No, they are not the same thing at all. In a consumer credit counseling plan, you pay back all of your debt over time, plus interest (although usually at a reduced interest rate). With debt settlement, your creditors agree to let you pay back less than the total amount you owe, typically only 50 to 65 cents on the dollar. Another important difference is that, although they are technically considered to be non-profit, consumer credit counseling firms are actually funded by credit card companies! Credit counseling may be a viable option if you have less than $20,000 in debt and make a reasonable income, and the proposed repayment plan fits your budget and will be completed in less than 36 months. In many cases, however, consumer credit counseling plans extend from four to six years, which is painfully long and can damage your credit further.