I saw a documentary last night that I highly recommend every American sees, it is called Maxed out. The movie basically illustrates how much of a struggle it is to get out of debt and it’s also illustrates how lucrative debt and debt collection is for creditors and collectors.
This movie made me very, very angry because it shows how eager top lenders and collectors are to make a buck by ruining your credit and possibly your life. Creditors want to give you credit when you need it most because they know they can make money off of you. When money is tight it’s easy to think that credit cards will save the day and often times people don’t pay attention to the deadly fine print. Creditors know you are desperate and that you will simply agree to their insane terms. This is how they begin screwing you, once you agree to the terms and are financially strapped often times you have no way out.
The most sickening part of the movie is that creditors are portrayed as preying on those people who are just barely scraping by. They promise “too good to be true” things and we jump on board without completely understanding what we are agreeing to and assessing the long term affects of the agreement. Credit is good when you can pay off the total balance of charges each month, it is bad when you need it to live and you can only make the minimum payment each month.
In the movie these two mothers set out to try changing what was and wasn’t allowed, they tried to get a bill passed to protect consumers but it was two women against the corporate giants… They were squashed and we will continue to get taken advantage of until we realize that creditors are out to make money off of us any way they can, stop wholeheartedly trusting them!
The best way protect yourself is to smarten up! It is the consumer’s responsibility to keep their debt manageable, creditors may be sending you offers but that doesn’t mean you can afford to accept them. Believe it or not creditors are eager to lend to those they suspect might not be able to make good on the agreement- why? So they can make a killing off of charging you interest and other fees. I am a perfect example of this!
Right after I graduated high school I wanted a computer of my own. I knew I would be moving from my parent’s home soon and that I would need a computer to do school work. I was not financially stable and had no credit history but I found a deal online. They would give me a loan that would pay for my computer and I would pay a set per month fee towards the loan to make good on the amount I borrowed. I was approved for a $2500 credit limit on the loan and my computer actually cost $ 1373.88, they loaned me about 45% more than I needed to purchase the computer- that should have been a warning sign to me. I bought the computer back in 2001 and obviously defaulted on the loan, my credit report stated back in 2007 that my balance had grown to $2056 after all the late fees and interest fees, That is $682.12 in fees! I was not credit worthy yet they loaned me what I needed plus and extra 45%, do you think they expected me to default and incur delinquent fees?
An alarming number of Americans are in debt these days. Collectors are harassing you, the pressure is felt and it sometimes seems like there is no way out of the mess. What’s done is done debt wise, you can’t take it back now but you can learn from it! Don’t run from your money troubles, assess them and determine your financial situation. The worst thing you can do is get into more debt to remedy your current debt, that is what creditors want you to think and that is how they trap you!
If you have a debt that has recently gone into collections you should spend some time learning how to demand debt validation and how to protect your rights. Some collectors won’t complete the debt validation you request which means they can not report the “un-validated debt” to your credit report.
If the creditor does validate the debt often times they will demand payment in full for the debt. Most people are not financially able to pay off the debt in full but few know that most collection companies will accept partial payments, even though they say they wont.
“Does the collector have to accept my partial payments? No, they do not and many of them will claim that they won’t accept a partial payment. Collectors want you to send them a lump sum payment and they don’t care if you have to borrow it from a relative, skip your car payment or take a cash advance from your credit card. So they use very aggressive tactics to scare you in to paying the debt in full as quickly as possible. But the smarter thing to do is to pay them only what you can afford to pay them. Keep paying your house and car payments, don’t borrow money from relatives or your credit card and pay them only what you can afford each month. Send it in every month even if they keep sending it back. Keep proof that you’ve been trying to send them money. This will significantly reduce your odds of being sued, as most collection attorneys know that a judge, when presented with evidence that you tried to pay the debt, will yell at the plaintiff for wasting his time with an unnecessary suit when the defendant was trying to pay the debt. Eventually, most collectors will give in and accept the partial payments.”
Forgive yourself for your financial mistakes and start learning your options. If you are currently being harassed by collectors you need to read the Fair debt collection facts for consumers, you have rights and you can minimize the stress and harassment by learning your rights and demanding that they are respected. Don’t let the collectors bully you or convince you that your life is over, and don’t ignore your debts. This often only makes them worse, you made a mistake and it will take time to remedy but it is fixable.
Wondering how long a creditor has to collect a debt from you? Believe it or not each state sets a time frame in which collectors have to collect the money owed. After this time frame (statues of limitation) has passed you still owe the money and a collector may still take you to court but you can ask the judge to dismiss the suit on the grounds that the statute of limitations has expired.
I found some other interesting information online. Did you know that when a derogatory item on your credit has been charged-off and 7 years has passed that the same item cannot be re-entered on your credit report? This does not mean you don’t owe the debt it just means it can’t be re-entered on your credit bureau file after it has “rolled off”. This is good information to know if you get a call from a collector who is telling you the debt will ruin your credit. If the debt has rolled off it’s done, you still owe money though.
I found a great question and answer site that deals with credit & collection, you may find helpful information in reading the questions and responses here.
Okay, that was lots of information. Hopefully it empowers and protects you. Knowledge is power so rent the movie Maxed out and protect yourself from the greedy and selfish lenders/ collectors by learning about credit/ lending and making wise choices.