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Las Vegas, Nevada has long had an economy dominated by one activity: gambling. In fact, the city was little more than a watering stop for cross country trains for most of its history.

During the ’40’s, military personnel began flocking to the area to work at Nellis Air Force Base as well as the Nevada Test Site. Throughout the ’40s and ’50s, the Las Vegas area became famous as one of the few places in the world where citizens could regularly witness the detonation of nuclear explosions, albeit at a great distance.

With the influx of Army personnel and their families, the Las Vegas area saw more residents cast anchor. The city rapidly began expanding throughout the ’50s, as casino after casino went up downtown and along the newly established Strip.

Today, Las Vegas is one of the world’s premier tourist destinations. It is a testament to local ingenuity and perseverance that one of the most arid locales on the North American continent could lay claim to that title. But far from being the novelty or cheap Disneyland-for-adults degeneracy Mecca that many keep as a mental image of Las Vegas in their heads, the city features truly world-class amenities, some of the most beautiful architecture in America and a pristine quality that one normally associates with only the poshest zip codes.

But for all the sparkling glamour and spectacle, Las Vegas has a dark underbelly. The official unemployment rate is currently 7.5 percent, but it was as high as 15 percent within the last decade. Such massive unemployment stats indicate an economy that’s less than perfectly sound. And with one of the nation’s largest undocumented immigrant populations, Las Vegas has many residents who both live in poverty and don’t participate in the official economy.

All this adds up to a city populace with an enormous amount of financial insecurity. The state of Nevada ranked 7th in a recent survey of bankruptcy rates. This is no doubt driven in large part by the Las Vegas area.

But Las Vegas residents have options besides Chapter 7. For some, debt settlement may allow for many of the benefits of bankruptcy without incurring the horrible costs.

Some Las Vegas residents could benefit from debt settlement

The main reason to pursue debt settlement, rather than Chapter 7, is that it doesn’t carry anywhere near the same penalties. With Chapter 7, you will very likely lose your ability to get a credit card, auto loan or home mortgage for up to ten years. While this sounds manageable to some, it should be noted that this could result in your total inability to obtain your own home, delaying family formation and the American Dream for up to a decade.

Another problem with bankruptcy is that it will always be on your record. You may not be able to secure any small business loans or short-term financing for your business. You may also lose all security clearance, sometimes permanently. Additionally, a bankruptcy will always be there for prospective employers to see, should they look into it. This can affect employment opportunities for the rest of your life.

But with debt settlement, all of these outcomes can be avoided. Debt settlement can adversely affect credit scores, sometimes docking as much as 150 points. But that is generally an easy fix with the right credit repair strategy. What’s more, by using a good debt consolidation company, you can often shave 50 percent or more off the principal amount owed. This is due to large debt consolidation companies having considerable pull with creditors because they control so many accounts. Your account may only be worth $1,000. But the company may be able to offer the creditor 100 times that in a lump sum payment, where all of the company’s clients’ debts are discharged at once.

However, debt consolidation isn’t for everyone. Generally speaking, in order to start a debt consolidation program, you should have a plan that will allow you to avoid repeating the same mistakes that led to the debt accumulation in the first place. You should also have enough income so that it’s reasonably likely that you can complete the program as it’s laid out by the debt settlement company.

One nice thing about debt settlement is that, unlike other strategies, such as debt consolidation, debt settlement entails no further obligations from you. In debt consolidation, the debtor typically takes out a home equity loan or something similar and makes a lump sum payment to get rid of all of his high-interest unsecured debt. The problem with this is that it trades unsecured debt for secured debt. This can put assets like houses at risk of being foreclosed if the debtor is unable to complete the program.

With debt settlement, there is no such risk. While debt settlement will cause a hit to your credit score, that can be repaired with a decent credit repair strategy. By opting for debt settlement, you avoid all of the pitfalls of bankruptcy while enjoying many of its principal benefits, namely the wiping out of a large part of the principal owed. And all this can be done without trading unsecured debt for secured debt, risking your home and other assets in the process.