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:

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(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

 

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

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!

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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.

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

I've Been Garnished...What Can I Do?

Wage garnishment or a bank levy is a terrible situation to be in.  If you've been garnished, here are some things you can do to stop the garnishment:

We get calls each week from someone (we are in the Portland, Oregon area) that has been garnished or has been notified by their payroll office that they are going to be garnished.

As if things were not bad enough all ready, WHAT CAN YOU DO NOW?

 

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Just to lay some groundwork...

A WAGE GARNISHMENT can only occur AFTER A JUDGMENT has been awarded to the plaintiff.

A lot of people are mistaken in thinking that just because one of your credit accounts has been charged off and assigned or sold to a collection agency, that they can come after your property.

THAT IS JUST NOT TRUE!

FIRST....

When you get behind on paying your credit accounts on time, there is a sequence of events or a time line that must take place.

You will get calls and/or letters from the original creditor trying to find out what's going on.  By-the-way, as long as your account is still with the original creditor, you can't do anything to stop them from calling.

But, once that account is charged off and transferred or sold to a debt collector, you can.  I show you how later.

NEXT...

Once the account is placed with a debt collector, you will start getting calls and/or letters from them.

If you have some funds and/or a little money left over to make a reasonable monthly payment, you may want to discuss this with the debt collector rather than just ignoring the calls.

You may be able to work out a SETTLEMENT, which is a reduction of the balance.

This settlement may have to be in a LUMP SUM or possibly in SEVERAL PAYMENTS.

To get an idea of what a SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT  looks like, click on the button:

Recent Settlements See what we have  done for our clients!

But, if you do not have any additional funds and are sick and tired of the relentless calls, you can put a stop to it now:

STOP Collection Calls Free Sample Letter

If you cannot afford anything to put towards the debt you owe, and you are not taking their calls or responding to their letters, the debt collector may decide to FILE A CLAIM.

An attorney is retained to file the claim in your county's courthouse.

Once the claim is filed, you will receive a SUMMONS.  Although this can be a frightening experience, DON'T PANIC!

The summons will state that you the claim against you (you are the defendant) by the creditor or debt collector (this is the PLAINTIFF).

It will also state that if you want to contest the claim, ( called give an ANSWER), you must do so within a short time period (usually 20-30 days after receiving the summons).

If you can prove that you do not owe the debt, then you should give an answer to the court within the time specified. 

This costs a hundred dollars or more and must be in the correct legal documentation, so you may need an attorney also

RECAP.....

  • You could not keep up with the payments due on some or all of your accounts. This may be due to a number of circumstances, but here you are.
  • You can not work out a reasonable repayment plan or settlement with the original creditor, so you account is assigned or sold to a debt collector.
  • You cannot afford a settlement with the debt collector and the debt collector files a claim and you receive a summons.

NOW WHAT??????

Most of the time the plaintiff will be awarded a DEFAULT JUDGMENT by the court.

Once the JUDGMENT has been entered, the plaintiff has the option of seeking a WRIT OF GARNISHMENT to get back what is now owed.

Additional interest, fees and court costs have now been awarded to the plaintiff as well!

If you are employed and receive a check (W-2 wages), then the writ of garnishment is presented to your employer and/or payroll department.

You may be notified, but you may just be shocked to see that your payroll check has been reduced by 25%!

(I'll give you some advice on what you may be able to do about this in a minute.)

If you receive income from commission or what is reported for tax purposes as 1099 INCOME, then the plaintiff may seek to get a bank levy on ONE OR ALL OF YOUR BANK ACCOUNTS!

This can really be DEVASTATING!

We have had people call us after their bank account(s) were depleted and they could not by groceries, pay rent, etc.!

The laws of your state (I am in Oregon and most of my clients reside here) will allow numerous EXEMPTIONS to wage garnishment and/or a bank levy.

Here are some of the "basic" exemptions (I give you a link to a more detailed list below):

  • Exempt wages....If you earn less than $1,000 a month, most likely this is exempt.
  • All Social Security Income
  • Retirement Income (very important information below)
  • VA benefits
  • Any Public Assistance (welfare)
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Disability benefits
  • Worker's compensation benefits
  • Spousal or child support or any other support you receive for you or your dependents.
  • Many "property" exemptions.

 

If you live in Oregon, you can get detailed information here:

Basic Exemptions from Wage Garnishments or Bank Levies

If you are retired and receive income from your 401(K), IRA, Pension, etc. as well as Social Security, those incomes are exempt from garnishment or levy, BUT BE AWARE!!!!!

Most people who are retired have their Social Security checks and any other retirement Income checks automatically deposited in their bank.

In May of 2011, a law was passed that protected Social Security and Retirement Funds from creditors, via garnishment/levy.

HOWEVER.... (THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT!)

As long as your Social Security and/or "Retirement" income is deposited in a bank account that has NO OTHER FUNDS CO-MINGLED, then your bank will not "FREEZE" your account if they receive a writ of levy.

For example:

Let's say you are retired, receiving a modest Social Security check and a small Retirement check. Together, they are automatically deposited in you bank account.

The problem is that you just don't have enough money each month, so you take a part-time job earning $500 or so extra each month.

You deposited that extra $500 together with the other Retirement funds and not that account has CO-MINGLED FUNDS and if a writ of levy were presented to the bank, the banker would have no recourse but to freeze the account (you cannot withdraw ANY FUNDS) and would have to send the amount of the levy to the creditor!

Or.....

Let's say you took some of your retirement funds that are automatically deposited in you checking account and transferred them to a savings account.  Those funds in the savings account are now SUBJECT TO LEVY!

 

LESSON HERE....

If you are retired, and receive a summons and/or judgment, you need to sit down with your banker and make sure that you funds are protected from any future/possible levy.

 

FINALLY....

If you have been garnished, it may not be too late to put a stop to the garnishment.

Contact the attorney for the creditor/plaintiff to see if they would be willing to accept a reasonable repayment plan rather than continuing with the garnishment.

For most people, losing another 25% of their income when things were financially tough anyway, would cause them to seek BANKRUPTCY protection.

So, the creditor/plaintiff might be open to another option rather than wage garnishment.

We have been able to help many people, just like you to stop a garnishment, but time is critical.

If you would like help or advice, just let us know:

 

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Tags: wage garnishment, debt settlement, Bankruptcy, stop creditor calls, debt collector, bank levy, debts

Too Much Debt?  Here Are Some Options:

If you are experiencing the stress that comes from having too much debt, take heart!  You have several options:

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There are basically two types of debt:

Secured debt (home mortgage, equity line of credit, automobile, etc.), anything that represents collateral to the lender in the event you default on your loan.

Unsecured debt, such as:

  • Credit Cards (Visa, Master Charge, etc.)
  • Store Credit Cards (Home Depot, Kohl's, etc.)
  • Medical bills (not covered by insurance)
  • Private loans (bank, payday, personal)
  • Private Student Loans not back by the Federal Government
  • Old Apartment/Rental debt
  • Deficiency balance still due after a repossession
  • And, of course, there are many others

In this article, I'm basically addressing UNSECURED DEBT, although, is certain circumstances,  some of the options can apply to Secured Debt as well.

If you are experiencing a severe financial situation, most likely it was caused by something beyond your control, such as:

  • Loss of employment
  • Death of spouse, family member, or partner
  • Illness or disability
  • Divorce
  • Insufficient income after retirement!

See if this sounds familiar...

The company you have worked for decides (or has no choice) but to downsize and layoff (I guess this is a "politically correct" word for GETTING FIRED).

You are one of the unlucky ones and find yourself (for the first time in years), facing the prospect of looking for a new job.

Sure, you will receive UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS for a time, but at some point, they will stop.

You had used some credit cards in the past, but the balances were relatively low and you were not only making the minimum payments, but also paying a little more to pay them off sooner than later.

As the job search continues, your unemployment benefits stop and you start dipping into whatever small savings you had. But soon, your starting to understand that you are in trouble!

You have a couple of job offers, but they are not going to pay you as much as you were getting before.

So, you really have no choice and decide to accept a lower paying job just to have some kind of income!  All the while, you are going to keep looking for a better paying job.

But, not only do you not find a better paying job, you have to start using some other credit cards to make up the difference just to get by!

Soon, your credit cards are starting to get "MAXED OUT", and you find yourself unable to keep up with the MINIMUM REQUIRED PAYMENTS! 

NOW WHAT????

When you start missing payments, the creditors will most likely send you a letter or perhaps call to see what is going on. 

Sometimes they seem almost understanding and willing to work with you, but often, they are very mean and demeaning to you!

After a couple of months of missing your minimum payments, you will start getting calls....LOTS OF CALLS, from your creditor.

Unfortunately, as long as the account is with the original creditor, you cannot do anything about the calls.

My advice is to answer once and try to explain that you are going through a rough time and fully intend to repay this debt.  After that, I would just ignore the calls as most of the agents calling are not going to be sympathetic to you anyway.

After 3-4 months of non-payment on your account, most likely the creditor will assign or sell your account to a DEBT COLLECTOR. 

 

At this point, here are you basic options:

 

At first, the debt collector may not offer anything else but FULL REPAYMENT (plus all the interest and fees added) on your account.

Of course, you can't do that (if you could have, you wouldn't have been in this situation)!!!!

The Debt Collector may start calling daily and even several times a day, but know you can put a stop to the calls!

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act allows a consumer to put a stop to these annoying calls by simply writing a letter telling them to "cease and desist". 

Just click on the button below for a free, sample letter you can use:

STOP Collection Calls Free Sample Letter

But, just because the calls have stopped doesn't mean the debt is going to "go away"!

 

At some point, you may get letter offering a SETTLEMENT of your account for less than the balance.

Most of the time, these letters offer a savings of 25% -35% off the balance if you can pay that amount in a LUMP SUM within a short period of time!

If you can't take advantage of the "offer", then you may get a letter stating that your account is set to be turned over to their "LEGAL DEPARTMENT".  That sounds scary!

The last thing a Debt Collector wants to do is to have to resort to LEGAL OPTIONS  in order to get you to pay on this debt.

Although the letter stated that they could only offer a moderate reduction if you could make a lump sum payment, in fact, they most likely will be willing to accept a better reduction and even let you pay it out over several months!  Here are a few examples:

Recent Settlements See what we have  done for our clients!

If the debt collector is unwilling to budge and/or accept a reasonable settlement with terms you can afford, then they may decide to go ahead and file a claim in order to get a judgment.

With a judgment, then they can apply for a WRIT OF GARNISHMENT, which would be sent to your employer.  Your employer would have no choice (although there are exceptions), but to obey the writ of garnishment and send them 25% of your net, take-home income!

Since that would be financially devastating, and you may would not be able to pay the mortgage or rent, utilities, buy groceries, etc.,  you may be forced to seek BANKRUPTCY PROTECTION!

In my opinion, bankruptcy should be your very last...there's nothing else you can do...option.

However, bankruptcy is not as bad or harmful as you may think!

Although your options of dealing with too much debt are limited, you owe it to yourself to get some advice and see what you can or cannot do, given your circumstances.

 

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Tags: debt collection, wage garnishment, debt settlement, Bankruptcy, debt, stop creditor calls

Garnishment! Why it Happened and How to Stop!

If you've been slapped with a WAGE GARNISHMENT, you need to know WHY it happened and HOW to put a STOP to it!

A wage garnishment or bank levy/garnishment doesn't just "happen"!  

 

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Before a "writ of garnishment" can be granted to a creditor or debt collector, several things have happened:

When you sign up for a credit card, bank card, or any unsecured account (including medical bills), you have entered into a legal contract with the basic agreement that you will repay the loan at the terms and time frame outlined in the agreement.

If you don't, the original creditor has the right to:

  • Call you
  • Write you, or...
  • Hire a Debt Collector, or...
  • Retain an attorney to file a claim...bring a lawsuit!
  • Go to court to win a judgment against you
  • Apply for a Writ of Garnishment 

Let's walk through the process leading up to a WAGE GARNISHMENT, and I'll show you how to:

  1. Prevent a judgment
  2. Prevent a garnishment
  3. Stop a garnishment 

I've been helping people deal with credit and debt problems for many years and it still always is a mystery to me when someone calls for help and says,"I had no idea this was going on"!

Well, I suppose that is possible, but most likely, here is what happened:

1.  Something happened in your life that caused you to be unable to keep up with the required payments.  It could have been one or more of these:

  • Loss of employment
  • Divorce or other family problem
  • Death of a spouse or loved one
  • Long illness or disability
  • Barely enough income after retirement

When you are late or unable to pay the minimum payment due, you probably already know, but...

2.  Creditors start calling and writing, trying to find out what is going on.

Unfortunately, the original creditor has the right (remember that agreement with all the FINE PRINT?) to call or contact you by mail, so at this point, you cannot legally stop them.

3.  If the original creditor cannot contact you or you do not talk with them or return their request for a call, then they may place the account with a DEBT COLLECTOR.

The debt collector will start calling, and calling, and calling....very annoying!

But now you have the right to PUT A STOP TO THESE CALLS FROM DEBT COLLECTORS!

STOP Collection Calls Free Sample Letter

When your account has been placed with a debt collector, you may have the opportunity to SETTLE THE ACCOUNT BALANCE FOR LESS!

This is called DEBT SETTLEMENT and depending on your circumstances, this can be a very effective method for not only reducing the balance due, but also stop the potential legal process that may begin.

Although dealing with a debt collector can be a very intimidating and frustrating experience, if you feel up to it, you may want to call and see what they are willing to do for you,

If you are uncomfortable doing this, you can get help:

 

4.  If the debt collector cannot get you to set up payments to repay or are not willing to accept a REASONABLE SETTLEMENT, then they may decide to FILE A CLAIM.

Once the Claim is filed, a SUMMONS will be issued.  It usually is delivered in person, but may be sent by registered mail.

As I said earlier, although people will say that they never received a summons, in most cases...

  • They had received it, but just ignored it!
  • Someone in the household signed for it.
  • Someone in the household signed for it if delivered by registered mail.

But even if you really never received or saw the summons, at this point, it may too expensive to fight!  Yes, you could, but most likely you won't.

SO, NOW WHAT????

5.  The summons had stated that you had 20 -30 days to give an "ANSWER".

A legal ANSWER is you legal response to the claim/summons that you do not owe the debt and CAN PROVE IT!

Most people know that they owe the debt and so spending the money to give the ANSWER ( yes, it costs money to FILE AN ANSWER!!!)is a waste of time and money.

6.  Even if you do not file an ANSWER, you can still stop the process by negotiating a STIPULATED AGREEMENT.

Depending on your financial circumstances, the plaintiff (creditor) may agree to a repayment plan rather move forward for a garnishment.

The reasoning is that if you are slapped with a garnishment it may force you to seek bankruptcy protection.  If that happens, they may get little to nothing!

 

7.  But, if the previous procedures fail to prevent the garnishment or you receive noticed from you employer that you will be garnished, you still have options:

  • Call the attorney for the plaintiff and attempt to negotiate a repayment plan in lieu of the garnishment.
  • Seek bankruptcy protection.

Even if you receive the notice of garnishment from your employer, you still may be able to contact the attorney for the plaintiff/creditor and work out a repayment plan.

You will need to be able to show hardship and offer a reasonable payment plan.

But if the plaintiff/creditor refuses, then you may be forced to seek BANKRUPTCY PROTECTION.

Bankruptcy is a drastic option, but is not as bad as you think it is.  

Check with a bankruptcy attorney to get understand your options.

 

Now you know "WHY" the "HOW TO STOP" a garnishment.

But, taking action is still too much for most people.......

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Tags: Bankruptcy, debt, summons, stipulated agreement, debt settlement help, garnishment

Should You Be Afraid of Debt Collectors?

A recent newspaper article in Portland, OR from The Oregonian stated that as many as 33% of all consumers will be dealing with debt collectors!

Although dealing with a debt collector can be frustrating and annoying, there is really no reason to ever fear a debt collector.

Believe me, I certainly understand why most people who find themselves in a financial situation that has caused some or all of their accounts to be turned over to a debt collector are nervous.  The thought that you might lose your home, possessions and/or bank accounts would cause any sane person to be afraid.

fear of debt collectors


Well, the good news is that in most cases, that FEAR is not necessary!

In this blog, I am talking about dealing with unsecured debts (credit cards, store cards, medical bills, etc.) and not secured debts such as a home mortgage or auto loan.

So, here are a few things to remember and tips on how to deal with debt collectors:

It rarely does much good to talk with a debt collector on the phone.

Once your account is 60-90 days past due, you can expect a call from either the RECOVERY DEPARTMENT of the creditor or from a DEBT COLLECTION COMPANY.

While your account is still with the original creditor, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or FDCPA laws that allow you to put a stop to collection calls do not apply...yet!

Most of the time, when the original creditor's agent calls, they are just trying to find out what your situation is and may offer a plan to help you get back on track.

BE VERY CAREFUL!!!  They may offer what is called a "HARDSHIP PLAN", whereby you agree to allow them to deduct a certain amount of money (usually less than the total amount your last statement DEMANDED) from your checking account for say, 6 months. 

At the end of the 6 months, they promise to "REVIEW" your case and get you started making regular payments again.  But usually, after you have paid the agreed upon amount for 6 months, your have barely made a dent in reducing your balance and are right back to where you started!

If you take the call from the original creditor, be very calm and simply say something like:

"I realize I've fallen behind on my bill and fully intend to get caught up soon. But, at this time, there is nothing I can do, so please stop calling me."

Yes, I know I just said that they have the legal right (at this point) to call, but they may honor your request and leave you alone for a month or so.


If the recovery department of the original creditor is unsuccessful in getting your to start making payments, the account most likely will be charged off and sold or transferred to a debt collector after about 120 days.

You most likely will get a letter from the debt collector and no doubt will start getting phone calls!

A Debt Collector's job is to get you to pay...period!  Although there are plenty of "decent" debt collectors who actually may show some empathy for you, there are many that are just the opposite.

These debt collectors will use all kinds of tactics to get you to pay up!  Although most debt collectors follow the laws and/or guidelines of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, there are always a few "bad apples".

Don't get into a dialog with a debt collector!

While I think it's OK to have one short conversation with the original creditor, it's usually a whole different story now that your account has been turned over to a debt collector!

If they have sent you a letter demanding payment, etc., get the address of the debt collector and write them a letter demanding that they cease calling you at home.

Here is a sample letter you can use:

STOP Collection Calls Free Sample Letter

If the calls don't stop (it will take a week or so) then you can file a complaint with your state's attorney general's office.

Usually, the debt collector will stop calling as they can be fined very severely!

NOW WHAT?

After a reasonable period of time (varies with each debt collector), if the debt collector is unsuccessful in getting you to start paying , the original creditor may:

  • Recall the account and turn it over to another debt collector and the process will start again.  Yes, you will have to send another letter to the new debt collector to stop the calls!
  • Turn the account over to a Law Firm that only practices debt collection.

 

If your account is placed with a Law Firm that practices debt collection, you will get the same letters and calls, but now, you need to be careful.

If the Law Firm decides to FILE A CLAIM for the debt you owe on behalf of the original creditor or the debt collector, you will get a SUMMONS.

I've written several blog articles over the years on what to do if you receive a summons, but in short:

  • DON'T IGNORE THE SUMMONS
  • DON'T PANIC!

Most people think that a debt collector and/or debt collection law firm can just garnish your income, levy your bank account and/or put a levy on your home or other property.

While it's true that they can AFTER they are awarded a judgment, they cannot do anything until then.  That's why it is so important to take action if you receive a summons!

In most cases, you can prevent the CLAIM from moving on to a JUDGMENT by contacting the attorney's office and working something out.

Most "judgments" are awarded to the creditor/debt collector/plaintiff because the debtor didn't take any pro-active steps.

If you are employed and receive regular W-2 income, then you can't let

If you...

  • Are retired, with only Social Security and/or Retirement Income, or
  • Disabled and receiving Disability Income only, or
  • Are unemployed and receiving unemployment income, or
  • Receive child support or alimony payments, then...

These sources of income are exempt from garnishment. Notice, I didn't say exempt from state or federal taxes you may owe, but from garnishment for unsecured debts.

The best way to put an end with dealing with debt collectors is to NEGOTIATE A SETTLEMENT of your account. That is, if you have some funds available to make an offer of 40%-60% of the balance. 

If not, you can still usually negotiate a settlement by agreeing to make monthly payments rather than a lump sum payment, but you may have to pay a little larger settlement.

Click here for some very useful information on how to negotiate a settlement:

FREE EBook Debt Settlement  Basics

One final thought...

If your financial circumstances are such that you have no ability to offer a settlement, either in a lump sum or payments, then you may need to consult a bankruptcy attorney.

Bankruptcy is a way to help those who qualify to put and end to debt collectors and get a fresh start.

If all of this sounds a little overwhelming, we can help:



 


 

Photo credit: 

Kevin B 3

milwaukeemakerspace.org/2012/12/fear/

Tags: debt collection, fair debt collection practices act, credit card debt, debt settlement, Bankruptcy, debt, credit cards, Oregon, PORTLAND

When is Debt Settlement Your Best Option?

Too much credit card and other unsecured debt?  Not able to keep up with the payments?  You may be a prospect for Debt Settlement.

But, before you decide, consider the following:credit cards cut up

Debt Settlement is a very effective program to help people settle unsecured debts for less than the total balance due.

  • The unsecured debts I'm talking about are:
  • Credit Cards
  • Store Cards
  • Home Shopping Club accounts or cards
  • Personal Loans
  • Repossession Deficiency Judgments
  • Medical Bills
  • Personal Student Loans (although there are programs to help on Federal Student Loans as well)

When faced with too much debt and not enough income or cash flow to keep up with at least the minimum payments due, there are only a few options to keep the debt collectors at bay:

A Debt Management Program

A Debt Management Program used to be called a "Credit Counseling Program" and sometimes it is still called by that name.  In a Debt Management or Credit Counseling Program, a person signs up with a "non-profit" (only for taxable reasons, YES, you will be paying fees!), and they will have set up a program with each of your creditors.

Usually, the interest rates are reduced or sometimes eliminated, late fees and over-the-limit fees are usually forgiven after you have made a few payments, and your account is now classified as being paid as agreed or on time.

However, the problem with a Debt Management or Credit Counseling Program is that there is very little forgiveness if you miss or are late on a payment!  I've seen people who had been consistent for many months, and then, due to an emergency, just couldn't come up with the total due that month.  The Debt Management Program was canceled or voided and they were back to square one!

Also, in a Debt Management or Credit Counseling Program, the total monthly payment may be more that the total minimum monthly payment you are required to make now!  And, the company is charging you a monthly service fee as well!

So, if you go through the process of trying to enroll in a Debt Management Program and find out you cannot qualify, what now?

A Debt Acceleration Program

A Debt Acceleration Program (sometimes referred to as a Debt Snowball Plan) is perfect for someone who is making the minimum monthly payments on each of their debts and yet, due to high interest rates and annual fees, realize that at this rate, it will take 15-20 years to pay off those debts!

A person who should look into a Debt Acceleration Program also could add another $100 - $200 each month to help reduce or accelerate paying off these debts.

Most people in a Debt Acceleration Program are DEBT FREE in 48-60 months, saving thousands of dollars in interest and fees!

I prefer the Debt Acceleration Program to a Debt Management or Credit Counseling Program because as far as your credit report is concerned, you were a very consistent debtor and not only paid all of your payments on time, but actually did so sooner than required!

 

 

OK, but what if you are one of so many people that due to:

  • Job loss
  • Divorce
  • Disability
  • Death of loved one
  • Major Financial Emergency

...just cannot meet the total minimum payments due on your unsecured accounts and cannot qualify for a Debt Management or Debt Acceleration Program?

Then, you should consider a:

Debt Settlement Program

Debt Settlement is designed for people who have a severe financial hardship, have tried to keep up with all of the bills, but some or all of their credit card accounts and other unsecured debts have been turned over to debt collectors.

These debt collectors are calling all day and even harassing you at work. But, before I explain how a Debt Settlement Program works and could help you, here's how to put a stop to those collection calls:

STOP Collection Calls Free Sample Letter

In a Debt Settlement Program, you will go through a thorough financial overview to determine several things, such as:

  • Type of employment (self or W-2)
  • Basic Monthly Budget
  • Retirement status
  • Type of income you are receiving (disability, social security, unemployment, etc.)
  • Assets (mainly do you have equity in your home)
  • Are you renting?

Once you know where you stand, you will have an amount (that you can afford) deposited into your Debt Settlement Reserve Account (FDIC insured bank) monthly.

The Debt Settlement company will be contacting your creditors and/or debt collectors to arrange settlements.  As you reserve account grows, each of your accounts should be settled for much less than the total balance due.

Recent Settlements See what we have  done for our clients!

But finally, what if you just are barely making ends meet on your basic bills and have little or nothing left over to put towards a Debt Settlement Program?

Then, you should consider:

A Bankruptcy Program

There are basically two types of Bankruptcy Programs for individuals:

  • Chapter 7
  • Chapter 13

The Chapter 7 is not used as much these days as it is basically designed for someone to liquidate any assets they have (obviously, not very much) and that small amount is paid to each creditor, and the balances of your debts are "forgiven".

In a Chapter 13, a bankruptcy attorney will present a type of repayment plan to the bankrutpcy court based on your financial status.  Usually, a person will be making a monthly payment of $200-$400  (or whatever your bankruptcy attorney comes up with) for about 3-5 years.  Each of your creditors receives a small portion of the balance due.

At the end of the Chapter 13, the balances of your debts are forgiven.

Oh, by-the-way, if you receive a 1099-C, in most case, you should not be liable for any additional taxes due on the amounts forgiven.

Debt Settlement is a great program for the right person.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 Photo Credit:  Daniel Oines

Tags: credit card debt, debt settlement, Credit Score, Bankruptcy, credit report, debt relief in Portland Oregon, chapter 7 bankruptcy, chapter 13 bankrutpcy, credit card debt relief oregon, credit cards, credit card debt help

When It Comes to Debt Settlement, One Size Does NOT Fit All!


A recent article in our Portland, OR newspaper, The Oregonian, stated that one in every three people in America are facing debt collection.  If you are one of the 33%, what are your options?

shop now pay laterSadly, when faced with the annoying and often harassing tactics used by many debt collectors, people are often given only one choice...debt settlement.

But, after over 11 years helping people deal with having too much debt, I want you to know that although debt settlement is often a very viable choice, and often the only choice to prevent bankruptcy, it is not the only choice. In other words, ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL!

 

Unfortunately, many debt settlement companies ONLY offer and therefor ONLY recommend debt settlement as the solution to dealing with a severe debt load.

Let's briefly look at the various options:

There are so many different possible scenarios or various financial circumstances that people are facing that a quality, experienced company that assists people with debt will do a thorough analysis to determine the proper program.  It is much like a doctor who should do a thorough exam before prescribing a drug or procedure!

The first step is to determine what kind of "DEBT" you are dealing with.

For example, SECURED DEBT, such as a mortgage, auto loan, or any other loan that is secured by property (usually the property itself), must be dealt with differently than UNSECURED DEBT.

Some of the more common forms of UNSECURED DEBTS are:

  • Credit Cards
  • Store credit cards
  • Personal or Signature bank loan
  • Medical bills
  • Private (not Federal) Student Loan
  • On Line shopping sites such as QVC, EBay, and others that offer credit

Once we have identified what type of debts you are facing (and there are usually a combination), then we need to determine where you are FINANCIALLY.  In other words, after you pay all of your basic bills to live...mortgage or rent (all secured debts), as well as... food, utilities, gas, medicine, insurance, etc., is there any money at the end of the month to pay towards those debts?

The easiest way to determine where you stand is to complete a simple, Household Budget Worksheet.  

Budget Worksheet FREE Download here!

Once you've detemined where you stand, then we can look at the various options.

A DEBT MANAGEMENT PROGRAM (often referred to as Credit Counseling), has been used by people with debt problems for years.

This program is designed for someone who is currently making all of the minimum payments required on their unsecured debts, but because of the HIGH INTEREST RATES (APR) and ANNUAL FEES and OTHER FEES (late fees, over-the-limit fees, etc.), realize that they are not making any progress to actually paying off these debts.

For example...

Did you realize that if you have a credit card with a balance of say, $5,000 and an annual percentage rate (APR) of 19%, it may take you 15-20 years or more to pay the card off by making the monthly minimum monthly payment required.

For more information:  DEBT CONTROL: 4 PROGRAMS THAT WORK!


If you are barely making all necessary payments (secured) as well as your monthly minimum payments, but there is nothing left over, then a Debt Management Program may be best for you.

But, if you actually have (or can make some living adjustments to find) and extra $100-$200 per month to put towards your debts, then you should consider:

A DEBT ACCELERATOR PROGRAM

Originally called by various names such as a "Snowball Plan" or a "Roll Up Plan", in a DEBT ACCELERATOR PROGRAM, you are going to pay off your debt in an average of 4-5 years without enrolling in a Debt Management Program (which may or may not harm your credit score).

Basically, in a Debt Accelerator Program, you will be making the normal minimum payments each month as before, but you are going to increase one of your debts by say $150/month.

There are several theories about whether you should accelerate the highest balance or interest rate first, but I don't want to get into that here.

I recommend that you start with the lowest balance first, make the minimum due plus the additional $150, and pay that one off quickly...you'll be amazed!

And, not only amazed, but excited to go to the next debt!

Now, you take the former minimum payment (say it was $50) and after adding the $150, were making $200 per month instead of just the $50 and you add that $200 to the next card or debt's minimum due.  Let's say the next one is $75.

Now you are making a total of $275 towards the next card ($50 + $150 + $75 = $275).

Get the idea?  Soon, you keep "Accelerating" each debt and you will be DEBT FREE in a much shorter time and save thousand of dollars in interest and fees!

SOUND GOOD, BUT...

What if not only do you not have any extra money to put toward a Debt Accelerator Program, you can't even make the minimum monthly payments your unsecured debt require now?

THIS IS WHERE A DEBT SETTLEMENT PROGRAM MAY COME TO YOUR RESCUE!

Rather than opt for bankruptcy, millions of people have used a Debt Settlement Program to pay off all of their unsecured debts and avoid bankruptcy.

Debt Settlement is a program designed for those who are really in trouble, fincially.  Usually, most or all of their debt have gone to debt collectors who are are calling severaly times a day and sending threatening letters!

STOP Collection Calls Free Sample Letter

You will be making a monthly contribution to a bank insured (FDIC) account to hold those funds until there is a reasonable amount built up to make a SETTLEMENT OFFER.

Again, depending on several factors, most settlement offers are going to be around 50% of the balance.  Some are for more, other less.

Recent Settlements See what we have  done for our clients!

People often ask if a Debt Settlement Program hurts their credit score.  But, they are not thinking the process through.  If you're accounts have gone to debt collectors or judgments, your credit score has all ready suffered!

Once you get all of your debts settled...ie., you have $0 balances, your credit scores will improve!

OK, but what if you can't even afford to make a contribution to a Debt Settlement Program?

Then, it is time for you to seek BANKRUPTCY PROTECTION from your creditors!

Again, unfortunately, their are many Debt Settlement Companies that only offer one solution to everyone's debt problem.  But, as you can see, ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL, when it comes to dealing with debt.

Seek the counsel and advice of a qualified Bankruptcy Attorney.  You should be able to have a FREE Consultation and hear about your options.  In fact, good bankruptcy attorneys will work with you as far as their fees go. If not, seek out another bankruptcy attorney!

I hope I have made my point that when it comes to DEBT SETTLEMENT, one size does not fit all!

 

Photo by: DRNW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Tags: debt collection harassment, credit card debt, debt settlement, Bankruptcy, debt collectors, debt management, credit cards

Debt Control: 4 Programs That Work!

Debt...although a necessary evil in today's economy, it can be devastating.  Here are 4 Debt Control programs that may work for you!

controlling debt control

Are you having a hard time with any of these?

  • Credit Cards
  • Medical bills
  • Utility Bills
  • Personal Bank Loans
  • Auto Loans
  • repossession Deficiencies
  • Judgments

 

If you do (and millions of people are just like you), you should consider one (or more) of these programs:

DEBT ACCELERATOR PROGRAM

There are all kinds of estimates or studies that have been done to try and calculate how many people are carrying debt loads that are becoming difficult to handle.

The average US household credit card debt is estimated to by around $15,000.  Now, some families are carrying very large amounts of debt and some have less, but the point is... we (most people) are carrying far too much debt. 

I  believe it was Dave Ramsey who either first developed or made popular the idea of the Debt Snowball Plan.  Sure, there are some critics of this type of plan, but usually those critics have not been dealing with people (and especially people's emotions) for very long.  While I don't agree with everything he promotes, the fact that he is helping people get control of their debt is admirable, and I applaude his teachings.

Basically, in a DEBT ACCELERATOR PROGRAM (my term for a Roll-Up or Snowball Plan) you are going to be paying a little more that the total required minimum payments of all of your accounts. Don't think you can find a "little more" money each month?

  • How about making a few changes in your lifestyle?  For example:
  • Daily StarBucks coffee = $5.00 x 30 days/month = $150 per month
  • Fast food lunch at say $6 bucks x 30 days/month = $180 per month
  • Health club membership you never (or rarely) use = $25/month

Get the idea??? If you are serious about finding some extra money to pay off your debt in a shorter period of time, you can do it!  OK, I'll get down from my "soap-box"! 

Let's say you have a total monthly minimum required payment of $500.  Although you have been paying consistently for several years, the balances are barely going down!

Of course, you know (or should know) why.  The credit card industry has tricked the average consumer into thinking that they are "repaying" their debt by making the minimum required payment each mont.  But, if you will take a close look at your next credit card statement, you're going to be shocked (outraged is better) to learn that your balance was hardly reduced at all.  Here's why:

Hypothetical Credit Card:

  • Balance                                    $7,000
  • APR                                             19%
  • Minimum Payment is 2.25% of balance

$7,000 x 2.5% = $175

19% / 12 (months in a year) = 1.583% interest on $7,000 = $110.81 (THAT'S RIGHT...DO THE MATH)

So, when you send in your "minimum payment" of $175, here's what next month's statement will look like:

Previous Balance                      $7,000.00

Interest charge                         $  110.81

Payment received                    -$   175.00

New Balance                            $6,935.81

YOU GOT IT!  You sent $175 and your balance was only reduced by $ 64.81!!!

No wonder it takes peope 10, 15 or more years to pay off the average credit card (especially if you continue to only make the "minimum payment required"!

But, by making a few changes in your spending habits, you find an extra $100 per month.  By adding an additional $100 per month to the $175 (and not reducing the $175 as you balance goes down), you can pay off that credit card in just 33 months, saving you thousands in interest!

Now that you have that one paid off, YOU DON'T LOWER THE TOTAL MONTHLY PAYMENT, you just reallocate or add it to the next credit card, and so forth, and so forth until all of your credit cards are paid off!  DOESN'T THAT SOUND GREAT!

But, what if you not only can't afford the total minimum payments, you don't have any extra funds for a Debt Accelerator Program?

Then, a DEBT SETTLEMENT PROGRAM may be the answer!

So many people have run into some very difficult times, financially.  This may due to:

  • Loss of employment
  • Too little fixed income after retirement
  • Death of a spouse or partner
  • Disability
  • Divorce
  • And many other "financial challenges" that you may be facing

Does that mean that you can never recover or be DEBT FREE once again?

No, in fact, debt collectors are usually more than willing to SETTLE a debt for less than the total balance, depending on your particular circumstances.

When you fall behind on your payments to your creditors, as you know, the calls start becoming more frequent and frustrating! 

Did you know that once your account has been transferred to a debt collector, you can legally make them stop calling?

STOP Collection Calls Free Sample Letter

After you account is with a debt collector (may be a "debt purchaser"), you will need to make a SETTLEMENT OFFER of much less than the total balance.  Now, here's where it get's tricky.

A professional debt collector usually receives a bonus or commission depending on how much they can get you to pay.  In some cases, they start out very firm and tell you that they cannot offer a discount at all (not true).  Sometimes, they are willing to offer 70% or so, and you may have received a letter with the offer.

My experience with dealing with debt collectors over the last 12 years is that they are all working on different "numbers" (for lack of a better word), meaning that they have certain goals their bosses give them and they may or may not be able to go as low as you want.

If you get an offer that works for you, MAKE SURE YOU GET IT SENT TO YOU IN WRITING! I don't know how many times we get a client who made a "settlement agreement" over the phone, made all the payments as agreed, but found out that the debt collector denied ever making the agreement and demanded the remainder of the full amount!

For more information about "how" and "if" Debt Settlement really works, CLICK HERE.

FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN FORGIVENESS PROGRAMS

If you are like thousands upon thousands of current, former or parents of students with too much Federal Student Loans to repay, we have SOME GOOD NEWS!

Again, as with any "government" program, depending on your particular circumstances, you may qualify for one of these new programs. Basically, if you income falls within certain parameters, you may be able to have anywhere from NO PAYMENTS to maybe only a $100 or so.  Make these payments for 20 years, and the remainder of the balance will be forgiven! 

And, if you are in or go into some sort of "public service" career, you may only need to pay the reduced payments for 10 years!

Trying to determine not only IF YOU QUALIFY, but HOW MUCH YOUR PAYMENT WOULD BE, is not very easy (remember....government...). Let us help:

877-492-4109

Finally, if your financial circumstances are so bad that you cannot qualify for any of the programs above, then you should consider BANKRUPTCY PROTECTION!

Notice I said "bankruptcy protection", as in PROTECTION FROM YOUR CREDITORS!

If you ignore the collection letters and calls and are not able to work out a repayment plan or settlement, the creditor or debt collector may decide to FILE A COMPLAINT and then you would receive a SUMMONS.

If you ignore the summons (as so many people do), then the creditor (or PLAINTIFF), will most likely be awarded a DEFAULT JUDGMENT.

Now the credior has the legal right to apply for a WRIT OF GARNISHMENT, not only for your INCOME, but possibly your BANK ACCOUNT(S).

You should seek the cousel of a BANKRUPTCY ATTORNEY right away.

So, there are 4 Programs to control you debt:

  • Debt Accelerator Program
  • Debt Settlement Program
  • Federal Studen Loan Forgiveness Programs
  • Bankruptcy

You don't have to live in fear or frustration. Get some help today!

 

 

Photo credit:

Jason Rogers

 

 




 


 

 



Tags: credit card debt, Bankruptcy, debt collection in oregon, debt collector, stop the collection calls, debt settlement in oregon

Tips on the Best Ways to Deal with Debt Collectors

dealing with debt collectorsDealing with debt collectors is not easy, but it can be done.  Here are a few tips on how to deal with debt collectors.

Debt collectors have one purpose: To get you to pay up...period!  Many debt collectors are paid a percentage or commission based on how much they can get you to pay, so you need to be prepared when they call.

As you probably already know, the first tactic a debt collector will do is to call, and call, and call!

Oh sure, there are laws that are supposed to protect us from harassing debt collectors, but they don't seem to worry about them.  So what can you do?

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) spells out what a debt collector can and cannot do.  Here are just a few of the limits a debt collector can take:

A debt collector is prohibited from calling you at inconvenient times or places, such as your place of employment or business.  They are not to call before 8am or after 9pm.

Contrary to popular belief, not all debt collectors are mean, nasty or uncaring people.  Many are very professional and even courteous, but as with any group, there are some who are very disgusting individuals.

After many years of helping people deal with debt and debt collectors, I've found that it rarely helps to talk or try to explain your situation to a debt collector.  Remember, they are going to try to get you to either send money or OK a check-by-phone payment or payments.

If you know the address of the debt collector, they you can mail a letter stating that they are to cease calling you.  By law (FDCPA), once the debt collector has received the letter, they must cease calling or face some hefty fines!

While writing the letter to a debt collector usually works fine, there are some who ignore the letter and continue to call (most via a computerized dialer).  If they do, start a log of the date and time they called.  Mail your letter via Priority Mail or Certified Mail in order to have a record of it being delivered. 

Next, contact your state's attorney general's office to file a complaint.  The best way is to go online.  For example, if you live in my state of Oregon, you would go to:

Oregon Department of Justice...Consumer Protection

You could also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission as well.

Need help with what to say in the letter?  Click below:

STOP Collection Calls Free Sample Letter

One more thing...as long as the account is with your original creditor (say Visa or Master Card), they can call on delinquent accounts.  It was somewhere all of the fine print when you signed up for the card!  But, you don't have to take their calls and after a couple of months they will most likely farm your account out to a collector.

There are many other UNLAWFUL PRACTICES that a debt collector cannot do.  A debt collector cannot...

  • use threats of harm or violence
  • use obscene language
  • falsely claim to be an attorney (if in fact they are not)
  • misrepresent the amount you owe
  • threaten with legal action if in fact they do not take legal action
  • threaten or try to scare you into believing they can take property that you own when in fact they have no claim
  • falsely represent themselves as a government official

 

What can a debt collector legally do to collect the debt?

After the debt collector has sent numerous letters and has received the cease calling letter, you may not hear from them for many months.  Don't assume that the debt is going to go away! 

You may get a knock at the door one evening and a police officer or someone employed by the court will serve you a summons.  Yes...very scary, but don't panic.

I've written several articles about what to do if you receive a summons, but here are the highlights:

  • 1.  Don't ignore the summons. It will not go away on it's own.
  • 2.  Contact the attorney who filed the claim for the creditor and find out if they are willing to negotiate something on the debt.

Not sure how to do that? 

Trying to negotiate a settlement for a lower amount for less than the current balance is not a simple matter.  For a few tips to help, click below:

FREE EBook Debt Settlement  Basics

 

Depending on several factors, you may be able to get a sizable reduction of the balance due.  If you could use some help, let us know.  We've been helping clients resolve debt issues for many years.

Yes, dealing with debt collectors can be annoying and frustrating, but you can put a stop to the calls and possibly negotiate a settlement for less than the amount you owe. But, there are times when a debt collector may decide to go after a JUDGMENT in order to get a WRIT OF GARNISHMENT.

If you are employed and receive W-2 income, a debt collector and/or creditor can receive a garnishment of your wages.  In most states, they can garnish 25% of your net, take-home pay.  Let's say you bring home $2,000 a month.  Your payroll officer must send them $500 each month until the entire debt is repaid!

YOU DON'T HAVE TO LET THAT HAPPEN!


Most of our clients who call us AFTER they received the notice of garnishment from their employer admit that they just didn't do anything about the summons.


If this is you, we may be able to help stop the garnishment, but time is of the essence.  Once a garnishment is in place, many debt collectors and/or creditors are not willing to accept a settlement or repayment plan as they feel they have your "cornered".

Of course, if all else fails, you may need to consider seeking BANKRUPTCY PROTECTION from your creditors.  Losing 25% of your income is just not possible for most people who have already suffered a severe financial setback.  Bankruptcy may be your best option.

 

 

Photo credit:  I actually took this photo myself outside a major retailer. Kind of says it all, doesn't it!

 

 

 

 

Tags: debt collection, debt settlement, Bankruptcy, debt collection in oregon, debt collector, stop debt collector calls