Do Not Let Debt Collectors Intimidate You!!!

Dealing with a debt collector can be very intimidating.

 Here are some tips how to deal with them:


4685879535_e268930fc8_n.jpgSomeone has said that the word FEAR really stands for:

  • False
  • Evidence, that
  • Appears
  • Real

Living under the financial stress that comes from dealing with too much debt can be one of the most traumatic experiences anyone can face!And if that wasn't bad enough, now you have debt collector calling day and night!

It's time to eliminate that fear that comes from dealing with debt collectors!

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act protects all consumers from the unlawful tactics used by some (not all) debt collectors.

Although the FDCPA covers many things that debt collectors can and more importantly, CAN'T DO, here are some of the most important for you to know:

They cannot call you dozens of times a day or before 8am or after 9pm.

They cannot harass, threaten or try to deceive you.

Although they can contact family and friends, they are prohibited from revealing anything about you debts or situation.  They can only contact them for your address, phone or work number.

And about contacting you at work...You can stop that by telling them you cannot take personal calls at work.  If they call again, you have a legal right to file a claim with your state's attorney general's office or even contact an attorney to bring charges!

They cannot threaten you or insinuating that you could be arrested, etc.


But, what most people are afraid of is that somehow they can take your stuff or money in the bank, wages, or make you sell your home.

You have to understand the legal process a debt collector must go through to really understand what they can and cannot garnish or levy. 

Disclaimer...

Although I've been helping people solve their debt issues for a long, long time, I am not an attorney, so don't take anything I say as the advice from a legal authority!

Having gotten that out of the way....

While your debt is with the original lender, they have the legal right to call you about it. Now, the same FDCPA rules apply, but at this point, you cannot make them stop calling you.

However, once the original creditor charges off, places the debt for collection or even sells your debt to a debt purchaser, then you have the LEGAL RIGHT TO STOP THE CALLS!

Here' how:

STOP Collection Calls Free Sample Letter

 

When the debt is placed with a debt collector, of course, they want to get you to pay them money and don't really want to go the "legal" route unless all else fails!

Trying to explain your situation to the average debt collector is usually a waste of time.  That's why I encourage all of our clients to NOT ANSWER the phone and if they do by mistake, JUST HANG UP!

But they are going to send you letters....lots of letters in hopes of getting you to pay or set up a repayment plan.

You might even get a letter offering to SETTLE for LESS THAN THE FULL BALANCE.

This may or may not be a good deal, but you should think about it.

When I work for my clients, I'm trying to negotiate a settlement of around 50% or less.  In most cases we can.  Here are some actual examples:

Recent Settlements See what we have  done for our clients!

If you cannot come to an agreement with the debt collector over a reasonable amount of time (maybe 2-4 months), they may decide to:

File a CLAIM

You'd then get a SUMMONS

And that could lead to a JUDGMENT

Which could allow them to now...NOT BEFORE... get some of your money, etc.

ONE MORE TIME...

THE DEBT COLLECTOR CANNOT TOUGH ANY OF YOUR ASSETS WITHOUT A JUDGMENT!

Filing a CLAIM means that they hire an attorney to file the proper documents with the county court wherein you reside.  They are "claiming" that you owe this debt.

Then, you'd be served a SUMMONS.

It basically states that the "plaintiff" (creditor or debt collector) claims you owe such-n-such a debt.

It also states that you have 20-30 days to "APPEAR" and give an "ANSWER".

That sounds like you have to go to court, but you don't!!!!

If you can prove (with clearly documented evidence) that you do not owe this debt, then you could file the legal document called an ANSWER. 

But, in most cases, you owe the debt, so it is not necessary.

WHAT YOU CANNOT DO IS TO IGNORE THE SUMMONS!

In most cases, they (the debt collector or attorney for the plaintiff) may be willing to set up some reasonable repayment plan instead of going through all of the legal processes to get a judgment.

But, if you ignore the summons, they will then set a court date and be awarded a judgment by default (no one contested the CLAIM) so they win a DEFAULT JUDGMENT.

I hope you are starting to see that there is a long process before a creditor or debt collector can go after any of your assets.

So, let's say that a creditor or debt collector is awarded a JUDGMENT, NOW WHAT?

If you are employed, and receive a normal check (called a W-2), then they can now file a WRIT OF GARNISHMENT with your employer.   

Your employer had no choice but to obey the "WRIT" and send the attorney for the plaintiff 25% of your net/take home check each week or by-week until the total debt you owe is paid back. And, they can charge interest as well (each state varies, but Oregon is 9%).

If you are unemployed or retired, unemployment income or retirement income from a retirement plan and especially from Social Security is 100% EXEMPT from garnishment.

But, BE AWARE!!!

If you "co-mingle" your retirement income (including Social Security) with other "earned income", then ALL OF THE FUNDS are now accessable at your bank!

That can happen if you transfer some of your retirement or Social Security income funds from checking to a separate savings account!  Now they can go after the savings account.

So, if you have a judgment against you, make sure you get some sound advice on how to protect your assets!

Here is a link to a very good article about what I have been writing about.  It's published by the Federal Trade Commission and very informative...

Debt Collection

 

I hope this has helped you understand what a debt collector can and cannot do so that you won't be afraid!

If you could use some help, then let us know:

free-debt-relief-summary

Photo Credit

 

Tags: debt settlement, debt collectors, summons, judgment

Enrolled in a Debt Settlement Program? Now What?

Making the decision to enroll in a Debt Settlement Program brings a whole lot of different things to prepare for and get comfortable with. 

After 15 years of helping people manage their debt issues, let me share with you some things that will really help!

credit_card_mouse_trap.jpg

People decide to enroll in a Debt Management Program such as Debt Settlement after a careful examination of their individual financial and personal situation.  We always carefully walk our potential clients through their various options to make sure they choose the best one for them.

Although there could be many other reasons, most people have experienced one or more of the following:

  • Unemployment for too long a time
  • Divorce
  • Major accident or illness
  • Death of spouse or partner
  • Retired with too little income
  • Disability

Again, many people turn to the easily available credit of a credit card, pay day loan, or some other "quick fix" solution with the intention of paying these off as soon as things turn around.

I can't remember anyone that sought our help that had just foolishly spent and spent and spent and now was not able to keep up.  I'm sure that happens, but that's not the normal Debt Settlement Client.

So here you are...

Several unsecured accounts (may also include medical bills and judgments) where the minimum monthly payment is just too large for the current income you have coming in.

Let me walk you through the basic process of the Debt Settlement Program:

When you miss (or start missing) the minimum payments due on your credit accounts, you most likely will get a letter or even a phone call from your creditor.

At first, they seem pleasant and willing to work with you, but as time goes by, their attitude and tactics change.

Now the letters seem very "threatening" and "demeaning" and the phone calls keep coming more often.

When a creditor calls, don't forget that the caller has been trained to say and do whatever they can (hopefully within the laws of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) to get you to start making payments again.

If you are not in a position to get caught up on your outstanding/delinquent debts, then I advise that you just ignore the call (learn to use caller ID!) or just hang up if you pick up by mistake.

I know this sounds harsh, and some other Debt Settlement Companies my suggest that you try to explain your situation, but years and years of working with people deal with debt collectors has taught me that is is usually a waste of time!

Oh, and by-the-way, as long as your account is still with the original creditor, they have the legal right to call you. Now, they are not supposed to call every hour or so and they are limited to the times of day, but at this point, I still advise that you just ignore them for now. (I'll show you how to put a stop to them just a little later.)

So, what's next?

After a while, maybe 3-4 months of this, your accounts will most likely be charged off and/or assianged or sold to a debt collection agency or debt buying agency.

"Charged off" means that the creditor is going to claim that they could not collect on this debt and they will "write it off" as a loss for their annual tax reporting.

TIME OUT...

About 99% of our clients ask, "What's this going to do to my credit?"

There is some great information about how your credit report and credit scores work.  I'll give you a summary here, but it would be well worth your time to visit this site:      MyFico.com

I know you are concerned about your credit score, but at this point, by being late, having too much debt and using too much debt, your credit scores are going to go down (if they haven't already).

The fact that you have gotten "in over your head" credit use wise, but, have taken the steps to do something about it (like debt settlement), will in the long run improve your scores.

Right now, the goal of the debt settlement probram is to help you avoid wage or bank garnishments due to judgments and/or avoid being forced to seek bankruptcy protection from your creditors.

Once you/we have successfully negotiate all of your accounts to a $0 balance, your credit score will improve.

Having your account "assigned" or "sold" to a collection agency, sounds very bad, but actually, for your debt settlement program, it is good.

Once your account(s) have been turned over to a collection agency, the negotiation process really starts. 

Now we can demand/put a stop to the calls.  I do this for my clients, but you can do this yourself.

Here's how:

STOP Collection Calls Free Sample Letter

Now, once in a while the orgingal creditor may send you letter stating that they would be willing to settle you account for such-n-such, but not very often. 

If you get such a letter, be sure to forward it to the Debt Settlement Company right away as they may be able to get an even greater reducion/settlement for you!

Here's a good place to explain what your responsibility is while enrolled in a settlement program:

  1. Don't speak with the crediors or debt collectors as this actually hinders your negotiator in reaching good settlements.
  2. While your account is with the original creditor (Visa, Home Depot, etc.), you really don't need to send every monthly statement.  One about every 3 months is fine.
  3. But, when the account is transferred to a debt collector, you need to scan or fax the most recent letters you receive each month.  This is VERY IMPORTANT!  I have had many client's fail to send me very good offers until a couple of months after receiving them.  When I called on the offer, the account had been recalled by the creditor and now we have missed a very good opportunity.

How settlements are negotiated:

You've been making deposits/contributions into your Reserve Account help by an FDIC bank through your Debt Settlement Company for a few months now.

Obviously you don't have enough built up to settle all of you accounts, but your negotiator will try and negotiate a settlement with the company that is willing to give you the best settlement.

Most debt settlement companies will not make offers for settlements until they have a very large lump sum of money to offer.  However, I have found that fair settlements can be negotiated and paid out over several months at now additional interest.

Recent Settlements See what we have  done for our clients!

After the settlement has been completed:

Once the terms of the settlement have been completed, the debt collection company will send a letter of statement stating such.

They are supposed to send update information about this account to the 3 major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion), but about half the time they don't!

I have our clients wait about 2-3 months after the settlement has been completed to request an Credit Report on themselves.  It's not difficult and it can be FREE.

The law allows for each of us to request and receive a credit report on ourselves annually.

For a FREE copy (no scores) go to www.annualcreditreport.com. 

You will asked a few security related questions, but should be able to get your credit report without too much effort.

You can get a more detailed report including your credit score from a number of sites, such as:

Credit Karma  or   several other sites

If you find errors, ie. they have not been updated since the settlement was completed, you can open a DISPUTE and in most cases, the error will be corrected in 30 days or so.

So, in a nutshell, that's how a debt settlement program works.

If you have questions or would like to learn more, let us know:

free-debt-relief-summary

 

 

 

Photo Credit

 

Tags: debt settlement, debt collectors, credit card, free credit score

How to File IRS Form 982 After Receiving a 1099C

When a debt is settled (IRS says, "forgiven") for more than $600, you may receive a form 1099C that seems to say that you are going to have to pay more tax!  Here's what you need to do to have the "forgiveness" excluded as additional income:

22853064975_8c547f714f_m.jpg

(Let me start out by stating that I am not an accountant or attorney.  I have been helping people deal with creditors, debt collectors, and attorneys for the creditors for many years and have tried to provide assistance to them or their tax preparers in how to deal with a 1099-C form.  So, please consult yours!)

Now, in this article/blog, I'm talking about dealing with a 1099-C that you may (or may not) receive after an unsecured debt such as credit cards, personal bank loans, medical bills, etc. has been settled for less than the balance.

By the way, don't be surprised that your tax preparer or accountant is not quite sure what to do with the 1099-C!  Or, be careful if they just say that you have to include the settled/forgiven amount as additional taxable income without seeing if it can be excluded!!!!

ALSO, DO NOT IGNORE THE 1099-C, even if you receive it AFTER you have filed!

 If this happens, you may have to file an amended form.  You accountant or tax preparer will help.

Ok, so you have received the 1099 C.... NOW WHAT?

To help you, here's an actual copy of a 1099C one of my client's received for a debt we helped settled in 2015.  (The 2016 1099C's are not out yet, but will be the same.)

Click on the form below and print a copy so you can follow:

1099C Form 2015

It shows...

  • The name of the creditor... Capital One
  • Client's personal information (I've blacked out for privacy of course)
  • Date of the settlement... 1/3/15
  • Amount of the canceled debt (amount forgiven)    $1,463.68
  • Debt Description... Credit Cards and Loans
  • 1099-C Instructions for Debtor

The actual balance at the time of settlement was $ 3,440 and the total settlement was for $1,500.  Even though this was a reduction of $1,940, the creditor has excluded the added interest and fees in reporting the settlement to the IRS.

Look carefully at the bottom of the form and you will see,

"However, according to IRS Pub. 4681, you may not have to include all of the canceled debt in your income.  There are exceptions and exclusions, such as bankruptcy and insolvency."

Do you see the word, "INSOLVENCY"?  This is the key to the whole matter.

It means that if at the time the settlement was completed, if your liabilites (all outstanding debts including the one that was settled) were greater than all of your assets (equity in your home, car, cash, bank accounts, etc.), then, according to the IRS, you were INSOLVENT.

So how do you show/prove to the IRS that you were insolvent at the time of the settlement?

You are going to file IRS Form 982 along with your tax return. 

But first, you are going to have to do a little "homework"... relax, it's easy...

Although it is not necessary, I advise my clients to write out a BRIEF, LEGIBLE explanation of their situation at the time of the settlement.  Again, you don't have to use word processing, but make sure you write very clearly.  Something like:

John Smith  SS # 123-45-6789  234 Main St.  Big City, OR 97033

I lost my job in August of 2014 and did not find employment until a year later.  My wife was also very ill at that time. 

We used credit cards to try and make ends meet, but ultimately were unable to keep up with the payments.  Rather than file for bankruptcy, we tried to negotiate with our creditors for a reduction of the balance.

As you can see from the Assets vs. Liabilities worksheet I've attached, we were in real financial trouble and/or insolvent.

Next, complete a brief worksheet listing your Assets vs. your Liabilities:

Example:

Assets:                                                            Liabilities:

FMV of home         $ 225,000                          Mortgage   $190,000   2nd   $20,000

FMV of car             $    5,000                           Student loans         $27,000

Personal Items       $    5,000                           Medical Bills           $  4,000

                                                                     Credit Cards           $ 31,000

Total Assets:        $ 235,000                          Total Liabilities:       $  272,000

                                  Net Worth:     negative  -$37,000

Now you are going to fill out IRS Form 982 (really, really simple!!!)

For credit card and other unsecured debts, you only have to deal with Part I.

  • Check the box on 1,a
  • Fill in the amount of forgiveness from 1099C on line 2  ( 1463.68 )

That's it!  Nothing to it!

Now, MAKE A COPY OF EVERYTHING....

  • The 1099-C
  • Your brief explanation of financial hardship
  • Your Assets vs. Liabilities worksheet showing Insolvency
  • Completed IRS form 982

Finally...

Attach/include, all of the above with your tax return.

If you need more help, click below:

FREE DOWNLOAD 1099-C PACKET

 

Photo Credit

 

Tags: debt settlement, Bankruptcy, credit card, 1099-C, IRS Form 982, IRS Form 4681

How to Deal With a Wage Garnishment in Oregon (or most any state!)

If you think it is hard to make ends meet now, what would you do if you had 25% of your paycheck taken as a result of a garnishment?

22853064975_8c547f714f_m.jpgBefore I show you how to deal with a wage garnishment here in Oregon (or for most any state), let's get some things straight:

THIS GARNISHMENT DIDN'T JUST HAPPEN!

I can't tell you how many times one of our clients calls to tell us that a debt collector or creditor just garnished their paycheck and they had no idea it would be happening.

OK, I know that in some VERY RARE CASES, they may have not received or seen the SUMMONS that came in person or by registered mail, but in most cases, they got it, but just ignored it.

Brief review of the collection process and how this happened:

If you find yourself in a very difficult financial situations due to a number of things, such as:

  • Loss of employment
  • Divorce
  • Death of spouse or partner
  • Illness or disability
  • Too little income after retirement

...and, you simply cannot keep up with the minimum payments required by your creditors, here's what usually happens:

When you miss a scheduled payment, you may get a phone call or letter.

If you don't reply or miss another, you ABSOLUTELY will get a phone call or letter....lots of em'!!!

(I'll show you how to ultimately put a stop to these calls later, but for now, let's keep moving through the process that could lead to a WAGE GARNISHMENT.)

The creditors wants to do whatever they can to get you to start making payments again.

You may get a letter offering to "bring your account current if you make "such-n-such" payment by a certain date.

Or, they may say to call them to look into a "Hardship Program" (which I really don't like).

But if you just can't afford any payment after paying  rent, utilities and buying groceries, WHAT NOW?

In most cases, the original will CHARGE OFF the balance of the debt you owe them.

This means that they are going to report to the 3 major credit bureaus:

  • Experian
  • Equifax
  • TransUnion

...that they didn't pay them back as promised and they have lost a lot of money!

Your account will most likely be transferred or sold to a debt collection agency.  This may even be a Law Firm that only deals with debt collection.

Now, you start getting calls and letters from the debt collector, but the good news is that now, you can LEGALLY STOP THE CALLS.

As long as your account was with the original creditor, they had the right to call you about your account.

But, once that account is charged off and placed with a collection agency, you have the right, according to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, to demand that they stop calling you. 

The letters will continue, but the annoying, and sometimes HARASSING phone calls will stop.  Here's how you do it:

STOP Collection Calls Free Sample Letter

But, just because they have stopped calling doesn't mean that they have stopped trying to collect!

If they cannot get you to start making payments to them (they may even offer a reduction in the balance...called a SETTLEMENT) then they may decide to FILE A CLAIM against you in your county's courthouse.

The debt collector's CLAIM say that you have not fulfilled the promise to repay this debt and they are going to seek legal action against you....sue you!

You will get a SUMMONS, and it will state all of the above and it will state that you have 20-30 days (varies by state) in order to give an ANSWER.

OK, lots of "big words" there, so let me give a simple definition:

SETTLEMENT  

This is when the creditor and/or the debt collector agrees to a substantial reduction of the balance to settle this account, once and for all.

If your interested, here's some actual examples of settlements we have negotiated for some of our clients:

Recent Settlements See what we have  done for our clients!

CLAIM   

The Debt Collector or in some cases the original creditor files a claim in court that you owe them money. When this happens, you get "served" a SUMMONS.

 

SUMMONS

The summons names you as a DEFENDANT and the Creditor or Debt Collector is the Plaintiff.  They have "claimed" that you owe this debt unless you can prove it, and I mean, absolutely prove it with copies of canceled checks, etc.

 

ANSWER

If you know, for certain AND CAN PROVE IT....FOR CERTAIN, then you have the legal right to file AN ANSWER with the court.  Not only does it cost you a FILING FEE (I believe it is about $165 here in Oregon), it has to be legally correct. 

In other words, you may think about hiring an attorney to prepare the ANSWER. And, of course, that costs more money!

But, IN MOST CASES, you really do owe the money, so giving an "ANSWER" is not necessary.

So, NOW WHAT?????

If you cannot negotiate a settlement or arrange a repayment agreement, the Plaintiff (debt collector), may decide to just go forward with a court date in order to be awarded a JUDGMENT.

Once the JUDGMENT has been awarded to the Plaintiff, they can apply for a WRIT OF GARNISHMENT.

This Writ of Garnishment is sent to your employer and your employer has no choice but to honor it.  This means that they are going to withhold (after all of the other withholdings) another 25% of your net, take-home paycheck!

So you see, this garnishment didn't just happen....there was a long process and it could have been stopped numerous times along the way!

What too many people do when they finds themselves in a terrible, financial hardship is to "hide their head in the sand" rather than seek numerous solutions.

Believe me, the last thing most creditors what to do is to have to spend the time and money to file a claim, follow up with calls and letters to you, and possibly spend more money in setting a court date, paying an attorney to represent them, etc.

Last week, we had a client call us to say that she had neglected to act on a summons she had received and the creditor (plaintiff) had been awarded the judgment....acted on the judgment....and her HR department sent her a message that her check would be garnished about $500!

We were able to contact the attorney for the collector and negotiate a repayment plan (you rarely get much, if any of a reduction/settlement after a judgment has been awarded) whereby our client agreed to pay only $200 per month until the balance was paid.

She could not handle the loss of $500, but she could make $200 work.

FINALLY....

Here in Oregon (or in any state for that matter), the best way to deal with a garnishment is to not let it get to that state.

But, if it has, then you may be able to get a reasonable repayment agreement in place.

If you need help or guidance, let us know:

free-debt-relief-summary

 

 

 

Photo Credit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: debt settlement, hardship plans, summons, debt collector, oregon wage garnishment, debts

What Can a Debt Management Company Really Do For Me?

I'm often asked a question that goes something like this, "What is a Debt Management Company?" or "What can a Debt Management Company do for me?"  So, let me briefly tell you...

Recently, I had to testify in a trial involving one of our past clients.  And, just like I'd seen on TV or at the movies, I was sworn in, sat in the witness box and the attorneys for both the prosecution and defense asked me a few questions.

The first attorney started off by asking, "Mr. Fontaine, what is a Debt Management Company?"

As co-founder and owner of Debt Relief NW, LLC, I've been asked that question hundreds of times.

I had been told to keep my answers brief and to the point if asked to explain, etc.

So I replied...

"Debt Relief NW helps people with severe debt issues find the best solution to deal with their debt."

Short and to the point....yes.  But, there's a lot more to it!

What people really want to know is, "What can a Debt Management Company really do for me?"

credit_denied.jpg

First, it is very important that you only deal with a reputable debt management company that is registered in their state.

As with any profession or business, there are always a few "rotten apples in the barrel".

We have had many clients come to us over the last 15 years or so after they had been taken advantage of by crooked debt management/settlement companies!

Here in Oregon, each debt management company is required to be registered and comply with the statutes governing such companies.

They have some very good insight into looking for a reputable debt management company that you should check out at Debt Management/Managing Your Debt.

In the article, they advise you to make sure the company you are considering is in fact, registered.  To check, click here.

OK, so now that you've done a little homework and made sure that the company your thinking about enrolling with is legit, again, let's see what a debt management company can (and cannot) do for you:

Those who need help with having accumulated too much debt (mainly addressing unsecured debt in this article) have done so because of one or more events that were or are beyond their control, such as:

  • Unemployment
  • Divorce or loss of spouse or partner
  • Serious illness or disability
  • Too little income after retirement!

When this happens, people will use credit cards to help with the intention of "paying them off" when things get better.

But, sometimes, those balances and the corresponding minimum required payments are just too much to handle....NOW WHAT!

We do not believe that "One size fits all" when it comes to dealing with too much debt!

Even though every situation may seem similar, in most cases, there are always several circumstances that have to be taken into consideration BEFORE we can recommend the right solution.

When faces with so much unsecured debt that you cannot (or are starting to fall behind) with the minimum payments required, there are only a few, legitimate options:

  • Credit Counseling Program
  • Debt Settlement Program
  • Bankruptcy

Again, the first step into finding the proper solution to your particular situation is to take the time to find out exactly where you stand in regards to your income/outgo....ie. a monthly household budget!

When someone contacts us for answers, we walk them through a basic budget.  9 times out of 10, they will say something like...

" I had no idea I had this much debt and/or had this little money left over!"

 

Budget Worksheet FREE Download here!

 

Once we/they can see exactly where they are, then we can start to find the best solution.

 

Credit Counseling (or today called Debt Management)

If you have been making the minimum required payments on your credit cards and other unsecured accounts, but the balances are barely coming down, then it may be time for you to enroll in a credit (or debt management) counseling program.

These accounts have not been turned over to a debt collection company....yet.

If you qualify (there are several hoops to jump through), this type of program can help.

The Debt Management Company will contact each creditor and arranged a plan to get your accounts paid off, usually in about 48 months or so.

Most of the major creditors will usually agree to:

  • Lower the interest rate
  • Forgive or eliminate late fees and other charges

You will make ONE PAYMENT to the Debt Management Company and it will be divided and paid out to each creditor per the agreement.

The problem with such plans is that sometimes the total monthly payment required may be the same or in some cases, a little more than the total of the current minimum payments!

If you are having trouble making the minimum payments now, most likely you will not be a candidate for a Credit Counseling/Debt Management Program.

 

NOW WHAT?

 

A Debt Settlement Program may be the best solution.

Most prospects for a Debt Settlement Program have missed or stop making payments altogether to their creditors.

Their accounts have been turned over to a Debt Collector (or are about to be) and you have been getting calls and nasty letters.

If an original creditor feels like they will not be able to get you to keep up/catch up with the payments due on your account, they may charge that account off as a loss and sell or transfer that account to a debt collector.

Again, depending on your circumstances and particular situation, you may be a candidate for a SETTLEMENT on your account.

 

  • You will be making a monthly payment into an FDIC Bank account that will be used to negotiate settlements in the future. 
  • This payment will be much less than the total minimum required payments due now.
  • Your payment will fit into your particular budget.

The debt collection company (or in some case the original creditor) may be willing to take less than the full amount to "settle" this debt.  This could be 50% or less, again, depending on circumstances.

Here's an idea of what an actual settlement agreement looks like:

Recent Settlements See what we have  done for our clients!

Once the account has been settled, it will be reported to the major credit reporting agencies as:

  • "settled as agreed", or
  • "settled for less than the balance", or
  • "settled in full"

Either way, your account will now show that you did something about it and now it has a $0 balance!

As each of your accounts are settled, your credit score will start to improve/increase.

 

But, what is the only option if you simply have too little or nothing to contribute towards either program?

 

Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy, in my opinion, should be the last solution after all other solutions are examined and/or tried.

When I am negotiating with a debt collector for one of my clients, I will have to remind them that we are attempting to negotiate settlements rather that having our client seek BANKRUPTCY PROTECTION.

That is what the bankruptcy laws were intended to do...protect a person's property from absolute ruin and detestation!

We do everything we can to help a client with finding the best solution/program to help with their debt problems, but in some cases, bankruptcy is the best solution.

Make sure you interview at least a couple of bankruptcy attorneys to make sure you feel comfortable with them and their experience.

 

FINALLY...  What can a Debt Management Company do for you?

 

  • Help eliminate the fear and stress that comes with having too much debt!
  • Help find the best solution to fit your particular situation.
  • Help get you back to being DEBT FREE once again!

 

free-debt-relief-summary

 

 

 

Photo Credit

 

 

Tags: debt settlement, debt, credit counseling, debt management, credit cards

How Does a Debt Settlement Program Work?

If you have decided to enroll in a Debt Settlement Program, no doubt you have several questions and concerns.  Here's how a Debt Settlement Program works:

couple_Help.jpg

Faced with just too much debt (basically unsecured debt) and have decided to enroll in a Debt Management Program through a reputable, professional Debt Management Program.

Now what?

Most likely, you have provided the agent with the latest copies of your bill statements, collection letters, or your Free Annual Credit Report.

From time-to-time, you will need to provide the most recent information about the debts you have enrolled, so save the latest (NOT ALL!) statemenst and/or letters that you receive.

It's a good habit to fax or email (much quicker than snail-mail) these to your negotiator  every couple of months or so.  Your Debt Settlement Company may also ask you for a specific update once in a while.

As you learned during your interview/counseling session, rather than making payments to your creditors or debt collectors, you will have authorized an amount that you can afford each month to be deposited into a Client Reserve account with an FDIC insured bank.

As these funds begin to accumulate, your negotiator will be contacting some, but not possibly all of your creditors at once.

"Timing" is very crucial to a successful debt settlement program.

By "timing", I mean that each creditor and/or debt collection agency will accept or decline an offer to settle depending on several factors, such as:

  • How old is this account.
  • Your circumstances (working, unemployed, retired, disabled, etc.)
  • The current balance of the account.

Again, depending on the creditor or debt collector, more favorable settlements may be negotiated a certain times of the month/quarter/year.  An experienced Debt Settlement Company's negotiator will have years of experience and will have worked with most, if not all creditors and debt collectors over the years and will know when and how to get the best settlements possible.

Once a settlement has been negotiated, a SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT will be faxed or mailed to the debt settlement company.

Payment or payments (depending on the agreement) will be set up from the Client Reserve Fund per the agreement.

Once the agreement is completed, a statement or letter of satisfaction will be mailed to you and/or the debt settlement company. 

They (the creditor or debt collector) should report the settlement to all three of the major credit reporting bureaus that your account has been "settled-as-agreed" or in some cases, "settled-in-full". 

But, not all creditors or debt collectors do this, so again, a reputable, professional debt settlement company will assist you to make sure that your Credit Report is accurate.

Depending on the amount of debt your enrolled and the amount of your monthly deposit into the client reserve account will determine how much time your program will take.  This can only be estimated as circumstances and other events may shorten or lengthen the program.

Once all of your accounts have been settled you will receive an accounting summary.

So, that is the basics of a Debt Settlement Program, but, there are other things that you need to be aware of:

What happens if a creditor or debt collector decides to file a legal claim against me, ie., start a lawsuit?

Any creditor or debt collector has the right to file a claim against you for the unpaid balance or your account.

Usually, before they do that, they will have tried to get you to pay by:

  • Making many phone calls
  • Sending many collection letters

Once your account has been charged off, assigned or sold to a debt collection company, you legally have the right to demand that they stop calling you at home or at work. (Unfortunately, as long as it is with the original creditor, you can't prevent the calls.)

You will need to write a letter (sometimes a fax will do) and demand, according to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) that they cease and desist all calls immediately.

To receive a Sample Letter, click below:

STOP Collection Calls Free Sample Letter

 

The calls should stop rather quickly, but if they do not, then you can file a complaint with your state's Attorney General's Office.  Just go online to get the link for your state's attorney general's office/department.

 

If you live in Oregon, here is the link.

 

Again, depending on your particular circumstances and the particular debt collection company that has you account, they may or may not decide to pursue a lawsuit.

But, if they do, here's what will happen:

(1)   A Claim will be filed.

"They" (referring to the creditor or debt collector) will retain an attorney to FILE A CLAIM with the county court you reside in claiming that you failed to repay the debt you agreed to repay and now they demand legal action.

(2)  You will receive a SUMMONS.

Receiving a summons is kind of scary!  Usually, someone knocks on you door and asks if you are so-n-so and that you've been "served"!

Most of the time this claim is delivered by an agent of a company that does this, but in some cases, your local sheriff's office may send it via an officer! 

Regardless of how you get the summons, the first thing you do is send a copy to your debt settlement company.  TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE!  DO NOT DELAY!

The summons will state something to the effect that you have 20-30 days from the time of delivery of the summons to give an ANSWER.

This "answer" is a legal term that you would do if you can prove that you do not owe this debt!  If you have proof....I mean written, easy to see proof that you paid this debt or that you do not owe this debt for whatever reason, then you would pay the cost (you'll need an attorney and there is usually a court filing fee) of filing the ANSWER.

But, if you know that you owe the debt, then you will not file the ANSWER.

(3)  Your negotiator will contact the attorney who filed the claim for the plaintiff (creditor/debt collector) and in most cases work out either a settlement for less than the balance due, or some kind of repayment plan.

This will ONLY BE POSSIBLE if you get your negotiator a copy of the summons RIGHT AWAY!

I've been negotiating with attorneys and collectors for my clients for about 15 years.  In all of that time, as long as my client got me a copy of the summons quickly, I was able to stop the summons, prevent either a judgment, wage garnishment or bank levy in about 99% of the cases! 

Again....TIME IS CRITICAL!

Although most creditors/debt collectors will do their homework to determine if a client could be garnished or a bank account levied after a judgment has been awarded, in some cases, they do not.

Here's what I mean....

You cannot be garnished if you are:

  • Retired and receiving Social Security or Retirement Benefits
  • Disabled and receiving Disability Income Benefits
  • or, if your income is below the exemption level (usually around $218 per week or less, but varies by state)
  • Receiving unemployment benefits, workers compensation, spousal support, child support
  • And many others (click here for complete list of exemptions in Oregon)
  • .

HOWEVER!!!!

If you own your home (or have a mortgage), a LIEN can be placed against it.  This means that if and when you sell (or transfer ownership), the judgment amount (plus interest) must be paid before the sell or transfer can be completed.

Can a LIEN be removed/satisfied before selling or transferring property?

Yes.  Depending on several factors, a creditor will most likely be willing to accept either a slight reduction of the balance or will accept payments on the entire amount in order to release the judgment.

 

FINALLY:

If you qualify for a debt settlement program, most likely you will be able to become DEBT FREE and start to rebuild your credit score again as long as you work with your Debt Settlement Company and Negotiator.

For an idea of what an actual settlement looks like, click below:

Recent Settlements See what we have  done for our clients!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit

Tags: wage garnishment, debt settlement, debt collectors, debt, bank levy, stop debt collector calls

What to Expect While in a Debt Settlement Program

Before you make the decision to enroll in a debt settlement program, here are some very important things to consider:

The decision to enroll in a Debt Settlement Program should only be made after careful consideration and weighing all of you options.

22853064975_8c547f714f_m.jpgFirst, some VERY IMPORTANT POINTS...

Not everyone should enroll in a debt management program! 

Debt Settlement is not an "easy" way to get out of paying the debts you owe!

Not all Debt Settlement companies are alike or legitimate, so be very careful in deciding!

You cannot just forget about your debts and the program!

A Debt Settlement Program may take a few years to complete.  It is not a "quick fix"!

 

NOT EVERYONE SHOULD ENROLL IN A DEBT SETTLEMENT PROGRAM

I began helping people with debt problems almost 15 years ago, so I understand and appreciate it when someone calls seeking help.

Most of our clients (I'd say 95% or so) needed help after something very traumatic and/or financially devestating happened to them.

It could have been one or a combination of the following:

  • Unemployment, downsizing, or a significant reduction in  income
  • Death of a spouse of partner that cut income dramatically
  • Sickness or disability not only limiting income, but requiring payment for medications and treatment
  • Too little fixed income after retirement
  • Divorce

When a catastrophic event happens, it usually does not give us much, if any, warning. 

You have a mortgage, or rent, car payment, normal bills, a few credit card accounts that you are making all of your required payments on each month with maybe even a little left over.

Then, you lose a large portion of income and all of a sudden, there just isn't enough income to keep up with all of your obligations.

At first, you're concerned, but not too worried as you expect things to turn around in a short period of time.

But after a few months, the small savings you had (if any) is gone and you actually had to do a cash advance in order to meet your obligations.

Your credit cards begin to get maxed out and soon, you just simply cannot keep up.

What can you do?

You really only have a few choices:

In a Debt Management or Credit Counseling Program, usually your interest rates ared reduced, late or over-the-limit fees are stopped (and sometimes forgiven), you have one monthly payment to a company that distributes it to each of your creditors as per the agreement.

The calls and letters stop and usually, you debts are paid off in around 48 months.

THE PROBLEM IS....

The minimum total monthly payment is usually as much or MORE than you are currently unable to meet!

Now what?

If you cannot qualify for the Debt Management Program, then the Debt Settlement Program may be just what you need to avoid the 3rd, and in my opinion, the final option after all other options are examined, Bankruptcy.

Previously, I stated that a Debt Settlement Program IS NOT for everyone.

I believe that if you have taken out debt, then you should, if at all possible, repay the debt per the agreement.

Debt Settlement SHOULD NOT be a "get-out-of-debt-free" card!

By the way, a professional, qualified Debt Settlement Company will take the time to go over you particular situation and outline all of your options so that you can make an informed decision.

Be VERY SUSPECIOUS of any company that tries to "sign you up" very quickly without reviewing all of your options!

Once you are enrolled in a Debt Settlement Program, here is basically what will happen:

Most likely, you have missed or stopped payments to your creditors.  These creditors are going to send letters and will call you seeking payment.

While your account is still with the original creditor (it has not been charged off yet), that creditor has the legal right to call you concerning the debt.

However, they must comply with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act that protects consumers from harassment int he debt collection process.

Once your accounts are 120-180 days late, they most likely will be "charged off" and assigned or sold to a Debt Collector.

A Debt Collection Company will take accounts on consignment or buy debt in order to get some kind of payment from the consumer.

Once that account has been placed with the Debt Collection Company, they will send letters and start to call, and call, and call!

The good news is that now, you can PUT A STOP TO THESE CALLS!

STOP Collection Calls Free Sample Letter

Just use the Free Sample Letter above, follow directions, and the call should stop very soon.  If not, your Debt Settlement Company will help put a stop to them!

The agent who enrolled you into the Debt Settlement Program has gone over your budget to determine an amount that works with your situation that you can contribute to your Settlement Fund each month.

It will be much less than the total monthly amount you were required to pay before!

While this fund is growing, a negotiator from the debt settlement company will contact the debt collector to start negotiating a settlement.

Depending on a number of factors, usually a settlement around 50% of the current balance will be negotiated.

After a written SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT is received, a the payment will be made.

In many cases, the final settlement agreement can be paid out in monthly payments (0% interest) from you settlement account over several months.

Again, it all depends on your particular situation.  Your negotiator will most likely discuss the situation with you.

Once the settlement is completed, the debt collector should contact all 3 major credit reporting bureaus that this account has a $0 balance and has been paid-as-agreed.

Over time, the process of settlement will IMPROVE YOUR CREDIT SCORE as your balances are going down.  But, it will not happen over night!

WHAT IF YOU CANNOT EVEN AFFORD A DEBT SETTLEMENT PROGRAM?

There are times that even after enrolling in a debt settlement program your financial situation worsens and you simply cannot afford to continue.

In that case, BANKRUPTCY may be not only your only options, but your BEST OPTION.

I believe that bankruptcy should be a person's "last resort"

In fact, the bankruptcy laws have changed over time to make it very difficult for someone just to walk away from their financial obligations through bankruptcy!

You should consult an attorney who specializes in Bankruptcy! 

The attorney will meet with you (no charge for the initial meeting) and go over you situation and your options.

FINALLY....

While a Debt Settlement Program is not for everyone, in many cases, it will allow you to:

  • Avoid Garnishments
  • Reduce you monthly outgo
  • Avoid bankruptcy

Need help making your decision? 

Let us help...

free-debt-relief-summary

 

Photo Credit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: debt settlement, debt collectors, debt, stop the collection calls, bankruptcy attorney, garnishment

You've Enrolled in a Debt Settlement Program....Now What?

Now that you've made the decision to enroll in a debt settlement program, what happens next?

 

cutting_up_credit_card.jpg

Once you have looked at all of your options and decided to enroll in a debt settlement program, you cannot just sit back and do nothing. 

Here is what you need to be doing:

Debt Settlement is the best option for those who have accumulated too much debt and cannot keep up with the minimum required payments.

In a nutshell, most (if not all) of your unsecured accounts will ultimately be turned over to a collection agency.  This unusally occurs about 120-180 days from your last payment.

At first, you will get several calls and letters from the debt collector.

These calls can be very frustrating and annoying, so you should take advantage of a law from the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) that says that if you make a written request to the debt collector to stop calling you, they must stop or face very serious fines from the Federal Trade Commission!  Here's how to do that:

STOP Collection Calls Free Sample Letter

If the calls do not stop, then you should contact your state's attorney general's office to file a complaint.  If you live in Oregon (as we do), here is the link:

How to File a Complaint with the Oregon

You will continue to receive letters from the debt collector.

It is VERY IMPORTANT that you send the latest letter (s) to the Debt Settlement Company you have retained to negotiate settlements for you.

The easiest and fastest way to do this is by email or fax.  But, if you cannot email or fax, then you can mail the letters.

When you enrolled in the debt settlement program, you stopped making payments to your creditors (most likely, you had done so already) and began making a payment to a FDIC Insured Settlement Reserve Account through your debt settlement company.

As your fund grows, the negotiator will begin contacting your creditors to work out a reasonable settlement.

Depending on a number of circumstances, your settlement should be somewhere around 50% of the current balance.

If your reserve account has enough funds, the settlement may be paid in a lump sum.

But, if not, a good negotiator can still negotiate a very good settlement and pay it over a period of time (with no additional interest or fees).

Here are a few examples of actual settlements we have negotiated for our clients:

Recent Settlements See what we have  done for our clients!

Once a settlement has been completed, the creditor/debt collector is supposed to report that the account has a $0 balance and was "settled-as-agreed" to the three major Credit Reporting Bureaus.... Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.

Unfortunately, not all debt collection agencies follow through and your credit report may be showing incorrect information.

About 2 months after the settlement is completed, you should request a FREE Credit Report to make sure it is being reported correctly.

Click on this link to request a Free Credit Report:

ANNUAL CREDIT REPORT

Your debt settlement company will provide you with proof of payment and help you open and complete a dispute.

Sometimes, a debt collector may decide to FILE A CLAIM with your county court about your debt.

If this happens, you will receive a SUMMONS.

Please DON'T PANIC!

The summons will state that you have a limited time to APPEAR AND ANSWER the claim against you.

It sounds like you will have to go to court, but this is not so. 

An ANSWER is a legal response to the CLAIM that you can prove that you do not owe the debt.

Most of the time you know you owe the debt and therefore you will not need to do anything.

Again, and this is VERY IMPORTANT, if you receive a summons, contact your debt settlement representative right away!!!!

The debt settlement company will contact the attorney for the debt collector and most likely will still work out a reasonable settlement.

I can't stress enough how important it is NOT TO IGNORE a summons.

After helping people for 15 years, the only time a client has a WAGE GARNISHMENT or BANK LEVY is that they failed to inform us that they had received a SUMMONS!

A quality, professional debt settlement company should welcome and answer any questions or concerns you may have.

You should be able to contact them via phone or email and receive a reply in a short period of time.

 

Here are some things to look for in a Debt Settlement Company

 

As time goes by, one by one, your debt will be settled.  Depending on the total amount of debt you had and how much you could afford to deposit into your settlement reserve account, your program may take anywhere from 36 - 60 months.

Remember....

The goal of debt settlement is to...

  • protect you from wage garnishments or bank levy
  • prevent you from having to resort to bankruptcy
  • help get you out of debt

Yes, getting settlements that substantially reduce the balances is great, but not necessarily the main goal.

FINALLY:

A good communication line between you and your debt settlement representative is critically important to a successful program.

Although it may seem like it is taking a long time, ultimately you will be debt free and your credit scores will begin to improve...but it just doesn't happen over night!

Here is what some of our former clients have said:

 

A FEW TESTIMONIALS

 

If you are just beginning your search for information about debt settlement, we can help. Just click on the button below:

 

free-debt-relief-summary

 

 

Photo Credit

 

 

Tags: wage garnishment, debt settlement, Credit Score, summons, debt collector

What Can You Do to Improve Your Credit Score?

You have several options for improving your credit score. 

Take a few minutes to see what you can do!

It seems like everywhere you turn you see an ad about your credit score. 

Some of don't just offer to get your credit score (for Free or small monthly fee), but also may claim to be able to improve your credit score dramatically in a short period of time.

credit_denied.jpg

Although there are several companies that will provide you with a Free Credit Report, did you know that we all can get a FREE CREDIT REPORT annually?

So, you don't have to go through a third party company or pay for this service if you don't want to.

But let's say that you already have your credit report and not only is your credit score a little lower than you thought it was, you also see some errors on what is being reported.

What can you do to improve your credit score?

Before we get started, you must understand that a credit report is nothing more than a snapshot of you credit history at a particular point in time.

Lenders rely on the information contained in a credit report to determine if and how much money they are willing to loan you.

I wrote an article/blog recently addressing the concept of "Pay for Deletion" on a credit report.  Basically, you offer a creditor or debt collector a sizable settlement to not only settle the account for less than the balance, but also to delete the account from your credit report.

I'm not going to get into that here, but if you'd like more information, click on my blog link above.

There are several factors that go into calculating our credit scores:

Payment History, which accounts for about 35% of your credit score.

The first thing any lender wants to know is whether you've paid past credit accounts on time or are late or just have not made any payments in a long time!  Your payment history is very important!

How much Credit are you paying on now?

Just because you have credit accounts now doesn't necessarily mean that you cannot get more credit.  But, if you have $25,000 of available credit and have used up $20,000 on various credit accounts, you are using 80% of your available credit now and may not be able to get more.

How long have you been using credit?

To a lender, the longer you have been using credit, and more importantly, how you have handled your credit in the past, gives them a pretty good idea of how you are going to handle the credit you are applying for now.

What type of credit are you using?

Your credit score takes into account the various "loans" you have, such as:

  • Mortgage
  • Auto
  • Student
  • Revolving, etc.

New credit, or actually, too much new credit, may hurt you credit score.

Beware of opening and/or applying for too many new credit accounts in a short period of time!

Many people believe that opening several credit accounts (store cards, credit cards, etc.) will help them get better scores.  Actually, this is a negative!

If you have a couple or even a few cards or accounts, don't try to get too many more in short period of time.

OK, so you check out your credit report and are disappointed with the score and see errors as well.

Each of the 3 major credit reporting bureaus allow you to DISPUTE legitimate errors on your credit report. 

Items such as:

  • An account showing a balance that you paid off a long time ago.
  • An account that was in collections that you paid off or settled but there is still a balance showing.
  • An account with a balance that you have not (or been unable to make any payments on) for longer than your state's Statue of Limitations for collection of credit accounts.
  • A judgment that you had paid off or settled.

Although creditors and debt collectors are supposed to report that an account has been paid off, settled or satisfied to the 3 major credit bureaus as well as to the court where the judgment had been recorded, many time they do not follow through!

First, you MUST HAVE PROOF that shows that there is an error and you are requesting that it be corrected.

I know that there are many so-called "debt repair" companies that claim to be able to remove negative information and improve your credit score dramatically.

BE VERY CAREFUL OF THESE TYPES OF CLAIMS!

The Federal Trade Commission has some great information for consumers!  They have an article entitled, "Credit Repair: How to Help Yourself", where it states:

You see the ads in newspapers, on TV, and online. You hear them on the radio. You get fliers in the mail, email messages, and maybe even calls offering credit repair services. They all make the same claims:

“Credit problems? No problem!”

“We can remove bankruptcies, judgments, liens, and bad loans from your credit file forever!”

“We can erase your bad credit — 100% guaranteed.”

“Create a new credit identity — legally.”

Do yourself a favor and save some money, too. Don’t believe these claims: they’re very likely signs of a scam. Indeed, attorneys at the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, say they’ve never seen a legitimate credit repair operation making those claims. The fact is there’s no quick fix for creditworthiness. You can improve your credit report legitimately, but it takes time, a conscious effort, and sticking to a personal debt repayment plan.

I agree 100%!

Once you have copies of canceled checks, a statement from the creditor or debt collector show a $0 balance or that the account has been "settled-as-agreed", then you need to turn them into a .pdf document.

In a minute, you are going to go online to open your dispute. (Yes, you can mail or fax your dispute, but I don't recommend it.)

You want to be able to clearly show where the error is by making a copy of the page with the disputed item circled. 

PLEASE DO NOT SEND YOUR ENTIRE CREDIT REPORT!

The credit bureaus deal with thousands of disputes daily and what you want to provide to the agent who is reviewing your dispute is clear, easy to understand documentation that there is an error and they will correct it right away!

So, BEFORE YOU GO ONLINE TO OPEN YOUR DISPUTE....  you need:

  • Brief, concise explanation of why you are disputing this error.
  • Clear, easy-to-understand proof that the account has been paid as agreed.
  • Or, proof of your last payment showing that the statute of imitations has expired and therefore the item or account should be removed.

Once you have all of this saved as a .pdf document (if you don't know what that is...get some help!), then go online. 

Here are the links to the 3 major credit reporting agencies:

Equifax Dispute

 

TransUnion Dispute

 

Experian Dispute

 

If you have followed these instructions, you should get a letter or see online that the disputed item has been corrected.

If not, then contact them until it is!!!!

Good luck!

free-debt-relief-summary

 

Photo Credit

 

 

Tags: debt settlement, Credit Score, credit repair, credit report, debt collector, credit cards

Oregon Wage Garnishment...Now What?

If you live in Oregon and receive a notice that your wages are going to be garnished, here's what you need to do:

We get calls almost every day from someone who has just received a notice from their employer that they are going to have their check garnished.

Most of those callers seem surprised by the garnishment, and yet, they should have know it might happen!

22853064975_8c547f714f_m.jpg

First of all, a wage garnishment cannot "just happen".

Carrying too much debt (specifically, unsecured debt) plagues 7 out of 10 people.

Most of our clients called us because they had experienced a devastating experience in their lives which caused them to turn to the easy access of credit cards for help.

See if this sounds familiar:

You lost your job.  But, you weren't too worried, because you were pretty sure you'd find another one within a couple of months or so.

Well, it just didn't happen.  

So, you burned through what ever little bit of emergency savings you had and now, you had to start using your credit card for things like:

  • Gasoline
  • Groceries
  • And/or for that major appliance repair!

Soon, your were at the limit on your card and had to start using a second card.

You knew you shouldn't, but what else could you do?

As the months went by, and you still could not find a job that at least would pay you as much as your old job, the bills started adding up and up and up!

It wasn't long before you just couldn't keep up with the minimum payments on your credit cards and missed a payment here and there.

Soon, the creditors started sending "nasty" letters threatening this or that.

And if the letters weren't bad enough, the CALLS STARTED! Lots of calls!

Sure, you tried to explain your situation to the agent calling, but they didn't seem to care.  So, you stopped answering the calls. 

BY-THE-WAY...

As long as your account is with the original creditor, you cannot stop the calls.  You agreed to this somewhere in the fine print when you applied for the credit card.

But, after a month or so, the calls stopped and the letters seem to slow down as well.

You were hoping that maybe they would forget about you so you would have more time to find a good job and get caught up.

The good news...

You finally were hired and the salary was even just a little more than before!

The bad news...

 

Your account was charged off by your original creditor and assigned or sold to a DEBT COLLECTION COMPANY.

Now you began to get letters and calls from the debt collector, and you soon realized that they were a less sympathetic than the original agent was!Much less!

So, you stopped answering the phone.  

Even though they left a message, you didn't return it because you knew that it wouldn't do any good.

BY-THE-WAY... 

Now you can put a stop to the collection calls!  Here's how:

STOP Collection Calls Free Sample Letter

Well, the calls did stop, but the letters kept coming.

Some of the letters had a SETTLEMENT OFFER, and although it was an offer to reduce the amount you owed, you were still digging your way out of the financial hole you were in and just couldn't afford to pay 50%-75% of the balance in a lump sum within 30 days!  

COME ON.....REALLY?

A few more months went by and then one evening, the door bell rings and there's a guy with a registered letter for you.

You sign for it...open it up...and guess what????

YOUR HAVE JUST RECEIVED A SUMMONS!

You start to read the first page and it sounds like you are going to have to go to court to give an "answer" about your debt!

The truth is, that you don't have to go to court (at least not yet).  

The ANSWER is a legally prepared explanation with the proper PROOF that you do not owe this debt that the summons says you owe!

But, since you know you owe the debt, you don't do anything.

Again, THE GOOD NEWS....

You don't hear anything for a couple of more months.

But, THE BAD NEWS...

Since you didn't do anything about the summons, the PLAINTIFF (that's the debt collector and/or original creditor) was awarded a JUDGMENT against you for the full balance at the time of default...plus interest...plus fees... and court costs!

This is also called a DEFAULT JUDGMENT as it was awarded without defense, by default by you, the DEFENDANT.

Up to this point, the creditor/debt collector COULD NOT apply for a garnishment.  

Many people mistakenly think that if they just get behind on their bills that a creditor or debt collector can just "take their money or property".

No, they have to go through the whole legal process first.

But now, AND ONLY NOW, with the DEFAULT JUDGMENT, the Plaintiff can apply for a Writ of Garnishment.

And, now you get a notice from your employer that they received a WRIT OF GARNISHMENT on you.

This means that they have no option but to withhold 25% (the usual amount in most states) from each of your paychecks until the full amount is repaid. 

And oh, by-the-way, each state allows additional interest to be added!  

  • Here in Oregon, it is 9% annually.  
  • In Washington, it's 12%!

Now let's stop for a minute and do some math.

  • Let's say you earned $5,000/month from you new job, and you receive approximately $2,500 every two weeks. 
  • After City, State and Federal taxes are deducted, your net/take-home pay is $1,750 every two weeks.
  • Take $1,750 less 25% for the wage garnishment, and now your take-home pay is only $1,225!  
  • It was tough paying all the bills on $1,750 every two weeks, but now, you are going to have $525 less or a total of $1,050 less each month!
  • $525 is mailed to the Plaintiff, and will be until the full balance from the judgment is satisfied!

How in the world are going to make it now!

You only have a couple of options:

  • DEBT SETTLEMENT
  • BANKRUPTCY

I'm not going to get into all of the details of the two options above in this blog, but if you'd like more information, click below:

OPTIONS FOR STOPPING A WAGE GARNISHMENT

Let me wrap this up...

The time to put a stop to a garnishment, in Oregon or any state, is BEFORE the creditor/debt collector FILES A CLAIM to start the SUMMONS/JUDGMENT process.

Most of the time, a debt collector would much rather accept a SETTLEMENT instead of going through all the time and expense of seeking a judgment.

Even if you have a JUDGMENT AGAINST YOU, there is still an opportunity to STOP THE LEGAL PROCESS.

You should be able to get a STIPULATED AGREEMENT in place that would stop the creditor/debt collector from moving forward with legal action.

If all of this sounds good, but you need some help or advice, let us know.

free-debt-relief-summary

 

Photo Credit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: wage garnishment, Bankruptcy, debt collectors, default judgment, Oregon