Debt Settlement Scoundrels

And the beat goes on…..

How long will it be until Federal regulation appropriately addresses these problems?  Senator Schumer got the ball rolling on April with S.3264 but it didn’t get passed. Hopefully legislation will be under way during the Fall session. In the meantime, we can continue to raise awareness.
Here are a few indicators that change is in the air.
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Debt Settlement Firms Peddle Relief But Actually Put Debtors In Deeper Hole

“State attorneys general from New York to California and consumer watchdogs, such as the Better Business Bureau, say that debt settlement firms”™ proceeds come at the direct expense of financially troubled Americans who are being swindled out of their last dollars with dubious promises, The New York Times has reported.” ….read more HERE
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Be wary of promises from debt relief companies

Millions of Americans are drowning in debt. If you believe the ads “” with their bold claims of success “” a debt relief company will help you pay off your bills for pennies on the dollar.
The ads are everywhere:

  • “Be debt free in as little as 24-48 months!”
  • “Erase debts 50 to 70 percent or more!”
  • “Legally get debt down to zero.”

It sounds so easy……read more HERE
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Stay focused. Stay afloat. Wealth and freedom are in your future.
Jonathan

A Debt Settlement Miracle – Part 2

If you are new to the blog, click HERE to start at the beginning of my story.
POST #31?
Per my conversation with Billy, I called on March 2nd to speak with his manager, Bucky.
While on hold to talk with Bucky, I knew this was the final moment. My last move. Everything I had done for the last 10 weeks had lead to this.
When Bucky got on the phone, I took a deep breath and for the umpteenth time told my story. He listened. Asked all the same questions Billy had asked. I kept my story straight. Explained where the money was coming from and why this was my best offer.
Bucky was very considerate and calm during the call and seemed to really hear what I was saying. He said he would talk to the VP who gets out of a meeting in 2 hours. I thanked him for his time and consideration on behalf of myself and my family. Every time I said those words, I really did get choked up. Even though the debt settlement process does require some manipulation and hard-nosed negotiation, there was a simple truth behind all of this:

I was doing all of this for my family.

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And that was it….my last effort. If Bucky declined my offer, there would be no other option than to scrounge up another $1300 and settle for $9800. Not sure where the dough would come from.
And then…..four hours later my phone rang.
Was this the call? Was this the “DAY”?
It was Billy. I could tell from his tone of voice that he had good news.

” I am happy to say that your offer has been accepted.

Did you hear me?

They said yes!”

I was ecstatic, a bit speechless. I thanked him for his tenacity and sympathy. We both acknowledged that in the past 2 days I accomplished more than I had in the last 2 months. True to form, Billy offered an honest piece of insight. He said he likes working in Recovery because he can really help people.
He really helped me. His willingness to let me speak to his supervisors and managers allowed me to get the deal I needed. Unlike so many reps, he got out of the way. Yes, he was patient and attentive, but his most important role was to NOT interfere with my personal momentum.
He kept me on the phone as we prepped the letter, then faxed it to me. When we got off the phone, I screamed for joy as loud as I could. I ran in to tell my wife! It was a beautiful embrace. We looked into each other’s eyes and she said, “You did it, baby!”
Nope, we did it.
If not for the love of my family, I never would have spent the hundreds of hours of time and energy to go through this debt settlement process.
Here are the final stats:

  • $141,655.56 worth of debt settled for $40,449.11.

  • 28% or 28 cents on the dollar.

This is the end of my deb settlement story, but not the end of my financial recovery story. There are still 3 things I need to do:

  • Loan mod on my 1st mortgage.

  • Settle or loan mod my 2nd mortgage.

  • Build personal wealth and financial security.

More to come…….
Stay tuned and stay afloat. Wealth and freedom are in your future.
Jonathan

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A Debt Settlement Miracle – Part 1

If you are new to the blog, click HERE to start at the beginning of my story.
POST #30?

Mafia spaghetti with seafood and tomato sauce

How do we create an airtight counter offer?  An offer they can’t refuse….not because of the threat of a bloody horse head or anything “silly” like that. More like an offer where the numbers make so much sense that they are realistically un-movable.
Here’s where we stood:

  • Their offer:            $9808

  • My current offer:  $7500

  • My goal:                $8600

After several conversations with my CRN coach, we came up with the silver bullet.
My current offer was $7500. If I deferred March’s car payment of $514, that would bring us to $8014 – payable today.  Then I make an additional payment 30 days from now by deferring my April car payment of $514. Total offer: $8528. I can’t go beyond that amount because:

  • I have already borrowed from EVERYONE I could.

  • I have deferred as many other bills as possible.

  • I can’t defer my mortgage because that would jeopardize the loan mod process.

  • If it weren’t for the loan mod potential, I would just declare bankruptcy and fore-go all of this effort.

NYC - Queens - LIC: 5 Pointz - Roadrunner and ...

There were so many aspects about this offer that made it genius – in fact it was super genius.
I can say this without bragging because I didn’t come up with it –  my CRN coach did. Obviously not her first rodeo. It was exactly this type of creative bargaining that can make or break a deal.
I called Billy in Recovery and made this counter offer. He was impressed by our creativity and resolve, though not AT ALL confident.
He went to the sup and very quickly came back with the same $9808.00 offer from yesterday.
I thanked him for his time and reiterated my intention for doing all of this was 3 fold:

  • To shield my family from anymore hardships.

  • Hold on to my house.

  • Offer a good faith settlement to the bank.

He was again sympathetic.  I asked him to bypass his sup and PLEASE talk to his manager. He agreed.
Two hours later, he called me back to say the manager had denied my offer.
It seemed like I had played my last card. What was left to do?
Then it hit me:

  • Maybe Billy’s compassion for me was a direct result of how I was telling the story.

  • Maybe if I spoke directly with the manager he would “get it” too?

Lucky for me, Billy agreed to make that happen.
Stay tuned. Stay afloat. Wealth and freedom are in your future.
Jonathan

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A VISA Debt Settlement Offer

If you are new to the blog, click HERE to start at the beginning of my story.
POST #29
This is the day!!!!
Famous last words…..well it wasn’t THE day, but it was a BIG step forward.
I got on the phone with my contact in Recovery, let’s call him Billy. I had done my dance of the purgatory fairies the night before. Apparently they heard me because my account was in his system.
Billy was a down home kinda guy. A slow, calm droll to his voice – focused, smart and confident, but no attitude.  Quite frankly, I felt lucky to have found him. He seemed to understand my plight and was willing to work with me. Usually, I don’t believe in bonding with your “salesman” but with Billy it was different.  He was authentic, so I trusted my gut and trusted him.
He reiterated that $7500 was extremely unlikely. He had seen offers of 40% ($11,200), but only in extreme circumstances.  From his experience, my account was likely to be in his department for about a month and it would take that much time to get the supervisor to consider a deal that even came close to my offer of $7500.  That said, he was a man of his word and agreed to send it up the flag pole.
He put me on hold for less than 2 minutes, came back on and said he couldn”™t reach any sups but would try a manager.
In what seemed like 10 seconds, Billy came back on the phone.  He wasn’t the excitable type, but there was a smile in his voice.
Apparently, he had never seen an offer this low and this quick.
$9809.87 or 35%

We were in business!!!!!!

I calmly thanked him, showed my appreciation, but said this was still $2300 over my offer and I had to consult with my credit counselor (CRN coach).

Giant House of Cards
Image by Tjflex2 via Flickr

At this point, it was critical that my story stay consistent. In reality, I had access to about $8600, but our financial story had been a complicated one of borrowing (true), and deferring payments (true). We had allowed ourselves a little bit of wiggle room without telling the bank.  Now that we were going to counter offer above our most recent offer of $7500, we had to mathematically explain how and why it would happen. If there was a hole in the story, it could all fall apart like a house of cards.  The domino effect of which could make my real house fall like a house of cards. Not good.
Luckily, Billy added a little piece of magic to their offer. Unlike so many scoundrels in the collections and recovery departments, he took the pressure OFF of me.
“No one is putting pressure on you to decide today. The offer is good for 2 weeks.”
This is really unheard of!
So close…..but not quite there.
Stay tuned. Stay afloat. Wealth and freedom are in your future.
Jonathan

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VISA Settlement Not In Sight

If you are new to the blog, click HERE to start at the beginning of my story.
POST #27
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A woman giving birth on a birth chair, from a ...
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Here we are, 2 weeks into 2010 and I am still flying high from settling over $100K of debt.  It is hard to describe the feeling, but I imagine the relief is equivalent to that of my wife’s when she pushed out our 9 pound son.
Now on to the VISA.
I was prepared for the VISA to be a bit different. First clue was their charge-off schedule was much longer than the lines of credit. I am not exactly sure how they do their math, but they wouldn’t have done well in my 5th grade math class.
Here are a few ways the VISA differs from the Lines of Credit:

  • Jacked up my APR to 29.9% after I was 30 days late.

  • Charge off schedule was much longer.

  • Not at all interested in negotiating until we got to the recovery department.

  • More aggressive phone reps.

1/11/10
I called the the VISA department to make another offer. Current balance was $28K, with a whopping $2500 of fees, penalties and interest.  This was 5 times the amount of excessive charges I experienced on my Lines of Credit.  Scoundrels!
I had been calling them all along, low balling, and they had stone-called me at 50% -$14K.

Ginsu!
Image by Mat Honan via Flickr

Today was no different. The rep wanted 50% divided into 3 “easy” payments of $4671.36.  I wanted to ask if it came with a Ginsu knife set.
Up until now, my offers had been for $7500. However, since I had used some of my savings for the other settlements, I decided to lower my offer to reflect that. In other words, since Visa didn’t play ball (but the Line of Credit department did): they lost out on getting more of my available funds!
This time I offered $5000.  The rep just about laughed at me. My notes showed my prior offers of $7500 had been declined so he knew my offer of $5000 would not fly. I explained that I do have $7500 (in borrowed money) but $2500 is now spoken for with my 5 payments of $500 to the LOC settlement I recently landed.
He said he would submit it, but didn’t look promising. Then he mentioned that my account was 146 days passed due. It was “subject to charge” off tomorrow.
You are probably wondering what “subject to charge off” means. I did, too, so I asked.
Upshot: NOTHING.
It was a scare tactic designed to get a payment out of me. Technically, the bank can charge off the account any time after 90 days   – and maybe even earlier.  So really, it had had been “subject to charge off” for a while now!
We ended the call.
It went on like this for 3 weeks. I’d call, offer $5k, they’d say no but try to get a payment. I’d ask for a supervisor. One wasn’t available, but they’d have him call me back. No one called, so I called back in a few days and started the process again.
We were back in junior high school playing hard-to-get with each other. Everyone knew where this was headed…..yup: the Recovery Department – where the real deals are had.
Again, it hurts your credit. But since I already had 3 accounts hit the Recovery Department, I figured I might as well go 4 for 4 and get a great settlement.
By the way, charge off didn’t happen until the end of February – about 50 days after that rep threatened me that it was “subject to charge off”
Scoundrels.
Stay tuned. Stay afloat. Wealth and freedom are in your future.
Jonathan

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Debt Settlement Breeds the Un-dead

If you are new to the blog, click HERE to start at the beginning of my story.
POST #25
It was Monday 12/28.
Like so many days during the past 2 weeks, I woke up and said to myself, “This is the day!!!!”
I hit the phone, called the rep and was ready to cut a deal. I had prepared for this day in a zillion different ways – not the least of which was borrowing money from my retirement account.
Everyone says to NEVER EVER touch your retirement account. Between taxes and early withdrawal fees, you can get killed. This is true. But in my case, a killer settlement on $100K would far out weigh the downside of pulling from retirement. It was a good decision both financially and psychologically. This may not be true for most people, but I knew it to be true for me.
Back to the phone call……
I dialed the number and sure enough, got the rep on the phone…..soooooo close.
Thankfully, he remembered me and my case.

Simulated view of a black hole in front of the...
Image via Wikipedia

Unfortunately, my account was still in the collections black hole I call:
DEBT SETTLEMENT PURGATORY.
I really did feel like one of the undead. My CRN coach had prepared me in so many ways.

  • Be patient.

  • Stay focused.

  • Keep consistent.

But never did she mention that I would be the caretaker for a zombie account roaming the debt world in search of a home. At this point, hell, bankruptcy, seemed like it would be a relief. At least I would know where I was!
I just wanted these accounts to be killed. I actually had empathy for the zombies from those cult films.

A participant of a
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The rep told me to call back the next day.

December 29, 2009

………..Still a zombie.
….and the next day…..still no luck. In fact, I was told my account was frozen. It would definitely not be released to the Recovery Department until January 1st or 2nd of 2010.

Somebody kill me!!!!!!!!!

It was December 30, 2009. If I was to benefit from the timing of the last day of the last month of the year…..I had one more day to do it.
I prayed to the zombies of purgatory to take pity on me. Delivery me from this fire!
Just like a good horror film, we’ll leave this post on a cliff-hanger.
Stay tuned. Stay afloat. Wealth and freedom are in your future.
Jonathan

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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
Image by MightyBoyBrian via Flickr

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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