Debt Settlement VS Bankruptcy

When I started including my thoughts on debt settlement and writing some blogs about them I was amazed at the response and the views so thank you to everyone reading them.

Many times I was able to point them in the direction they needed for their benefit not some companies benefit. So far I have estimated that 2% of the people calling me or contacting me after reading them were clients for me that I could in good conscience help and save A LOT of money (ranging from 17k-80k).

Some just needed the right direction but I had someone that wanted to know why not just file bankruptcy and wipe it all clean.

Which leads me to this blog Debt Settlement vs Bankruptcy

If you have seen, heard or look at advertisements/commercials paid for by of course lawyers who want you to pay them to file bankruptcy they paint the prettiest of pictures to make all your problems go away in a snap.

Since most people reading these blogs are not qualified candidates for me then I believe I can give a real non bias opinion and lay out the pros and cons for each and give you the tools to make an educated decision.

So let’s start with the Pro’s BUT first let’s break it down as there are 2 MAIN types of bankruptcy. Back in the old days (prior to October 2008) you could file bankruptcy in the blink of an eye, but now you need to QUALIFY for it. So it makes sense to understand the two.

  1. Bankruptcy Chapter 13

Chapter 13 allows those with enough income to repay all or part of their debts an alternative to liquidation. It’s bankruptcy for those whose biggest problem is dealing with creditors’ demands for immediate payment, not lack of income.

An example of this is if the bank is getting ready to take your car or home, filing bankruptcy chapter 13 can actually be done on your own and it staves off the wolves so to speak, at least for a month which buys you some time for other options.

An over simplified way to understand this is think of the courts cutting your bills in half and then a structured payment plan is paid out to the court from anywhere from 1-5 years.

  1. Bankruptcy Chapter 7                                                                                                                                                          Is the most popular one for a variety of reasons, it allows you to walk away free and clear of any debt submitted to the courts with the exception of money owed to the government and student loans.

However now after the new laws kicked in after October 2008 you have to be “assessed” to see if you qualify for chapter 7 bankruptcy as you can no longer “just go file”. There was a means test created that you can google to read more so check that out if you are so inclined.

 

Bankruptcy chapter 7 stays on a credit report for 10 years, many future lenders look at this public record filing with different eyes. I recently had a client who filed Chapter 7 9 years ago and had a credit score now in the 700’s and he was denied for a credit card and the bankruptcy was the reason why. Now is that like that with all credit cards…. No. But it gives you an idea how future lenders look at bankruptcy and its given a more serious look as opposed to bankruptcy attorneys make it seem to be the ultimate tool to be free and clear.

PLUS from a credit standpoint what you need to understand that a bankruptcy is literally the worse mark you can have on a credit report. Plus from a mortgage lender position to buy ( or refinance ) if you have any more credit “hiccups” such as a collection or late payment lenders do not typically want to deal with you as they see this as  a continuous problem.

 

Now Debt Settlement

Debt Settlement can be considered an unofficial version of Bankruptcy chapter 13 without the public record on your credit report.

It’s basically a renegotiation of the original contract but without the bankruptcy stigma attached to it.

The quality of the debt settlement depends on the company involved. Many of the ones out there wait for the credit card companies to contact them and they take the 1st offer that is given to them which is usually about 30% of what the balance was.

I just found out that company I have never heard of (which means nothing as there are thousands out there) was charging the people I am currently guiding 20% of the debt owed! Wow!!

And they operate like I have typically heard with others, they come up with a number that you pay into an account of sorts and when the pot gets large enough they say they go after accounts for you for settlement but as I mentioned they just look at the letters and see who offered what and then say “hey we got one taken care of for you and save you …..”!

In this companies specific case if they saved them 30% of the balance but they charge 20% for their fees, so they saved you 10%?????????

 

Typically the “bigger the company” which they like to brag about to you the worse you are treated or once the agreement is solved the phone calls do not get returned like before you signed up with them as they have moved onto the next person/revenue/paycheck.

I don’t want to go into more stories but I typically help get an average of 60-70% of a discount and the absolute worst I have ever helped people with was 50% discount.

But that will be the difference between uneducated people who are basically just looking to get as many people into their program and take the deal offered to them as opposed to someone who teats your money as if its theirs and fights for every dollar as there is a BIG difference between a company’s profits and a family.

 

Feel free to contact me at wayne @ waynethecreditguy .com

(remove all the spaces, I just did that to avoid getting spammed)

 

If you have any questions and PLEASE be as detailed as possible with your situation, such as what your current credit score is, are you on-time with payments or late and if late how late and amount owed

 

Wayne Sanford is a credit and finance expert with over 13 years’ experience in the industry. He has reviewed over 16,000 credit reports and appeared on local and national TV on CBS and is a contributor to many online publications as well as being an Continuing educational provider for the Texas Real Estate Commission.

 

NOTE: 

I just felt the need to point this out but if i believe that after a conversation with someone after being told their complete situation and i feel that filing bankruptcy is the best option for them then i will suggest that and then discuss  all the pros and cons that come along with that choice.

And i have done that, but of course while i have to make the standard disclaimer that everything i discuss with people cannot be construed as financial or legal advice i will put myself in their situation and then let them know what i would do if in that position and give them the information and then they can make their own choices based on that data.

 

****  UPDATE:

When I was getting ready to post this blog this morning a perfect example just got emailed to me. A lady was told by a bankruptcy attorney she can’t file Bankruptcy 7 because her husband (the household) makes too much money.

Per his advice which baffles me greatly as the attorney should have asked these questions at the start since it’s not rocket science and now he is not taking/returning her calls. But now gave her advice that puts her in an even worse position now so will be talking to her later today to give her all her current options for her to decide what they think is best for their family.

I have said this for YEARS…. Just because your first name is “DR.” or last name is “ESQ.” does not mean they know EVERYTHING! It truly drives me nuts.

I learned a long time ago to doubt everyone and get several opinions, make sure I understand them and then see what is best for me and I use that to help people like you reading this and I hope it does.   =)

What the Debt Settlement companies DON’T SAY

I have received a lot of responses concerning the debt settlement blogs I have written which surprised me a bit. It was nice to hear people thanking me for the detailed information and tell me how it helped them understand more.

With all of the conversations I have had I noticed a few things that seem to be a pattern and I wanted to go into a little more detail on it for everyone.

While the below will apply to any company regarding debt settlement after these conversations this specifically applies to National Debt Relief, Credit Associates and Freedom Debt Relief as these were the three main companies people inquired about.

What I have noticed is a lack of transparency and only telling you half-truths or not the full story.

Now is that because they are doing it on purpose because let’s face it, whatever their “title” is they tell you at the end of the day they are there to get you signed up so they are sales people. While there is NOTHING wrong with that the behind the scene issues is what can get you.

If you remember the recent Wells Fargo scandal with employees signing people up for credit cards and lines of credit without their consent there were financial incentives when employees meet certain goals.

So one of the things people have a great concern when calling these companies looking for relief is their credit score. A good majority of people I have talked to do not necessarily have credit problems or really need credit repair, it’s just that their credit card bills have snowballed into a mountain and it’s too overwhelming and they see so relief in sight anytime soon.

These representatives seem to be steering people calling into what is best for the company and not the person calling. Now is that all representatives…. Of course not but these are the stories I am hearing we be wary.

If you are looking at trying to get the credit card companies to drop their interest then you are looking at what is called a Debt Management Program. Anything else will destroy your credit score. Now while there may be programs out there that are different that settling debt for pennies on the dollar the only way that can happen is for you to damage your credit score.

How much damage is hard to calculate as a credit score and report is like a fingerprint, every fingerprint is different thus the damage will be different for each person.

Credit is so specific that as I tell people who contact me that unless I can see the exact credit report for them that they are seeking advice on I can only give them general advice and I HATE giving general advice for someone with a specific goal they are trying to accomplish.

Andi am hearing that people are feeling like they are being double-talked into something they are not 100% sure is best for them.

One thing I have to point out was a story that still sticks in my head and it was from someone who spoke to National Debt Relief, they told him that they could get his then credit card that he owed approx. $19,000 down 30% and save him almost $6,000 ($5,700 to be exact). Now what were they going to do? Basically not tell him that in a few months the credit card company he owed the money to they were going to wait a few months and then the company would contact them offering a settlement of 30%.

So what in the world did they do? In my opinion (and probably yours too) nothing. But welcome to the world we live in. He wanted to see if I could help and I helped him settle it for a total of $8,000.00 saving him $11,000.00

As I have mentioned in past blogs at the end of this will be my email address, broken up to prevent me getting killed with spam but feel free to contact me. While seeing the credit report will help me assess you situation the standard disclaimer is I’m not dispensing legal or financial advice but I will look at your report and tell you what I would do in your situation with my 13 years of hands on experience in this industry.

When calling looking for relief of the financial sorts do not just jump on board with a company and be what the sales term is called as a “one call close”.

Get the information from these companies, think about it, make a pros and cons list. Good question for you reading this is the companies you called did they give you a pros and cons of what they are trying to sell you? if they didn’t then do not think for one second that there isn’t a plus and minus for you with what you are trying to do.

This like most things is a game of leverage, be smart always have a pad and paper with you to write what these companies are telling you (even if you bullet point it) as you will not remember what they tell you as it is your first time hearing this information and studies show most people only retain 15% of new information given to them. This way you now have reference to go back and if you contact someone like me your able to provide me the inforaiton they told you in order for me to provide you an educated opinion on the specific matter in question.

My email is below if you want to email me but please provide me a solid summary in bullet points to what is owed what you hope to accomplish and any additional information you may think I need.

 

Best of luck!

Wayne

 

 

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Cell Phone Contracts vs. You = You Lose

Cell Phone Contracts vs. You = You Lose

This week’s blog we are going to talk about what you really sign when you sign a cell phone “agreement”.

I say that as if you have noticed most if not all TV ads say they no longer have “contracts”.

So, first thing is first….

All TV ads are basically lies, or you could say, they omit many important things that would give you the full story and if you knew everything you probably would not go to that company at all. When I do a seminar and it consists of mostly college kids who have come of age (18 yrs old) I tell them you are now legally allowed to get screwed by companies whose name you put on any “agreement”.

Let’s first discuss the B.S statement of “we no longer have contracts”. Obviously a lie, as they say you will take the full price of a phone and divide it into 24 months’ worth of payments where you do not have the option to make the “monthly phone payments longer for you”.

AND, if you do not complete this and leave to go to another company you are charged a “cancellation fee”.

That sound like a “contract” to you? It should because that what a cancellation fee is used for, screwing you over to make extra money (in my opinion).

Don’t pay the fee? It then goes to a collection company who reports it on your credit file and can damage you credit report anywhere from 60-90 points.

Now that we have made that “GOTCHA” to open your eyes to this sneaky tactic clear let’s go into the next one.

“ADD Additional Lines/Family Plan”:

Have more than one person in your family? Add several family members and save money!

UNLESS you have to cancel the service then EVERY added line counts as one service so you are penalized for the following:

  • The rest of your monthly fee owed on your phone (average cost $700).
  • The cancellation fee of an average cost $275-350.00 (PER LINE).
  • Your typical final bill (most people do not pay at average $100.00)

OVERALL money owed per line $ $700-1,000.00  PER LINE!!!!

See how quickly that can add up if you have a few lines as the original plan  you had for saving money by switching?

Now imagine how angry and frustrating it would be to be told by some lender that the cell phone bill collection(which could be from $1,000-$4,000) is hurting your credit score enough for you to possibly not getting the home you want for your family or just yourself and a future family.

MORAL of the story: DON’T CANCEL the “NOT A CONTRACT” until the new cell phones you purchased are paid off!

YOU WILL ONLY LOSE this battle….

TIP:  GET THE INSURANCE on the new phone, at an average of $10 per phone it’s a better deal and protects you for when you do break the phone.

The GOTCHA you don’t think about:

You “Help” your friend or family member get a phone or you add them to your cell phone plan.

When you sign your name to “help someone get a phone” you are signing a contract that obligates you to everything we have spoken about so far.

It does not matter if you never had any of the service you signed your name to. It in fact is absolutely meaningless if you had no relationship with that cell phone company other than helping that family member (for example).

What does matter is by signing that agreement and piece of paper you said to that lender/cell phone company, if this person does not pay the bill I WILL!

The same thing for adding your friend or family member to your cell phone plan. Remember it is YOUR CELL PHONE ACCOUNT. Which means the responsibility is yours and yours alone.

This is the same way you have a credit card that is yours and you add someone as an “authorized user”, this allows that person to use your credit card as if it was theirs but have no responsibility to the credit card company. That credit card company gave the card to you and for you to use as you see fit, any mistakes in judgement or use of it is your responsibility. If that party over uses it, while you have the right to sue the party who used it to pay you back for what they spent if that was your agreement. The credit card company has to claim against that person as you gave permission for them to use is and thus it is your financial responsibility.

The final gotcha:

“Switch now and don’t worry about cancellation fees. We will pay them for you”!!

Sound familiar? You should it’s on a ton of commercials, I have heard this story so many times it crazy and its mostly from consumers who have in their eyes already been screwed over since it’s on their credit report.

This is how it works, YOU cancel the old contract, and YOU get the final bill including phone charge fees, cancellation fees and the last month’s bill. THEN you send a copy of that to the new company who said they would pay for it and they will send you a pre-paid debit card in a month or so.

Can’t pay all of that in one shot or at all? Not the new carriers issue….

Is that someone you want to be a customer of? I wouldn’t. Did the sales person not tell you that? Did you ever hear the phase it’s not what is said but it is what you sign.

The sales person there makes commission, would you have signed up if they said this is how it really works so let’s get you signed up. I would not sign up after hearing the truth.

Just like my book The Real World of credit, this is how the Real World works.

So I hope this gave you some insight as to how something as simple as “changing cell phone companies” without paying attention can cause more problems than you realize.

Want to learn more about how the credit system works? Go buy my book online at here at : Barnes and Noble The Real World of Credit

 

Or contact me directly for a full blown color copy to truly grasp the real world of credit.

And of course have a question on credit for yourself? Contact me directly at: wayne@waynethecreditguy.com

 

 

 

New FICO score model helps with Medical… Or does it?

New FICO score model helps with Medical… Or does it?

FICO newest scoring model FICO 9.0 has changed its credit-scoring model by putting less focus on medical debts and will give consumers a break on their score IF they’ve settled with a collections agency.

It sounds like FINALLY, the newest credit scoring model helps the little guy, the American consumer. HOWEVER… it’s unlikely to change credit scores for most people anytime soon.

The new model touts paid medical bills are scored as neutral. Note the word PAID, which means if you are settling an account if the letter you get (IN ADVANCE) does not say the account will be marked PAID IN FULL then it will count against you.

For consumers reading this I write a lot of these blogs to help educate you when either thinking about fixing your credit on your own or assessing if you believe I am a reliable and solid company to work with to help achieve your financial goal.

It has recently come to my attention that some other credit repair companies have been reading these to help educate themselves on credit so after hearing this and deciding it is not my job to educate other companies who go around stating they are credit specialists I am going to explain several things on each topic and blog but not go into the major detail on certain aspects of the topics.

BUT BACK TO THE IMPORTANT INFORMATION!

The limits of these collections are $100 as mentioned by FICO. While many times there are medical bills on consumer credit numbering in the thousands many, many times there are what seems to be a ton of “little” bills ranging from $3 to 75. So paying these pesky little annoying bills seems like the perfect way to help your credit.

People cannot help getting sick and the medical business (yes I said business not industry) is littered with incompetency. Don’t believe me? If you have a few medical bills try going to the place where you had the services ( if the debt is a little old) and then ask for the manager and see what they can do to take the debt back from the collector so you can pay them directly (warning if you have long hair be prepared to pull it out).

So at face value this looks like a plus for consumers but here is the analogy that will make the reality of this stick. What good is the model if the banks/lenders/analysts do not use the model?

The financial industry is loath to change and while the previous scoring model came out a few years ago a majority of the lenders have not utilized it and only a few have recently started to.

PLUS… if the lender does not feel the new model represents the true picture of a consumer’s financial wellbeing and stability, why would they use it?

And if you are trying to buy a home then do not expect when the news articles hits that FICO 9 is now available and consumers are expecting to see an approximate 25 point increase in score, be prepared to be disappointed.

 

Want to learn more about how credit actually works and how lenders view you? Buy my book “The Real World of Credit” on my website www.waynethecreditguy or go to www.BN.com and get the electronic version on Barnes and Nobles website!

Doing nothing doesn’t make your credit better over time

While technically the above statement is not true not many people want to wait 7 years for all their negative information to fall off their credit report based on the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Its human nature to bury our heads in the sand and ignore the problem. Hoping it just “goes away”. If you have 7 years to spare then sure it’s not a problem….Or is it?

If you have a tax lien (state or federal) or if you were sued and had a judgment placed against you that judgment can be refreshed every ten years to make sure it remains in the system due to its age and not fall between the cracks.

Banks do not expect you to have perfect credit. If you do then the rates will obviously be better as it means you are a good risk and worth a low interest rate. Having collection accounts, charge offs, car repossessions and medical bills are not deal breakers but it depends on numerous factors, too many actually to list here.

What you need to understand is these problems cannot have happened last month or in the last few months.  Every file is different and specific recent problems, late payments or collections make banks nervous when someone is asking them for tens of thousands of dollars or even several hundreds of thousands of dollars for a home.

I had one executive of a finance company come to me who was originally from England, she had a bad divorce and left the country not expecting to come back but as life has it she returned about 6 years later and needed to buy a home. However, a collection account ballooned up to approximately $50,000 so we had to implement a plan after I gave her the options that were available to her. She said after the divorce she didn’t plan on coming back for a long time until plans changed business wise but she was forced to return and confront the problems of her past.

So the moral of this story is, sticking your heard in the sand for 90% of the time if not more, does not help. We all need to be proactive. Whether that means doing something now or speaking to some professional to gather advice on what to do in the future.

Hope this little blog helps and if you need to speak to me just send me an email to wayne@waynethecreditguy.com and we can set a time to speak!

 

About Wayne the Credit Guy:

Wayne Sanford, also known as “Wayne the Credit Guy“, is the owner of New Start Financial Corporation. With nearly a decade of experience working in the credit industry, Sanford has personally reviewed more than 13,000 consumer credit files for mortgage professionals, investment groups and consumers. – See more at: http://waynethecreditguy.com/waynes-bio