Thomas K. McKnight - Debt Negotiation Attorney in Tustin, California
The Basics of Debt Settlement
Debt settlement is an agreement between a lender and a borrower for a large, single payment towards an existing balance in return for the forgiveness of the remaining debt. An individual who owes $10,000 on a single credit card, for instance, might approach the credit card provider and offer to pay $5,000. In return for this one-time payment, the credit card provider agrees to forgive or eliminate the remaining $5,000 still owed.
Why would a credit card issuer voluntarily decide to give up a substantial portion of the balance it is owed? It is usually because the lender is either strapped for cash or is fearful of your ultimate failure to repay the entire balance. In both situations, the credit card provider is trying to protect its financial bottom line-- a key point to keep in mind as you start negotiating.
Credit cards are unsecured loans, which means that there is no collateral your credit card provider-- or a debt collector-- can seize to pay back an unpaid balance.
While negotiating with a credit card company to settle a balance may sound too good to be true, it's not. Not surprisingly, lenders do not like to promote settlement, and although there are no independent statistics about success rates, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that around fifty percent of debt settlement cases make it to completion. Still, if you're severely behind on your payments and spiraling towards bankruptcy, your lender may agree to take what it can get, giving you one last chance to get back on your feet.
The Negotiating Process
Begin by calling the main phone number for your credit card's customer service department and asking to speak to somebody, preferably a manager, in the "debt settlements department." Explain how dire your situation is. Highlight the fact that you have scraped a little bit of money together and are wishing to settle one of your accounts before the money gets spent somewhere else. By mentioning the fact that you have multiple accounts on which you're seeking debt settlements, you're more likely to get a competitive offer.
Offer a specific dollar amount that is roughly 30% of your outstanding account balance. The lender will most likely counter with a higher percentage or dollar amount. If anything above 50% is suggested, think about attempting to settle with a different creditor or simply put the money in savings to help pay future monthly expenses.
Last but not least, when you have finalized your debt settlement with your lender, make sure to get the agreement in writing. It's not uncommon for a credit card provider to verbally accept a debt settlement just to turn over the remaining balance to a collections agency. Make sure the written agreement clarifies the amount you need to pay in order to have your entire balance excused from further payment.
For more information about chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcy, or how to file your bankruptcy in Tustin CA, contact Thomas K McKnight LLP at (800) 466 - 7507 or visit our website at TKMLLP.com for a Free Consultation.