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Debt Settlement – Your Options
Millions of families are facing financial struggles and have come to a fork in the road where they are forced to choose a path, which will enable them to be rid of their debt once and for all. If you can relate, take comfort in knowing that you do have choices, and depending on your personal financial situation you may have decided that debt settlement is the right path for you, since this option can reduce your debt by 50% or more. If you’ve made your decision and are confident that debt settlement is your best option, now is the time to get to work. You see, debt settlement can be somewhat complex to say the least, and it’s important to be well-informed when deciding if you should attempt negotiating with your creditors on your own, or if you prefer to hire a professional to represent you. Below are a few things you may want to consider if you’re seriously contemplating the “do-it-yourself” method: • You must not be easily intimidated – In order to qualify for settlements with your credit card companies, your accounts must be in a delinquent status. Obviously, if your accounts are delinquent, you can expect some form of communication from your creditors and/or collection agencies.
Unfortunately, the communication you receive will undoubtedly contain threatening content, either in the form of phone calls or letters. I know it’s very difficult, but you need to be prepared for this type of dialogue, and you must not cave in to threats. Of course, this will be somewhat complicated because you won’t always be sure if the threats you’re receiving are legitimate, or simply an attempt to intimidate and scare you, but most often it is the latter. • Caller ID is a must – Don’t kid yourself because your phone will be ringing off the hook due to creditor and collection agency calls. If you took the time to answer each call and attempt to speak with these bill collectors your day would be gone – wasted.
So, if you don’t already have Caller ID, get it. If the display screen on your Caller ID reads “toll-free number,” “out of area,” “unknown caller” or “incoming call” you can be sure that you’re the lucky recipient of communication from a bill collector. In most cases it’s best to let these calls go straight to voicemail. The only instance you’ll want to speak with bill collectors is when your delinquency is at a stage which is optimal for a satisfactory settlement agreement. If you believe you’d rather hire a professional debt settlement firm to assist you during this very tedious and complicated process, please be cognizant of the existence of some firms that are more interested in taking your money than in legitimately assisting you to become free from debt. Some signs you’ll want to be weary of include the following: • Pre-payment of fees – While I understand why most debt settlement companies require that their fees are paid up front, I don’t necessarily agree with this tactic. You see, prior to the finalization of a settlement with your creditor, much work and preparation has been already taking place behind the scenes, and companies want to ensure that they’ll be properly compensated for their time and expenses. That being said, I also believe that debt settlement firms should want to ensure that your creditors are paid as quickly as possible so that you – their client – can begin to feel a sense of relief sooner rather than later. This can rarely be achieved if all of your money is first going to the company that claims to have your best interest in mind. It may take many mouse-clicks and more than a few minutes of surfing the Internet, but you can locate a firm that won’t accept payment from you until a mutually agreeable settlement has been reached with your creditor(s).
• Unrealistic fees – Certainly the cheapest debt settlement company isn’t necessarily the best debt settlement company, but you can locate honest, ethical and reputable firms whose fees are reasonable, and won’t make the process of debt settlement too costly to consider. Fee structures vary from one debt settlement company to another; many firms charge their clients 15% of the total amount of debt to be settled, while others base their fees on the amount of money their clients actually save at the time of settlement. I’ve seen these fees range anywhere from 15%-25% of the amount of money saved. •High pressure sales tactics – If you feel as though a firm’s employee is communicating more like a salesman than a debt consultation professional, run – don’t walk – as fast as you can. This is a difficult time for you and the last thing you need is a high-pressure salesperson taking advantage of your potentially vulnerable state just to “close the deal.” Rather, you’ll want to be certain that you’re dealing with an individual who is genuinely interested in your financial hardship, as well as taking the proper steps to help you achieve your goal by eliminating your money concerns. Congratulations for having the resolve to become free from debt. It’s not easy to face financial burdens, and you deserve to be commended for taking the time to proactively research and execute a plan.
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