Tuesday, February 22, 2011

5 Things You Need to know When Dealing With Debt Settlement Companies

We have had our experiences with debt collectors. The calls all day long and on weekends also. Starting in the morning, sometimes starting at 9:00 A.M. Sunday morning. We have learned to screen our calls but it's still annoying.

Two of our children have had some credit card debts go into default. The debt collectors started to call. There are probably 5 different debt collectors that still call on a regular basis. I talk to them to explain that my kids don't live here anymore and that they are wasting their time. It usually goes well, the caller is business like and we're done but I had one bad call with a nasty debt collector who was insulting. I can see how the tactic works. They make you feel so upset that you give them the rent money to make them quit calling.

With the constant daily calls you become desperate to in trying to pay your debts. That's when you think of trying that debt settlement company. Most debt settlement companies don't succeed in cleaning up your debt. The fees are enormous and the process is long and stressful. Sure there are some that succeed but the success level is low. When dealing with these companies you have to very careful. I have listed a few tips to help you navigate them.

1. Most debt settlement companies charge regardless of whether they ever settle your debts. They usually collect most or all the fee from you long before they have helped to eliminate your debts. You pay the fee whether your debts are settled or not.

2. Debt settlement services don’t provide instant relief. Most debt settlement services require you to deposit a specific amount of money in a bank account each month until you have enough to make a reasonable settlement offer. While you are trying to save, the debt settlement company’s fees are being deducted from your bank account. Saving enough for a settlement can take a year or more. If you have multiple debts, you will save for them one-at-a-time, so the whole process could take several years.

3. Debt settlement services can be very expensive. The charge is often based on a percentage of the total amount of debt that you want help with when you sign up for the service. A typical fee of 15 percent (some are even higher) on four credit card accounts totaling $20,000 would be $3,000. You would pay that amount regardless of how many of the accounts, if any, are actually settled.

4. Claims for success rates can be very misleading. Debt settlement companies advertise big savings but those claims often don’t take into consideration the number of accounts that are never settled or the fees that customers pay. Industry figures show that the majority of debt settlement customers drop out of the programs within the first six months, after they have paid a large portion of the fees but before their debts are settled.

5. Debt settlement programs don’t stop debt collection. Banks and debt collectors don’t have to cooperate with debt settlement companies and they can keep trying to collect the money you owe. While you are saving for a settlement, your debt may increase because of interest and penalties, you may be hounded by collection agents, and you can be sued for the debt.

Debt Settlement companies are everywhere they want your business and may make promises they can't keep. At first, they may stay on top of your program but as time passes either you or the companies lose interest and your case just becomes another account in their computer. There are better ways to settle your accounts which I will cover in another post.

Here are some additional posts about debt:

The Early Warning Signs of Debt


  1. Thanks, all of the points are helpful

  2. I wish more people knew this before making that call!

  3. You only have to remember one thing--- never get yourself in a position where you have to do business with these type of people.


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