#credit card debt relief
8 myths about settling credit card debt
Get out of debt today!
When finances are tight and job prospects are dim, the promises you hear in debt settlement ads sound appealing.
But is settling your credit card debts for less than you owe really that easy? Can anyone do it? And what are the consequences? Before you decide to try debt settlement, make sure you know the difference between common myths — and the truth:
Myth No. 1: Anyone can get their credit card balance cut in half for any reason.
The truth: Both creditors and legitimate debt settlement companies screen clients to ensure their hardship meets underwriting criteria, says Brian Tawney, co-legislative director and executive board member of the American Fair Credit Council and counsel for Clear One Advantage debt settlement company.
Debt settlement is for hardships such as a temporary job loss, divorce or medical problems, Tawney says. Often our client’s situation results from unemployment, underemployment, divorce, death, medical issues and for some, overspending, he says.
Myth No. 2: I have to pay someone to help me settle my credit card debt.
The truth: I proved that myth is not true, says Kenny Golde, author of The Do-It-Yourself Bailout. Golde is a filmmaker whose partner became ill and passed away while they were making a movie. By the time the film was completed and it became apparent the film wasn’t selling in a timely manner, Golde was $250,000 in debt. He consulted with a bankruptcy attorney, who told him about debt settlements.
Golde had heard a lot of debt settlement companies are scams. He figured no one would work as hard on his behalf as he was prepared to. Besides, he says, Here was a challenge, and I wanted to move forward and meet that challenge. Golde successfully negotiated his debts and saved nearly $150,000.
On the other hand, having an experienced negotiator on your side can help. So many people are trying to get their balances reduced, according to Ken Clark, certified financial planner and author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Out of Debt, that you call and try to negotiate a balance, and it’s ‘Get in line.’ The card company’s attitude may be, Yeah, you and everybody else, says Clark.
Says Tawney: Just as you don’t have to pay someone to do your plumbing and don’t have to hire an accountant to do your taxes, you can also negotiate your debt yourself. But we find that many people can benefit from having someone else help.
Based on experience negotiating with creditors, debt settlement companies know what percentage of debt owed each creditor is likely to agree to, Tawney says. We use an algorithm that considers 140 different variables and tells us the accounts that have the highest opportunity to settle at any given time. We negotiate in bulk, he says. We can negotiate thousands of cases and get a better settlement for everyone.
Myth No. 3: I have to pay upfront for debt settlement and the debt settlement company controls my money.
The truth: Not anymore. Debt settlement companies that market their services over the phone are banned from collecting advance fees from consumers before settling or reducing the consumers’ credit card or other unsecured debt, according to a Federal Trade Commission rule that took effect in October 2010. The rule also specifies that the consumers’ money set aside to pay debts be maintained in an account at an insured financial institution; that the consumer owns the funds and any interest accrued; that the debt settlement company does not own, control or have any affiliation with the company administering the account; and that the provider does not exchange any referral fees with the company administering the account, the FTC says. Also, the consumer can withdraw from the debt relief service at any time without penalty and receive all unearned provider fees and savings within seven business days.