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Debt Settlement Purgatory – Part 2

If you are new to the blog, click HERE to start at the beginning of my story.
POST #24

Still in purgatory……

200m
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I made another pro-active call to the Recovery Department and this time I got a different answer.

They said the acct wouldn’t reach their dept until I stopped making payments on my settlement with the collections department.

WHAT???????

I clarified that I had NOT accepted their settlement offer of 60%, per my discussion with collections on 12/16.  I reiterated that I could borrow $20k from a family friend to settle both accts.

“Let me see what I can do” The rep seemed eager and put me on hold.

At that moment, I was very hopeful.  My offer was going to the manager who would be yet another person in the recovery department aware of me and my case. I found that familiarity is a big factor in the success of debt settlement.  Unfortunately, the manager said we had to wait.

But this call still had merit. The rep promised to make sure collections corrected my account to reflect that I had not accepted a settlement yet.

It’s a good thing I caught this.  Had I not, this would have delayed my account further.

I waited another 2 days and called the recovery department again. It was 12/24, the day before Christmas. Just a month ago, my call the day before Thanksgiving resulted in a great settlement. Perhaps the timing of this call would have the same effect.

…..and it did!!

The rep asked me if I was waiting for the account to charge off. I confidently said I was not waiting for anything. The notes on my account should reflect that I am actively trying to make a good faith payment to you ASAP.  This rep said this:

  • Your account is in the process of charge off.

  • It should happen by Monday, 12/28.

  • Call me after 10AM PST Monday at my direct line.

  • I will gather info, talk to sups and be ready to handle this.

BOOOOO-YAAAAA!

I finally had a hard date. I found a person who wanted to work with me. He gave me a day and time to specifically call him to settle this account. It was Christmas eve.  It felt like I had been given a great Christmas present.

With a little patience, I would be a new man.

Xmas tree
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Stay tuned. Stay afloat. Wealth and freedom are in your future.
Jonathan

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Debt Settlement Purgatory – Part 1

If you are new to the blog, click HERE to start at the beginning of my story.
POST #23

Lost title card
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What is debt settlement purgatory?  It’s kind of like the sideways time line in the final season of “Lost“.  Confusing, frustrating, but does ultimately lead to nirvana. My account had left the Collections Department, but wasn’t yet in the Recovery Department.

Apparently, there is a dead time after collections but before recovery. The account is technically charged off, but doesn’t appear in any particular department. It’s like when you send an email and it leaves your sent box but never hits your outbox.  You know that just a moment ago it DID exist, but due to technology, you can’t find it. Well, this was a nut to crack. I had come this far and wasn’t going to let the critical last 2 weeks of the year get away from me.

Someone would have the answer. Someone would be able to wrangle my account. I just hadn’t found that person yet.  Where was my Jacob?  But remember what I had said at the beginning of the journey:

TENACITY AND HARD WORK

So I put my nose to the grindstone and called, and called, and called again. I kept telling my story over and over to rep after rep. I kept getting the same answers over and over again, “I am sorry Mr. Grossman, your account is not in my dept. It is on its way to the recovery dept, but won’t show up on their system for another day or so.”

According to the Recovery Department, the absolute latest it would hit them was 1/1/10. But that would be the beginning of a new month and a new fiscal year and this would likely hurt my negotiation.

It went on and on like this for 10 days. I had prepared myself for the big day of settling these 2 enormous accounts.  Settling $100,000 seemed almost within my grasp. I could taste the relief. Each day I woke up, I said to myself, “This is the day!”  I would get all amped up and prepared, then make the call only to find that I had to wait another day.  Time was getting thin.

It was December 22 – dangerously close to December 31st, the end of the year.

How would I get “unLost”?

Stay tuned…..

Jonathan

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Debt Relief Resources – 10 best sites for information

If you are new to the blog, click HERE to start at the beginning of my story.
POST #22

I have a lot of people ask:

Where can I do my research? What are the best resources?

There are many great resources on the internet. I’d like to think this blog is one of them! :-)

Out of the hundreds of resources, about 10 of them are really worth your time. Here is my hit list. If you read the info at each of these sites, you will have a great foundation for understanding debt settlement.

Top 10 Debt Settlement Resource Sites

  1. Federal Trade Commission: A wealth of information on what is currently legal, illegal or yet to be determined. If you missed the Senate Committee hearing 2 weeks ago it is worth a viewing.
  2. National Association of Consumer Advocates: Know your rights
  3. Legal Advice Line: Get inexpensive expert legal advice.
  4. National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys: Find an attorney in your area that has expertise in bankruptcy and debt settlement.
  5. About.Com:Credit: A collection of forums and blogs covering everything credit related.
  6. Credit Info Center: Great forums, articles and opinions on debt settlement.
  7. Zip Debt:  Charles Phelan is an extraordinary resource on the topic of debt settlement. His DIY program has gotten incredible reviews and results. His blog is indispensable.
  8. Hoffman Brinker: Contains step by step videos explaining the pros and cons of debt settlement.  Easy to understand and a great starting point for your education.
  9. Get Out Of Debt: Steve Rhode’s blog and resource site. Steve is an expert in the credit/debt field. His site is very well trafficked and he has a major presence there. If you post a question, you will get an answer.
  10. Consumer Recovery Network: Saving the best for last. Michael Bovee is the MAN.  He is the consummate expert in this field. Always on the cutting edge of this industry and very generous with his time. ’nuff said!

Happy researching!

Stay tuned. Stay afloat. Wealth and freedom are in your future.
Jonathan

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Debt Settlement Weapon of Choice – Consumer Recovery Network

If you are new to the blog, click HERE to start at the beginning of my story.
POST #21

I have shared with you, again and again, that debt settlement is a process. It forced me to do a lot of research, tested my patience and resolve and challenged my brain. But I want to make one thing clear, I am not an expert. I am a FIRC (former irresponsible recovering consumer) who successfully followed the coaching and guidelines of the Consumer Recovery Network DIY program.

Several times I have looked back on this experience and wondered if I could have done it all on my own without the help of a DIY program.  There is a lot of free info on the internet. Heck, this blog itself shows you many of the techniques used to navigate the process.  After careful review, I have concluded that you CAN do it without the help of a company…..but I don’t recommend it.

Here are a few pitfalls of going solo:

Ozzfest 2007: Zakk's Solo 3
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  • Every situation and bank negotiation is different. You will have to improvise along the way. A wrong choice can kill the deal.

  • Timing is everything. Not all banks process the collections in the same time line. You will be doing some guessing.

  • The reps will lie to you. How will you sift through the BS?

I followed CRN’s DIY program. I listened to the CDs, read the workbook and had about 30 hours of phone calls with my CRN coach. Guess which was the most indispensable aspect?

The advice from my coach.

There were a zillion forks in the road during my debt settlement. All of the solutions came from discussions with my coach. I have shared many of these solutions already, but I want to add one last thing.

I knew was getting close to a settlement on these 2 big line of credit accounts. It would take a bit of fancy footwork, negotiating and quick thinking. There was critical phone call I had to make and decided to add an extra safety measure. This technique, appropriately called the Debt Settlement Weapon of Choice, can only be done when you have a coach. Hang on, this is a good one!

I called my CRN coach, put her on mute, then conferenced in the bank.  While I was talking with the bank, my CRN coach was listening in and emailing me questions to ask the bank rep. GENIUS!

We only did this once, during a critical call. It was a great help because, despite all of my preparedness, the flow of this particular conversation was beyond my expertise. I couldn’t distill the truth from the BS, nor could I determine the best questions to ask.

In short, you can do a full on “free” DIY by using info on the internet.  But for me, I concluded it was best to have an expert coach offering advice and counsel specific to my situation.  Especially when that advice was in real time during the conversation, via email!!!

Stay tuned. Stay afloat. Wealth and freedom are in your future.
Jonathan

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View Comments to “Debt Settlement Weapon of Choice – Consumer Recovery Network”

  1. Torfino says:

    $130K, lucky you, my husband and I are at $180K.  Spoke with someone yesterday from CRN, I plan to DIY but just hope I have the stamina to do it right since we have 12 debtors to conquer, work 50-60 hours a week and have a toddler at home (my second full time job….)   Your blog is encouraging though.  I'd appreciate any other advice or support you have along the way.

    Signed, Future Fellow FIRC

  2. debtsettlementstory says:

    Hello!
    Glad to hear that you are considering taking action. The best thing we can all do is NOT GIVE UP. Keep trying – no matter how dark it seems. I felt hopeless 2 years ago. Now I really do feel that anything is possible.

    Please feel free to contact me with questions. But remember I am just a successful consumer story. Michael Bovee at Consumer Recovery Network is the expert. They are so inexpensive for the service they provide. I trust them implicitly, which is unheard of these days.
    What was your conversation with them like? Did it seem like a good match?

    DIY is time consuming, but it helps to consider is as a second job. If you can save 50% of your debt, that would be like earning an extra $90K this year. Not bad for a second job. Criitical to your success is the commitment to the process. You can definitely do this. Once you feel that for yourself – most of the work is done.

    Best,
    JG

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Debt Settlement Insider Info

If you are new to the blog, click HERE to start at the beginning of my story.
POST #20

I was flying high from my first settlement.  It was an amazing feeling to say the least. However, I still had my work cut out for me. Even though I had tons of information and momentum, I still had 3 accounts totaling over $100,000 to deal with. In the scheme of things, the party was just getting started.

I did have a few things going for me though:

  • I knew the best deals were had in the recovery department.

  • I could use my first settlement of 35% as bargaining power when reps said that the bank never settles for less that 50%.

At the advice of my CRN rep, I made a bold pro-active move.  Two of my line of credit accounts were set to charge off on 12/24/09. Even though it this was 3 weeks away, she suggested that I call the Recovery Department and start the conversation with them. Wow was this an interesting phonecall.

Since I had been calling every other week for 2 months, the notes on my account would add credence to my plea for a better settlement. Here’s what happened:

On 12/8/09, I spoke with Ms. XXX in the Recovery Dept and told her that the collection department offered me a settlement of 60%, but I couldn’t afford it. I then offered her $20K to settle on both of my accounts – balances totaling over $100,000.

She said,  “That’s an awesome settlement and if the accounts were in my department, I would accept it right now!”  Let me repeat this because it is amazing!

“That’s an awesome settlement and if the accounts were in my department, I would accept it right now!”

Unfortunately for both of us, my accounts weren’t in her department so we couldn’t strike a deal. But this was exciting news nonetheless.

Then she said another amazing thing:

“I wouldn’t recommend this, but if you want a better settlement, you should wait for the account to reach the Recovery Department.”

Okay…..now I don’t know about you, but when the rep at the bank essentially tells me how it works…

I LISTEN!!!!!

As you can see, this rep let the cat out of the bag. From what I understand, reps in these departments are like sales people. They get a commission. At the end of the month/year, they are offered incentives to settle more accounts. Maybe my $20k would put this rep into another bonus bracket and she would be able to afford the trip to Hawaii with her family. Who knows? Either way, I was going to wait for charge off on 12/24, wait for the account to go to the Recovery Department and probably get a settlement close to $20k.

I knew this wasn’t a sure thing, because nothing ever is. But based on the information provided thus far, it seemed likely.

Knights in Shining Armor III
Image by IslesPunkFan via Flickr

I want to add something here. In no way am I suggesting that the best route for debt settlement is to wait for your account to charge off.  Remember, debt settlement is like dating with the bank. You have to go through every “chivalrous” routine before you get kissed. In terms of the bank, chivalry includes:

  1. Calling every 2 weeks

  2. Calmly explaining your story, YOUR TRUE STORY

  3. Being gracious when offer are made, even if you can’t afford them

  4. Being genuine by letting the bank know you are not some scum-bag trying get out of your debt.

In the coming posts I will detail how the settlement on these accounts actually went down.

Stay tuned. Stay afloat. Wealth and freedom are in your future.

Jonathan

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Credit Card Department Psychosis

If you are new to the blog, click HERE to start at the beginning of my story.
POST #19

Debt settlement is a very interesting process.

  • On the one hand it is simple: you negotiate a lump sum payment with your bank at a fraction of the amount owed and you both go your separate ways.
  • On the other hand, you are dealing with a corporation and as you may know from the movie The Corporation.

“If the dominant institution of our time [the corporation] has been created in the image of the psychopath, who bears the moral responsibility for it’s actions?”

This is the crux of the problem with debt settlement. It isn’t that the bank doesn’t want to settle, it’s that they behave like psychopaths.  Let’s remember:

  • In October, the credit department told me the never for less than 85%
  • In November the collection department told me the never settle for less than 60%
  • In December the recovery department told me they never settle for less than 40%

So how did I get a settlement for 35%?

Simple answer: Corporations are psychotic!

The Interior of Bedlam (Bethlem Royal Hospital...
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But really, it came down to this. I discovered that when dealing with a corporation like a bank, I have to understand that different departments have different standards and quotas. The collections department is supposed to stonewall you at 60% because they know most consumers will be intimidated and settle. The bank also knows that once your account is in the recovery department, they have to make a better offer or will likely get nothing. Your credit will suffer once your account is in recovery, and they will use this as a bargaining chip. I already knew that credit repair was in my future, so I couldn’t let a few more points get in the way of a good deal.  Playing chicken with the bank!

Additionally, the deal can be contingent on the personality and mood of the rep with whom you are speaking.  Does this sound arbitrary and unfair? Yes. And it is.

With this information, I was able to navigate through the psychosis of the bank.

Top 5 points that helped me get good deal

  1. I didn’t get riled up by the reps who tried to incite me.

  2. I waited until the account went to the recovery department.

  3. I timed my negotiation at the end of the month, when reps were trying to meet quotas.

  4. I timed my negotiation at the end of the year, even bigger quotas on the line.

  5. I understood that the bank is a psychotic being and can (and will!) change it’s mind at the drop of dime…..or a few thousand bucks! :-)

In the coming posts, I’ll discuss how I settled my 2 biggest accounts on December 31st, 2009. Last day of the last month of the year.  Let’s just say, that helped.

Stay tuned. Stay afloat. Wealth and freedom are in your future.
Jonathan

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