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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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 Relief- So Many Options

POST #3
Research. Research. Research.
Once I finally realized that the end was near, I started doing extensive research on my options. Of course the first thing I thought of was bankruptcy. It was all I knew. I thought if you got behind on your bills, your only option was the big B.
With a few clicks on the web, I soon found a zillion companies offering many options. In the next post I’ll share some of my observations on the different companies, but today we’ll focus on the five most likely options you have:

  1. Bankruptcy – Chapter 13 or 7

  2. Debt Consolidation

  3. Consumer Credit Counseling

  4. Debt Settlement

  5. Nothing…which usually gets you back to the top of this list. Not a real option.

For a complete explanation of these options and an analysis of which option is best for you, CLICK HERE.
Here’s what I discovered for my situation:
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Bankruptcy

For me, bankruptcy felt like the death of my soul. A complete failure and announcement to the world that I had screwed up so badly that my only option was to wave the white flag. I had regular conversations with my wife about this option. Was this our destination? How could I face my family and friends? Just 2 years ago I was flying high. Now….death. Thinking back on it, the reason I did so much research was because I was compelled to find another way. I wasn’t going down without a fight. There MUST be another option.

Consumer Credit Counseling

I was familiar with consumer credit counseling. In fact, I had done this about 9 years ago. When my band, Dogwood Moon, got off the road we had accumulated a bit of debt. In order to gain some sense of control and balance in my life, I got a company to manage my debt. I made a lump sum monthly payment to them and they distributed it to my creditors. They tried to get the bank to lower my interest rates, but none of them actually could. Of course they took a fee, and although it was modest, there was really no significant benefit from the company. They just held my hand throughout the whole thing. I could have done it myself, had I been more disciplined. I soon realized this and when I made a bit of money, I paid the whole thing off early. Wasn’t a bad option then, but I wouldn’t do it again. In 2009 consumer credit counseling wasn’t really an option. I couldn’t afford to pay my bills, so it wouldn’t help me if they collected my money and distributed it. The money wasn’t there.

Debt Consolidation

My credit wasn’t good enough to get a decent loan for $130,000. Even if I did, I’d be making payment for the rest of my life. This would take too long and ultimately cost too much. I wanted to take action, rectify my situation and start over. This would be a slow process. I am not a slow kind of guy. I had finally decided to take action and I wanted to get it done….NOW!

Debt Settlement

When I came across the idea of Debt Settlement for the first time, it was a real eye opener for me. I hadn’t even considered the prospect of negotiating with the banks in this way. I never thought of the bank as a collection of real people. It just seemed like a monster I had made a bad deal with and was now sucking up all my money. With Debt Settlement, you call your bank and negotiate a lump sum payoff of the account that is less than full balance. This negotiation can be done in 3 different ways:

  1. You do it on your own

  2. You do it while being coached by a debt settlement specialist.

  3. You hire a company to negotiate on your behalf and pay them a fee. BEWARE: THESE FEES CAN VARY DRASTICALLY! I will discuss this in the next post.

After careful thought, I chose Debt Settlement, option 2. At the heart of Debt Settlement is the ability to negotiate. This was very appealing to me because I love negotiating. My father is a retired lawyer. Growing up was like a series of scenes from that Albert Brooks movie, Defending Your Life. At an early age, I was trained to ask for things in a diplomatic way, stick to my guns and be prepared for the inevitable interrogation. Maybe I should have been a lawyer! You will think I am crazy when I say this, but I have actually enjoyed the Debt Settlement process. I chose a company that was a true consumer advocate. They didn’t charge exorbitant fees and the debt settlement specialist assigned to my case was nothing short of awesome. In my humble opinion, critical to your success with Debt Settlement is the company that assists you. Some of them actually will save you money. Others will take advantage of you and PUT YOU FURTHER IN DEBT.
In the next post, I’ll discuss the companies I chose to avoid and the company I ended up using, Consumer Recovery Network.
Stay tuned, stay afloat. WEALTH AND FREEDOM ARE IN YOUR FUTURE!

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