We know what you’re thinking — all this talk about finance and all you really want to do is enjoy the holiday season with your family. You want to be able to rest, relax, and maybe get a few things done around the house. However, if we don’t talk about debt, you’re not going to be able to really get any of the things that you really want in life actually accomplished. Wouldn’t you love to have a Christmas season where you don’t have to go into debt just to make sure that your family has a little something extra that’s truly remarkable? Wouldn’t you want a Christmas that isn’t filled with calls from debt collectors?
Speaking of debt collectors, you might want to take the holiday season and actually deal with them. Yes, there are ways to get your debt collectors off your back and manage them in a way that has them working alongside you to clean up your credit, not just make it worse.
Again, we know that this might come as a surprise to some, because you don’t really have to make nice with your credit collection agency of ill repute. You can always keep trucking along, pretending that your debt doesn’t exist. Now, if you have time barred debts that are outside the statute of limitations, you really don’t want to wake those up. That would just start the clock over again, and that’s not a good thing at all. You’re going to want to actually take the time to make a deal on the debts that matter — in other words, the debts that you can still sued over. Does that mean that you’re going to get sued? Of course not — it just means that you could be sued, and you definitely don’t want to go through that part if you don’t have to.
So let’s go over your real options here — you want to push forward and actually talk to your collection agencies properly, and that’s going to be through the mail. Sure, you could go over the phone but let’s get real here — collection agency agents are going to tell you that the sky is green and the grass is blue…if that means that you’re more likely to make a payment. So what you want to do is declare things in letters and receive declarations in letters. This will clear the path to negotiating a lot smarter because each side knows where the other party stands. If all you do is play phone tag, you’re going to hear a lot of wrong information that’s just going to push you off your path and cause other problems.
Speaking of letter writing, this is building a paper trail — nothing more, nothing less. So you want to make sure that you act like the government and get duplicates of everything. Everything that you send out should have a date and time, as well as a destination. You need to also send things Certified Mail, return receipt requested.
Now, this is the part that you’ve heard before. So why do it during the holiday season? For starters, you’re going to catch their attention that you’re actually thinking about your debt during a time where most people are thinking about doing everything else except take care of their debt. That means that they’re going to be a lot more likely to actually work with you rather than against you. Why would you torment someone that’s actually trying to do the right thing? Junk debt buyers are going tow ant to make an offer that’s going to make them money. Since they buy the debt for pennies on the dollar in hopes that you’ll pay the full balance, their profit margin is large enough that even a skimpy offer from you is going to be better than nothing.
Ideally, we want to get an acceptance of the full amount that we’re offering, plus an agreement not to go after us for the forgiven part of the debt, nor to attach the forgiven part on your credit file. If you really want to put the cherry on top, metaphorically speaking, you can actually go and get a “pay for deletion” agreement from the collection agency in question that basically says that in exchange for your payment, they will agree to have the tramline itself deleted from your credit file. That will be like the debt never actually happened.
We’re going to be honest — this doesn’t happen nearly as much as it should. You might get this promise from a rep on the phone, but don’t buy it — they know that you can’t record them and that means that you have no paper trail. You have no way to prove that they really offered you something like that. Save it for the letters — and remember that Certified Mail part. Yes, we know that it’s more expensive but having a paper trail works if you need to turn around and get an attorney involved. They’re going to ask you about all of the steps that you took. The more work that you need to make the attorney do, the more money that the attorney is going to bill you for.
The holiday season is a good time to strike because they are much more likely to make sweeter offers — every collection agency wants to push sales at the end of the year because they’re running out of actual “year” to work — once the year turns over to a new one, you’re going to have to start all over again in terms of YTD sales (year to date), so that’s why the offers to fix your credit through payments tend to be a lot sweeter this last part of the year.
The more offers that you can work on at one time, the better you will be in the long run. One last thing — when it comes to payments, you’re going to want to make absolutely sure that you think about money orders over checks. It’s far too easy for them to get your checking account information and start just ACH’ing the daylights out of you. It’s shady and borderline illegal, but it has happened. Guard yourself by sending the money orders, and don’t believe any rep that says that you can’t send a money order. It’s a negotiable instrument that is also certified funds. That’s what matters here — they can get their money and know that it’s actually “good” and not fraudulent. Getting your money order through your bank or Western Union or even the United States Postal Service is good. Even if you have to go to Wal-Mart and get a money order, they’re still going to make sure that you’re only using the funds in your account — you cannot get a money order with a credit card.
So now is the perfect time to strike back at the collection agencies. We know that it can be scary to take this step, but it’ll be all worth it in the end when you can look back and know that yes, you really did make a difference in your credit. That’s really the first step — can you make that leap? Yes, you can!