If you have reached the limit of spending with your credit cards and your debts are sinking more and more, it is quite likely that you feel overwhelmed. How will you end up paying your debt someday? Now imagine that you learn that there is a company that promises to reduce – or even erase – your debt by paying a few cents for every dollar you owe. Is it true that it seems to be the answer to your problems?
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the national consumer protection agency, tells you not to rush and consider what you can do to get rid of your balance in red without having to spend a lot of bills green.
Debt settlement companies
There are different types of services that are promoted saying that they can help people with debt problems. Among them are the services offered by the debt settlement companies, which they say will negotiate with their creditors to reduce the amount you owe them. Some debt settlement or settlement companies say they can make the necessary arrangements to pay off your debt for a much smaller amount – between 30 and 70 percent of the balance you owe. For example, if you have a credit card debt of $ 10,000, a debt settlement company can tell you that you are in a position to negotiate with your creditor so that you pay it off by paying less, say, $ 4,000.
But there is no guarantee that debt settlement companies can persuade a credit card company to accept a partial payment of a legitimate debt. And even if they could do it, you must separate money every month for your creditors. Meanwhile, months – or even years – may pass before the debt settlement company negotiates with your credit card company to settle your debts. And if during that period you stop making your payments, usually every month the company issuing your credit card will add charges for non-payment of payment on the date and the corresponding interest. This can double or triple the amount of your original debt.
How to investigate the reputation of companies
If you decide to pay a company to negotiate the resolution of your debt, investigate a little before choosing a particular one. Consider other people’s experiences with debt settlement companies. One way to find out is to enter the name of the company along with the word “complaints” or “complaints” in an online search engine. Read other people’s comments about that company. You are making an important decision that involves spending an amount of money that could be used to repay your debt.
Charges applicable to debt settlement services
Companies that sell telephone resolution services or debt settlement and other relief services for indebted persons can not charge or charge a fee before liquidating or reducing the debt.
If you hire the services of a debt settlement company, you may be required to deposit money in a bank account for the charges and possible agreements of the company. This bank account that is exclusively intended for the payment of your debts will be managed by an independent third party that is called an account administrator. The account manager can charge you a reasonable fee for your services and is responsible for transferring the funds from your account to pay your creditors and the debt settlement company when it reaches an agreement with your creditors to settle your debt – always and when the following conditions are met:
- The account is held in an insured financial institution.
- You exercise the possession and control of the funds (and any accrued interest), and you can withdraw the funds at any time.
- The debt settlement company does not exercise the possession or control of the funds nor is it associated with the account administrator.
- The debt settlement company does not share the charges charged with the account administrator.
- You can interrupt your relationship with the debt settlement company at any time without paying any fine. If you decide to terminate the relationship with the company, you must return the money by depositing it in the account within seven subsequent business days – the company can deduct the charges accrued legitimately.
Before you enroll in the program, the debt settlement company must provide you with the following information:
- Charges and conditions. Before you sign up for the service, the company must explain your charges or fees. If the company charges a specific dollar amount, you must inform it of the amount. The company can only charge a part of the total charge applied for each of the debts it solves. Let’s say that you owe money to five creditors. The company manages to negotiate an agreement with one of its creditors. At that time, the company can only charge you a portion of your total charges since you still have to negotiate with the remaining four creditors and reach a satisfactory agreement. Each time the debt settlement company reaches an agreement with one of its creditors to settle its debt, the company can charge another part of the total charge. If the company charges fees that are based on a percentage of the amount you save through the negotiation, you must report the percentage it charges and the approximate dollar amount that percentage represents. Charges of this type are generally called “eventual” or “contingent”. The company must also inform you of any conditions applicable to its services. For example, if the company has a refund policy, you must communicate the terms and conditions to get the refund. If the company does not have a refund policy, you must inform it before you sign up. The company must also inform you of any conditions applicable to its services. For example, if the company has a refund policy, you must communicate the terms and conditions to get the refund. If the company does not have a refund policy, you must inform it before you sign up. The company must also inform you of any conditions applicable to its services. For example, if the company has a refund policy, you must communicate the terms and conditions to get the refund. If the company does not have a refund policy, you must inform it before you sign up.
- Results The company must inform you how many months or years will pass until you make a payment proposal to each of your creditors.
- Proposals The company must inform you how much money or what percentage of each outstanding debt you should save before you make a payment proposal to each of your creditors.
- Cessation of payment. If the company asks you to stop paying your creditors – or if the program is based on your not paying your debts – the company must inform you of the possible negative consequences of not paying, which includes:
- The damage caused to your credit report and your credit rating.
- That your creditors can sue you or go ahead with the collection process.
- That companies that issue your credit cards may charge you additional charges and interest, which will further increase the amount owed.
Depending on your financial situation, the money saved using the services of the debt settlement companies can be considered as a taxable income. Credit card companies and other creditors can report debt settlement agreements to the IRS, and the tax collection agency can consider the amount you have been saved from paying an income, unless it is determined that you are “insolvent”. It is considered that a person is insolvent when the total amount of his debts is higher than the market value of all his assets. Determining a person’s insolvency can be a complicated process. If you are not sure of meeting the requirements to benefit from this exception, talk to a tax professional.
Avoid dealing with any company that promises to settle your debts and act in one of the following ways:
- I charged you before agreeing to settle your debts.
- Offer to participate in a “new government program” to get rid of personal debts incurred by credit card.
- I assure you that you can eliminate your unsecured debt.
- Tell him to stop communicating with his creditors.
- Tell you that you can stop all debt collection calls and prevent lawsuits.
- I assure you that you can cancel your unsecured debts by paying a few cents for every dollar you owe.
Trying to settle your debts by hiring the services of a debt settlement company is just one of several options available to solve your debt problem. You could also negotiate directly with the issuer of your credit card, consult a credit counselor or consider filing for bankruptcy.
- Contact your credit card company – even if they have previously refused to help you with your problem. Instead of paying a company to speak on your behalf with your creditor, keep in mind that you can do it yourself without having to pay anything. You can find the phone number on your card or in the account summary. Insist and keep a good record of your debts to be able to explain your situation when you manage to contact the credit card company. Your goal is to try to reach an agreement with the company to establish a modified payment plan that decreases the amount of your payments to a manageable level.
If you do not pay your debt for 180 days, your creditor will cancel your debt by recording it as a loss; Your credit rating will suffer a big impact and you will continue to be indebted. Often, creditors are willing to negotiate with you even after you cancel your debt by recording it as a loss.
- Establish contact with a credit counselor or advisor. The reputable credit counseling organizations offer advice on managing money, bills and debts, and helping people develop a budget, and usually offer free information and workshops on these topics. The advisors or advisors should analyze with you their overall financial situation and help you develop a personalized plan to get out of debt.
There is a new law that establishes that credit card issuers must include in their account summaries a toll-free telephone number so that credit card holders can consult information on how to find non-profit credit counseling organizations.
Most credit counselors offer services through local offices, on the Internet, or by telephone. Find an organization that offers advice through personal face-to-face interviews. There are several universities, military bases, credit cooperatives, housing authorities and affiliates of the US Cooperative Extension Service that operate non-profit credit counseling programs. The federal government guarantees a list of organizations with official approval that are classified by state and that is available at www.usdoj.gov/ust, the website of the US Receivership. (US Trustee Program). This is an organization dependent on the US Department of Justice that oversees bankruptcy cases and trustees.
- Occasionally, a credit counselor can tell you that you have to consider filing for bankruptcy. Filing bankruptcy or bankruptcy has serious consequences, including the reduction of your credit score, but credit counselors and other experts say that in some cases it is the most logical alternative. When you finish making all the payments established in the plan, the discharge of your debts is determined. As part of the Chapter 13 process,People filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing and receiving a fixed income are allowed to keep ownership of their assets, such as a mortgaged house or a car they would lose in a bankruptcy proceeding filed under Chapter 7. In a bankruptcy case under Chapter 13, the court approves a repayment plan that allows you to pay your debts for a period of three to five years, without having to give up your property right.