Debt Negotiation

Debt Negotiation happens in two basic ways: by a professional, or by yourself.

Here are a few strategies the professionals use when handling a debt negotiation on your behalf.

In this discussion, we are only looking at “unsecured debts”, which includes credit cards or medical debts most commonly. It simply means any debt which has no collateral, such as a car loan, home loan, boat loan, etc.

Before you start any debt negotiation, you should expect that you’ll take a “hit” on your credit score. Any creditor who lent you money is not going to just let you get out of paying any less than the full balance and let you retain perfect credit.

That said, all credit automatically repairs itself when all future payments are made on time. In many cases someone can suffer credit damage from a debt negotiation and within two years, provided all future payments are made on time, have an excellent “A+” 730+ fico score.

In addition, many people confuse credit “Score” and credit “ability”. If you have a perfect 850 fico score, but do not qualify for more financing because you are carrying too much debt already relative to your income, then you have zero credit ability. Frankly, the creditors have worked hard to make you believe these are the same, so that you keep paying. If you are looking for debt negotatiation, you are probably carrying too much debt. If you’re willing to stop using your credit cards for a while and don’t plan to buy a home or car in the near future, then it may save you many thousands of dollars.

The most common strategy the professionals use is to stop making payments, and instead save the money up so that a single lump-sum payment can be offered.

In addition to this, a debt negotiation professional will also prepare a specially formatted letter containing a legitimate reason why you could afford the debt before, but cannot afford it any longer, and if things continue, it will end in bankruptcy or charge-off. This usually contains a factual story, referred to by professionals as a “hardship”. This can include medical events, loss of job or income, dramatic increase in expenses due to some sudden unforseen reason i.e. divorce or adjustable mortgage changes, or a natural disaster.

There are a few reasons why a debt negotiation professional can reach a better, lower debt negotiation settlement offer than you doing it yourself.

First, debt negotiation companies deal with thousands of clients at a time, so they’re able to reach higher up the chain of command. A consumer will usually reach a lower-level technician, who is not authorized much leeway for debt negotiation. An attorney or non-attorney professional can speak with a vice president because they are offering sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars spread over many accounts based on certain status and net discount amount.

Second, debt negotiation companies know how to say and how to package what needs to be said, at the right time, to the right people.

Third a debt negotiation expert knows the system and averages for each company. A creditor has the legal right to sue you in court for non payment, which could result in a legal judgement, which can mean garnishment of wages directly from your employer, additional court fees, and more credit damage. A professional debt negotiation company can minimize the risk of being sued while still reaching a settlement around 42 cents on the dollar.

Last, because a debt negotiation company has either attorneys on staff, or non-attorney trained negotiators on staff (depending on your state’s laws, and your file), they know the creditor’s tricks. The credit card industry makes literally billions of dollars per year in profit, and they don’t make this by being nice. However nice the customer service representative may seem on the phone, they have one agenda: to get as much money from you as possible. Most typically, for anyone in a bit of debt trouble, the creditor will suggest “Credit Counseling”.

The dirty secret about credit counseling is that “Credit Counseling” was invented by the credit card companies. They want you to feel like they’re helping, but when you enroll in these programs, you’ll repay 100% of your debt plus interest, suffer credit damage, and they’ll often collect a monthly fee on top of it ($49 a month x 48 months, for example is $2,352 in fees, not including interest). They usually won’t tell you this, but they also get a 15% “fair share fee” from the credit card company, so the IRS has revoked the “non-profit” status of many of these companies.

Like plumbing, taxes, or fixing your computer, you can handle debt negotiation yourself, or you can hire a professional. Those willing to educate themselves to learn how to do it right can definitely save some money. That said, for the reasons stated above, often times the settlement amount offered on a debt negotiation you conduct yourself may not be as discounted as what a professional may get, and therefore the service in almost all cases pays for itself. For example, if you get offered $.80 on the dollar, but a professional gets $.42, then it’s actually cheaper even with the cost of service to have a debt negotiation service handle your case.

One dangerous byproduct of staying in debt is not having enough time to invest for retirement. Most people don’t know exactly how much money they’ll need to retire. Do you? The sooner you use debt negotiation to clear your debts, the sooner you can build your investments to ensure you can retire the way you want – instead of living your golden years as a burden on family, with lower standard of living, or working past retirement.