I’ve wanted to get some first hand information about why using debt settlement companies is such a bad idea. I was glad to discover that one of my previous articles “How to settle your debts on your own” was dead on regarding why consumers should avoid using debt settlement companies.
I’ve been exchanging emails with one of my readers who has gone through a lot of financial peril recently. But in particular, she has dealt with two different debt settlement companies. I asked her to describe her experiences with these companies and explain to me whether or not she still thinks they are a good idea. I’ll let you read for yourself what she says. Feel free to leave questions or comments at the end of this article.
Sorry it took so long to get back to you. We are moving and I have been kind of busy lately.
My experience has not been a pleasant one at all. I guess when it comes to debt no ones is, but in particular I have found that these people are liars.
The first agency I used was Credit Solutions. I was trying to make a pro-active move, like when we claimed bankruptcy, taking care of the situation before the situation arises. Well, I signed up and they promised all sorts of crap. They promised that being enrolled in their program would prevent the collection agencies from obtaining a judgment against me, and it would give me protection. WELL, I signed up and soon found out that was a lie. After my first payment (the first 3 go right to their fee) I called to make sure the cease and desist letters went out. Well, they then informed me that I had to wait until the credit card debt went to collections before that company could deal with them.
They also informed me (after I signed up) that being in their program gives me NO protection – in fact it has been known to piss the creditors off when they find out that you are in a debt settlement company. In addition, their monthly payment was crap too, because they have a range that they figure they can settle your debts for like 60% to 40% lets say. Well, they base your monthly payment on being able to settle it down to the 40% to keep their quotes down. Well, basically that is great if all of your creditors agree to those terms – otherwise you are screwed (pardon the language) because you could find out after you have done this for 3 months that you dont have enough saved.
The second agency was GHS Solutions. This agency has pissed me off so much I am actually reporting them to TASC. They are a member of this group that regulates debt settlement companies. Well, they said all the right things right…..
1- They started out by giving me some crap about how they cannot send out the cease and desist letters. They said that because I have 3 Washington Mutual Cards, and bank with Washington Mutual they (Washington Mutual) can run in and cease my bank account when they see that I am dealing with a debt settlement company. In theory that would be great for the credit card companies but VERY – EXTREMELY ILLEGAL! In reality it doesnt matter if they see that I am working with a debt settlement company because they have to go through the proper channels to be able to freeze my bank account. First, a judgment, then a court hearing for discovery, then if need be writ of garnishment and\or bank freeze. The procedure is the same no matter whether it is a card through your bank or not.
2- I was begging them to send these letters out! My feeling was that I wanted them to see that I was in some kind of program and not just ignoring them. Every time I called GHS, I was telling them I was nervous, because by the time I got into their Company, ALL my credit cards had gone to collection agencies and had been there for months. I kept saying that because I havent been responding to the calls, letters (THE big rules of these companies is that you can not talk to the creditors or the collection agencies) like they told me not too, so now I have no idea what these companies are doing. They could be working towards a judgment against me or my husband as we speak. Well Dawn,( I get the same woman every time I call) she placates me and tells me that I am overly worried about my husbands wages being garnished, and that I am PROJECTING this whole situation on to myself.
Well, one night one of my husbands WAMU cards called and it was an attorney. She was actually a very decent woman, I explained to her that I was working with a debt settlement company. She said that there are two kinds of collections- 1- where the collection agency buys the debt and can then settle with a debt settlement company. OR 2- (her kind) where the agency doesnt buy the debt (the original creditor still owns the debt) – the agency just collects on it. She said when they (in this case WAMU) contracted her company they made her sign a contract giving her rules of how they want her to collect. For example, she can only try to collect the full payment at first, they after 30 days she can send me a settlement opportunity. BUT, she had to sign that she would only work with the debtor and NOT ANY debt settlement agencies.
She also told me that WAMU would never have worked with a debt settlement company most likely BUT had they only gotten a letter (perhaps the cease and desist letter I was begging for) she said it probably would never have gotten to her desk. They most likely would have just held back until they got a payment from me. Because at least they would have known I was trying to do something and not just ignoring them. But now that they paid for her there is not much I can do.
When I called GHS, Dawn, informed me that the woman was lying and wasnt really an attorney. I told her that I wanted out of the company, and that I am going to be claiming chapter 13. She then of course gave the speech as to how bad that is for your credit. I then explained we had claimed chapter 7 over 4 years ago, and it was the best thing that ever happened to us. We had no credit problems afterward. I told her I have no problems paying for my debts settled or in full. My problem is while I am working to pay everything off I want some kind of protection to assure me that these companies are not going behind my back and obtaining judgments. By the way it is against the law for a company to fire you for one wage garnishment BUT there is no precedent for multiple wage garnishments.
Also, when your employer garnishes your wages (even if they do not initiate it) they have to pay a fee. I told Dawn that I thought everyone at GHS was a bunch of lazy people, and that I knew that they were just holding off on sending the letters out until all of their fees get paid (over 5 monthly installments) and that since time is of the essence for my particular case I didnt know if it could wait that long.
So, in the long of it, I would NEVER recommend a debt settlement company to anyone! I hope this helps. If you have any questions please feel free to ask. Thank you for all your effort on the subject, and trying to figures things out for people.
Here’s a few comments from other people who claim they used Credit Solutions. You can read these comments from the source by clicking on this youtube video – which appears to be sponsored by Credit Solutions.
“DO NOT USE CREDIT SOLUTIONS!!! Credit Solution is the worst company!!! I signed up thinking that they would be able to help me and what they did is get my account in worst condition!! The collection company was able to sue me and put a lien on my account! Then I try to defer my payments with them and they continued to try to get their payment!! All this company wants is money!! They do not want to help you!! DO NOT USE CREDIT SOLUTIONS!!! ”
“DO NOT sign up with these people. This is such a hoax. I have been with them for over a year now and tryng to get out. This is a joke. Does you more harm than good. Trust me on this. ”
“the shadiest thing in the world…wake up people they DONT work with your creditors…they store your money in a escrow acct and wait to the accts are charged off and then they settle for pennies on the dollar, by then your credit is screwed..type in debt settlement in google ”
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