Debt Help Tips & Information

Bills.com Team
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Highlights


  • Establish a plan.
  • Know your debt help options.
  • Build a budget and commit yourself to attacking your debt, and if you cannot self-manage then get debt help fast.
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Debt Help & Debt Consolidation Help to Solve Your Debt Problems (with video)

If you are in debt, you probably need to get debt help to get yourself debt free and back on solid financial footing. Bills.com can help you evaluate your debt help options, from debt consolidation loans to credit counseling to debt resolution. Many people let debt pile up and do not get aggressive about getting debt free. If you really want to get your finances back in order and your creditors off your back, you need to:

  • Establish a plan and start with a budget and a commitment to helping yourself before looking for third party help
  • If you want lower total cost or payments, know what your debt help options are
  • Start paying off your debt

Quick tip #1:

Get a no-cost, no obligation analysis of your debt options from a pre-screened debt relief provider.

Did you know that just by calling your creditors and requesting to be on their "hardship" program that you can cut your interest rates, sometimes even qualifying for zero interest charges or a reduction in the size of your required monthly payment? Did you know that with the help of a credible debt resolution firm, people in serious debt hardship may be able to find a plan to negotiate resolutions on their debts for as little as half of what they owe? There are many tools and tips and secrets we have uncovered to help you find your own path the debt freedom.

Bills.com has aggregated all the debt help resources and information you need to start tackling your debt today. We even have a Debt Help Savings Center that will help you find the best solution for consolidating and paying down your debt, whether that is debt consolidation, credit counseling, debt settlement or other forms of debt help. Bills.com will help identify what options you have and which ones are best suited to help you tackle your debt. Browse through our articles, debt help guides, and debt relief tips and get all the information you need to get debt help.

Understanding Debt: The Impact and Options for Consumers

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  • PS
    Apr, 2013
    Pete
    I had an account with American Express over 10 years ago. During the time I had the account, I was being charged for magazine subscriptions that I never ordered. After getting a number of these charges reversed, I was unable to get the rest of them reversed. I accumulated over $1,200 before my account was closed. Since I considered these to be fraudulent charges, I refused to pay. American Express sued me in small claims court. The court did not provide me with the proper paperwork to dispute the claim and granted judgment in favor of American Express. I did not hear anything back from American Express for almost a year when I received a 1099 form for which I paid the taxes on the amount in dispute. Just recently I received a letter from AE giving me the option to dispute the claim. This letter is more than 10 years after the original judgement. Does this conform to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. I am in the process of refinancing my house and cannot afford a negative credit statement. What do you suggest? Thanks for your help.
    0 Votes

    • BA
      Apr, 2013
      Bill
      American Express' recent letter is very curious. I would not hazard a guess what it means without reading it. Accordingly, take the letter and any other documents you have regarding the debt to a lawyer who has consumer law or civil litigation experience. He or she will review your case and outline your options.

      One option to discuss is filing a motion to vacate the judgment. You mentioned you were never given notice of the small-claims case filed against you. This is contrary to state and federal civil procedure law, and may form the basis for appealing the judgment and throwing out the case against you.

      Another issue to discuss is your state's statute of limitations for judgments. You indicated you reside in California. The California statute of limitations of a judgment — in other words, a judgment's lifetime — is 10 years. It can be renewed before its expiration to tack on an additional 10 years. Your lawyer can contact the court to learn if American Express renewed the judgment.

      You asked about the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Under the FCRA, the consumer credit reporting agencies can publish information about the judgment for 7 years or the statute of limitations for the judgment, whichever is longer. If the judgment expired without being renewed, and Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion are still publishing this information, then file a dispute with the offender(s).
      0 Votes

  • WM
    Feb, 2013
    wendiellen
    In 2007, I took out my last private student loan through Sallie Mae and I paid on them once I needed to until January of 2009, and this is reflected on my credit report. In 2009, I went to prison and was there until August if 2011. The day I got out, my grandmother died and sometime soon her estate will be settled and I will receive a small amount. I made some payments on these loans when I got out of prison, but at the end of the agreement time, they said my payments were no longer sufficient and would need to pay more. I am a server and was paying two different collection agencies and a car payment, insurance, rent, and other associated bills. I just want to make sure they can't take what little i am going to receive. I live in Indiana, and was recently married. I believe as long as i don't put all of it in our bank account only $4,000, what Indiana has to leave in there, we should be alright. But I would like verification of this. Also, I haven't received notice of a judgment or a summons. Please help. Thank you, Wendiellen M
    0 Votes

    • BA
      Feb, 2013
      Bill
      You are accurate about Indiana's exemption laws for bank accounts. However, do not assume the bank or judgment-creditor will follow your state's laws when push comes to shove and the judgment-creditor sends the bank an account levy demand. Judgment-creditors seem to take the position that it's better to empty a judgment-debtor's account and ask forgiveness later if the judgment-debtor complains.

      Our advice? Let us assume Sallie Mae or its collection agent receives a judgment against you. Let us also assume you receive a lump-sum inheritance you mentioned. You would be wise to withdraw as much as you can from your account and leave only as much in the account as you need to pay your monthly bills.

      See the Bills.com article Sallie Mae Private Student Loans to learn more about your repayment options.
      0 Votes

  • JT
    Oct, 2012
    Jim
    I recieved a summons and complaint recently from a law firm that is sueing me for an account I have with a collection agency. I was slowly paying this off for almost 5 years. In August of last year, I spoke with the collection agency and explained that my income had been cut in half, due to a change in profession. He agreed to hold off on payments until things got better. They continued to send me monthly bills that state that the balance of the account is $2650.00. The latest monthly statement (dated 10/5) has this balance and the due date with the amount due for my payment. In the letter, they also offer to settle for 70% of the balance. In the complaint on the summons, they state that there is now due and owing $4195.00 and that my account has accrued interest in the amount of $4521.94 (total of $8716.94). I have submitted my answer to the county clerk, two days after I recieved the summons. In the answer, I denied the amount owed, due to my current statement/bill showing $2650.00. I also denied the interest amount, due to the stated balance of $2650.00 I also denied their assertion that demand was made to pay off the balance. On my statement, they only ask for the monthly payment and the offer to settle for 70% of $2650.00. I attached this statement to my answer to the summons and claimed an affirmative defense since the balance stated in the summons did not reflect my payments. My bill for this month, stated my due date for payment was 10/21. I sent a cashier's check from my bank via overnight mail. I met the deadline for this month's payment and will keep paying until this is paid in full. Can I still hold them to that agreement and that balance? I am wondering if I have a good chance for avoiding a judgement against me and if I have grounds for a counterclaim of any sort with them stating a different balance than what this month's bill states? Sorry for writing a novel on here, I just wanted to present all of the information. Any advice would be very much appreciated as I am absolutely terrified of what this could do to my family.
    0 Votes

    • BA
      Oct, 2012
      Bill
      The best advice I can give you, given the complicated facts you presented, is to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. He or she can best answer your very reasonable questions about whether the agreement you had was a binding agreement, what balance should apply, or if you have any grounds for a counterclaim.
      1 Votes

  • DJ
    Feb, 2012
    dean
    My mother has been contacted by a collection agency on a credit card debt that the company says is from 2001. I looked through all 3 credit reports and the account is not listed. I just started cleaning up her finances, and it shows she paid on the debt for 6 months in 2010. I haven't been able to figure out why it stopped yet. 2 questions: 1. How do I determine if the debt is actually hers? (agency says it is) 2. Because she payed on it recently, does that mean the SOL stars new and did that make the debt hers? She won't remember paying on it, I checked her bank statements, she just follows what others tell her, that's why I'm fixing her problems now. Thanks in advance.
    0 Votes

    • BA
      Feb, 2012
      Bill
      She could validate the debt, as a first step. Given how old the debt is and her lack of records, if she receives validation that she feels is not legitimate, she may have trouble proving the debt isn't hers.

      I say this without blaming your mom, as she was pressured into paying on the debt, but she shot herself in the foot, when she made a payment on the debt in 2010, if the SOL had passed. Paying on an old debt can start the SOL again. If she paid on a debt that was not hers, making the payment does not make the debt her responsibility.
      0 Votes

    • DJ
      Feb, 2012
      Dean
      Thank you for your reply. I went ahead and settled on their payment of a third of the "actual" debt. I will be calling the original credit card company tomorrow.

      Another question in the vein of stopping this from happening again. Can I put a freeze on her credit that only lets me approve any new account, credit card or revolving account (she orders a lot by phone), to be created? When reviewing her credit reports, I found a new account that she opened without me knowing. She takes no responsibility for her debt and has proven she can't control her spending. I would like to avoid any future issues for her and myself. I currently have power of attorney for her. Thanks again.
      0 Votes

    • BA
      Feb, 2012
      Bill
      Contact each of the major credit reporting agencies and place a credit freeze on your mother's credit files. This should prevent anyone, including her, from opening a new account. The freeze prevents a creditor from gathering any information from a credit bureau on the applicant. I say should prevent new accounts because there is no requirement that a creditor run a credit check on a new applicant, though virtually all do.
      0 Votes

  • KW
    Feb, 2012
    Kimberly
    I have several derogatory accounts on my credit report that range from 2001 to 2008. Should I pay off all of the accounts?
    0 Votes

    • BA
      Feb, 2012
      Bill
      Kimberly, what steps you take depend on a few different factors, including:
      • Your goals
        • Improving your credit score
        • Protecting yourself from collections
        • Clearing out old derogatory accounts to qualify for a mortgage or loan
      • The status of the statute of limitations on your debts
      • The aggressiveness of your creditors.

      Old accounts should fall off your report 7½ years after your first delinquency. You can dispute items on your credit report that should no longer be appearing.

      Regarding debts that are within the 7½ period, some may be past their statute of limitations. You can choose to do nothing with those and use the SOL as a defense, if any creditor tries to collect on debts past their SOL. You could also try to negotiate a pay for delete, using the fact that the SOL has passed as leverage. You can also try negotiating pay for deletes on the debts that have not reached their SOL. In either case, the creditor does not have to agree to have the item deleted, if it so chooses.

      If no creditor is contacting you, reaching out to the creditor can, in some instances, bring about aggressive collection efforts.

      0 Votes