There is a little known secret floating around the credit card industry.
If you are a credit card customer who is having problems paying down your bill statements, the easiest way to get back on track isn't by trying out those debt relief programs on television offered by unknown companies who may swindle you out of every last dime that you have. The best debt relief programs might just be available through your own credit card company.
That's right. Your own credit card issuer who has been calling you and sending reminders that your bill is overdue also has internal hardship programs to help people who are in this very predicament. The reason you haven't heard of this might be because you aren't seriously behind on payments (6 months or more) and you have been sending in some type of payment to bring down the balance.
Check your credit card statement. Many have the direct number to the internal hardship department that offers these programs. The programs have various names depending on the company, but most offer the same thing. The credit card issuer can lower your minimum payments, lower the interest rates, offer settlements, or get rid of fees and penalties. Choose the right program that won't put a strain on your finances, and always leave room for negotiation. You'll be surprised on how quickly you'll get out of credit debt.
Unfortunately, if the accounts were held only in your fiancé's name, he is responsible for paying the entire sum of each bill or debt. He may consider contacting the financing agencies where he has outstanding debt(s) and negotiate a payment plan.
Debt consolidation is another alternative. As with any other professional service, shop around and compare service prices and terms. Remember if your fiancé neglects his outstanding debt now, it may affect your credit, home buying power and property choices in the future.
According to the guidelines outlined by the Federal Trade Commission, unfair debt practices include the following:
- Applying a payment to a debt that you are unaware of or do not believe you owe.
- The act of depositing post dated checks prior to the due date
- The collection of a debt greater than the debt owed; unless your state authorizes such charges.
- Make false threats regarding the confiscation of property
For more information on fair debt collection practices, visit the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website at www.ftc.gov.
Hospitals may seek payment according to the guidelines of your specific state laws. Generally, three to 10 years is the timeline in which most states allow hospitals to take legal action. Each state sets a statute of limitations (SOL) according to the type of outstanding debt:
- Oral agreements are undocumented agreements between two or more parties
- Open Accounts – are lines of credit that may be used repeatedly (includes credit cards, home equity lines of credit, department store revolving accounts and others).
- Promissory Note – is written unconditional promise to remit a sum of money
- Written Contracts – are deemed as written credit contracts (in example: car loans and mortgages)
For example, in Nebraska the statute of limitations (SOL) is four years for oral agreements, 5 years for written contracts, six years for promissory notes and four years for open accounts. To determine how long a hospital can collect a bill contact your state's Attorney General's office.
The Delinquent Tenant Cooperative offers a forum for rental property owners to share negative resident information. The information shared ensures successful tenant screening. Never before has there been an opportunity for property management personnel to freely exchange this information on a nationwide basis. This allows landlords everywhere to help protect one another from the perils of bad tenants and people that don't pay their bills.
The Cooperative offers the following valuable information:
* Delinquent payment history patterns
* Property damage
* Suspected criminal activity
* Chronic disturbances
Rent collection is another important facet of professional collection agencies. Some agencies have developed automated services for tenants designed to help ensure timely rent payments by invoicing tenants every month. This provides an easy reminder that payments are due, elevates rent payments to the same level of importance as car payments, and adds professionalism to the business of apartment management.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|