The Importance of Debt Validation

Debt relief programs are rapidly increasing in popularity. When creditors are breathing down your back, you need someone to help you take care of the problem.  However, you want to make sure that you actually owe those debts before you pay them. This is when the process of Debt Validation becomes extremely important. Debt validation, in simple terms, is the process where a debt collector proves that you owe the debt they are trying to collect.

When a creditor is unable to collect the money owed to them, they will usually hire a collection agency to collect the money for them.  Often, the debt is actually sold to agencies and is considered “junk debt.” Junk debt is purchased by third parties for pennies on the dollar. These collectors often do not have the correct documentation to prove that the debt is really owed. This is why debt validation is important.

If these collection agencies cannot prove that you owe the debt, then you don't have to pay it.  You may have already paid off the debt, but the orriginal creditor did not notify the collection agency. Other times, the orriginal creditor has simply charged the debt off.

To complete a validation, you must ask a debt collector for proof of debt. This is done after a collector informs you of the debt. You have 30 days to request proof of the debt or the collection agency will assume that it is valid and continue in their collection efforts.  However, you can request a validation of the debt at any time. This process is designed to keep honesty in the debt collection industry.

Before you pay a debt that you are unsure of, complete the debt validation proccess. If the collection agency cannot provide proof that the debt is yours, you will not have to pay it! 

The proccess of Debt Validation is simple, and you can definitely do it yourself.  Use our FREE GUIDE to DIY Debt Validation by clicking on the link below, and get started today!



Tags: debt relief programs, debt validation, dealing with debt collectors

Are Hardship Programs Offered by Creditors a Good Idea?

hardship programsHere you are again.  You just deposited your pay check and it is time to pay the bills.  As always, you are just barely getting by.  You are juggling your bills, your due dates, and your grace periods each and every month.  You have so many balls in the air, you can't keep them straight.  Sooner or later, one of the balls will drop and your financial "plan" will come toppling down.

In desperation, you start calling your creditors to see if there is anything they can do to help, and they offer you a Hardship Program. 

What is a Credit Card Hardship Program?

If you have tried in the past to enroll in a Hardship Program with one or more of your creditors, you may have been disappointed to find our that they are not eager to help out when you are current with your payments.  However, if you have fallen behind on your monthly payments, your creditors will be more receptive to offering you a deal. 

The plan that your creditors will offer you will differ depending on the bank and  how far behind you are.  Here are some examples of what a hardship plan might look like:

  • Temporary Hardship Program - Your monthly payment is reduced to around 2.5 percent of your balance, usually for anywhere from 6 to 12 months. Your interest rate is reduced, and penalties and fees are often waived. When your temporary hardship program expires, your account will go back to the pre-plan arrangement.

  • Long Term Hardship Program - With this type of plan, your accounts are generally closed and the interest rates are reduced.  You will most likely be put on a payment plan to get the full balance paid off within 5 years.  If you default on any payments while in a Long Term Hardship Program, your interest rate, payment, and fees will go back to the pre-plan arrangement.

Are Credit Card Hardship Programs a Good Idea?

These Hardship Programs might be just what you need to get you over your financial hump.  However, never forget that the goal of the credit card industry is to make money!

When your creditors offer you a Hardship Plan, keep in mind the saying...

"If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is"

  • First, there is no guarantee that you will be able to enroll in your creditors Hardship Program.  Once your lender finds out that you are struggling, they may decide to reduce your credit limit or even close your account all together.
  • Next, enrolling in a Hardship Program will usually be noted on your credit report as "Hardship Payment Plan". This could cause problems and even increase your interest rates with your other credit card accounts.
  • Finally, these Hardship Programs are just short term solutions to what is most likely a long term problem.  If you default even once during your Hardship Program, you interest rates and payments will go up to the same or even more that before you got "help".

Enrolling in a Hardship Program with your creditors should always be a last resort. If you don’t want to go it alone, look for a Debt Relief Company, which can help you develop a debt payoff plan. Trained Debt Solutions Specialists can negotiate with lenders on your behalf to lower both your interest rate and monthly payments and even the total amount of debt that you owe.

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Tags: credit card hardship plan, debt relief programs, hardship programs

How to Cope with Financial Stress with 3 Simple Tricks

cope with financial stressThere is nothing more stressful than being in debt. Every morning people in debt wake up and think about what they can do, and they go to sleep at night worrying about it as well. They aren't alone. According to the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions, 40 percent of American families live beyond their means and the average household with debt has about $10,000 to $12,000 in revolving debt and about nine credit cards. Getting out of debt can be very difficult, especially if people are putting all their income toward paying off the interest alone. But stressing about debt doesn't help; action does. Here are three steps that will help you learn how to cope with financial stress. 

#1 Talk to an Expert

You don't have to do this alone. There are financial experts waiting to help. They work with you to provide debt counseling, consolidate your payments and come up with a plan to pay off your debt. If nothing else, talk to a trusted family member or friend who is good at managing money. Tell them you are not asking for money, you just need to get the stress off your chest. Perhaps they will share a great idea for getting out of debt or help you develop a plan, which is the second step to learning how to cope with financial stress. Talking to someone helps you feel like you're not alone.

#2 Develop a Plan

Look at your debt and your income and come up with a plan to pay it off, even if just a tiny bit at a time. Write down the plan; this is the most important part of this step. Hang the plan in an easily visible place, one where you will see it every day. Ideally, the plan should include an action for each day, such as "sell old camping gear and use it to pay debt A" or "clip coupons for grocery store and then use saved money to put toward debt B." Of course, the plan will have larger goals as well, such as putting a small percentage of your paycheck toward paying off a larger debt.

#3 Reward Yourself for Small Successes

Give yourself a pat on the back for any small successes. Cross items off your action plan that you have completed. Instead of allowing yourself to stress about the debt, remind yourself every day that you are working toward a better future.


photo by: eamoncurry123

Tags: debt relief programs, how to cope with financial stress, credit counseling

Debt Settlement vs. Bankruptcy: Weighing the Options

debt settlement vs bankruptcyDebt Settlement vs. Bankruptcy?

Choosing between debt settlement and bankruptcy in while facing a huge pile of debt is a tough decision to make. It is important to understand that although both debt settlement and bankruptcy offer Debt Relief, they work very differently. In order to make an informed decision, you need to understand the difference.

The Proccess of Debt Settlement & Bankruptcy:

Debt settlement is a debt reduction program where the creditor accepts a reduced amount from the debtor, in order to settle the account in full. A great Debt Settlement Program can and will settle your debt for 50% or less of your total debt. Once you have completed the Debt Settlement Program, the creditor will report your account to the Credit Bureau as “settled” or “paid”.

Bankruptcy is a court based procedure, which is initiated by the debtor. Consumers are permitted to file personal bankruptcy under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 of Title 11 of the Federal Bankruptcy Code.

During Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, the court sells off your non-exempt assets and uses the proceeds to pay your creditors. Remaining debts are discharged by the court and you are declared debt-free.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a reorganization of your existing debts. The court appointed trustee will set up a repayment plan to help you pay off your debts comfortably within 3-5 years.

Once your bankruptcy is complete, you are relieved of all debts and allowed to rebuild your finances. However, bankruptcy procedures are usually much more complicated compared to debt settlement.

How will Debt Settlement and Bankruptcy effect on your credit score?

Bankruptcy can hurt your credit score by 200-250 points. The total extent of the damage depends on the nature of the other negative remarks you have on your credit report. Bankruptcy remains on your credit report for 7-10 years, which will prevent you from getting credit in the future.

Debt settlement will lower your credit score at first, but as you keep making payments on time, your credit score increases.

So, which option is better?

Debt settlement is preferable to bankruptcy if you are able to make a reduced monthly payment. You should explore all possible debt relief options before you file for bankruptcy.

Debt settlement gives you the following benefits:

  • You pay less and get rid of your debts completely!
  • You will get out of debt much faster!
  • You avoid losing your home and car!
  • Debt settlement does not damage your credit score as badly as bankruptcy does!

Tags: debt relief programs, debt settlement vs bankruptcy, alternatives to bankruptcy

Paying Off Credit Card Debt - A Variety of Options for You

paying off credit card debtIn order to pay off credit card debt successfully, it is important to commit yourself to improving your financial situation for the long term. There is no such this as a quick fix. Getting out of debt takes dedication and a realistic plan. With so many options to choose from, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to begin, where to seek advice, and whether you should tackle the debt on your own or enlist the services of a debt relief provider. Let's look at your options.

Tackling Credit Card Debt on Your Own

When paying off credit card debt without the assistance of a debt relief provider or debt consolidation plan, it is imperative that you pay off your credit card with the highest interest rate first, regardless of the balance owed. The debt that you carry with the highest interest rate costs you the most money. The less time you spend carrying a balance on that high interest card, the more money you will save in the long run.

Paying the minimum balance each month does not work. In order to get a handle on your credit card debt, you must pay more than the minimum balance each month. Paying more than the minimum each month helps you pay off your debt faster, but when paying on a bi-monthly basis, you'll reduce the amount of interest paid. That means that more of your money will go towards paying the principal amount owed, thus cutting your balance dramatically. 

In addition to paying off your highest interest rate card first, you must learn to stick to a budget. This is the only way to figure out how much more you can send to your creditors each month. You'll be amazed to see how your daily $4 lattes and take-out add up. Making simple changes like brewing your own coffee at home or work and packing a daily lunch may seem like sacrifices right now, but will be well worth it once you start seeing your credit card balances start to come down. Get into the routine of asking yourself, "is this in my budget?" This will eventually become a way of life and you'll be able to break the habit that got you into debt in the first place.

paying off credit card debt

Debt Management Plan

A Debt Management Plan (DMP) can work wonders for those who wish to pay off credit card debt and other unsecured debt such as medical bills or retail debt. With a DMP, all of your unsecured debt is consolidated into one monthly payment. When you enlist the services of a debt management provider, the company will work to assist you with an affordable payment plan.

When you join a DMP to pay off credit card debt, you will find that creditors are more willing to negotiate reduced monthly payments, interest rates and late fees. Why? Because with a Debt Management Plan you will be paying off your credit cards in full. The benefits of a DMP can typically be seen after about 3 months of timely payments. With a DMP, you must be certain that you can afford to make consistent monthly payments because if you fail to make a payment or are late, it can affect your relationship with creditors.

Debt Settlement

Debt Settlement is an option for those who may not be able to afford the monthly payments of a DMP. The debt settlement provider will negotiate with your creditors to accept a portion of your unsecured debt in satisfaction of the full amount. With debt settlement, you'll make affordable monthly deposits into a trust account. This type of debt relief plan will have a negative impact on your credit, so it's important to discuss this and all options with a qualified representative.

Dealing with credit card debt can be overwhelming, and it can be especially frustrating for those who choose to pay off debt without the assistance of a reputable debt relief provider. Debt Relief NW, Inc. offers multiple options and realistic plans. We will work with you to recommend the debt relief option that best meets your needs. Paying off credit card debt requires a solid commitment on your part. As your partner, you can count on Debt Relief to help you in your pursuit of a debt-free life.

Ask one of our Solutions Specialists to get answers to any questions you have about credit card debt consolidation and our debt-relief plans. Or visit the Debt Relief FAQ page to find the answers to our most common questions. 


payig off credit card debt

Tags: debt relief programs, debt settlement, debt consolidation, paying off credit card debt, budgeting

Dealing with Unemployment, DEBT, & Depression

dealing with unemployment

Losing your job can feel like your whole world is falling apart.  A job can be so much more than just a J-O-B, it can define you as a person.  When it is pulled out from underneath you with no warning, then your mind set can really be affected. Depression can rear its ugly head during times of high stress and pressure when your personal finances are falling apart.

If you are the main bread winner and you have the responsibility to support your family, loosing a job can soon turn to depression out of feelings of despair and disappointment. Credit card debt, mortgages, and personal loans are all commitments that need to be paid.  What happens when you simply don’t have the cash flow?  

Keeping a positive mindset is paramount in times of unemployment.  You need to look at this as a temporary situation and your new job is to look for a new one.  Don’t sit on the couch and dwell on the situation, this doesn’t help anyone.  If you just lost your job, and you worked 40 hours per week, then you need to be actively looking for your new opportunity with this time. This is not an opportunity to catch up on reading or cleaning.  If you have a family to support or bills that need to be paid, then you must do all you can to get back into work asap!

Ensure your resume is up to date

Rewrite your resume and cover letter and make sure that it contains all your current achievements.

Ensure you have an interview outfit which is clean, ironed and ready to wear.  Be ready for an interview at short notice.

Have printed copies of your resume and cover letter with you at all times.  Carry a resume folder in your car and bag so that you can drop it off as you find opportune places.

Keeping positive in times of stress and little income

Dealing with debt and stress is not fun for anyone.  However, money does not make you the person you are, so don’t let it define you.  We all need money to pay bills but don’t focus on the lack. Keep your mind on taking action and applying for jobs.

Be Proactive in looking for new work

Get creative when looking for a new job.  Look online and in local newspapers for companies that you would want to work with and make contact with them about future work.  Temporary or part time jobs can help you get a foot in the door.  Be open to the possibilities of accepting jobs that are outside of your normal industry.  You can look for more permanent work in your chosen field  while you are working in a less familiar area.  By keeping employment gaps on your resume to a minimum,  you demonstrate your tenacity and work ethic.  By accepting a position that is less than ideal, you may be setting-up your next, better job offer.  Remember that employers prefer to hire someone already employed.

Dealing with debt

When the debt collectors are calling you for money,  and you have little, stress levels can skyrocket.  Do not put your head in the sand and ignore this situation.  Either answer the phone and discuss your situation with them, or look into your debt relief options.  Your debt will not go away on its own.  You have options to explore including credit counseling, and bankruptcy as a last resort.

Times of change always present opportunities that may have not have been available before.  Be proactive, positive, and keep the lines of communication open. You will get back to work.  You will get debt under control.  You will regain your life again.

dealing with unemployment

Tags: debt relief programs, how to cope with financial stress, dealing with unemployment

3 Tips on How to Cope With Financial Stress

Coping with financial stress is not only possible, but may help put you back on the path of financial stability!

Let's face it, we are living in one of the most financial challenginghow to cope with financial stress times of our history.

  • Unemployment is at an all time high
  • There never seems to be enough money at the end of the month
  • Retirement savings at an all time low

Someone has said that FEAR is really:

  • False
  • Evidence that
  • Appears
  • Real

Here are 3 Tips on how to cope with Financial Stress:

FIRST: As bad as your financial situation seems, it is probably not as bad as you think!

There was an article from ABC News that really nails the problem:

Don't scare yourself with "what if" scenarios. Don't tell yourself panic-inducing stories about the future, because you'll begin living in this catastrophe that hasn't actually happened. Instead, look to the past, at the stories of how you've rebounded before. We're in a time of incredible uncertainty but the future is never certain -- remember the tough times you've made it through before.

You can probably recall tough times before and somehow, someway, you made it!  YOU CAN DO IT AGAIN!

SECOND: Determine exactly where you are financially.

If you haven't done so, you need a very complete budget.

I know, things may seem so bad that you may be thinking, What's the use?", but you have to know! 

Remember?  FEAR =  False Evidence that Appears Real

Once you know how much you have coming in (net take-home from all sources) and how much you have going out, you can start to deal with the problem or at least free up some outgo that you most likely can live without each month:

  • Daily Starbucks ($3 for a cup of coffee x 5 days x 4 weeks = $60)
  • All the extra channels on your Cable TV (you may save $25-$35)
  • Going out for lunch each day ($10 x 5 days x 4 weeks = $200 !!!)

And there is probably more, but you get the idea. 

You could free up a coupld of hundred dollars without too much pain or sacrifice!


I know the rational behind using credit cards to make up for lack of income, but in the long run, you are just charging your way into a black hole that you may never recover from.

But if you have serious credit card debt, what can you do?

There are several programs available and you should request a FREE CONSULTATION to determine if one would work for you.

Learning how to cope with financial stress is not impossible.

Remember these 3 tips:

  1. Your financial situation is probably not as bad as you think.
  2. Find out EXACTLY where you stand financially.
  3. Don't be tempted to use those credit cards!

Fianlly, if you are being harrassed by collectors, click below for free information:

stop collection calls Free Guide

photo by: anitafrances

Tags: debt relief programs, how to cope with financial stress, debt relief solutions, create a budget

5 Tips To Lower Your Monthly Credit Card Payments

lower your monthly credit card payments
If your debt looks like a mountain and your budget feels like a shovel, you probably feel like it will take a miracle to get rid of your debt for good. Check out these 5 tips to lower you monthly credit card payments!

#1 It NEVER Hurts to Ask:

It only makes sense to ask the people you owe for a break. Compile a list of all the people you owe and the amount you owe them. Then, sit down and create a workable budget. Once you have your monthly spending budet in place, it will be easy to determine how much you're able to pay to each creditor. Call each creditor and let them know you're willing to pay the debt but can only afford to pay $X. If the customer service rep says no, don't fight or argue, simply ask to speak to a supervisor.  BE AWARE, sometimes a creditor will reduce your monthly payment and/or iterest rate for only a short period of time. Make sure to get any agreement in writing, on company letterhead, before making a payment.

#2 Transfer balances

If your credit score is good, you can often get a balance transfer credit card with a lower interest rate than your other credit cards. Sometimes you can even get an extremely low introductory interest rate (as low as 0% in some cases) and use the introductory period to make interest-free payments on your debt. BE AWARE, these low introductory rates are just that...INTRODUCTORY! They will expire within a few months to a year most of the time, and chances are the interest rate will go up drastically after that introductory rate expires.  Make sure that you have enough in your monthly budget to significantly pay down or pay off these debts during the introductory period or it may not be a good deal. 

#3 Debt Consolidation Program

Consumer credit counselors are better skilled at negotiating lower interest rates and payments from your creditors. Enrolling in a credit counselor's Debt Consolidation Program, will allow you to get lower monthly payments making it easier to pay off your debt. Credit counselors can also help you make a budget and teach much-needed money management skills.
Debt Consolidation Programs allow you to consolidate all of your unsecured debt into ONE LOW MONTHLY PAYMENT and offers the following benefits.
  • PAY LESS: Better repayment terms are offered by most creditors. Most will lower interest rates, wave late and over the limit fees AND bring your accounts back to current without making up those missed payments. This can save you thousands over the life of the debt!
  • PAY OFF YOUR DEBT FASTER: You’ll be able to pay off your debt in three to five years rather than the average 25 years it could take without our program.
  • REDUCE YOUR STRESS: Our customer’s are relieved when the collection calls disappear.
  • ONE EASY LOW MONTLY PAYMENT: Your credit cards and other unsecured debts are consolidated into one monthly payment so you don’t have to juggle payments.

#4 Debt Settlement Services

If you cannot afford the payment required by a Debt Management Program, Debt Settlement may be the answer.

Debt Settlement is a program designed for people:

  • Who are starting to become delinquent on their payments
  • Some or all of their debts have gone into collections
  • DO NOT want to file for bankruptcy

Our clients:

  • Have a substantial reduction in their monthly payment
  • Save thousands of dollars in both principal and interest
  • Are DEBT FREE in 36-48 months

Debt Settlement can help with the following types of debts:

  • Credit Cards
  • Lines of Credit
  • Medical Bills
  • Unsecured Loans
  • Collections
  • Repossessions

#5 File Bankruptcy

There are times when the debt you owe is just too much to pay. In this case, you might consider filing bankruptcy. The new bankruptcy law prevents people from abusing bankruptcy. It requires an income-debt comparison in addition to consumer credit counseling before you can file bankruptcy.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy will allow you to completely wipe out certain debts while Chapter 13 bankruptcy will create a payment plan.

lower your monthly payment

Tags: debt relief programs, debt settlement, debt consolidation, best way to eliminate credit card debt, lower your monthly credit card payments

Are you making just the minimum payments on your credit cards?

making just the minimum paymentsIf I just make the minimum payments due on my credit cards, will I ever pay them off?

Not likely!

The credit card industry has successfully created an "easy pay plan" for consumers that almost guarantees that they will never pay off their credit cards.


By charging a very high interest rate and only requiring a very low (too low) minimum payment.


  • Let's say you have a credit card with a balance of $3,000.
  • The Annual Percentage Rate is 21%.
  • The minimum payment this card requires is 2.02% of the balance, or in this case, ($3,000 x .0202) = $60.60.
  • You make a payment of $60.60 to XYZ Visa.

Next month, you get your bill and unlike most consumers, you take a closer look and discover:

Previous Balance                                           $3,000.00

Interest and fees (for this example, we won't add any late or over-the-limit fees)                                        $     51.78

You mailed in $60.60 as a minimum payment   -$     60.60

Only to discover that your NEW BALANCE is       $2,991.18

Your right! Your balance went down by only $8.82!

What happened?

You just fell prey to the credit card industry's "scam" of letting consumers think that if they just make the minimum payment on their credit cards, they'll be OK.

Let's take a closer look:

Most credit cards use a formula that calculates the Average Daily Balance (ADB) and Daily Periodic Interest (DPI) to determine how much of your payment goes to INTEREST and how much actually goes to the BALANCE. There are other methods, but this is normal.

To determine your ADB and DPI:

If your total balance was $3,000, to find the Average Daily Balance (ADB), divide the total balance by the number of days since your last payment was applied. In this case:

              $3,000 divided by 30 days = ADB of $100

Now determine the Daily Periodic Interest (DPI) they charged you:

Take the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) or .21 and divided by 365 (days in a year of course).  In our case:

               .21 divided by 365 = .0005753 = DPI

Now find the Average Daily Interest (ADI):

To find out how much interest you actually paid per day:

  DPI .0005753   X  ADB $100  X   30 days =  ADI or 1.7259

Finally, to determine how much interest you paid:

      ADI 1.7259  X  30 days = $51.78 

                      SHOCKED!           YOU SHOULD BE!

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that at this rate, it may take a lifetime to pay of this debt if all you do is make the minimum payment!

For FREE information about how to pay off your credit cards in a fraction of the time and save thousands of dollars in interest and fees, please click here. making just the minimum payments






Tags: debt relief programs, best way to eliminate credit card debt, making just the minimum payments

Debt Consolidation Program vs. Debt Consolidation Loan


With all the terminology that is being thrown around today, it is easy to understand how you might become confused with the difference between a Debt Consolidation Program and a Debt Consolidation Loan.  

Are they the same thing? NO

Debt Conoslidation Loan

  • In general terms, a Debt Consolidation Loan refers to the action of combining several smaller debts into one larger debt. This usually creates a lower interest rate and a fixed monthly payment. However, it is important to fully understand the implications of choosing a debt consolidation loan to pay down your debts. Do you have equity in your home? In today’s market, housing values are falling. Is it wise to put your home on the line to pay off credit cards? Consider this, credit card debt is considered unsecured. This means that the only collateral underwriting your credit card balance is your signature. By using your home equity to pay off your usecured credit card debt you are turning it into secured debt.  If you get behind, you could lose your home.
  • Second mortgages and home equity lines of credit usually carry long terms, so while your interest rate may be lower, you pay it over a long period of time. You may end up paying more over time.

Debt Consolidation Program

  • Debt Consolidation Program Counselors negotiate with your creditors to accept a smaller monthly payment over 48-60 months. Most major creditors have pre-set agreements with Debt Consolidation Programs as to what percent of a balance they will accept at what interest rate. This payment and lower interest rate can save some you hundreds of dollars per month. Not only that, but with a level payment plan (paying the same payment each month) you can be debt free in four to five years You can always pay more if your circumstances change which will get you out of debt even sooner!
  • Through a Debt Consolidation Program, your credidebt consolidation program vs debt consolidation loant card accounts will be re-aged.  This simply means that your accounts are brought back to current status, so you are no longer behind. This will put a stop to the accumulation of late fees and will STOP COLLECTION CALLS
  • Your Debt Consolidation Program Counselors will also arrange for one monthly payment to be withdrawn from your bank account automatically. At that time a pre-arranged payment is dispersed to each of the creditors in your Debt Consolidation Program. As you pay off your creditors, and work towards being debt free, the remaining credtiors get a larger payment, while your monthly payment remains the same.

Although these two options appear similar on the surface. There are some very key differences that you need to understand before making your final decion.  If you still need some assistance in deciding which is the right choice for you, our Debt Consolidation Counselors are happy to discuss your current situation and point you in the right direction.

Debt Consolidation Program vs Debt Consolidation Loan

Tags: debt relief programs, debt consolidation program vs debt consolidation l, debt consolidation, best way to eliminate credit card debt, credit counseling