Debt Settlement Regulation

If you are new to the blog, click HERE to start at the beginning of my story.
I am out of the woods with my debt settlement tribulations. Having successfully navigated the crazy road, I am intent on paying it forward and providing information for consumers struggling with unsecured debt.
One of the biggest aspects to consider is this:

Only 30% of those people enrolling with a debt settlement company successfully complete the program.

That means 70% of those enrolling end up paying fees to the debt settlement company, but never getting out of debt. Obviously the system is broken and something needs to change. The articles below are an indication of what’s to come.
?

Debt Settlement Firms: Promises too Good to be True

“…less than one of every three customers successfully completes these programs. At one firm – National Consumer Council, which was shuttered by the FTC in 2004 – less than two percent of customers successfully completed their debt settlement programs.” to read more click HERE
?

State attorneys general and consumer watchdog groups say the debt settlement industry takes advantage of Americans whose lost jobs and lost income is pushing them towards bankruptcy, making dubious promises and fleecing them of their last dollars, The New York Times reported Saturday.” to read more click HERE
?

Credit Card Debt Settlement Companies Prepare for Coming Regulation

“Owners of debt settlement companies meeting at a Florida resort anticipate major changes to their industry, according to a recent profile in the New York Times. Writer Peter S. Goodman interviewed members of the United States Organizations for Bankruptcy Alternatives, a debt settlement trade organization whose own studies indicate that only about a third of Americans seeking debt settlement successfully complete their programs.” to read more click HERE
?

Peddling Relief, Firms Put Debtors in Deeper Hole

“State attorneys general from New York to California and consumer watchdogs like the Better Business Bureau say the industry”™s proceeds come at the direct expense of financially troubled Americans who are being fleeced of their last dollars with dubious promises.” to read more click HERE
?
Stay tuned. Stay afloat. Wealth and freedom are in your future.
Jonathan

$130,000 of Credit Debt – The Beginning: How could I Let It Happen?

POST # 2
When I look back on what happened, the writing was on the wall. If I had been smart enough to have a business manager, this would have never happened.
In 2004, things were going great. I was newly married, had no kids, no debt and had just bought my first home. I was composing music for the hit television show Joan of ArcadiaMoney was no object. I was like a kid in candy store. Just 4 years earlier, I was living in a mini-van with my wife (then girlfriend) touring the United States as a folk rock duo, Dogwood Moon. We were lucky to make $5,000/month and if we did, we felt like we had money.
All of sudden I got a lucky break and I was making well over $400,000/yr. I had no debt aside from my home.  My savings account was steadily growing and about to hit $100,000. Neither my wife, nor I, could spend all the money. It was nice, to say the least.
We went about our business for the next 2 years. Saving a bunch and spending a bunch. I justified my spending because I had a great job and was saving a butt-load of cash every month. Why not spend!?!?
?

Mistake number 1:

ASSUMING THE GOOD TIMES WILL LAST FOREVER

Fast forward to 2006.

  • My TV show got canceled.

  • The economy tanked.

  • The real estate market tanked.

  • My interest only 2 yr ARM was about to be called.

  • My wife gave birth to our first beautiful child.

  • None of my contacts in the biz were working.

  • I went thru all of my savings…..yup ALL $100,000 of it.

  • I borrowed another $80,000 from a line of credit on my house.

There were a lot red flags….but I ignored them.
I kept thinking that big gig was right around the corner.  Well guess what? It wasn’t.

But that didn’t stop me. I kept acting like I was still making a lot of money. I had the POTENTIAL didn’t I? Why severely adjust my lifestyle when things will pick up any minute?
By the end of 2006, I finally made some changes. Here’s where I stood:

  • I sold my home for a profit.

  • I paid off the $80,000 line of credit.

  • I had about $80,000 in cash profit from the sale.

  • No job, but lots of prospects.

  • Ignorant hope that everything would just work itself out.

Instead of socking that money away and downsizing to an apartment within our means. I did what any wide-eyed monkey with a little bit of money and the ignorant hope of future success would do:

I BOUGHT ANOTHER HOUSE AND SUNK ALL OF THAT MONEY INTO REMODELING IT.

You see, I had turned a nice profit from my first house. That was easy, right? It would happen again, right. WRONG. That wrong assumption was the straw the broke the camel’s back.

From July 2007- July 2009 I dug myself into the deepest financial hole of my life.

Here were my other BIG MISTAKES:

  • I lived beyond my means.

  • Instead of saving some of my small real estate profit, I put it back into the sagging real estate market.

  • I continued to spend most of my time trying to get gigs in the TV market – which had crashed.

  • And finally:  DENIAL, DENIAL, DENIAL!

In July 2009, things came to a head. I was $130,000 in debt and living off my lines of credit. I had 2 more months of that until there would be no choice other than bankruptcy.
Desperation is the mother of invention. I would feel humiliated to go bankrupt, foreclose on our house. I couldn’t let myself be a Hollywood statistic……even though I already was!
After 6 weeks of research I came to the conclusion that debt settlement was the right choice for me. In the next few posts I’ll discuss:

  • Why I chose debt settlement over bankruptcy, consumer credit counseling or debt consolidation?

Stay tuned, stay afloat. WEALTH AND FREEDOM ARE IN YOUR FUTURE!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]