Ask The Get Out of Debt Experts Debt Settlement

Should I Go With Fast Track Debt Relief? I’m Scared. – Crystal

“Dear Steve,

My name is Crystal. I accidentally find your website, and feel it offer very helpful information about debts. I have five credit cards, Chase-19%, Macy’s Visa and Revolving-24.50%, two American Express were 12.24% and 16.24%. I am been paying for three years, but interests get higher and higher each year. After three years, my balances still the same. I was trying to pay more than minimum which about $700-$1,000 totally each month. However, this left me no cash for rest of month.

Macy’s is behind the payment for three months now. I tried to talk to my creditors for better advise and low interest. American Express dropped 1% interest rate. Chase didn’t give me any chance to talk to them and Macy’s give option to close the account.

I calculated all the debt. I owe about $20,000 credit card debts. If I only pay minimum, I have to pay 16 years, and interest will be $16,000. If I double my payment each month, I don’t have such money.

I found “Fast Track Debt Relief” company online. They said they only charge one fee is 15% of my total debt. They help me reduce 45% of amount. I only have to pay less than $500 each month for all my credit card payments. Still, I will debt free in three years. They also tell me all my money will go to a trust fund. However, first three payments will consider as service fee in the trust fund. There are so many scams. Even though, I read many article about how to find a good settlement company, I still worry I would put myself in a worse situation.

For my situation, What should I do better to get rid of my debts? Should I ask help from settlement company to put all my payment into one?How do I find a good company or agency to help me? Is “Fast Track Debt Relief” company reliable? What kind of questions should I ask them? What document should I ask them to sent to me? Is fine to let them sent documents through Email, or request for mail documents?

I am sorry to ask you so many questions. After I read many pro and con article about these companies, I am very scare the company I choose would put me into a worse place.
Thank you so much for your help.

Sincerely,

Crystal”

Dear Crystal,

Thank you for contacting me.

It seems we have several issues going on here so let me tackle them each individually.

You appear to be frustrated and anxious to resolve your financial situation. Sometimes this anxiousness can lead to impulsive decisions that are not in your best interest. You are wise to look around for information on different options in order to help you make the best decision for you.

It appears to me that your primary goal is to find a way to get your debt under control and eventually eliminate it. Debt settlement is one approach but it is not as easy as you may have been told.

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Fast Track Debt Relief

I’m concerned that the message you heard from Fast Track Debt Relief is that your payment will only be $500, your debt will be reduced 45% and your debt will be eliminated in three years. I am however encouraged that they seem to have clearly explained to you the fee for their services will be 15% of your total debt and the fee will be paid up-front.

On the home page of their site the message seems to be celebratory. – Source

Fast Track Debt Relief, Yippie

But the path to a potential debt reduction is not without it’s risks and hurdles. The success rate or failure rate of debt settlement clients is huge. It is said that 65% of consumers drop out of debt settlement programs after paying fees but never settling a debt. The industry says 34% of consumers settle debts, but research has found that only about 10% of people actually settle all their debts.

It might be hard to find but in this disclosure statement on the Fast Track Debt Relief site it says:

Your creditors may continue collection efforts on delinquent accounts while you are enrolled in a Debt Settlement Program. Such collection efforts can include phone calls and letters to you, charging off the account, sending accounts to collection agencies or attorneys, lawsuits and even garnishments of your wages if a judgment has been obtained Fast Track Debt Relief, Inc. no claim that it will be able to stop these collection activities. These activities may continue while Fast Track Debt Relief, Inc. is making its best efforts to negotiate your debt.

If you do not make required minimum payments to your creditors you may be breaking the terms of your agreements with them and your actions will probably be reported to consumer reporting agencies as late, delinquent, charged-off or past due balances. Your creditor may also raise the interest rate on your account and impose other penalties. Your account balance may continue to grow as your creditor adds accrued interest, late fees, over- limit fees and penalties. Your balance may continue to grow until a settlement is reached with your creditor; and, if negotiations are unsuccessful, you could be called upon to pay the entire balance. After settlement your creditor may comment that the account was “settled for less than the full amount” on your credit report. A Debt Settlement Program may have an adverse effect on your credit report and credit score.

Outside of the hard to find disclosure link the Fast Track Debt Relief site seems to be light on warnings of the possible consequences of enrolling. The consequences can be severe and very stressful.

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Is Debt Stress What You Really Want?

From reading your question I am under the opinion that more debt stress is not what you are really going for here. And debt settlement can significantly add to your stress level unless you are prepared to get continual collection calls, risk being sued, want a bad credit report and face possible tax consequences from the forgiven debt.

It just seems like this situation has been stressful enough on you already. maybe we need to look at some other options and see if they might be better suited for you.

Is Credit Counseling the Answer?

In a traditional non-profit credit counseling program your creditors would reduce your interest and you would make continued monthly payments till the debt was gone. Typically this takes five years. In the debt management plan your monthly payment would be about the same as what you are paying now. You would not get collection calls as long as you continue to make the payment.

If your issue is the interest rates alone and you can afford the minimum monthly payment then a traditional credit counseling program might be a good solution for you. You can click here for credit counseling information.

Is Bankruptcy Right for You?

The Fast Track Debt Relief web site says it is a “Better alternative to Bankruptcy” but I don’t see how.

In bankruptcy most people eliminate their debts within months, your creditors and collectors could not call you, you can’t be sued, your wages can’t be garnished, and while your credit takes a hit, it can be easily rebuilt.

Bankruptcy makes sense if you simply can’t afford your current debt and you are finding it tough to get by. In that case you should click here to find a local bankruptcy attorney and go talk to them.

My Suggestion

Crystal I think you need to do some more research first and talk to a credit counseling agency and a bankruptcy attorney before you leap into any solution. More information only gives you a better ability to make a decision that is right for you.

If after talking to the credit counseling group and bankruptcy attorney you feel debt settlement is still the path you want to follow then I suggest you contact Damon Day for an independent consultation so he can potentially guide you to a debt settlement company that might charge you far less.

Please update me on your progress by posting updates here in the comments section of your question. I’m very interested in how this works out for you.

Sincerly,
Steve

You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.




About the author

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.

18 Comments

  • SCAMMED- CONSUMER BEWARE -I HAVE BEEN SCAMMED

    DEBT SETTLEMENT COMPANIES AND LAW FIRMS

    -FILE A COMPLAINT WITH ATTORNEY GENERAL OFFICE AND FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION

    IT ILLEGAL FOR LAW FIRMS or debt settlement COMPANIES TO CHARGE MONEY UNTIL SETTLEMENT IS MADE with CREDITOR.

    INCLUDING SIGNING UP ON INTERNET SERVICE -FILIING APPLICATION ON INTERNET

    NO- UP FRONT FEES

    PLEASE READ LINK BELOW

    http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/business/marketing/bus72.pdf .

    The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, has amended the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) to add specific provisions to curb deceptive and abusive practices associated with debt relief services. One key change is that many more businesses will now be subject to the TSR. Debt relief companies that use telemarketing to contact potential customers or hire someone to call people on their behalf have always been covered by the TSR. The new Rule expands the scope to cover not only outbound calls — calls you place to potential customers — but in-bound calls as well — calls they place to you in response to advertisements and other solicitations. If your business is involved in debt relief services, here are three key principles of the new Rule:

    ??It’s illegal to charge upfront fees. You can’t collect any fees from a customer before you have settled or otherwise resolved the consumer’s debts. If you renegotiate a customer’s debts one after the other, you can collect a fee for each debt you’ve renegotiated, but you can’t front-load payments. You can require customers to set aside money in a dedicated account for your fees and for payments to creditors and debt collectors, but the new Rule places restrictions on those accounts to make sure customers are protected.

    ??You have to disclose certain information before signing people up for your services. Before people sign up, you must disclose fundamental aspects of your services, including how long it will take for them to get results, how much it will cost, the negative consequences that could result from using debt relief services, and key information about dedicated accounts, if you use them.

    ?You can’t misrepresent your services. The new Rule prohibits you from making false or unsubstantiated claims about your services

    WHO’S COVERED BY THE NEW RULE

    The new Rule applies to for-profit sellers of debt relief services and telemarketers for debt relief companies. The new Rule defines a “debt relief service” as a program that claims directly, or implies, that it can renegotiate, settle, or in some way change the terms of a person’s debt to an unsecured creditor or debt collector. That includes reducing the balance, interest rates or fees a person owes. The TSR defines “telemarketing” as a “plan, program, or campaign . . . to induce the purchase of goods or services” involving more than one interstate telephone call. Most of the provisions of the TSR apply to sellers and telemarketers, so the terms “company” and “provider” in this Guide refer to both. In addition, certain parts of the Rule apply to those who provide substantial assistance or support to sellers or telemarketers.

    Some examples of debt relief services include:

    ?Calls to you in response to advertising — consumer calls in response to TV or radio commercials; infomercials; home shopping programs; ads in magazines, newspapers or the phone book; online ads; billboards; or ads in other media .

    ??Calls to you in response to most direct mail promotions

    — consumer calls in response to postcards, flyers, door hangers, brochures, “certificates,” letters, email, faxes, etc., urging people to call about debt relief services.

    1. How much your service costs and other important terms. Before someone signs up for your service, you must disclose all fees. If you charge a specific dollar amount, you must disclose that amount. If you charge a percentage of the amount a customer would save as a result of your program, you have to disclose both the percentage and the estimated dollar amount it represents for that customer. In addition, before someone signs up, you must disclose any material restrictions, limitations, or conditions on your services. If the sales presentation includes a statement about your company’s refund policy, you must also include a clear and conspicuous disclosure of all terms and conditions of the policy. If you don’t give refunds, the Rule requires you to tell people that before they sign up

    FILE A COMPLAINT WITH FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION

    http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/complaint.shtm

    ALSO FILE A COMPLAINT ON YOU ATTORNEY GENERAL OFFICE ONLINE

    BRUCE COLTON STATE ATTORNEY

    http://www.sao19.org/other_saos.htm

    The Florida Bar

    651 East Jefferson Street

    Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2300

    Telephone: (850)561-5839

    Toll-free ACAP Hotline: (866) 352-0707

    Website: http://www.floridabar.org/

    PLEASE HELP AND CLOSE THESE DECEPTIVE LAW FIRMS DOWN AND DEBT SETTLEMENT COMPANIES •it’s NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

    email to a friend

    8201 PETERS BLVD and

    •Location: FORT LAUDERALE FA. 33324

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