- Lloyd Ward & Associates is a Dallas law firm.
- The company operates the bestdebtoptions.com Web site.
- Learn more about your debt resolution options before choosing.
Is Lloyd Ward & Associates a good firm for debt relief?
I am having a hard time paying my bills. Is Lloyd Ward & Associates a good firm for debt relief? I am thinking that I don't want a scam but need real help getting me through this. I owe about $45,000. I read one of this law firm Lloyd Ward Associates advertisements online, but just don't know.
Lloyd Ward & Associates is a Dallas, Texas-based law firm that consists of three attorneys, including Lloyd E. Ward, Jason Malmberg, and Kyle Harneck. The company also lists the names of 50 "partners" in most US jurisdictions.
Lloyd Ward & Associates lists debt negotiation as one of its practice areas. The firm operates the bestdebtoptions.com Web site, where it describes its debt settlement services. The company is a member of the International Association of Debt Arbitrators, but neither it nor The Association of Settlement Companies Web site indicate Lloyd Ward & Associates is a member. TASC membership is not required for debt settlement companies, but those that are must adhere to rigid disclosure rules and are mystery shopped to make sure they comply with best practices.
Lloyd Ward & Associates calls its debt negotiation a "debt renegotiation." Debt negotiation is generally viewed as an aggressive approach for consumers than credit counseling, and although it can be more risky, the potential savings achieved in debt settlement are often much greater, because the debt settlement firms negotiate with creditors to reduce the actual principal balance of their clients' debts, with average negotiated settlements of around 50%, with much lower settlements seen by many consumers. Because debt settlement firms negotiate on the principal debt, not the interest rate, many consumers will have their debts resolved in three years or less.
Lloyd Ward & Associates, like other debt negotiation firms, may not operate in all states. However, the indication that Lloyd Ward & Associates has relationships with attorneys in most states indicates it may offer some debt settlement services throughout the country.
Your Debt Resolution Options
Since you asked about your debt settlement options, I will discuss your options below. But first, allow me to mention that Bills.com makes it easy for you to apply for traditional forms of debt relief.
The four primary concerns for most consumers are:
- Monthly payment,
- Time to debt freedom,
- Total cost, and
- The credit rating impact of the resolution program.
Be sure to evaluate each program relative to your prioritization of these factors.
Since there are a variety of debt resolution options, including credit counseling, debt negotiation/debt settlement, a debt consolidation loan, bankruptcy, and other debt resolution options, it is important to fully understand each option and then pick the solution that is right for you.
Credit counseling, or signing up for a debt management plan, is a very common form of online debt consolidation. There are many companies offering online credit counseling, which is essentially a way to make one payment directly to the credit counseling agency, which then distributes that payment to your creditors. Most times, a credit counseling agency will be able to lower your monthly payments by getting interest rate concessions from your lenders or creditors.
It is important to understand that in a credit counseling program, you are still repaying 100% of your debts — but with lower monthly payments. On average, most online credit counseling programs take around five years. While most credit counseling programs do not impact your FICO score, being enrolled in a credit counseling debt management plan does show up on your credit report, and, unfortunately, many lenders look at enrollment in credit counseling akin to filing for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy — or using a third party to re-organize your debts. As mentioned above, CareOne calls its CCCS a "debt management plan."
Debt settlement, also called debt negotiation, is a form of online debt consolidation that cuts your total debt, sometimes over 50%, with lower monthly payments. Debt settlement programs typically run around three years. It is important to keep in mind, however, that during the life of your debt settlement program, you are not paying your creditors. This means that a debt settlement solution of online debt consolidation will negatively impact your credit rating. Your credit rating will not be good, at a minimum, for the term of your debt settlement program.
However, debt settlement is usually the fastest and cheapest way to debt freedom, with a low monthly payment, while avoiding Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. The trade-off here is a negative credit rating versus saving money. CareOne also offers debt settlement.
Debt Consolidation Loan
Many people think first of a debt consolidation loan when seeking online debt consolidation. This option typically means a second home loan (or home equity line of credit) or refinancing your primary mortgage. In a debt consolidation loan, you exchange one loan for another. The most frequent form is taking out a mortgage loan, which carries a lower interest rate and is tax deductible, to pay off high interest rate credit card debt.
It is important to be aware that shifting unsecured debt to secured debt can create a volatile situation, if there is ever a chance that you cannot afford the new mortgage payment you are now putting yourself at risk of foreclosure! In the case of a debt consolidation loan, most mortgages are 30-year loans, which means that the total cost and the time to debt freedom could be very high, but the monthly payment will be lower than other options and there is no credit rating impact.
Bankruptcy may also solve your debt problems. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a traditional liquidation of assets and liabilities, and is usually considered a last resort. Since bankruptcy reform went into effect, it is much harder to file for bankruptcy. If you are considering bankruptcy, I encourage you to consult with a qualified bankruptcy attorney in your area.
You may be curious what may happen if you do nothing. If you stop paying your unsecured debts, creditors have the right to collect the debt. First, you will likely receive collection calls and letters from the creditor directly. If you are still unable to pay the debt after several months, the creditor is likely to refer the account to a third-party collection agency.
Third-party collectors are known to be much more aggressive in their collection tactics than original creditors, so do not be surprised if the calls become more persistent, or even threatening. Thankfully, the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act has rules governing the behavior of collection agents. However, unscrupulous debt collection agents do not follow these rules.
In some cases, when all other collection efforts fail, a creditor will decide to file a lawsuit against the debtor. This is not a frequent occurrence, but it is within a creditor's rights and a possibility about which you should be aware. If one of your creditors sues you, the court will likely issue a judgment in the creditor’s favor. Depending on your state's laws regarding the enforcement of judgments, the creditor may be able to garnish your wages, levy your bank accounts, place a lien on your property, or take other action to enforce its judgment.
Regarding a credit report, default damages a credit score severely. In addition, default is a warning flag for many lenders, who will refuse to deal with a potential customer with a default on their record. As a result doing nothing and allowing default is a poor option for most consumers.
Although there are many forms of online debt consolidation, many people with good to perfect credit who own homes should look into debt consolidation loans, while consumers with high credit card debt and poor credit may want to explore debt settlement or debt negotiation. However, each consumer is different, so find the online debt consolidation option that fits for you.
Lastly, here are some fast tips for your own quick Debt Consolidation Evaluator:
- If you have perfect credit and have equity in your home — consider a Mortgage Refinance.
- If you can afford a healthy monthly payment (about 3 percent of your total debt each month) and you want to protect yourself from collection and from going delinquent — consider Credit Counseling.
- If you want the lowest monthly payment and want to get debt free for a low cost and short amount of time, AND you are willing to deal with adverse credit impacts and collections — then evaluate Debt Settlement.
- If you cannot afford anything in a monthly payment (less than 1.5 percent of your total debt each month) — consider Bankruptcy to see if Chapter 7 might be right for you.
I hope this information helps you Find. Learn & Save.
Dealing with debt
Mortgages, credit cards, student loans, personal loans, and auto loans are common types of debts. According to the NY Federal Reserve total household debt as of Q4 2022 was $16.91 trillion. Housing debt totaled $12.26 trillion and non-housing debt was $4.65 trillion.
A significant percentage of people in the US are struggling with monthly payments and about 26% of households in the United States have debt in collections. According to data gathered by Urban.org from a sample of credit reports, the median debt in collections is $1,739. Credit card debt is prevalent and 3% have delinquent or derogatory card debt. The median debt in collections is $422.
Collection and delinquency rates vary by state. For example, in Oklahoma, 14% have student loan debt. Of those holding student loan debt, 11% are in default. Auto/retail loan delinquency rate is 5%.
Avoiding collections isn’t always possible. A sudden loss of employment, death in the family, or sickness can lead to financial hardship. Fortunately, there are many ways to deal with debt including an aggressive payment plan, debt consolidation loan, or a negotiated settlement.
On the other hand, are the unresolved complaints reasonable? Some people sign up for a debt program (whether it be credit card counseling, bankruptcy, or debt settlement) with the unreasonable expectation it will solve all of their financial woes without pain, when in fact each of these approaches have pros, cons, and costs or may require a change in their behavior.
Any consumer choosing a service provider should follow your example and do homework on the provider's record. My recommendation is you call Lloyd Ward & Associates, CareOne, and Freedom Debt Relief and express your concerns about each. If any one of them dance around your questions, or pushes you to sign up now!, then you have encountered a provider to avoid.