Need advice on credit card debt

oldmanriverDecember 14, 2005

I have managed to accumulate a lot of credit card debt by my own stupidity. First mistake. I am now trying to become debt free. I used a firm offering a settlement solution which I thought would save me some money making it easier to pay off what I owed and avoiding bankruptcy. Second mistake. Now after following this firm's advice, two of my creditors have filed on me. The firm says they can still help but want more money than they started out saying this would all cost and more than I can borrow from my company's savings plan. I know, that's probably another mistake. The alarms in my head say get away from the firm yet my natural inclination to hide from financial problems by sticking my head in the sand says it would be the easiest way out. Anyone ever used such a firm successfully? Or managed something similiar alone? Like I said at first, what I need is some sound advice that will get me headed in the right direction and some encouragement to continue in that direction.

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Do NOT give anymore money to that firm! They can't do anything for you that you can't do for yourself for free. Trust me. I've been in your shoes. Twice. You don't say how much you owe but if it's a lot, you can check out Consumer Credit Counseling of America; I believe each state has branches. Your visit is free (think you can do it over phone, too) and they look at what you owe, what your income is, what else you spend money on including rent, heat, etc. and then help you work out a payment plan. When I did this several years ago, the only thing I paid was a monthly fee of $6.00. It's based on your income and situation; I had a friend who didn't pay anything. They negotiate with the credit card companies on your behalf and either reduce the interest rate greatly or sometimes eliminate it and you make one ck payable to the credit counseling office each month; they then distribute all that money to each creditor based on a pro rata sliding scale (the one with highest interest gets paid a bit more, etc. ).

It worked for me. They did make me cut up my cards, but that was for the best anyway. It was all legit and while the credit card companies help fund the agency, this funding allows the agency to help those of us for free or minimal fees. They send you a statement every month showing where they sent your money and how much you have left to pay.

I did this after I tried calling the creditors myself to negotiate a smaller interest rate, etc and they refused to work with me. After I got involved with Consumer Credit Counseling most of them wiped all the interest rates out. I was able to pay off SEVERAL thousand dollars in debt in 3 years v. the 40 years it would have taken me on my own paying the minimum.

Good luck! Remember: stay away from that firm!!!

Here is a link that might be useful: Consumer Credit Counseling Corporation

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 10:15PM
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if they are not in your state you can do it over the phone or internet. My friend does it over the phone and has had no problems. Good luck.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 10:17PM
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Some people have had good results doing the negotiations with the creditor companies themselves.

One needs to have a good idea of what one wants before starting, and lots of reasons why that's the route to go.

Remember - they don't want you to declare bankruptcy.

You don't, either, unless you owe buckets of money, for the expenses involved in going bankrupt are substantial. And you lose almost all of your possessions.

Plus - you have a bad credit history for many years.

Which may not matter too much - if you don't want to ask for credit for some time.

However, as I was a newly arrived tenant recently, the fuel company wanted a deposit from me before they delivered fuel. Had they checked my credit history and found a bankruptcy, quite likely it would have been somewhat higher.

Whether you make arrangments with your creditors yourself or use the non-profit Credit Counselling, make sure that you can live with the arrangement, and make sure to follow through on the agreemeents that you make: don't default, even once.

Forget the "minimum required monthly payment" issue - pay off as quickly as possible.

But make sure that the monthly amount that you promise to pay is an amount that you can manage. Then make those payments, for sure - but pay extra when possible.

Try to pay off all of the creditors as fast as you can - making additional payments above the amount that you agreed to, when possible.

Cut your spending to the bone, for a while, until at least the major portion of your debt is paid.

If some of the creditors insist on maintaining a substantial interest rate, do you have collateral that you could use to obtain a loan from a credit union or bank, or would they agree to a loan at lower than the rate your current creditor is charging, so that you could pay that loan off?

Good wishes.

Keep us posted on how things are going.

We want to see you get free of debt.

And that as soon as possible.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 2:20PM
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oldmanriver, is this debt settlement company one where you pay them and they pay your creditors? If so, I would be very concerned that they have been stealing from you instead of paying your creditors. I would directly contact your creditors and ask what settlement terms have been made and how much has been paid since you started working with this debt settlement firm. Also write everything single thing down, including the first and last name of the person to whom you spoke. Ask for any settlement terms to be faxed or mailed to you in writing. Creditors have a tendency to "lose" this kind of information.

As the others have already said, do not pay the debt settlement firm one more cent. And especially do not take money out of your savings fund. I would go one step further and investigate the legitimacy of the company, because they sound unscrupulous at best.

Go to the website that Laurie posted- it's legit.

You can restructure your debt yourself, but it takes time, persistence, attention to detail, and dealing with people who are out to get as much of your money as possible. I certainly understand wanting someone else to handle that for you. And there are legit companies that will do that for little to no money. Good luck. You have your head in the right place now.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 8:02PM
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You can do it yourself. I once signed up with this guy named James Lombardo (SIFXPERT), who got a really good reviews. He settled one account for me, yeay great! Then on the 2nd and 3rd acct, he has over $20K of my money to settle, but never did. Kept giving me false info/hope. I learned my lesson. Until now I'm hoping for that money back.

I then took this matter into my own hand, called the cc companies myself and settled them myself! You have to save for the settlement though. A lot of research out there. It will stays on your credit history for 7 years, but will stated "charged-off". I just recently request for mortgage, and those charged offs accounts were not a problem at all.

Note: All these cc debts were due to my business.
Good Luck!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 5:00PM
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Make a list of wants and needs. Cell phones and cable are wants. People lived for many years without these things. Those two alone could save you over 150 bucks. Apply that to your credit card debt. If you make 500 bucks a week, live off of 400. Eat cheap, beans and rice can be made in all kinds of ways. Been in your shoes, took me a year to get out of the hole.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 1:56AM
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gwilson2 - the OP asked for advice in December of 2005. I think the issue has been resolved for them.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2011 at 4:37PM
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I certainly hope the debt has been paid off. This thread is awfully old.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 9:38AM
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