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To clarify it appears you understand some law:

If you settle
C- your credit will be trashed and you will have to NOT live beyond your means----- how long
A/B - until you quit making payments, the CC companies won't negotiate with you AT.ALL.
You have to STOP paying for 3-6 months (and trash your credit) in order for them to pay attention. really typical??
At that time you no longer agree to anything on the phone- you request and conduct all exchanges IN WRITING.
You can offer to settle for about 20-30% of your total.--- have you seen percentages before in the 10-15%???
WHen you do that, the CC company will either want that amount all-at-once, or in a maximum of 4 payments.
If you are even ONE MINUTE late on those payments, all bets are off and you go right back to the original balance and at a terrifying interest rate.

all that- PLUS- you will get a 1099 for that year for the "forgiven" balance. Be prepared for the tax liability there.
(example- you settle your ~$45K balance for $20k, you will get a 1099 for $25k) ---- therefore my earned income will increase by 25,000 for that calendar year???
Most of all thanks for the frank discussion. None of these choices are easy and this is a old debt from a long way back. Thank you
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