From April 16, 2012
Previously on All Out of Debt, we’ve talked about what needs to be included in a hardship letter. This article covers the next step to negotiating to reduce your credit card debt. What comes after you’ve gotten your letter written? Next, you will send the letter, along with a request to settle for $x amount (where again, x is a dollar amount, 35-50% of the current balance).
To recap: While you can also talk about your hardships on the phone with the collectors when requesting a settlement offer, try to focus on financial hardships over personal issues. Be sincere when you tell them about this stuff. You might just find that acting embarrassed by the situation will go further than being a “woe is me” victim with no personal responsibility. But remember we ALWAYS want an offer IN WRITING!
Having things in writing also means that you should be tracking verbal conversations. You want to start a small journal where you record the name of the person you speak with, who they are representing, direct number/extension, time and date. You want to keep this accessible at all times in case they call and you have to speak with them.
Once you finally receive a settlement offer, or they agree to accept your settlement offer, it’s time to make good on the debt.
After they send you a settlement offer that is acceptable to you, send them a check. IMPORTANT: make sure that you write your account number on the check and write “For Payment In Full” in the memo area. Send the check and a COPY of the settlement offer via certified mail. And don’t forget a return receipt!
After the account has been paid and has a zero balance, you can do some steps to repair your credit and possibly have the settled debt removed through disputing it.
The negotiation process can be tricky and often times, a company’s willingness to cut you a good deal will be dependent on the economic climate. If you need help, there are many good resources available with insider knowledge written specifically by arbitrators and lawyers.
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