A year ago, I settled some credit card debt by agreeing to pay a lesser amount which resulted in those accounts being closed, of course. How long does this hurt my credit score? And by how much? In other words, I've been on some sites that have a simulator that allows you to enter some changes to see what you can do to improve your credit score and by how much. One of those is to pay down your debt. My question is, what is my incentive to pay down debt - for the purpose of raising my credit score - if the debt settlement will hold it down for 7 years (or whatever the period is)?