Thomas K. McKnight - Debt Negotiation in Orange County
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. Someone that owes $10,000 on a single credit card, for example, might approach the credit card provider and offer to pay $5,000. In return for this single payment, the credit card company agrees to forgive or remove the remaining $5,000 still owed.
Why would a credit card issuer willingly decide to forgo a substantial portion of the balance it is owed? It is usually because the lender is either strapped for cash or is afraid of your ultimate inability to repay the entire balance. In both circumstances, the credit card issuer is trying to protect its financial bottom line-- a key fact to keep in mind as you start negotiating.
Credit cards are unsecured loans, which means that there is no collateral your credit card company-- or a debt collector-- can seize to pay off an unpaid balance.
While negotiating with a credit card company to settle a balance might sound too good to be true, it's not. Not surprisingly, lenders don't like to promote settlement, and although there are no independent statistics regarding success rates, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that roughly fifty percent of debt settlement cases make it to completion. Still, if you're seriously behind on your payments and spiraling towards bankruptcy, your lender may be willing to take what it can get, giving you one last chance to get back on your feet.
The Negotiating Process
Start by calling the main phone number for your credit card's customer support department and asking to speak to someone, ideally a supervisor, in the "debt settlements department." Explain how dire your situation is. Highlight the fact that you've scraped a small amount of money together and are wishing to settle one of your accounts before the money gets used up somewhere else. By mentioning the fact that you have multiple accounts on which you're pursuing debt settlements, you're more likely to receive a competitive offer.
Offer a specific dollar amount that is approximately 30% of your outstanding account balance. The lender will most likely counter with a higher percentage or dollar amount. If anything above 50% is recommended, think about trying to settle with a different creditor or just put the money in savings to help pay future monthly bills.
Lastly, as soon as you have completed your debt settlement with your lender, make sure to get the agreement in writing. It's not uncommon for a credit card company to verbally agree to a debt settlement just to hand over the remaining balance to a collections agency. Be sure the written agreement clarifies the amount you need to pay in order to have your whole balance excused from additional payment.
For more information about chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcy, or how to file your bankruptcy in Orange County, contact Thomas K McKnight LLP at (800) 466 - 7507 or visit our website at TKMLLP.com for a Free Consultation.