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Whether it’s because of the cost of living, high-interest credit cards or unexpected expenses, millions of Americans struggle with debt. One way to find debt relief in Texas is through debt consolidation companies. Consolidating unsecured debt can reduce stress and make monthly payments more manageable.
If you’re not sure debt consolidation is right for you, there are other ways to find debt relief. This includes turning to local, state or federal programs designed to help financially. It also includes knowing your state and federal rights regarding Texan debt collection practices as a consumer. With that in mind, here’s what you need to know to become debt-free in the Lone Star State.
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Texas Ranks 30th for Consumer Debt
In the United States, Texas currently ranks number 30 for consumer debt. In 2021, the average resident owed $84,744 in consumer debt — up from $81,360 in 2020. For context, this includes things like:
- Credit card debt
- Auto loans
- Mortgage loans
- Student loans
- Short-term loans (ex. payday loans)
Throughout the country, Americans ages 18 to 56 have seen an overall increase in debt. Meanwhile, those ages 57 and up have experienced a debt reduction.
While Texas doesn’t rank as highly as other states when it comes to consumer debt, many people still need help managing their bills. That’s where debt consolidation and financial aid programs come into play.
Other Texas Debt Statistics
Here are a few other significant Texas debt and credit statistics:
- Average credit card debt per household: $6,753 (the national average is around $6,194)
- Average credit utilization ratio: 41.8%
- Consumer debt increase from 2020 to 2021: 4.2%
- Total outstanding student loan debt: $117.5 billion
- Average student loan debt per borrower: $30,549
- Percentage of mortgages 90+ days past due: 0.5% (steadily decreasing)
- Percentage of auto loans 90+ days past due: 16.7% (increasing)
- Percentage of student loans 90+ days past due: 13.3%
- Average FICO credit score in Texas: 692
For most Texans, credit card debt accounts for the highest amount of consumer debt. This is followed by auto loan debt, mortgage debt and student loan debt.
The Best Debt Consolidation Companies in Texas
If you’re looking for Texas debt relief, here are a few of the top-rated debt consolidation companies in the state.
Shaw & Associates, PLLC / Shaw Defense
Shaw & Associates, or Shaw Defense, is a BBB-accredited debt consolidation company with an A+ rating and has been in business for 64 years. The company offers a free consultation with a Houston-based bankruptcy attorney. The service cost depends on the amount of debt and creditors you have.
The company’s goal is to provide an alternative method to debt relief and avoid more drastic solutions like bankruptcy. It will send cease and desist letters to creditors and debt collectors. They’ll also act on your behalf and communicate with your creditors directly. The team also works with a credit repair company that looks over your credit report and identifies and removes errors and derogatory items. This process takes around 7 to 12 months.
- 1415 S Voss Rd Ste 110-99, Houston, TX, 77057-1086
- (713) 750-9038
- Rating: 9.07/10
Financial Corporation of America
Financial Corporation of America is a member of ACA International and the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management. The company works on personal and business cases to help with outstanding debts. It’s not accredited on BBB, but it has an A+ rating. It does, however, have 1.6 stars on Google out of 44 reviews.
- 12515 Research Blvd Ste 100 Bldg 2, Austin, TX, 78759-2247
- (800) 880-8200
- Rating: 9.18/10
Unlike some debt consolidation agencies, Debtvantage does not charge any fees until they have successfully offered debt relief. The company does this primarily through debt settlement. Most cases take between 12 and 48 months to complete. It does not assume consumer debts, nor does it make any guarantees.
Debtvantage is an accredited member of the American Fair Credit Council. It also has an A+ rating on BBB with 4.87 stars.
- 823 Congress Ave Ste P4, Austin, TX, 78701-2461
- (866) 211-2853
- Rating: 9.29/10
Consolidated Wealth Management, LLC
Consolidated Wealth Management has 40 years of combined experience in debt relief services. It focuses on life settlement, which involves selling existing life insurance plans to investors. Typically, the beneficiary receives a portion of the plan’s value in cash, which they can then use to help pay off debt.
- 5300 Memorial Dr. Ste 970, Houston, TX, 77007-8273
- (713) 880-4141
- Rating: 9.4/10
How Can I Get Help Paying My Bills in Texas?
Texas has quite a few programs that exist solely to help people out during times of financial crisis. These programs can help with things like:
- Medical expenses
- Debt collector mediation and negotiation
- Legal aid
Many of these programs are run by nonprofit or charitable agencies, such as churches. Others are funded by the government — state or federal.
There are also many statewide grant and assistance programs, such as:
Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program (CEAP): This utility assistance program was created to help low-income households meet their energy needs. It also helps consumers manage their long-term energy costs through related education.
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission: Dedicated to making a positive impact on Texans in need, the commission offers various financial assistance programs and resources. These include rent, mortgage and foreclosure help to qualifying families and individuals. It also includes state benefit programs such as SNAP Food Benefits, health care assistance, WIC Food Benefits and general support services. The Commission may also offer free vouchers for things like rent and mortgage payments, section 8 HUD and security deposits. It has a statewide database you can use to find the right financial relief program for them. Dial 1-877-541-7905 to find additional ways to get help.
Texas Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance (CHIP) Program: Also offered through the Texas Health and Human Services department, this program helps people with their medical needs. This includes opportunities for free health care, prescription drugs and more. It primarily works with low-income families, children, seniors and people with disabilities. Call 1-800-925-9126 for more information.
Texas Food Stamp Program: This program serves low-income households by helping them buy food. Eligibility mostly depends on the household’s income (gross and net). For more information, check the official SNAP page. Or call 1-877-541-7905.
Texas Church Programs: Thousands of faith-based charities across Texas offer financial assistance to Texans. Some programs require you to be a member of the organization or charity, while others don’t. Assistance varies by program but may include money for housing, car repairs, free food, and other support.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): TANF helps families pay for essentials, such as food, housing, utilities, some medical supplies and clothing. To receive a TANF grant, a family must be below the maximum monthly income and resource limits set by the program. Approved families will receive cash payments for up to 6 months to help with debt and monthly bills. It’s possible to receive Medicaid benefits along with TANF benefits. Call 1-877-541-7905 to learn more.
Disability Resources: Texas’ Department of Disability Services has several programs for those with disabilities. These programs also help direct caregivers like family members. The main purpose is to help people live independently, find employment, access health care services and equipment and more. Options include Medicaid and Medicare, SNAP, Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Women’s Health Program: Also called Healthy Texas Women, this program offers limited Medicaid services to low-income women ages 18 to 44. It also helps women with things like family planning and general health.
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Perinatal Coverage: The CHIP program provides prenatal care for pregnant women who meet certain income requirements and don’t qualify for Medicaid. Call 1-877-543-7669 for more information.
Children’s Health Care: Children from low-income families may receive health care coverage through either the CHIP or Children’s Medicaid program.
Texas Senior Assistance Programs: The Department of Aging and Disability Services also offers resources to Texas’ 3.7 million seniors (ages 65+). Services include opportunities to live independently, benefits education, food assistance and more. Some of these programs are also available to those ages 55+.
Telephone Bill Programs: The Public Utility Commission of Texas oversees various programs that help low-income individuals pay for their phone bills. This includes Lifeline and Link-Up. It also offers a Weatherization Assistance Program to help residents with their energy bills and household energy efficiency.
If you need financial assistance with utility bills, contact 2-1-1 Texas for information about agencies or services in your area. There are several that offer utility assistance to those who are eligible. Either dial 2-1-1 or 877-541-7905, select your language, then choose Option 1. Or visit the main website.
Food Help in a Crisis
A little over 4 million people in Texas struggle with basic food needs. That is approximately 1 out of 7 people. Fortunately, there are many food banks and pantries throughout the state. These services help low-income families (and individuals) get access to free or low-cost food.
Here are some food banks in Texas:
- 4500 D. Cockrell Hill Road, Dallas, Texas 75236
- 214-269-0906 or 855-719-7627
- 2600 Cullen St., Fort Worth, Texas 76107
- 817-857-7100 or 866-430-6143
- 535 Portwall St., Houston, Texas 77029
- 1907 Freight St., Laredo, Texas 78041
- 6541 Plaza Circle, El Paso, Texas 79927
San Antonio (Southwest Texas)
- 5200 Old Highway 90 W., San Antonio, Texas 78227
- 210-431-8326 or 800-246-9121
- 6500 Metropolis Drive, Austin, Texas 78744
- 512-684-2550 or 855-684-2550
West Central Texas
Food Bank of West Central Texas
- 5505 N. First St., Abilene, Texas 79603
Regional East Texas Food Bank
- 3201 Robertson Road, Tyler, Texas 75701
For a complete list of food banks in Texas, as well as the counties they serve, check out the Texas Foodbank Network Provider’s catalog.
The Texas Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner (OCCC) handles all licensing and regulating of non-depository lenders (those that don’t accept deposits) in the state. This includes any entity that offers loans to consumers in the state. The OCCC also regulates payday lenders that have a credit access business license.
The office also helps resolve issues that consumers have with regulated lenders. It does this by providing Texans with free education about their rights and responsibilities as a consumer. The OCCC also responds to complaints about creditors. Sometimes, it also acts as a mediator for disputes.
Where to Make a Complaint
The Texas OCCC is the best place to file complaints about creditors and payday loan providers operating within the state. Here’s the contact information:
- Regulator: Texas Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner
- Address: Finance Commission Building, 2601 N. Lamar Blvd., Austin, TX 78705
- Phone: 512-936-7600
- Link to website: https://occc.texas.gov/consumers/file-a-complaint
You can lodge a complaint with the office even if you’ve already done so with another agency like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The CFPB is a federal entity that helps protect consumers against lenders, including payday lenders.
Debt Collection in Texas
The Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Consumer Protection offers certain consumer protections nationwide. This includes things like stopping unfair or fraudulent business practices. However, Texas also has some state protections for residents.
The Texas Office of the Consumer Credit Commissioner’s main purpose is to create a fair, healthy and lawful credit environment for residents. The Office regularly receives questions and complaints from consumers experiencing negative debt collection practices. This includes:
- Excessive phone calls at home or work
- Intentional misrepresentation of facts to third-party agencies
- Threats of arrest
- Illegal repossession of goods
The Office of the Attorney General in Texas also protects consumers from deceptive, fraudulent or unfair practices. Under the Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA), consumers may be able to sue for damages caused by such practices.
If you have complaints about the collection practices of an OCCC-licensed lender, call the Consumer Assistance Helpline at 800-538-1579 or file a complaint.
What is the Statute of Limitations on Debt in Texas?
The statute of limitations is the period in which a debt collector can begin a lawsuit to collect on any outstanding debts. Once the statute expires, the court can no longer order to you pay the balance. The debt collector may still contact you about the debt, and you will still owe the balance. However, many debt collectors will stop pursuing legal measures about it.
In Texas, the statute of limitations on debt is four years.
If You’re Being Harassed by Debt Collectors
If you’re currently being harassed by debt collectors, file a complaint with all three of the following:
- Texas Attorney General’s office
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
Filing for Bankruptcy in Texas
Bankruptcy is a last resort to debt relief, but it may offer a fresh start to Texans suffering true financial hardship.
There are two main types of personal bankruptcy:
- Chapter 7: Most of your assets are liquidated, or sold, to repay your creditors. Chapter 7 takes around 6 months, on average. In the end, any remaining eligible debts are erased.
- Chapter 13: You get to keep your assets, but you must set up a repayment plan that lasts 3 to 5 years. During this time, you repay as much as possible to your creditors. This type of bankruptcy is more complicated and usually requires a bankruptcy attorney.
In most states, Chapter 7 is the most common type of bankruptcy. But in Texas, only about 43% of personal bankruptcies were Chapter 7 cases.
You don’t necessarily get to choose between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Eligibility depends on various factors, including household income. To qualify for Chapter 7, you’ll have to pass a Means Test.
If your current monthly household income is below the Texas median income for a comparably-sized household, you’ll probably pass the means test. Here’s the median annual income for Texas, based on household size:
- 1 Member Household – $41,354.00
- 2 Member Household – $56,296.00
- 3 Member Household – $59,567.00
- 4 Member Household – $68,566.00
- 5 Member Household – $76,666.00
- 6 Member Household – $84,766.00
- 7 Member Household – $92,866.00
- 8 Member Household – $100,966.00
- 9 Member Household – $109,066.00
- 10 Member Household – $117,166.00
Before filing, speak with a bankruptcy lawyer. They can help determine if bankruptcy is the best solution for you. They can also advise you on the next steps.
Payday Lending Laws in Texas: Legal
- Maximum loan amount: N/A
- Maximum Interest Rate (APR): N/A
- Minimum loan term: 7 days
- Maximum loan term: 180 days
- Number of rollovers allowed: Any
- Number of outstanding loans allowed: Any
- Cooling-off period: None
- Finance charges: Any, due to the credit access business loophole
- Criminal action: No, except in case of forgery, fraud or theft
Texas doesn’t have a cap on payday loan interest rates. Some lenders charge an APR in excess of 600%.
How to File for Unemployment in Texas
You may apply for unemployment benefits right after your last day of work. Your benefits claim will begin the same week you complete the application. That said, you may not start receiving benefits for several weeks.
Visit the Texas Workforce Commission to learn more about when and how to apply, as well as eligibility requirements.
The Bottom Line
Texas debt relief exists for residents struggling to pay back large amounts of consumer debt — medical, payday loans, credit cards, etc. Options include debt consolidation programs and charitable agencies in the state. If you’re dealing with debt collection calls or misleading or fraudulent practices, reach out to the Texas Attorney General’s office, FTC and CFPB.
Texas Debt Statistics
|Total Debt||$50.9 billion|
|Debt Per Capita||$1,693|
|Debt Per Capita Rank||50|
Source: World Population Review
Texas Credit Card Debt Statistics
|Average Credit Card Balance||$6,753|
|Average Credit Score||692|
|Avg Credit Card Balance Rank (1 = Highest Balance)||9|
|Avg Credit Score Rank (1=Highest Score)||46|
Mortgage Debt in Texas
|Mortgage Debt Per Capita||$27,457|
|Average 30 year Mortgage Rate||6.7%|
|Average 15 year Mortgage Rate||5.3%|
|Median Home Value||$200,400|
|Average Outstanding Mortgage Debt||$201,084|
|Difference Between Value and Mortgage Debt||$684|
|Avg Homeowner FICO Score||703|
Source: Federal Reserve, Value Penguin, Experian
Payday Loan Debt in Texas
|Payday Loan Legal Status||Legal|
|Maximum Payday Loan Amount||Not specified|
|Maximum Payday Loan Term||Not fixed|
|Maximum Payday Loan APR||662%|
Source: Texas Government Website
Unemployment and the Economy of Texas
|Poverty Rate – Population||13.6%|
|Poverty Rate – Population – Rank||40|
|Poverty Rate – Family||14.7%|
|Poverty Rate – Family – Rank||40|
|Unemployment Rate (June 2022)||4.3|
|GDP Growth Rank||1|
Source: US Census, Bureau of Labor Statistics
Student Loan Debt in Texas
|Percent of Population with Student Loans||55%|
|Average Student Loan debt||$32,920|
|Average Debt of New Graduates (2021)||$23,584|
|Average Debt Rank||N/A|
|Percent of Graduates with Debt (2019)||58%|
|Percent with Debt Rank||N/A|
|Usable Institutions (BA-Granting)||47|
|Percent of Graduates at Schools with Usable Data||67%|
|Nonfederal debt of graduates, as percent of total debt||22%|
|Fall enrollment – Undergraduate total (IPEDS)||1,463,293|
|Tuition and Fees (in-district/in-state)||$9,886|
|Total Cost of Attendance (on-campus)||$26,364|
|Percent of Institutional Grants that are Need-Based||67%|
Source: Value Penguin, TICAS
Cost of Living in Texas
|Annual Mean Wage (All Occupations)||$61,874|
|Median Monthly Rent||$1,045|
|Value of a Dollar||$1.03|
|Cost of Living||92.1|
|Cost of Living Rank||15|
|Grocery Cost Index||90.8|
|Housing Cost Index||83.8|
|Utilities Cost Index||103.2|
|Transportation Cost Index||94.1|
|Miscellaneous Cost Index||97|
Source: World Population Review