Can a person settle their credit card debts without filing bankruptcy?

You can try, and there are a lot of scam artists that claim to guarantee you will. The truth is, most credit card companies will not agree to take less, and those that do may lull you into thinking you're safe, especially if you use a debt consolidation "service." In a bankruptcy, every creditor gets treated the same, the law prevents one from suing you and taking all your money, and you get a discharge. In a debt settlement, any creditor can still sue you, attach your assets or income and blow your scheme out of the water - and you may still have to file bankruptcy, especially since interest and penalties keep accruing.