DIY Debt Settlement Myth #7: A Debt Settlement Program Will Stop the Collection Bombardment
This is the seventh in a series of posts discussing the most common myths about do-it-yourself debt settlement. It’s common knowledge that your phone is going to start ringing off the hook the moment you begin missing payments on your credit card accounts. Virtually all major creditors have automated dialing systems that are triggered off the lack of a payment being recorded by the due-date, and the bombardment can be truly unbelievable. Some creditors program their systems to call you dozens of times per day, in an attempt to get you on the phone and wear you down until you make a payment (whether or not you actually have the funds to do so).
One of the chief reasons people hire debt settlement companies is because they don’t want to deal with this bombardment of collection phone calls and they believe enrollment in a company program will put a stop to it. However, as I’ve written in other posts in this series, the banks do not recognize any need for debt settlement companies to exist in the first place. So there is no formal program that provides any sort of protection against the normal collection process utilized by creditors. Any debt settlement organization that promises you will not receive any collection calls while in their program is actually in violation of FTC rules for key disclosures required by such firms, one of which is to make it clear they can’t stop the calls.
There is only one way that a debt company can get your phone to stop ringing. They can send a “cease & desist” notice to your creditors, along with the Power-of-Attorney you granted them to handle your case. Yes, this will usually get your phone to stop ringing off the hook, since most banks will respect a firm request to cease communication via telephone. However, nowadays this is equivalent to waving a red flag in front of a charging bull. I’ve seen numerous situations where an account that could have been settled for 25-30% instead went quickly to lawsuit status (hello 80%!) after receipt of a cease communication notice. Once a creditor gets the idea you will not communicate with them, why should they go easy on you? What choice have you left them but to pursue a legal remedy against you instead?
Don’t make a tough situation worse by using obsolete and dangerous tactics that will only backfire on you. It’s a very simple matter to manage the collection barrage using call screening techniques that you can easily learn from a good coach. There is no magic to it, just one or two tricks of the trade. You establish a dedicated number for this purpose, and then proactively manage the frequency of contact you have with your various creditors. It’s not difficult at all to get the phone to quiet down so you can go on living your life and working through this process with a minimum of stress and worry. It is totally unnecessary to pay someone else to stop the phone from ringing, especially when the only tactic they can use will greatly increase your risk of litigation.
Myth busted. Under FTC rules, debt settlement companies must disclose that they cannot stop collection calls, and there is no viable method of stopping the collection process that doesn’t increase risk of litigation. Consumers can easily manage the collection process on their own by using simple call screening techniques, combined with proactive communication with their creditors.