Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Why Debt Settlement Works Best in Texas
Debt settlement, also known as debt negotiation or debt reduction, is a relatively new way for dealing with your debt problems. In a debt settlement program, by negotiating with a creditor, a client can reduce their debt by as much as 50 percent and be debt free in as little as 12 to 36 months. Debt settlement is a great solution for consumers feeling overwhelmed with credit card debt that find themselves either falling behind on their payments or just able to afford the minimums. Considering the savings, in most cases it’s worth doing if you find yourself in any of the aforementioned situations. As with any debt solution, however, there are potential downsides to debt settlement that should always be considered prior to enrollment. First, debt settlement may have an adverse impact on your credit, particularly while you’re in the program. To put this point in perspective, however, it’s important to remember the following: 1) any third party debt counseling program and even debt consolidation loans from finance companies like Beneficial may affect your credit negatively in the eyes of lenders, 2) the effect on your credit in the long-term is minimal, given the fact you’ll be eliminating all your credit card debt (amount owed is 30 percent of your credit score, compared to credit history, which makes up 35 percent of your score) and 3) if you’re falling behind or about to fall behind anyway, then your credit has been or will be affected negatively anyway. Realistically, the two main draw backs of debt settlement that are unique to debt settlement are the following: 1) the possibility of legal action being taken by the creditor to collect the full balance and 2) the possibility of creditors harassing you until the debt is settled. Thankfully, if you’re doing debt settlement in Texas or even debt settlement in Florida these concerns are very much diminished. Why is Florida debt settlement so preferable compared to a lot of other states? The reason is Texas has highly favorable debtor laws that give consumers a lot of rights and protections when it comes to past due unsecured accounts like medical bills, credit cards, repossessions, and personal loans. How State Collection Laws Benefit Texas Debt Settlement Every state has laws that say if a collections agency is collecting a debt, they are legally obligated to stop contacting a consumer if the consumer sends a Cease and Desist letter and/or a Power of Attorney notifying the collection agency that a third party is responsible for handling all communications with the creditor. Texas law takes it a step farther and not only limits harassment from collection agencies, but also from the original creditor as well. In most states, when a consumer falls behind on their payments and the debt is still being collected by the original creditor (the bank that originally lent you the money or the hospital that serviced you, for example), then the creditor is reserved the right to call the debtor on a daily basis in order to collect whatever is owed, and although debt settlement companies servicing these clients can very easily reduce the calls (changing of your phone number and address and notifying the creditor that you are seeking third party help, for example), no one can ever make the calls completely stop. This is not the case however for Texas debt settlement clients. In Texas, the same law that deals with what collections agencies can and cannot do when collecting a debt also pertains to the original creditor. What does this mean in practice? It means that a debt settlement company servicing someone from Texas can easily get the calls to not only reduced, but completely eliminated all together (sometimes within days). State Homestead and Garnishment Laws and How They Benefit Texas Debt Settlement For Texas debt settlement clients, their wages and home are completely protected, which gives the creditor even more incentive to settle. Given the fact that creditors already have every incentive to settle even with clients who reside in states with less favorable debtor laws, Texas debt settlement clients are in an even stronger negotiating position with their creditors. What does this actually mean? Typically it means even greater protection in the event of a lawsuit and greater savings than what is typical. Let me explain. Although the vast majority of cases settle, as anyone who has ever read a debt settlement contract will tell you---it’s impossible for a debt settlement company to guarantee that a client won’t be the target of any legal action by their creditors. After all, creditors are always reserved the right to sue debtors to collect a past due account, regardless of whether the consumer is taking any action to resolve the outstanding debt. In the event a creditor sues a consumer in court and wins a judgment, they’ll usually go about executing the judgment in one of the following ways: 1) Wage garnishment---contacting your employer and asking that they set aside a percentage of your wages every paycheck until the debt is paid back in full. (It’s illegal for an employer to fire you for this unless more than one creditor is garnishing your wages). 2) Lien on your property---obligates you to pay back the creditor with any proceeds from the sale or refinancing of the property. A creditor prefers to put a lien on your home since it usually increases in value over time, which means the proceeds from your home’s sale will be higher, and thus they’re more likely to actually get paid back. 3) Seizing your bank account---contacting your bank, showing the proof of judgment, and asking to withdraw any monies held in deposit under your name. Fortunately, Texas laws protect debtors from having their wages garnished (unless you authorized in writing to allow your creditor to garnish your wages) and entitle Texas consumers to 100 percent homestead protection in the event of a lien. (Note: this does not apply to tax liens, alimony, or contractor’s liens.) One downside, however, is that bank accounts are not exempt under state law. That being said, for most consumers who are drowning in credit card debt, there probably will not be much for the creditor to seize anyway, and if so, it’s unlikely that it will constitute enough to decline a settlement offer. On top of that, bank account information can be difficult for creditors to locate, unlike your home, which is public record. In sum, these are major advantages for Texas debt settlement clients. Keep in mind that the vast majority of cases are settled successfully regardless of the legal advantages of the consumer. When you consider Texas state laws, debt settlement makes even more sense for the credit card companies, debt collection agencies, and most importantly, for the consumer. Debt Settlement in Texas and Community Property Laws If you are married, reside in Texas, and are seeking debt settlement services, you should enroll any and all debts that were accumulated during the marriage by both you and your spouse. Just because the debt is owned by only one partner the other partner is not exempt from having to pay for it as well under Texas law. Creditors know this and may use it to their advantage in the collections process.