Thomas K. McKnight LLP - Debt Settlement Attorney 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. Somebody that owes $10,000 on a single credit card, for example, might approach the credit card company and offer to pay $5,000. In return for this single payment, the credit card provider agrees to forgive or eliminate the remaining $5,000 still owed.
Why would a credit card issuer voluntarily choose to give up a significant portion of the balance it is owed? It is typically because the lender is either strapped for cash or is fearful of your ultimate failure to pay off the whole balance. In both circumstances, 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 company-- or a debt collector-- can take to repay 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 don't like to advertise settlement, and although there are no independent statistics regarding success rates, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that around half of debt settlement cases make it to completion. Still, if you're severely behind on your payments and spiraling toward bankruptcy, your lender may agree to take what it can get, providing you one last chance to get back on your feet.
The Negotiating Process
Begin by calling the primary phone number for your credit card's customer support department and asking to speak with somebody, preferably a supervisor, in the "debt settlements department." Explain how urgent your situation is. Highlight the fact that you have gathered a small amount of cash 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 seeking debt settlements, you're more likely to receive a competitive offer.
Offer a specific dollar amount that is roughly 30% of your outstanding account balance. The lender will probably counter with a higher percentage or dollar amount. If anything over 50% is proposed, think about trying to settle with a different creditor or simply put the money in savings to help pay future monthly expenses.
Last but not least, as soon as you've finalized your debt settlement with your lender, make sure to get the agreement in writing. It's not unusual for a credit card company to verbally accept a debt settlement only to turn over the remaining balance to a collections agency. Guarantee 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.