There are several benefits to negotiating debt settlement on your own. It can be tricky, but going through the process yourself can also help you save money. If you are trying to settle debts yourself, follow these tips to improve your chances of success.
Know Your Rights
Bill collectors are bound by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Under this act, they are not allowed to do the following:
- Call before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m.
- Contact you when it is inconvenient or in an unreasonable place
- Contact a place of employment if they are notified that they are not to make contact
- Contact you directly when you are working with an attorney
- Use threats of harm or violence against you, your property or your reputation
- Publish any lists of people who have refused to pay their debts
- Swear or use obscene language
- Call you repeatedly with the intention of harassing you
- Make false statements regarding their identity
- Threaten you with arrest for failure to pay
- Misrepresent the amount you owe
- Deposit post-dated checks prematurely
If you encounter these unfair practices, you can file a report against the offending company by calling the Federal Trade Commission at 877-382-4357.
Share as Little Information as Possible
Knowledge is power, and collection agencies are recording everything you say. When negotiating settlement plans, be very careful about sharing information. It’s okay to explain why you cannot pay a bill right now, but do not start sharing your life story. They don’t care. They won’t listen, and they will use information against you if given the opportunity.
Never Offer to Pay More than you can Afford
When it comes to negotiating debt, both parties are trying to get something they want. You are focused on reducing the debt or monthly payment, but the debt collectors are paid based on how much they actually collect.
Before you offer or accept any payment amount, make sure you can afford to follow through. Remember that you must take care of the basics like housing, food, transportation and utilities. Only offer to make payments based on what you have left after paying those other expenses.
Your frustration and even anger won’t bother the debt collector. They are in the business of getting you to pay more, and you will agree to paying more if you are flustered. Don’t play into their game and follow these steps to stay in control.
- Remain calm while talking with them.
- If you are becoming upset, tell them you have to go for a few minutes and will call them back.
- Call the company back and resume the conversation at a later time.
Offer to Pay a Reduced Amount
Bill collectors want to get as much money as they can in the shortest amount of time. A 75-percent payment on the full balance may be more appealing to them than waiting months or years for the full balance. Don’t be afraid to make an offer because the worst thing they can do is say no.
Discuss Payment Plans
Some creditors will not accept reduced amounts. In this case, you can suggest a payment plan. Do not offer to pay every month than you can afford. As long you as you hold to the terms of the payment plan, the debt will eventually be paid in full and you will not receive harassing phone calls.
Ask for Written Confirmation
When negotiating your debt settlement, you can never have too many records.
- If you make a deal, ask for them to mail or Email confirmation of your agreement for your records.
- Keep the records to show who accepted the settlement. Furthermore, keep copies of your payments to show that you upheld your end of the bargain.
- Maintain a written record of every conversation to substantiate your claims.
Hire A Settlement Company
If you are negotiating your debt settlement on a large amount of several bills, then you may want to call in the professionals. Debt collectors know the law, they know how to get what they want and they are relentless. If you don’t have the time or energy to deal with them, then let someone else take care of it for you.
Settlement professionals know all the tricks of collection agencies. They understand how to get you a lower settlement and help you save money. They also know how to protect you from harassment and unlawful collection practices. If you are facing a challenging settlement, the professionals can help. Negotiating debt settlement can be tricky, but you can be successful by following these tips.