I have been in the credit card debt relief industry for just about 10 years now and have been in the financial industry for over 20 years. The point of this article is to give people a heads up on debt relief companies also known as debt settlement or debt negotiation companies. I will give you the pro’s and con’s of this process and what to watch out for when interviewing a company to help you get out of debt. Before I go on I want to let you know that this will be a rather long article and by the end of it my goal is to have you understand how the debt negotiation/settlement process works in case you don’t already know and I would like you to understand the tactics of companies out there that do not truly have your best interest at heart.
First I would like to state that the process of debt negotiation as your means of consumer debt relief is not for everyone, some people are better suited for bankruptcy and others do not have the correct mindset to go through this process.
I would like you to first understand what debt negotiation is and how it works. The goal of a debt negotiator is to obtain a debt settlement for you on the current debt amount you owe your creditor. So for example you may owe one particular creditor $10,000 so the goal of the negotiator would be to have you end up paying back say $6,000. The two main benefits of going through this process are to save money on what you currently owe your creditors and to save time. By just paying the minimum payment with even a modest interest rate you will be looking at 30 or more years to become debt free, with a sound debt negotiation program you will be out of debt within 2-3 years or sooner depending on your current financial situation.
Now you must understand these are great benefits but as with anything in life there are drawbacks, nothing is perfect and this consumer debt relief procedure is no different. For starters your creditors will not be willing to negotiate a debt settlement at all if you are current with your monthly minimum payments. They would prefer you to stay on their credit treadmill for the next thirty years and pay them back over four times the balance in interest alone. So you must fall behind on your payments to put the creditors into a position where they will be willing to settle. Once you stop paying them the ball game changes completely and they will then be willing to talk in terms of negotiating a settlement.
So obviously for some people the beginning of this process will have a negative effect on their credit score. For those who are already falling behind then the negative effect will be no different than it already is. Unfortunately for some people this will be the deterring factor that keeps them from going into debt settlement making them a slave to their creditors for the next thirty years. The good news is that this negative effect does not last forever, in fact once the settlements start coming through your credit score will begin to rebound and go back up. The reason being over 30% of your credit score according to MyFICO is based on how much debt you owe. But if you are stuck in a bad debt situation even if you are current with your payments your score is probably not all that good in the first place, and besides when stuck deep in debt your focus should be on how to get out of debt as quickly as possible, not on your ability to accrue future debt.
Now by falling behind on your debts you must understand that these creditors are just not going to roll over and play dead, they will be calling to try and collect the debt. For some this is not a problem at all, for others it is, that is why I stated above this process is not for everyone and the consumer must be in the correct mind set. From my years of helping people there is no rhyme or reason to how many calls you will receive some clients of mine barely get calls while others get them almost everyday. Something to keep in mind too is that no company has the power to legally stop the calls, so any company that tells you they can is flat out lying.
As you can see like I said earlier there are pro’s and con’s, but if you can accept the con’s you will be quickly on the road to financial freedom and will save a lot of money in the process. Now to get to the meat of the matter and why I named this article “consumer credit card debt relief scams”.
We here in America over the past couple of years have been experiencing a very negative downturn in our economy. Thus putting many consumers in a compromising position financially, leaving boat loads of people stuck in credit card debt. So naturally this opened up a much larger market for debt negotiation. Many fly by night companies have been popping up all over the country, many of which are ex mortgage brokers who sold people bad loans and helped them get into this sticky position in the first place. Now I use the word scam which can take on a few meanings, while yes there are some companies out there that are flat out scams and have no intent on doing any work for you at all, most of the times that is not the case. Instead many companies simply do not give people all the facts on how debt negotiation works nor do they truly put them on a plan for success, which I will explain in a minute.
One common issue that most consumers have with debt settlement companies is they do not fully tell them about how the process works, instead they sugar coat things and just preach about the great benefits. I have spoken to countless amounts of people who have signed up with companies and were under the impression that they were going to stay current with their creditors and will never receive any calls. So needless to say this became a huge problem once they began.
Another major problem a lot of these companies have is deceiving people into the kind of savings they will be getting on their debts. Some companies will say they will save you 70% of what you owe. Now while they may get settlements that low what their opting not to tell you is how much you will be saving after you have A) paid them their fees, and B) paid back the creditors. Honest companies will tell you what your true savings will be. If you will save somewhere between 40-50% of what you owe including their fees and paying the creditors than that is pretty darn good. Plus many of these companies will try and guarantee a certain amount of savings, if you hear this run for the hills. NO one in this industry can guarantee a certain amount that is why it is called DEBT NEGOTIATION! They are negotiating to get a settlement for as low as they can get.
Then there are the companies who will let you pay whatever you can to get on their program. These are the worst because they do not truly have your interest at heart and know they are setting you up to fail and not succeed. You must understand to achieve the type of savings I stated above this process should take no more than three years, preferably two or less. And the bottom line is some people simply cannot get it done in that time frame and should realistically be looking into bankruptcy. What these unscrupulous consumer debt relief companies will do is put you on a program for 4 or more years and basically accepts whatever payment you can afford. Knowing full well you are not going to be saving much of anything and will more than likely fail off the program, all they care about is getting the fees and that is it. An honest company will diligently review your budget with you and make sure this is something that you can manage, as well as fully explain to you both the benefits and drawbacks of doing this. And let you make the conscience decision as to whether this is the best consumer debt relief method for your situation.
Another very good way to evaluate a company is to make sure they are registered with the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and that they are in good standings with very few complaints. And if there are complaints make sure they were resolved to the clients liking.