • Maximum loan term: 36 months and 15 days
  • Origination fee: 8% of the first $600 and 4% of the excess
  • Maintenance charge: $3 per month
  • Late fee: The greater of $10 or 5¢ for each $1.00 of the loan

Check out the original legislation.

READ MORE: How payday loans work

Debt Resources for Georgia Residents Facing Hardship

Georgia offers a variety of local and state programs for residents looking for help with debt or finances. Among other things, these resources can provide low-cost or free childcare, job-related education and training, healthcare, and legal aid. Some programs can also help with the cost of rent or utilities.

Some of the main food banks in the state include:

  • Atlanta Community Food Bank: 3400 N Desert Dr, East Point, GA; (404) 892-9822
  • Middle Georgia Community Food Bank: 4490 Ocmulgee E Blvd, Macon, GA; (478) 742-3958
  • The Food Bank of Northeast Georgia: 861 Newton Bridge Rd, Athens, GA; (706) 354-8191
  • Georgia Mountain Food Bank: 1642 Calvary Industrial Dr SW, Gainesville, GA; (770) 534-4111
  • Feeding Georgia (formerly the Georgia Food Bank Association): 3400 N Desert Dr, Atlanta, GA; (404) 419-1738
  • Midwest Food Bank — Georgia Division: 220 Parkade Ct, Peachtree City, GA; (770) 486-1103
  • The Food Bank of Northeast Georgia: 861 Newton Bridge Rd, Athens, GA; (706) 354-8191
  • Georgia Mountain Food Bank: 1642 Calvary Industrial Dr SW, Gainesville, GA; (770) 534-4111

How to File for Unemployment in Georgia

You can file a claim at this site if you have worked or earned wages in Georgia in the past two years.

You cannot file a Georgia claim by Internet:

  • If you reside in Georgia and have not earned Georgia wages in the past two years but earned wages in another state, go to a Georgia Department of Labor career center to obtain information for filing a claim against the proper state.
  • If you reside outside Georgia and have not earned Georgia wages in the past two years, contact the State Workforce Agency to file your claim.

State Hardship Programs

Georgia offers many grants and local and government-run programs to those who need help with a financial crisis. These programs are designed to help eligible individuals, families, and children with things like:

  • Medical expenses
  • Legal assistance
  • Dealing with debt collectors
  • Rent and mortgage payments
  • Utility bills

If you’re seeking debt relief or bill payment assistance in Delaware, here are some of the best options.

  • PeachCare for Kids: This state children’s insurance program, also known as S-CHIP, provides comprehensive health benefits at little to no cost to qualifying families. Households must meet specific criteria, including income requirements, for children to be eligible for PeachCare for Kids.
  • TANF: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families is Georgia’s primary cash assistance program. The goal is to provide temporary help until residents can get a job.
  • SNAP: In Georgia, SNAP is available to help low-income households subsidize their food costs. Apply for a reloadable card and use it like you would a debit card at most grocery stores.
  • WIC: The Women, Infants and Children program is designed to help certain people, including low-income women with young children, afford food costs. Most people who qualify for SNAP or TANF benefits also qualify for this program.
  • LIHEAP: The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program is federally funded and helps income-qualified families with heating and cooling costs.
  • CAFCP: The federal Child and Adult Food Care Program reimburses eligible organizations and daycare home providers for nutritious meals served in care settings. The program is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Cost of Living in Georgia

Annual Mean Wage (All Occupations)$66,559
Median Monthly Rent$1,042
Value of a Dollar1.07
Cost of Living91
Cost of Living Rank38
Grocery Cost Index98.9
Housing Cost Index78.5
Utilities Cost Index84.4
Transportation Cost Index94.5
Miscellaneous Cost Index97.2
Source: World Population Review (updated September 2023)

The Bottom Line

Georgia ranks No. 1 in the nation for non-mortgage debt. Considering the high poverty rate, that means many Georgia residents are struggling. But the state also offers some debt relief and hardship programs, including debt settlement and consolidation. If you’re struggling, now is the time to take action. Rising interest rates will only make things worse in the short term. A few simple steps can help you reboot your financial life and get back on track.

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