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Home > Ask The Get Out of Debt Experts > After a Failed Relationship I’m Left With Piles of Bad Debt And I Want to Settle One Account. – Kathy

After a Failed Relationship I’m Left With Piles of Bad Debt And I Want to Settle One Account. – Kathy

“Dear Steve,

The short version….

As the result of a failed, long-term relationship, I was left responsible for a significant amount of credit card debt. My ex- boyfriend agreed to work with me to pay off the debt so we agreed to go through a Debt Settlement Company. After 1 year and several thousands in fees, only 1 account was settled. And the ex was no longer willing to take responsibility for his portion so I am left with all of the debt.

Needless to say, my credit is in shambles. Fortunately, I do have several older accounts with positive payment history and 4 active accounts all paid timely. However, my concern is about the accounts in collection. I stopped paying on the account based on the instructions from the Debt Settlement Company. I have not made a payment on the accounts in question since 2007/2008. I want to make this right but the balances reflect outrageous fees and interest. This makes the task of repayment all the more daunting and seemingly out of reach. Also, my accounts are sold from collection agency to collection agency. I am not sure who truly ‘owns’ the debt any longer.

I don’t believe CCCS is a viable solution at this point. In fact, I do not know if a reputable Debt Settlement Company can work with accounts that are older and already charged-off. Additionally, I believe if I make a payment to the collection agency, the clock starts over again on the 7 year negative tradeline. I think my best bet is to try to settle directly but I don’t know where to start. I am so concerned I will make the situation that much worse.

For reference, I am a resident of California.

Any suggestions how to handle older debt/accounts in collections?

Is Debt Settlement a viable option or should I try to manage myself?

If I pay the collection agency, does the 7 years start over and does that only apply to the collection account? What about the original credit which is also listed on my credit report?

Kathy”

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The Answer

Dear Kathy,

Now that’s an interesting situation. The most important issue for me is if you have 30% or so of the current balance on hand to offer as a settlement right away? If you do then settling that one account might be the best thing to do.

Of course, settling the debt will not eliminate the negative marks on your credit report but with your current cards that helps to mitigate the damage a bit.

Let me know how much the current balance is and how much cash you have on hand to settle it right now and let’s take it from there.

Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.

Big Hug!

After a Failed Relationship Im Left With Piles of Bad Debt And I Want to Settle One Account.   Kathy
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After a Failed Relationship I'm Left With Piles of Bad Debt And I Want to Settle One Account. - Kathy by

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About Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode
Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
  • Kfmcnamara

    Hi Steve.

    Thank you so much for the quick response.  I greatly appreciate it.

    I must apologize.  I don’t think I was completely clear about my situation.  There are several accounts in question not just one.  I was able to settle only 1 account with the horrible, costly Debt Settlement Company I used back in 2008.  Currently, I have about 12 accounts in collections.  My main concern is an account that had an original balance of $20,000.  It has been sold many times and the current collection agency lists the balance as $32,000.00.  The last payment made to the original creditor was late 2007.  I have made no contact since.
     
    I do have cash on hand to settle for 30% of this ‘big’ account. 

    The combined total of all of the other 12 accounts is about $25,000 (with fees, interest, etc.).  I could do 30% on the combined total of those accounts.   Of course, different collection agencies are involved.  I have not made a payment on these accounts since 2008.  One of my main concerns is SOL….starting the clock over and opening myself to a lawsuit..especially on the 1 large account. 

    At this time, I have about $8,000 to work with in terms of making lump sum settlement.  I am not sure if lump sum combined with payments is an option or even wise.

    So, all that being said….

    I am concerned about trying again with a Debt Settlement company after my terrible and expensive experience previously

    I don’t want to make the situation worse–if that’s possible–by trying to settle myself

    How does Credit Reporting truly work in terms of negative items?  If there is a collection account for the original creditor, do both fall off after 7 years or does the collection account start at the time the debt was purchased thereby extending the negative reference even longer?

    Most importantly, what is the best way to handle accounts that have not had activity in quite a while?

    Thank you again for your advice.

    • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

      Well depending on the SOL in your state you many already be exposed to a lawsuit if they filed one.

      Do you think you’d prefer to work with someone to teach how how to settle the debt and then you do the actual work?

      The account should not be reported for more than 7.5 years from when it first went delinquent. And just because an account is past the SOL it only means you can’t be sued over it but they can still attempt collections.

    • http://www.avoidbk.com/ Jared Strauss

      I actually offer a service like the one you need, but I wouldn’t do it in your situation. If you haven’t made payments for more than 4 years, you appear to have exceeded statute of limitations. 

      Unless you have a semi-immediate need for credit, for a major purchase, I would wait out the other form of statutes of limitations, which is your credit report. 

      A strategy you may want to consider, since your accounts appear to be past the collection statute, is to dispute them with the credit bureaus. Disputing an account previous to the collection statute can be dangerous as it could trigger legal action from the creditor that may lead to a judgment and a whole host of other problems. However, when you have exceeded collection statutes, you no longer face that risk. 

      The idea being that when you dispute them, the creditor must validate the dispute within 30 days. If they fail to do so, the item is removed. A lot of collection agencies that collect on 4 and 5 year old accounts don’t always have access to the information to do so. 

      If you try this, you’ll need to dispute with all 3 credit bureaus. The best way to do it is online through annualcreditreport.com. 

      If disputing doesn’t work or if you decide that you don’t want to mess with it, your next best option may be to wait until it’s been 6 years and 6 months from the date of your last payment. 

      I haven’t dealt with this in awhile, but last time I had a client in this situation, I learned that when you dispute your debts, when you’re 6 years and 6 months and beyond from the DLP (date of last payment), the credit bureaus just automatically remove the disputed item. Their logic being that it will come off soon anyway and it isn’t justifiable to pursue. 

      You can find out if that is still their policy be calling all three credit bureaus and asking them. I would talk to a supervisor though, just to make sure you’re getting accurate information. If they’re unsure, ask for the dispute department. 

      Specifically, how long has it been since any payments were made to these accounts?

      • http://www.avoidbk.com/ Jared Strauss

        Hi Kathy, 

        I had to dig around a bit to find this, but this opinion letter, specifically question 2, should address your other question.

        http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/fcra/amason.shtm 

      • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

        Good find. It’s interesting that it mentioned the extra 180 days, you’ll find that’s why I often say 7.5 years. My only caveat here is that before anyone assumes what the statute of limitations is in your state, that you seek the opinion of an attorney that is licensed in your state and have them review your specific situation and the SOL.

      • http://www.avoidbk.com/ Jared Strauss

        You’re spot on with the 7.5 years. 

        In respect to the assumption and meeting with a local attorney, I absolutely agree. There are many particulars with this, so it’s vital to make sure your I’s are dotted and your T’s are crossed. 

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