Will Zwicker and Associates keep the payment agreement I made with them?
Defaulted on American Express credit card. It went to Zwicker and Associates. Zwicker sued me and judgment was entered for them. The afternoon before court the next day I negotiated a payment agreement with them on the phone, and it was accepted, but the judgment was entered anyway.
Will Zwicker, I have heard lots of bad stuff about them, adhere to the negotiated agreement or keep on with even more legal actions? Any experience with them?
My experiences with settling consumer debts with Zwicker and Associates is mixed. I have found them to be one of the easier debt collection law firms to deal with, and I think all of the other CRN coaches generally agreed on that over the years. I do not have too many examples of settlements and agreements with them falling off the rails.
My own, or other counselors experiences negotiating and making payment arrangements with Zwicker and Associates can be a bit different than when our customers work directly with the firm. Which is what we should be talking about.
When it comes to people working out deals directly with debt collection law firms, you could do much worse. I can point to only a small number of DIY debt relief program customers that shared problems or concerns about their dealings. I see more frustrations expressed by folks who are struggling to come up with a workable plan.
Negotiating Settlements and Payments
Zwicker does a healthy amount of collection work on American Express credit cards that go delinquent. I have generally targeted settlements with Zwicker at between 50 and 60 percent of the balance. I have seen a handful of deals get negotiated lower than that, just not enough to make the lower amounts a realistic target.
Negotiating with Zwicker once you have been sued for collection is another thing all together. And what can be realistically done will greatly depend on who it is that the firm is collecting for.
Your options when Zwicker sues on behalf of an original creditor like AMEX can often mean lump sum settlements in excess of 60 percent, and when there are no lump sum offers to be had (it can happen), or when you do not have the cash resources to pay a settlement, you can end up with payment plans.
You did not say what your payment plan was, but collection law firms will look to set up the shortest payment time frame whenever possible. I often see 6 to 12 month terms for payment plans on settlements, but payment plans when a case has been filed in court can go longer.
Be sure any payment agreement you set up is something you can afford. And also be sure to get any settlement or payment you both agree to is in writing. If they do not stick to what you agreed to with them, you want something in writing to hold them to. If you struggle to get a written agreement out of them now that it is after the fact, call a go over the details of the deal you made, and record the conversation. You can tell them you are recording and why.
Next steps when Sued by Zwicker
You have options to consider for resolving debts, even after you have been sued. Negotiating a settlement is sometimes a good idea to jump on immediately, and in other instances you can get a better outcome by defending against the lawsuit. Here again, it will often matter who Zwicker is collecting for.
Once sued, I recommend consulting with an experienced debt collection defense attorney. Most offer an initial consult at no cost, and you will be able to make better, and more informed decisions afterward. You can reach a debt collection defense professional at 800-939-8357, press option 5.
If, after you are sued, all you can do is set up payments, consider that defending the case correctly can buy you time to raise the money to be able to fund a settlement 6, or maybe 12 months down the road. This could help you avoid a judgment showing up on your credit reports.
If you do agree to payments, be prepared for the Zwicker attorney to want you to stipulate or consent to the judgment. It is okay if you are unable to avoid this outcome. It just is what is sometimes.
When you agreed to the payments on your AMEX account with Zwicker and Assoc., it sounds like it was not explained to you that the judgment was going to be entered anyway. Zwicker is not going to pause in any court action for a simple payment plan (lump sum settlement is a different story). They are working to secure payment for their client, and already took the trouble to file in the court. They will secure the judgment.
Settling Debt with Zwicker Post Judgment
You can circle back and settle judgment debt with Zwicker. I know that is not what you have going, but I wanted to point this out for later readers of this page.
If the judgment is not set up on payments, and has been unpaid for some time (usually the longer the better), you can call Zwicker and see about settling for a lump sum payment. Your realistic expectations about how much you can save will not be much different than what I shared above.
The more collectable you look on paper to a collection attorney, the harder it can be to negotiate a lower pay off. Judgments mean that Zwicker can attempt to garnish wages, levy your bank account, or file property liens. All that extra collection effort can be impacted by your state law. But my experience is that settling for less is possible when there is not a garnishment in place (though in rare instance, that can happen too).
I have had a couple of files with Zwicker over the years that I considered a challenge. One of them is still vividly clear to me years later because of how silly it was. I negotiated a settlement on an existing judgment for a customer, and we wanted that fact updated with the court. Getting the satisfaction of judgment filed with the court was like moving a mountain, and it should not have been.
Keep track of all payments you are making. If the judgment included interest (the court can set that as high as your state law allows), factor that in to how long you will be paying.
Anyone dealing with collections being handled by Zwicker and Associates is welcome to post in the comments below for feedback.