Opening the mail can be a scary event for Oregon residents who are struggling with debt—as the bills keep piling up, it becomes harder and harder to avoid the obvious. Unfortunately, neglecting to open one’s mail is not the best way to deal with debt—as late payment fees accumulate, many may find themselves having to pay more in the long run. As scary as debt is, many find the other option– filing for bankruptcy–even more scary, which is why they end up overwhelmed rather than availing a legal solution at their disposal.

One way to decide if filing for bankruptcy works for one’s individual circumstances is to weight the pros of filing against the cons. Perhaps the most obvious benefit of filing for bankruptcy is that it initiates an automatic stay, prohibiting debt collectors and creditors from getting in touch with the debtor. The automatic stay also stalls foreclosure and repossession. Additionally, some forms of bankruptcy, like Chapter 7, allows debtors to retain possession of the home and vehicle, up to a certain value.

The biggest disadvantage of filing for bankruptcy is the hit the credit score takes. Depending on the type of bankruptcy one is filing for, the mark can stay for a number of years. However, what many do not realize is that this does not mean they have to put their financial life on hold for that time—the more time that passes from the filing, the less effect it has on the credit score. The negative impact is also less than what would happen if debtors continue to make small or no payments towards their debt.

It’s also important to know that not all debts are discharged through bankruptcy. This depends on the type of debt one has and the type of bankruptcy one is filing for. Those struggling with debt might want to speak with an experienced attorney to understand their options and the bankruptcy that would best suit their situation.