The Basics of Debt Settlement
Debt settlement is an agreement between a lender and a borrower for a large, one-time payment toward 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 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 willingly decide to forgo a substantial part of the balance it is owed? It is generally because the lender is either strapped for cash or is afraid of your eventual failure to pay off the whole balance. In both situations, the credit card provider 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 provider-- or a debt collector-- can seize to pay back an unpaid balance.
While negotiating with a credit card provider to settle a balance might seem too good to be true, it's not. Not surprisingly, lenders don't like to promote settlement, and although there are no independent statistics about success rates, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that about fifty percent of debt settlement cases make it to completion. Still, if you're seriously behind on your payments and spiraling toward bankruptcy, your lender might agree to take what it can get, offering 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 service department and asking to speak with someone, ideally a supervisor, in the "debt settlements department." Explain how dire your situation is. Highlight the fact that you've gathered a little bit of money together and are wanting to settle one of your accounts before the money gets used up elsewhere. By stating 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 most likely counter with a higher percentage or dollar amount. If anything above 50% is suggested, think about trying to settle with a different creditor or just put the money in savings to help pay future monthly expenses.
Last but not least, as soon as you've completed your debt settlement with your lender, be sure to get the agreement in writing. It's not uncommon for a credit card company to verbally agree to a debt settlement only to hand over the remaining balance to a collections agency. Guarantee the written agreement spells out the amount you have to pay in order to have your total balance excused from additional payment.
For more information about Debt Settlement in Westminster, California, contact Thomas K. McKnight LLP at (800) 466-7507 or visit our website at TKMLLP.Com for a free consultation!