Monday, May 19, 2014

Debt Settlement And Negotiation Is Bad For Your Credit!

I'm not a big TV watcher but sometimes when I do, I see ads for debt settlement and debt negotiation services.  They sound so nice and the actors pretend that their life after signing up is just so wonderful, like it solved all of their problems. Its a crock!  If they were honest about it, they would have a disclaimer that you could hear at a normal speed of talking where they told you who really benefits with debt settlement.

If you've read much of my blog, you have most likely read that you don't owe collectors a dime and you shouldn't pay them or settle with them. I feel the same way about charged off accounts with original creditors. You don't owe them squat.  Of course, that's not what you're going to read on most websites and blogs. No, they just keep spitting out the same garbage that the bureaus and the FTC, and the creditors and collectors want you to believe. 

But, you have to think about it. Why would they tell you that a charged off account still has to be paid? Why would a collector who you've never agreed to do business with tell you that regardless if its been charged off and now they own it, that you have to pay? I know you have got to sort of have the answer in your head as you read this - its so easy!  Its because they know if they get you to pay, they are going to make butt loads of money off of you and everyone else they convince that they need to pay.  What's that saying? Follow the money!

So why is debt settlement so bad for your credit?  Let me explain a little about your credit report and scores.  When you have a charge off, it can really cost you some points. But, as time goes on, it has less and less effect on your score.  In fact, at 2 years, it really isn't affecting your score at all. At least its not if they are reporting it properly. What I mean by that is, it should show what your high credit is and your balance should be $0 and your past due should be $0.  Anything other than that is wrong and even at 2 years old, it will be affecting your credit and your score negatively.  

This is when most people see that charge off and they think if they do the fake "honorable" thing and pay it off, it will help their score. NOPE! It will hurt your score.  What you should do, is tell the original creditor that you are not happy that they are intentionally damaging your credit score by knowingly reporting erroneous information. They charged this alleged account off. Their books say $0 past due now and $0 balance. So why on earth are they reporting anything other than $0? I admit that there's a lot of incompetent people working for these folks, but it is intentional. They want to screw you over because you stopped paying and they didn't get to swindle you for the full amount they were hoping for. Its retaliation!

So, they may come back with a phony verification but offer you a sweet deal to close it out. If you do that, what will happen to your credit is a new negative report that now will take another 2 years to have no affect and another 7 years before it will "fall off" of your credit report. Oh, and your credit report will also say that you settled! Is that helping you? Nah, but they made more money off you. They also took tax credits when they charged off, so now they have just committed tax fraud.  And when they charged off, they got a secret insurance payment that paid it off, so they also just committed insurance fraud. So tell me again how you benefited?  You have a fresh negative and 7 more years of negative crap on your credit and paid for something that had you continued to fight about, you never would have paid and you probably would have gotten it off your credit.

Let's talk about 3rd party debt collectors. They notify you that they are now collecting on behalf of an old credit card or medical debt that you failed to pay. But oh, lucky you. They're going to offer you an awesome deal where they're going to knock off half of the balance you owe them. Stop! You don't owe them. When did you contract with them?  Were they mentioned on the contract with the original creditor? NO, NO, NO they weren't! 

What you should do is demand validation from them. I think that probably 90-95% of the time, when they bought the portfolio of bad debt from the original creditor or some other junk debt buyer, they were missing a lot of the supporting documentation. I say this because 97% of collection lawsuits end up with the collector winning a default judgment. The defendant (think, overwhelmed or not notified consumer) doesn't fight it or respond. So, if they can count on that many default judgments, why would they care if they got full documentation to support the bad debts they buy?

When you demand validation, more than 1/3 of them will hit the road. They may sell it to the next junk debt buyer to try to recoup some of the money they spend, but each time they resell it, you have a higher success rate of getting rid of them.  But let's get back to debt settlement. Why would you settle with someone you don't owe, even at 1/2 the amount, when they bought it for probably no more than 20 cents on the dollar? That means they are also making money off of you when they never lent you a dime. And they probably can't prove you owe them anything.

But here's the bad part. They will now report that you have a paid collection.  A collection is worse than a charge off. It is bad. Always bad. And paying them is more fresh bad. No collector should ever be on any one's credit report, but if you pay them, you will have an even harder time getting it off because they have no incentive to delete and they will claim because you paid them, you contracted with them.

Now debt negotiation is a little different. This is where you hire a company to negotiate a settlement for you.  Why is this bad? Well, for all of the above reasons, but also, now you are paying another company money. They won't make payments on your behalf right away. No, they hold on to the money.  Oh wait, that's not correct. They will take a portion of your payment and keep it as part of their fee, and then hold on to the rest until you build up enough to make a settlement offer to 1 or a few creditors and or collectors. So now, you may have just been struggling to pay the credit card bills, but were never late, and this company stopped paying them, when you thought they were going to be managing it for you. Oh boy are you getting screwed!

Debt negotiation firms, (if they don't take your money and run), they hold on to your money so long without making payments that you will end up with charge offs, having original creditor debts now go to collectors, have your car repoed, even get you into a situation where you get sued! Wow, they are really helping consumers, aren't they?

Now there's also the consumer counseling companies. They do debt settlement also but its a little different. What they do is negotiate to lower or freeze the interest rates. But, the balance of the debt stays the same, plus you have a monthly fee for them negotiating with the credit card companies. You don't get any cut in the balance at all.  Its kind of like a Ch. 13 bankruptcy and they will many times notate on your credit report that its included in a counseling plan.  The only thing I can commend these types of settlement companies on is the fact that they actually will be making the payment to the creditors every month. That's because they don't have to save up a large amount to negotiate a balance settlement. So as long as you make that payment every month to them (which of course includes their service fee), they'll pay the creditors.

Okay, so who benefits? Well, many times these companies claim to be non-profit. That doesn't mean anything for you. It means they are exempt from taxation, but it doesn't mean it costs you less. And who donates to these companies, gives them grants, invests in them, keeps them up and running?  Many times its the credit card companies! I can tell you for sure the credit card companies are behind most of the credit counseling companies. Its another nice tax credit.  Did you see that one coming?  Its a stinking scam! So, now the negotiation company benefits, the original creditor benefits, the collector benefits, but how on earth do you benefit?

Every month they don't pay because they're building up the payoff fund, your credit report gets more late notations and your score drops, and you get charge offs, and you get new collection activity being reported on your credit. You aren't benefiting at all! You are getting spanked!

What annoys me also is, they have the nerve to claim they are helping you repair or restore your credit. Its such BS! They are no better than dirty 3rd party debt collectors. They are lying thieves!  None of them are out to help you. They are all vultures finding different ways to snipe your money from you. They don't care what kind of hardship it causes you. They don't care that it jacks up your credit. All they care about is the money. And its a lot of money. These debt settlement and debt negotiation companies make big money, whether they are for profit, not for profit, or non-profit.

If you want to fix your credit, don't think for one second that paying one of these companies is going to help you. They are not, and that's a fact! If you want to fix your credit, you're going to have to learn how to fight back. Learn to write validation letters. Learn how to read your credit report. Learn how to know if what they send back as validation or verification is accurate or actually validation or verification. You have to learn how to respond to them. If you want to be successful on your own, you will need to learn some laws and not just say the same thing that letters you find online say. You have to understand the laws. You have to know how and when  to use them, which ones to use, which case law to throw back at them, what to say to defend yourself and make them pound sand!

I try to teach you here how to stand up for yourself, how to fight to get your credit score back up and your credit reports looking pretty. But, it takes commitment. It takes time. It takes persistence and not everything always comes off.  You probably won't have as much success as someone who does it professionally, but you can see fantastic results if you keep at it and if you use a lot of what I share with you on this blog.  I don't think you'll find anyone else who has been in the business as long as I have been, willing to share as much truth and strategies and laws as I do here.  What I share has helped me be successful for almost 3 decades. I want you to be successful too!

So, I congratulate you on making the decision to fight to restore your credit and improve your credit. You can do it.  But, if you find you just don't want to do it on your own, I would love to help. Use the phone number or the email address up at the top right hand side of this page to contact me.  Let's get started on your new clean credit report so you can get those better insurance rates, you can get that job, you can qualify for that car or home purchase. Let's get you going to finally get back your life!


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