Debt Relief in Guam
23 MIN READ
Published April 27, 2023 | Updated May 03, 2023
In a Nutshell
Though Guam is located far from the lower 48 states, there are still many debt relief options for residents on the island who are American citizens. These include credit counseling, debt consolidation, bankruptcy, debt settlement, and debt management.
If you find yourself having a hard time keeping up with minimum credit card payments, paying back personal loans, or struggling with another form of unsecured debt, it may be time to consider one of the options above.
No matter how dire it may seem, TurboDebt can guide you to a better outcome with a free consultation and the debt solution that best fits your financial needs. Please contact TurboDebt or keep reading to learn about how debt affects residents of Guam and what debt relief options are available.
Guam residents who are deeply in debt deserve support
When you’re struggling with overwhelming debt, trying to figure out how to fix it can be a real struggle. However, TurboDebt can help people escape the debt cycle.
Guam is an island, part of the Mariana Islands chain located in the Pacific Ocean, and is an unincorporated territory of the United States. The capital city is Hagatna. About 170,000 people live on Guam Island, the biggest and southernmost island in the Mariana Islands - approximately the size of Chicago. Native Guamanians, also known as Chamorros, are a multiethnic group having roots in Malayo-Indonesia, Southeast Asia, Europe, and North and South America. About half of the population are Chamorros and other Micronesians.
The American military drastically affected the island’s economy, primarily based on subsistence farming, before the construction of several military bases after World War 2. About a third of the land on the island is owned by the U.S. Government.
If you’re a Guamanian struggling with debt, you’re definitely not alone or without resources. Below, we’ll discuss Guam residents’ debt concerns and the debt relief options they have access to. Our hope is that this article will prove a valuable resource for people in Guam trying to get out of debt.
How Does Debt Relief Work in Guam?
Companies that act as intermediaries between you and your creditors are among the most effective debt relief options. Their goal is to negotiate better interest rates, payment terms, or reduced totals on your behalf.
Depending on how aggressive you want to be, some of these firms can reduce your total debt owed by up to 50% before fees.
Additionally, debt settlement, debt counseling, debt consolidation, and bankruptcy are options for those who want to get relief from their financial obligations. Your debt load and type of debt will determine the optimal course of action. Checking review sites like Trustpilot and the Better Business Bureau may help you choose a reliable debt relief company to deal with. Doing so will increase the chance of your financial condition improving.
Guam Debt and Finance Statistics
This small island in the Pacific has a distressing amount of poverty, with nearly 17 percent of non-military families living in poverty. Several religious organizations, including the Church of Latter-Day Saints, the Catholic Church, and the Salvation Army, have missions on the island to provide aid, education, and housing.
The island itself is in a fair amount of debt to the United States, according to a 2021 report on the U.S. Territories from the Government Accountability Office.
Borrowing is common among the five inhabited US territories (Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa).
Particularly troubled is Puerto Rico, which has acquired enormous debt and started missing its loan payments in 2015. Hurricanes in 2017 wreaked havoc on Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Further, typhoons and cyclones hit Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa in 2018. It is too soon to tell how severely the COVID-19 outbreak has impacted the territories’ economy, states a letter from Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero.
Here’s an overarching look at debt statistics in Guam, nicknamed the “Hub of the Pacific":
Average Consumer Debt in Guam
The average consumer debt in the United States rose by 5.8 percent, or $5,544, to $101,915 in the third quarter of 2022. The typical credit score has hardly altered from 714 in recent years.
The percentage of families in poverty in Guam was 16.8% in 2019. This is significantly higher than the national average of 11.6 percent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that out of Guam's total of 44,663 non-military households, 2,512 households report having no income source. An important note: the 2020 census cannot be compared with previous iterations of the census because 2020 was the first time military families were not included in the census.
Nearly a quarter of all households in Guam have annual incomes of $20,000 or less.
States of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa have no established poverty thresholds. Federal programs like WIC may use the poverty rules for these areas. In that case, the federal agency in charge of the program must decide whether to use the same methodology for the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia or a different methodology.
Credit Card Debt
In Q1 2022, the typical American credit card customer owed $5,589 on their credit cards. One of the most influential aspects of a credit score is the total amount of outstanding credit card debt. That's why keeping your credit card balance above its maximum is a bad idea. Your score may drop if you charge the maximum amount possible on your credit card.
Auto Loan Debt
Your car is collateral for your loan, so your auto loan debt is protected — for the bank that issues it. If you stop making vehicle loan payments, unpleasant things loan payments, unpleasant things start to happen. Your credit rating takes a hit each time you are late on a payment. Your vehicle may be repossessed if you fall behind on your payments and cannot catch up. Even if you no longer own the vehicle, you may be responsible for any outstanding debt associated with it.
In 2021, auto loan debt reached $1.43 trillion in the United States, breaking previous records. That means the average auto loan debt in the U.S. is now $20,000 or more. This doesn’t mean everyone in the U.S. owes $20,000 — it just means the average loan for people with one has risen to $20,000.
Mortgage debt in the United States is increasing with the country's total debt. Mortgage debt rose 7.6 percent between September 2020 and September 2021 to a total of $10.3 trillion.
Like auto loan debt, mortgage debt loan debt uses your home as collateral. This means if you stop paying your mortgage, you may lose your home.
The average cost of a single-family home in Guam increased from $376,000 to $445,000 between July and September 2021. This was due to the federal government increasing interest rates. The median price of a single-family home in Guam was $299,000 before the 2019 pandemic hit. According to Cornerstone Valuation, it jumped to $333,500 in 2020 and then $380,000 in 2021. Ten years ago, the median cost was $210,000.
Student Loan Debt
There are two colleges in Guam: the University of Guam (aka UOG) and Guam Community College, all in the city of Mangilao. There is also a private Christian college, Pacific Islands Bible College, in Mangilao.
Almost 44 million people in the United States owe a total of $1.6 trillion in federal student loans. By the end of 2022, the typical American student owed $37,574 in federal student loans. Obligation from federal student loans has quadrupled approximately since 2007. One-third of all individuals who attend college have student loan debt.
The median household income in Guam was $58,289 in 2019. In 2021, the actual median family income in the United States was $70,784. The median household income in Mississippi is $44,966, the lowest of any state in the US. The highest median income in the U.S. was in Washington, D.C., at $90,842. This means Guam has a similar median income to the states in the lowest 20.
The Center for Microeconomic Data at the New York Federal Reserve estimates that U.S. household debt rose by about $4 billion, to $16.9 trillion, in the fourth quarter of 2022.
The 2005 bankruptcy filing total was the largest on record. In that year, one in every 55 American households filed for bankruptcy. Since then, the numbers have been falling gradually as more and more Americans look for alternative ways to get help with their debt. However, some people in the United States still choose this type of debt relief.
One way to reduce or eliminate debt is to file for bankruptcy; however, doing so may severely damage your credit and take years to repair.
In Guam, there were only 25 bankruptcy filings from the beginning of 2022 through August 26 of that year.
Average Income and Employment
The unemployment rate in Guam was 10.2 percent as of 2022. Most people who do not work for the U.S. government work in the industries of management of business, science, and arts occupations (33.2 percent); service occupations (21.2 percent); sales and office occupations (23.2 percent); natural resource, construction, and maintenance occupations (11.6 percent); and production, transportation, and material moving occupations (10.8 percent).
There were 43,312 households in Guam, excluding military housing, in 2019; the median income was $58,289, while the mean income was $74,309 during this time.
Guamanians have slightly lower credit scores than the national average.
A low credit score can make it harder to be approved for loans, and if approved, you may have to pay higher interest rates. This is because your credit score is one indication of whether you will pay back the money you have borrowed. Making monthly payments on utilities and these kinds of bills will help raise your credit score.
Several sources report cybercrime and identity theft are surprisingly serious problems on the small island of Guam. In 2021, 64 residents of Guam reported being victims of cybercrime to the FBI — these victims claimed losses amounting to $2.1 million.
Nationwide, cybercrime is an increasingly serious problem. In 2022, 441,822 incidents of credit card fraud were recorded, making it the most frequent kind of identity theft. About 40% of the over 1.1 million cases of ID theft in 2022 were fraud committed utilizing a victim's personal information to either steal from an existing credit card account or start a new account in the victim's name.
In 2022, "other" identity theft accounted for almost 29% of all complaints. Online banking, credit card, PayPal, and social networking accounts are all vulnerable to fraud, as are the healthcare and insurance industries.
The highest rates of fraud reporting came from those in their thirties. Those 80 and older made the fewest reports across the board, whereas those 19 and under made the fewest reports of bank and credit card theft.
In addition, in 2022, there were 14,501 credit card fraud complaints from service members. Consumers in the military most often experienced credit card fraud, followed by bank fraud.
Banking and Tax Information
According to Guam’s Department of Revenue and Taxation, the Banking Division of that department oversees all financial institutions on the island. Guam has nine different bank choices, including the Bank of Guam and Coast360 Federal Credit Union. Tamuning is the financial center of the island.
The island’s tax structure differs somewhat from the rest of the country because of its status as a U.S. territory. In 1950, the Organic Act of Guam was passed by Congress, establishing the Guam Territorial Government as an independent taxation authority. Income tax rules in effect in the United States shall be the income tax laws of Guam, with Guam replacing the United States wherever appropriate and conflicting parts being omitted, as per Section 31 of the Act. The U.S. Internal Revenue Code becomes the Guam Territorial Income Tax Law with these amendments.
Other municipal taxes include those on alcohol, cigarettes, fuel, property, gross income, usage, admissions, amusement parks, and hotels. However, only the Government of Guam may collect taxes in the Territory. Neither the city nor the county nor the school district, nor the improvement district impose any additional taxes. No direct general sales tax is placed on the customer other than entrance, usage, and hotel occupancy fees.
Top Types of Debt to Get Relief from in Guam
More often than not, TurboDebt helps Guam residents find relief from the following top types of debt.
Credit Card Debt
Guamanians seeking help with credit card debt have several options for assistance, including traditional financial institutions, online lenders, credit counseling programs (both free and paid), and debt settlement companies.
Residents of Guam should evaluate the pros and cons of employing a debt relief firm depending on their unique financial circumstances. Debt consolidation loans, debt settlement, bankruptcy, and debt management programs are the top five options for handling credit card debt.
Separation and divorce are natural consequences of marriage. Over half of all marriages in the United States end in divorce yearly. Still, this doesn't provide conclusive evidence that 50% of American marriages end in divorce. Only a few states account for most of the nation's high divorce rate. The divorce rate in some US states is much higher than in others. The national average in the United States is 2.3 per 1,000 people, ranking #21 globally. Guam ranks much higher, at 4.3 per 1,000 people, ranking second globally.
For those who do decide to divorce, the process may be expensive. In fact, divorce is a major source of debt, with most people owing over $10,000 to creditors. We at TurboDebt don't want the divorce to derail your financial future. Therefore we provide specialized assistance in paying off divorce-related debt.
Taking up debt is often a necessary companion on the path to commercial success. Your company's growth is directly proportional to your success in securing investment or financing. Finding a balance between investments that might lead to rapid expansion and those that could quickly bankrupt your business is difficult.
All debt assessments, positive and negative, need to be made in the context of the company's goals. Borrowing funds is only warranted when they are absolutely crucial to reaching objectives, achieving headway, or fostering expansion. It's simple to run up debt without paying any attention to what you'll do with the money left over after you've paid everything off. If your company debt is weighing you down, now is a good time to see whether you might be eligible for a business debt relief program in Guam.
Even if you strictly adhere to the guidelines for preventative care, accidents and emergencies will still occur, leaving you with a hefty medical bill. From all across the country, Americans are piling up billions of dollars in medical debt.
It’s unclear how much medical debt non-military Guam residents carry. However, 67 percent of residents seen in military hospitals on the island are uninsured.
Overall, Americans racked up $88 billion in medical bills by June 2021. Credit bureaus may underreport the total amount of medical debt in the United States since not all medical debts in collections are recorded.
The median listing home price in Guam is $498,000.
Mortgage debt in the United States is increasing with the country's total debt. Mortgage debt rose 7.6 percent between September 2020 and September 2021 to a total of $10.3 trillion.
In 2022, the typical US homeowner had $231,464 in mortgage debt. Mortgage debt in the United States varies greatly from state to state owing to the many local factors that might influence mortgage payments.
Home prices rose sharply across Guam in the last decade — the median price was $200,000 in 2013, but in 2021, it rose to $380,000.
Options for Debt Relief in Guam
Below we’ve determined the top debt relief options for Guam residents looking to become debt-free.
Debt Management Programs
While debt management can mean a number of different things, one of the most common practices here involves an outside agency assisting a debtor to reduce their interest rates, often down to about 9%. A debt management company acts as an intermediary between you and your creditors, collecting all your payments into a single monthly sum and then distributing that sum to each of your creditors. Instead of adding to your debt load, this service should help you get your finances back under control.
Debt Consolidation Loans
Consolidating one's obligations into a single, more manageable monthly payment might be a good option for those struggling to keep up with many loan or credit card payments. Consolidating your debts might help you save both time and money if you have many loans or credit cards.
Debt settlement programs are often one of the most effective ways to settle large sums of debt and reclaim your financial footing again. Customers who are considering engaging with a debt settlement organization should do their due diligence first, and there are several places they may go, including the Better Business Bureau and Trustpilot.
Debt settlement companies mediate between creditors and debtors to work out a reduced total debt amount and monthly lower payments. We can help you negotiate with your creditors and work to set you up with a more manageable monthly payment.
Though it may seem similar, debt management can be different from credit counseling. Credit counseling usually involves better understanding a person’s financial situation and helping them work on ways to improve their credit score and pay down debts.
Credit counseling services often need a flat fee in order to assess a client's financial situation and provide advice. But existing laws mandate that persons on low incomes get free credit counseling services from nonprofit groups.
There are several different kinds of bankruptcy filing. Which you choose depends on your circumstances.
The majority of petitions are filed under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the most common kind filed by debtors, and for a good reason. It's a quick choice since you can complete it in a few months. The alternative of paying off debts is free as well. Those with less financial resources will benefit greatly from this arrangement.
Filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 13 is a more significant step. Chapter 13 filers have three to five years to repay their creditors, as opposed to the far shorter procedure of Chapter 7. However, because of its payment schedule, Chapter 13 offers benefits that Chapter 7 does not. Filing for bankruptcy allows you to keep all of your possessions and may help you avoid losing some of them, like a home to foreclosure or a car to repossession. This chapter provides a means to arrange a repayment plan with a creditor for debts that cannot be dismissed in bankruptcy. What's the single biggest letdown about this choice? The cost might add up quickly. Many people just cannot afford the ongoing commitment.
When a lender cancels all or part of a borrower's outstanding debt, this is known as debt forgiveness. In most cases, borrowers must meet certain requirements before their creditors can forgive some or all of their debt.
For people with federal student loans, an effort to relieve some of that debt is in political gridlock.
Upon the expiration of pandemic-related assistance, federal student loan debtors from the working and middle classes can return to normal payment thanks to a three-pronged plan outlined by President Biden, Vice President Harris, and the U.S. Department of Education. The Biden Administration’s student debt relief plan aims to provide loan cancellation in the amount of $20,000 to qualifying federal loan borrowers. According to a press release from Acting Governor Josh Tenorio, there are about 6,900 people in Guam who are eligible for this debt forgiveness.
Currently, this plan has been halted by the courts, but federal student loan payments are on hold until the issue is resolved.
For other types of debt, forgiveness can be hard to come by. Medical debt is the type most likely to be forgiven through programs based on income at the facility where care was received or through other charitable organizations.
Debt and Financial Hardship Resources
Sometimes personal circumstances mean you can’t pay back your debts immediately. Guam has some programs to help you save money and get out of a financial rut when you are struggling. Whether you live in Tamuning or Mangilao, there are places you can get help.
Temporary Assistance Programs
Those having problems making their mortgage payments or facing foreclosure may get assistance from the federal government. Homeowners who want information on mortgage and foreclosure programs at the state level should contact either the state government or a local non-profit like the HUD agency.
It's possible to get assistance with rent payments via a number of different organizations. In order to help low-income families find affordable housing, the federal government funds a number of HUD-approved programs and services. People who get HUD vouchers from the government can pay their rent, security deposit, and moving costs without being evicted.
To help struggling families with their other requirements, several services are available to those with modest incomes. Grants, loans, and gift programs are only a few of the various types of financial help accessible. Everyone who needs it, from the working poor to low-income families, may get help from the government.
HUD also launched the Housing Choice Voucher Program, which still offers another option. Help is available for low-income families that have been evicted in the past. The federal government subsidizes rent payments for low-income families, the disabled, and the elderly. Reading up on the Section 8 housing assistance program is a great way to learn more.
Health and Human Services
Guam’s Department of Health and Human Services offers a variety of supportive programs to residents across the island.
Families in Guam can get help paying for childcare through Prugraman Pinilan or the Childcare Development Fund. To apply, visit the Guam Bureau of Childcare Services website.
Shelters for the Homeless
There are several emergency shelters, homeless shelters, and transitional housing organizations in Guam.
Catholic Social Service, also known as Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Agana, was founded in 1979 as a religiously inspired, nonprofit social assistance agency. The organization offers several housing programs, which include:
The Salvation Army helps heal the wounds of contemporary life by providing daily assistance in the form of food for the hungry, housing for the homeless, and friendship for the lonely.
In November of 1971, Father Robert Phelps and Mr. Luis Martinez, who would go on to serve as the organization's first Executive Director, established Sanctuary Incorporated. Together, they aimed to provide a place where kids could feel secure and develop to their full potential and where families could get the support they needed to thrive.
Domestic violence, sexual assault, abuse, violent crime, and traumatic incidents all have resources available to them via VARO, a non-profit volunteer organization.
By coordinating the efforts of volunteers and the financial support of donors, the American Red Cross is able to reduce the severity of disaster-related human suffering.
Guma San Jose (House of Saint Joseph) was founded in June of 1990 by the Catholic Social Service in collaboration with the Bureau of Social Services, Department of Public Health & Social Services (BOSSA/DPHSS).
Free Transportation Services
Having access to public transportation, particularly paratransit, is crucial for the independence of elders and individuals with disabilities. Buses and trains include wheelchair lifts and other accessibility features to make them more user-friendly. People who cannot use regular public transportation are entitled to paratransit under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Vans and minibusses, which are often used for paratransit, are totally accessible and take a variety of routes.
A private car service that you call yourself is another choice. Some dial-a-ride programs are integrated into a community's public transportation network because paratransit funds support them. Both dial-a-ride and paratransit will pick you up and drop you off at your door, but they often need bookings in advance.
Transportation may be provided to and from certain Senior Centers and Adult Day Care Centers. Many also provide transportation to places like grocery shops and doctors' offices. Ambulette is an innovative service that transports patients to routine doctor's visits, such as those for chemotherapy, dialysis, or physical therapy.
Conclusion on Finding Debt Relief in Guam
Though Guam’s non-military residents may live in greater poverty than some areas of the United States, they can still get debt relief when needed. When you are looking for a company to work with, ensure you are choosing one of the best, such as our top-rated company TurboDebt.
Take advantage of a free consultation today, and let us help you determine the best debt relief option for your unique situation.