Debt Help Hotline

Having worked in the debt and credit relief industry for as long as I have has helped me to form relationships with other like minded professionals. It is because of those relationships, that after shutting down CRN’s debt relief coaching and professional debt negotiation services, I get to continue working with cool people, while continuing to help folks with debt and credit struggles get informed, and not just here on the CRN site.

There are some truly awesome people out there making the world a better place for consumers. Few are dedicated to publishing educational tools and helpful debt guides like Steve Rhode on his site www.getoutofdebt.org.

I have been an active contributor at the Get Out Of Debt site since I met Steve through a mutual industry friend. And starting November 2014, I will begin actively managing the debt relief hotline published there.

Like minded debt and credit professionals can contact me.

If you are involved in the debt relief services industry, and have an interest in the debt relief hotline published here, or on the GOOD site (get it… the initials for GetOutOfDebt…), fill out the contact box you see below. Be sure to include any pertinent details about your interest in the hotline.

Couple of things before you contact me:

  • I am critical of most things debt relief services.
  • I am beyond committed to, and probably commit-table, regarding my passion for providing detailed education and information to people with debt and credit problems.
  • I realized after some time, and even frustration, that most people want to hire someone, or buy a product, to resolve their problems. Not everyone’s a DIY debt relief-er.
  • People generally need, and benefit from,  getting individually informed and educated about how to solve debt and credit issues.

All of the companies involved in the debt relief hotlines, where I play a part, are involved in helping people through debt and credit triage situations. Legitimate companies and professionals helping the debt trodden will generally be credit counseling agencies, bankruptcy attorneys, and debt negotiation experts. Why?

Callers are looking for help to manage bills they can no longer continue to pay, or have stopped paying, according to the original terms.

I have long preferred people use a process of elimination for what type of help they need, and the path they will choose, to deal with overwhelming debt. While over simplified that process looks like….

Understand your monthly income and expenses to determine the debt help you need.

  • Can you afford your bills with some not so overly painful adjustments?
  • Can you afford a credit counselors debt management plan to get out of unsecured debts, and is your income stable enough to support that approach?
  • Can you file chapter 7 bankruptcy in your state, and without that decision leading to the sale of nonexempt items that could be sold without bankruptcy, and using those resources to resolve debts?
  • Can you negotiate and settle your debts inside a shorter window of time than a chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment plan?

That process of elimination is why many callers to the debt relief hotline will start at the top of this decision tree.

Get Involved.

The backbone technology and connectivity platform for the hotlines are provided through Peregrin. Costs to participants are affordable, and implementation simple.

If you are interested in participating in any of the projects I work on to help consumers, be sure what you do fits within the basic framework outlined above.

I am committed to helping build a better financial future for consumers, and the companies who work with them. And I look forward to connecting with more like minded debt and credit professionals.

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Sponsors

CRN ceased offering our paid membership program in June of 2013. We wanted to keep our focus on the educational mission we started CRN with back in 2004, and chose to continue those efforts through publishing. We considered charging nominal fees through a pay wall for access to all of our self help guides, and ongoing specialized feedback, but ultimately opted not to charge any fees for access. But we still needed a viable way to fund our educational efforts.  We chose to seek out sponsors.

Why sponsors work with CRN?

CRN has a unique history in the debt relief markets. We never fit in with the majority of our peers in the debt settlement side of the industry. And our efforts, that begin and end with consumer education and awareness, have been more akin to that of a nonprofit counseling agency, but we have never been structured as a nonprofit.

Regardless of our unique perspective on the debt relief markets, and how we have, or have not fit in the last 10 years, this site is recognized for its helpful and informative content. There are companies and individuals who recognize the efforts and commitment CRN has brought to the table to assist consumers searching for debt help.

Sponsors of this site care about what we care about: Helping to educate and inform people struggling with debt and credit issues.

Who sponsors our education guides?

Anyone interested in sponsoring the site can contact me (Michael Bovee) at [email protected]

Current debt relief services sponsors are:

Since 1958, Money Management International (MMI) has helped millions of people take the steps necessary to repay their debts, reestablish their credit, and manage their finances wisely. Through community education programs, counseling services, and online resources, MMI is dedicated to providing consumers and clients with valuable information on money management and how to use credit wisely. They are the largest nonprofit, full-service credit counseling organization in the nation with branch offices throughout the country.

Readers of this site are encouraged to reach out and speak with a credit counseling agency like MMI when they need help with establishing a budget, negotiating with creditors, avoiding home foreclosure, or repaying student loans.

You can talk with an MMI certified counselor at: 877-721-9723

 

 

 

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Get out of debt help and the fine print

Disclosures If You Need Debt Help – How Important Are They?

Very, but those doing the disclosing are not really delivering with the little information they give. People and companies providing debt help to struggling consumers are prone to help themselves first.

When a person is struggling with debt and looking for outside help from a company or person, they should certainly have risks and rewards disclosed to them. Ideally, the disclosures would help a person to best evaluate which direction to take for help, and who to trust. A recent article by Elisabeth Rosenthal in the NYT: I Disclose… Nothing helps to underscore what I find to be the biggest shortcoming of disclosures in the market for debt help No context.

From NYT article linked above:

“… disclosure laws — meant to elucidate — do not necessarily lead to greater transparency or prevent the things they were meant to deter.”

One or two sentence disclosures rarely do. Disclosures about the affects of a debt help option to ones credit score are a good example.

Credit counseling services and debt settlement companies offering legitimate services will disclose that there will be an impact to credit scores.

Both debt settlement and credit counseling will have an impact to your credit profile and access to credit, but in different ways. If a consumer is hyper concerned about her credit score and credit report, but unable to pay the minimum monthly amount due on her Citi card, she may be more prone to try to avoid bankruptcy with credit counseling, than by opting for debt settlement. In this way, one would think disclosures about the impact to credit that this consumer read or heard – performed exactly as meant to. Nope.

The problem debt she has is a $17,000.00 balance with an interest rate of over 20%. A credit counselor offering a monthly payment of 357.00 sounds better than the 500.00 plus she cannot afford now, but the 357.00 monthly payments are going to be a stretch too. She enrolls in the DMP and scrambles up the 357.00 each month only to miss a payment in month 8.  She finds herself unable to get back on track the following month. The account was closed by the creditor when she enrolled in the debt management plan, she now has a 30 and 60 day late pay reporting, and she blew through 2500.00 in payments toward a solution she was not going to succeed with. That 2500.00 would have more than covered the cost of a chapter 7 bankruptcy that she was qualified to file. And, as it turns out, that 2500.00 was enough to settle the account with card services in month 7 after she fell off the DMP.

The messaging from credit counselors, the media and societal conditioning placed too high of importance on the wrong thing. Not just in this woman’s case, but likely in millions of cases. Her issue was debt she could no longer afford to pay. Not her credit score. Her score will bounce back from the settlement event in about the same amount of time it would have had she filed for chapter 7.

Disclosures made when she was originally trying to get a grip on her options lacked the detail needed for her to make a fully informed decision. The disclosures about credit impacts are often used as a bias forming selling point to the detriment of the individual relying on professional feedback. The lack of fully fleshed out disclosure details is not a mistake by omission. It is a purposeful strategy. One that is not just costly to the consumer in financial trouble, but to local communities and our national economy.

More from the NYT piece linked above:

“One fundamental problem is that disclosure requirements merely get information onto the table, but themselves demand no further action. According to political theory, disclosure is both a citizen’s right and a tool to ensure good government and consumer protection, because it provides information that leads to informed decisions. Instead, disclosure has often become an endpoint in the chain of responsibility, an act of compliance with the letter of the law rather than the spirit of transparency.”

A good example of this would be companies offering debt settlement disclosing the fact that nonpayment to creditors could result in being sued by the creditor or a debt collector in their attempt to get paid.

That lawsuit may result in judgment which could result in bank account levy or wage garnishment. A consumer given this disclosure is now informed of a known risk. The company making this disclosure can feel that they covered their own butt because the risk was plainly stated to the customer in advance. However, if any real context were provided to the consumer about this known risk, it would involve much more detail – detail that cannot fit into a tidy paragraph or three, let alone one sentence. Being sued by a creditor IS a real risk. Do debt settlement companies and those who promote them state plainly that the risk of being sued increases the longer debts remain unpaid? Most don’t go into that type of detail as it would scare off a consumer from beginning the savings and settlement plan.

The kind of detail a consumer deserves to know on this critical disclosure is not provided because it would often lead to the consumer opting for bankruptcy where they are protected from collection law suits, or electing to gut out the repayment plan in a DMP over 4 to 5 years. Here again, the failure to provide consumers the type of debt help advise and the disclosure needed, that allows them to make informed and appropriate decisions, are a purposeful act of omission tied to a company or persons revenue goals.

More from the NYT article:

“Many disclosure programs today cloud rather than clarify a particular situation. As disclosure statements have become more numerous and more complicated, “consumers just ignore them or don’t understand what they say,” said Jeff Sovern, an expert in consumer law at St. John’s University.”

The type of disclosure context needed that provides an individual seeking debt relief a meaningful grasp of the issues they face; that educates and informs to the degree that would maximize awareness of the wrong and right steps to take; how to evaluate the immediate need for relief alongside concerns for ones future success and goals; that applies disclosures to the unique circumstances of the relief seeker – is simply not provided in the main by those offering alternatives to bankruptcy.

“While regulators and consumers see disclosure as a way to improve transparency, companies often regard it as a risk-management strategy. “Often the goal of disclosure is to reduce or eliminate the legal risk,” Dr. Weinfurt said. “It is so they can say, ‘Hey we told you so.’ ”

When it comes to the debt help industry, companies and people provide disclosures in order to meet a minimum standard and to limit their own liability.

Any substantive and informative discussion around disclosures to debt help seeking customers that allows them to truly weigh and measure how the facts disclosed apply to them at the moment and on a forward looking basis, typically never happens. If meaningful discussion about key disclosures does occur, it would most likely be down the line when a disclosure item is triggered and after irreversible action steps in debt relief have been taken. This is where most of the headaches for debt help customers and companies offering debt help occur. Unhappy customers who were not fully aware of the implications of the decisions they were making at the time they enrolled in a debt help plan. Customers of debt management & debt settlement plans may want to place blame on a service provider when things don’t go as planned. The service provider will want to point to a disclosure and say, “we told you this at the beginning”.

The consumer seeking debt help is not shopping for a toaster oven. Companies and individuals representing they can help someone in need are selling something. That something is not as benign as describing the convection cooking features of a counter top oven. The responsibility debt relief service providers have to inform and educate the consumers they come in contact with cannot be underscored enough.

A friend of mine started a unique consulting service a couple years ago. He provides paid consultations with consumers in order to help them understand the debt help options available to them. He does not provide settlement, debt management or bankruptcy services. What does he do? He provides detailed debt help disclosures as they relate to the individuals set of circumstances that are not readily provided to consumers in any meaningful way by the companies who DO provide the services. He fills a niche that should not even exist, but it does, and will remain until disclosure gaps are filled with useful information, consumer education, and side by side comparisons.

There are tools and solutions available to legitimate service providers that can fill the disclosure gap. CRN offers educational tools and training to the debt help industry along side the products and services we provide direct to consumers in need of debt help. We provide more detail about all of the debt relief implications than anyone else because we are not financially tied to the path you choose for debt help. We are committed to providing the details that help you make good decisions right now and in the future. We provide this at a lower cost than currently can be found anywhere else.

Want to get fully informed? Would you like to work with a company that provides debt help and a satisfaction guarantee? Consider enrolling in CRN’s membership program.

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Get Foreclosure Help in Massachusetts through EHLP and Cambridge Credit

Good news for struggling home owners in Massachusetts came this past week in the form of money released to assist in making mortgage payments. The press release below gives some details. The downside is that the program has a narrow window of time for residents of the state to seek qualification to receive no interest loans designed to prevent home loss. If you or someone you know in MA could benefit from the program outlined below, get them in touch with Cambridge ASAP at: 1-888-544-3457.

Cambridge Credit Awarded HUD Funding to Help Unemployed Homeowners Avoid Foreclosure

Deadline for Emergency Homeowners’ Loan Program applications is July 22, 2011.

Cambridge Credit Counseling Corporation, a professional housing and credit counseling agency based in Agawam, Massachusetts, has been awarded funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to help Commonwealth residents avoid foreclosure. The Emergency Homeowners’ Loan Program (EHLP) is designed to help ease the current housing crisis, in which more than 6.3 million homeowners are threatened with foreclosure. Homeowners who have experienced a substantial loss of income due to unemployment, underemployment, or medical condition can receive interest-free, forgivable loans to pay their mortgage, property tax and insurance bills for up to two years, or until they exhaust the maximum EHLP loan amount of $50,000 – whichever comes first.

Approved homeowners are eligible to receive one-time EHLP assistance to bring their mortgage current, as well as ongoing monthly assistance. If a homeowner is selected to receive a loan through the EHLP program, payments will subsidize their monthly mortgage bill; allowing them to pay just 31% of their income or $150, whichever is greater – EHLP will pay the balance. No payments are due on the 5-year term of these loans, providing that the homeowner meets all the conditions of the program. If so, the loan will be forgiven in 20% increments each year.

“This is great news for homeowners who’ve lost their jobs, are underemployed, or are suffering from challenging medical conditions,” remarked Cambridge president Christopher Viale. “We’re happy to be able to provide meaningful help to homeowners throughout Massachusetts.”

Homeowners applying for an EHLP loan will have to complete a Pre-Applicant Screen Worksheet, which is available by calling Cambridge at 888-544-EHLP (888-544-3457). The worksheet must be submitted to an EHLP counseling agency by July 22, 2011. Applicants will need to work with an approved EHLP housing counseling agency and provide required documentation. A checklist of these documents is listed in the Pre-Applicant Screen Worksheet.

“Many of our member churches have been trying to offer support to parishioners facing these serious circumstances,” noted Archbishop Timothy Paul of the Council of Churches of Greater Springfield. “The lack of effective government programs has made it difficult, but Cambridge’s participation in EHLP offers new hope to our congregations.”

If you live in Massachusetts and are facing foreclosure due to a substantial loss of income arising from unemployment, underemployment, or medical condition, call 888-544-EHLP (888-544-3457) to talk to a HUD-certified housing counselor who can help you determine your eligibility for the new Emergency Homeowners’ Loan Program.

ABOUT CAMBRIDGE CREDIT COUNSELING CORP.

Cambridge Credit Counseling Corp. is a professional housing and debt counseling agency dedicated to educating young adults on the importance of sound financial management, and to providing financially distressed Americans with education and debt management services appropriate to their needs. Visit Cambridge Credit Counseling Corp. online at http://www.cambridgecredit.org.

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Need help to reduce your bills? What kind of credit or debt relief can you afford?

Is your current monthly cash flow either now, or in the near future, not enough to meet your monthly debt obligations while allowing for a set amount of savings taken from income each month? If not, you are currently, or soon could be, in a financial bind.

What can you do about it? What is the right debt solution?

Providing an answer to these two critical questions often requires a detailed individual analysis that is best delivered one on one. That said, here is a list of general questions and criteria to help you determine which path is most suited to your specific set of circumstances when starting on your journey to healthier finances:

Will Debt Roll Up (Debt Snowball) Work For Me?

Can you consistently pay 20% or more over your minimum payment toward your unsecured debt each and every month? If yes, a debt roll up program (sometimes referred to as debt snowball) can work for you.

Can I Consolidate My Credit Credit Card and Other Unsecured Debt Into One Debt Consolidation Loan?

The goal with debt consolidation is to take multiple higher interest credit card debts and consolidate them into one loan, with one payment, at a lower interest rate. In today’s tightened credit markets, it is increasingly difficult to get approved for a debt consolidation loan with major banks, especially when already carrying too much debt. If you have a credit score of 660 or higher, you may be able to qualify for a peer to peer loan through LendingClub. I will have more on LendingClub in an upcoming post.

Will a Credit Counseling Service Debt Management Plan Work for Me?

Can you consistently (without any skepticism) pay roughly 2 to 2.5% of your current credit card balances monthly? Can you commit to doing so for the next 5 years? If yes, look into credit counseling where you can lower your monthly payments through available interest rate reduction programs.

Here is a simple tool you can use to calculate what your debt payments are just making the minimum payments compared to the average lower payment with credit counseling. Compare the monthly payments and time it will take to be credit card debt free in the red, yellow, and green sections.

Will a Debt Settlement Plan Work For Me?

Can you identify sources of funds in order to raise approximately 50% of your current balances over the course of a set period of time? If so, debt settlement can work for you. If not, look into bankruptcy.

Typical sources of money you can seek in order to fund credit card debts you settle:

  • monthly savings
  • supplemental funds from home equity
  • retirement accounts (IRA, 401k, etc.)
  • insurance policies or annuities
  • sale of unneeded vehicles or household items
  • private assistance from friends and family
  • side jobs
  • tax refunds.

Should I File Bankruptcy in order to shed debts I cannot afford to keep current?

Can you qualify for chapter 7 given your states median income means test? If so, will chapter 7 force the sale of your home or other items of value that could have been sold and assisted in funding settlements in the prescribed debt settlement program time frame thereby allowing you to stave off filing for bankruptcy? Consult with an experienced local bankruptcy attorney and find out.

Bankruptcy is too often incorrectly considered a consumers last resort when dealing with problem debt. For many, it will prove to be the most obvious solution and option of first resort. Chapter 7 bankruptcy provides the most immediate relief and the quickest path to a financial fresh start.

You need to learn how each of these options fits in with your current financial ability and you’re future goals. Choosing the correct path at the beginning of this journey could mean the difference in reaching your destination, or remaining lost in a jungle of debt.

If you need a guide and reliable directions, consider CRN membership.

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When to Request Debt Validation From a Debt Collector

The debt validation and verification topic is deserving of much more time than I am going to give it in this post. I am covering this briefly due to the question I received yesterday after publishing part of our charge off series. where one of the bullet items states:

“Avoid some of the nut job advice on the internet about handling this stage of collection”

Requesting validation of debt is a consumers right under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). More specifically section 1692g of the Act.

Debt validation requests have absolute applicability in many circumstances. You have the right to ask that a debt be validated if you do not think you owe it, or the amount asserted as due and owing is in question. In fact, your right to dispute a debt and request it be validated is required to be spelled out to you in virtually every debt collection letter you may receive from a collection company. That makes it pretty damn important!

I do not disagree with those who point to the importance of it. I absolutely disagree with nut jobs on the internet who wax on and on about how you should always request validation NO MATTER WHAT!

Here is the deal with debt validation requests by someone who wants to resolve a debt:

Don’t do it. It can back fire.

What do I mean by back fire?

Let me be clear here; I am talking about a person who wants to RESOLVE a debt placed with a debt collection agency after charge off who knows they legitimately owe the debt. When sending in a debt validation request in response to a dunning letter you receive from a debt collector, who is simply an assignee of your creditor, you may see your file get immediately kicked back to the creditor. Your creditor may then decide to escalate your account for more aggressive action such as placing the account with a debt collection law firm, which can then lead to you being sued in order to get you to pay credit card debt and other loans.

See, it backfires. Not all the time, but do you take that chance if all you want to do is get the debt behind you and move on with your life? Settling the debt while it is with the debt collection agency would allow you to put the matter to rest.

I should point out that requesting debt validation can be a useful tool when navigating tough financial times. For someone who cannot access the needed money, or commit to a payment plan due to limited resources, or who does not want to file bankruptcy, or needs to delay filing for some reason, debt validation has its place. Also, disputing a debt or requesting validation has great applicability when dealing with a debt buyer.

As an aside:

Consumer advocate organizations have been vocal about the need for the Fair Debt Collection laws to be updated. The FTC announced the need to update the law. The FTC effectively subpoenaed the largest debt buyers in the nation earlier this year. Collection laws and practices are being looked at in detail. This scrutiny will almost certainly result in changes to the 30 plus year old consumer protection law, bringing it current with the realities of today’s society and advances in technology. I will go out on a limb and suggest that changes to federal debt collection laws will lead to changes in how debts are assigned and what information gets passed on to a debt buyer. As a result, debt buyers will more readily be able to validate debts upon request.

If you would like to ask a question about unpaid debt and what options may be best considered for dealing with your circumstances; Click here and ask your question. Your question will be answered by an experienced professional for FREE.

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The Karma of Giving

For readers of this blog who may be interested to know some brief history of debt bytes, here is a quick tidbit:

When Consumer Recovery Network launched in 2006, we started a newsletter called “Debt Bytes”. The newsletter was to be a monthly email to its subscribers. It wasn’t. I published very few newsletters for the fact that its subscribers were, for the most part, already CRN members who had unlimited access to a CRN specialist. If you didn’t know, our specialists deliver far more content than a newsletter.

This past May, I received a phone call from a friend who happens to report on consumer issues daily. Unbeknownst to me, he owned the debtbytes.org domain. He was calling to see if I had an interest in the domain name as it was expiring soon and he had no intention to renew it.

Well, I obviously jumped at the opportunity! Shortly after the domain transfer, Debt Bytes by CRN was born.

Guess what my friend said in response to my asking what I could pay him for the gesture?

Nothing. As in Free!

I coaxed him a bit and he suggested I go to www.donorschoose.org and identify a student based project that I would like to donate to. I had never heard of DonorsChoose. It is a fantastic concept for assisting class rooms and the children in them across the nation.

Because I identified so much with music in my youth and specifically guitar playing, I donated to a classroom in need of additional guitars in my friend’s name.

Here is an excerpt from the email I received from Donors Choose today:

Consumer Recovery Network,

Mrs. Psomas sent Mr. Rhode photos and a thank-you letter

This teacher, whom you helped on Jun 24, now wants you to see the impact you made by supporting Groovy Guitars Take Note: Guitars Needed To Take Flight :

“Dear Mr. Rhode, I am so excited that our middle school music classes now have additional guitars to use in our… “

After you see the photos and read the letter, we hope you’ll reply to Mrs. Psomas!

Steve Rhode runs www.getoutofdebt.org which is a site dedicated to consumer issues. I regularly read his site for the recent goings on by the many people and companies out to make a quick buck by capitalizing on the woes of the already struggling consumer. On a daily basis, since I have known Steve, he provides well qualified and absolutely free advice and feedback to consumers looking for answers and methods to manage their debt burden.

Steve gets flaming comment hits from time to time on his site. The comments I have seen are probably from people anonymously attacking him due to something he may have exposed as a bad practice or straight up rip off.

So to you anonymous flamers over at getoutofdebt:

Steve Rhode scammed me by giving me free stuff and asking to not be paid and instead requested I consider donating to children in the pursuit and enjoyment of music appreciation and education!

Man…. The nerve of that guy!

Thanks Steve! I shall throw down a few blues riffs on my acoustic in your honor tonight!

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What Happens in the First Six Months When I Don’t Pay My Credit Card Bills?

This post is part of the Debt Bytes “Charge Off” series and discusses what happens in “pre Charge Off” – when your credit card payment(s) are late between one and 180 days.

Credit card debts that go unpaid follow a relatively predictable pattern.

When first missing a payment, the phone rings… a lot.  After 30 days late your account is reported to credit reporting agencies (CRA’s) as such.

Next, the phone rings… a lot.

The pattern of the phone calls when you are 30, 60, 90, 120 days late will often include offers of lower payment arrangements and hardship repayment plans. Your credit report will continue to receive unsightly blemishes in 30 day intervals.

As you get nearer 180 days of nonpayment, some of the debt collection calls will take on a new tone. If you have not already thrown your phone out, changed your number, or continue to answer in your best disguised voice informing the caller that “um… that person does not live here”, you may get offers to settle the debt for less than what you owe.

At 180 days of delinquency (sometimes 210), something strange happens. Suddenly the background melody you became so accustomed to while watching television, or spending time with family, suddenly ceases. No more getting up to check the caller ID to see if you want to answer. No more checking messages for 10 minutes listening to “this call is for ____”, quickly followed by your pressing a button so you can hear “message deleted”.

When you realize that the incessant phone calls have ceased seemingly overnight, you may even be compelled to dance a jig while singing “ding-dong, the witch is dead, the witch is dead” like scare crow traipsing down the yellow brick road in the Wizard of Oz.

Not so fast….

All that has happened is that your debt has been charged off and is in limbo while your creditor figures out which part of the collection pipe line they are dropping your account into.

Within a matter of days, or weeks, the monkey reappears and plants itself firmly on your back. He announces his presence daily, starting at 8 am and continuing through 9 pm. Riiiinnnggg… Riiiiinnnggg.

Your unpaid account has now been placed with a collection agency.

The pattern I present here typifies what will occur in the first 6 months of nonpayment with most credit card issuers. As you can see, there will be some opportunities.

For many people faced with the inability to pay their credit card bills on time, all the time, it can make sense to capitalize on these opportunities. You should look to optimize your success by:

  • Following an intelligent design that can be tailored to your specific set of financial circumstances.
  • Design a plan using information about what each of your specific creditors will do and when.
  • Be prepared to adjust. Your creditors may change their recovery policies requiring you to tweak your plan.

You can learn more about how “charge off” can be friend or foe by following the our continuing series on the topic.

If you would like to speak with someone who can assist you in determining what your next best step to getting out of debt may be: Click Here to schedule a Consultation. A CRN specialist can assist you in learning the details you will need to consider once they know more about you. Consults are provided at no cost.

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How Does Your Attitude About Money Affect You

Is Money Evil?

by Gary Foreman

Are ‘good people’ all poor? Many people think that’s true. In fact, in many faiths turning away from money and material things is considered virtuous. Many even commit themselves to a life of poverty.

Maybe it’s not quite that simple. What if money were just a tool. You wouldn’t say someone was bad because they had a full toolbox.

Let’s say that money is just a tool to help us trade one thing for another. In fact, that’s what economists would tell you. By itself money has no value. It’s not necessarily good or bad. It’s what people do with money that is good or bad. So the problem is with the way money is used. Not the money itself.

One of the most misquoted verses in the Bible is that “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Tim 6:10). It’s the love that causes the problem. When you place your affection on money you become vulnerable to troubles. The mere fact that you have accumulated some wealth does not make you bad.

So what does this have to do with achieving Financial Independence? Good question! Actually, quite a bit.

First, to be financially independent means being in control of our money. Not to have our money control us. So we need to be careful not to fall in love with our money. If we do, we’ll begin to let money have too much influence over us. Just another way of saying money is in control.

Secondly, a belief that money is bad could be sabotaging your desire to build wealth. If subconsciously we believe that all money is evil, then we’ll push it away from us. We’ll find it hard to do the things necessary to build a savings account or IRA. I’ve even heard people say that they have a way of ‘repelling money’ or that they’re ‘alergic to money’. We can’t see our subconscious, but it has a large impact on what we do and say. Sometimes it even ruins our own plans.

So what do you think about money? Do you have a good relationship with it? Or is it time to reconsider what you believe?

_______________________

Gary Foreman is the editor of www.stretcher.com. The Dollar Stretcher.com is a website devoted to helping people “live better…for less”. If you’re struggling with debt visit their Debt Situation Critical page.

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How to file complaints against a debt settlement company – Get Refund

The following is posted with permission from the author. It is word for word what can be found on Steve Rhode’s site: Getoutofdebt.org. This post is timely for consumers who enrolled in a program to negotiate debt  with a debt settlement company – only to later learn the program did not live up to the hype.

If you are in the unfortunate position to have learned you were not well suited to attempt debt settlement as a means to avoid bankruptcy, following the steps outlined in this post may be your best option to reverse at least some of the damage done.

Readers are welcome to give feedback on their circumstance and progress in the comment section below or you can ask questions and get answers from a debt expert by clicking here: ASK CRN.

Steve’s Debt Settlement Company Refund Request Guide:

Here is my definitive guide on how to get out of a debt relief program. Warning, it will take some work, but it can be effective.

I’m going to break this process down in stages. It’s important for you to keep tabs on the items in these stages so get a shoebox, folder or just a special drawer to throw all the documentation in as it comes in or you gather it.

I’m starting with the premise that you are in a debt relief program and want out and have received little to no benefit from the program.

  1. Start with your debt relief company. Send them a letter by certified mail, return receipt requested.

The postcard you get back will show the name of the company you sent it to, a signature of who signed for it and when they got it.

Explain in your letter that you are unhappy with their services, tell them why, and say you want out of their program and expect a refund paid by X date. Give them at least two weeks from the day you send your letter.

In the letter let them know that if they do not issue you a full refund you plan to file a complaint with the following people:

    • Your State Attorney General’s office. For a listing, click here.
    • The Attorney General’s office where the debt settlement company is located.
    • Your local Better Business Bureau. You can file a complaint online here.
    • Any local consumer affairs office your local county government might have. To see if you have a local office, click here.
    • The Federal Trade Commission. You can file a complaint online here.
    • Any association the company may belong to.
    • You local television station which does consumer investigations.
    • If the debt relief company is a law firm or run by a lawyer, file a complaint with the Bar Association in your state and their state. For a listing of state bar association links, click here.
    • If your money is being deposited in a third-party escrow account with separate escrow provider, send a copy of your complaint to them. They may be able to help apply some pressure with the debt settlement company and don’t want to work with debt settlement companies that may be harming consumers.
    • If you are not satisfied with the response from escrow service provider you can file a complaint with the FDIC against their underlying banks. Click here.
  1. Any communications you receive from this point forward, put in your special place. If you get emails, print them out. If they call you, keep a written log when they called, who you spoke with, and what the conversation was about.
  2. Put a copy of your letter and the certified mail receipt from the post office in your special place.
  3. Once the debt relief company receives your letter and signs for it you will get the return receipt card back in the mail. Put that card in your special place.
  4. Contact your bank and find out what you need to do to stop any additional debits by the debt settlement company from your account. The bank may tell you you will have to change your checking account number. Yes, that’s a pain in the ass but it will absolutely prevent future debits.
  5. If your money is being deposited into a third-party escrow account contact the escrow company, tell them you want a full refund of the money in your account and you want to close your account.
  6. If you sent your request by mail, put a copy of your letter and the certified mail receipt from the post office in your special place.
  7. If the debt relief company does not contact or respond to you by the date you specified in the letter, do what you said you would do and file the complaints.
  8. If the debt relief company does respond and makes you a partial refund offer that is acceptable to you, accept the offer but make sure the offer does not come with a requirement for you to waive any of your rights.

Some debt settlement companies want people to sign statements they will not speak out against the company or waive any further claim against the company.

If the company has harmed you that seems like an unreasonable thing for you to waive. However only you can decide what is best for you to do when presented with an offer. If you unsure what rights you may waive then find a local attorney licensed in your state for help.

  1. If the offer is not acceptable or the company does not respond then file a complaint with the people I mentioned above. If sending your complaint by mail, include copies of your original letter and and the return receipt card showing the company received it. Send these complaints by mail using certified mail, return receipt requested.
  2. Put a copy of all your complaints and proof you mailed them in your special place.
  3. Send the debt relief company copies of the complaints you send to others as you send them. Send them to the debt settlement company by certified mail, return receipt requested.
  4. Put all return receipt cards you get back in your special place.
  5. If you file your complaint online and get an email or some other proof that you submitted a complaint, print that out and put it in your special place.
  6. Once you file complaints with the folks I listed above, you may notice the debt settlement company is much more willing to refund your money and put this matter behind them. They want to avoid irritating state regulators, damaging their BBB reputation, and becoming the subject of an FTC investigation.
  7. If you file a complaint with the people above, it may or may not result in a refund to you but it will put the company on their radar for future enforcement activity against them.
  8. If you still have not received a fair and reasonable refund then contact your local court and find out how to sue the debt relief company in small claims court for your refund. Typically the amounts claimed are eligible to be pursued by individuals this way. And if you go this route all those documents you’ve place in your special place will come in very handy, Take them all with you when you go for your court date.
  9. If you are not confident to file your small claims suit then find a local consumer advocate attorney here.
  10. If you have left the debt relief program, remember to still take care of your debt. You can click here to find a local bankruptcy attorney, seek information about credit counseling, or seek out a performance fee based debt settlement company. Regardless of which avenue you choose, just do something. Doing nothing is not a viable option.

If you have paid thousands of dollars to the debt relief company you are claiming has not helped you, while the process above is a bit time consuming and involves some cost, it will be a worthwhile attempt to get a refund.

Most people that follow this process should expect to get a reasonable refund or an entire refund of the fees paid if you file your request before the company files for bankruptcy.

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