Never Negotiate With Your Creditors Out Of Fear, But Never Fear To Negotiate Lower Interest Rates, Waiver Of Interest, Late Fees, Etc.

O.K., times are tough.  And it takes no small amount of courage to face the financial disaster that credit cards can cause to even those who feel themselves to be the most sober of financial citizens.  Then it takes real courage to pick up a telephone and make a request to a disembodied and not-likely-friendly voice to ask for help bailing you out of a mess you can barely believe you find yourself in.

I have three things to say about this.  First. The country’s supposed financial geniuses are unable to pay their debts and are facing bankruptcy.  You are not alone.  Second.  There’s nothing to be ashamed of, though there is something to be learned from this painful experience.  I know.  I was there during the recession of the early ’90s.  Third.  You are not without remedy.  Take a look at “How to Negotiate with Your Creditors” at Entrepreneur Magazine this week.

Tips to help you negotiate with a creditor or collection agency:

    • If you make a request that is denied for whatever reason, ask to speak with a supervisor.
    • Don’t agree to pay more than you can afford when negotiating. Know in advance what your financial situation really is, then work within those confines. The last thing you want to do is negotiate a settlement or payment plan that you can’t adhere to.
    • During your negotiating process, figure out what the creditor is willing to accept as a settlement. What’s their absolute bottom line? If you’re looking for a settlement, offering between 50 and 70 percent of what’s owed, either as a lump sum payment or through a payment plan, isn’t unreasonable. Achieving this settlement might take several rounds of negotiation, however.
    • Avoid becoming intimidated by the person you’re negotiating with, even if they make threats about lawsuits.
    • Most successful negotiations require several rounds going back and forth with offers and counter offers. The process could take days or weeks.
    • If you can afford to settle an account by paying one lump sum (as opposed to using a payment plan), you’ll have more negotiating leverage.
    • The person you’re negotiating with does this for a living and is a trained professional when it comes to debt collections. For them to use legal terminology during a conversation or in writing is a common tactic to confuse or intimidate you. Listen carefully to what’s being said and make sure you understand exactly what you’re committing to. Consult with a lawyer or credit counselor if you have questions.
    • Make sure everything you ultimately agree to is put in writing, signed, and dated by both parties.

What to Negotiate for When Dealing with Creditors, Lenders, or Collection Agencies

  • a lower interest rate
  • the interest accrued to be waived
  • the late fees, penalties, and/or legal fees to be waived
  • the loan to be extended or restructured, allowing you to skip one or more payments with no penalty
  • a payment plan that would allow you to pay off the amount currently owed, but with no added interest or fees added in the future
  • a settlement that would include a significantly lower balance due (such as 50 to 75 percent of the total)
  • favorable reporting to the credit reporting agencies or the removal of negative information from your credit report pertaining that to that account

Jason R. Rich is the bestselling author of more than 37 books including The Complete Book of Dirty Little Secrets: Money-Saving Strategies the Credit Bureaus Won’t Tell You, available from Entrepreneur Press. His books cover a wide range of topics, including computers, e-commerce, personal finance, career-related topics, and travel and entertainment. He also contributes regularly to major daily newspapers, including the New York Daily News, as well as national magazines and popular websites.

                        author

Victoria Pynchon

Attorney-mediator Victoria Pynchon is a panelist with ADR Services, Inc. Ms. Pynchon was awarded her LL.M Degree in Dispute Resolution from the Straus Institute in May of 2006, after 25 years of complex commercial litigation practice, with sub-specialties in intellectual property, securities fraud, antitrust, insurance coverage, consumer class actions and all… MORE >

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