American Express is the Least Helpful and Scariest Creditor I Have. – Patricia


“Dear Steve,

For 10 years I was self employeed making very good money on the inernet. Over the past 6 months the sites I got work from began to close, or remain open with little to no clients. My income dropped 80% (seriously) I am 3 months behind in my mortgage and currently working with them. I owe the IRS 2 years of taxes and my accountant is working with them. I am barely surviviing. American Express called me today and got me so upset I am sitting here shaking. I am having a major anxiety attack and am already on Zanex for anxiety. If had money I would have paid my mortgage and IRS. Im not claiming bankrupcy as my accountant told me to wiat a few years so I can bankrupt my IRS money owed. (You have to wait 3 years before you can bankrupt an account with them. Of everyone I am working with American Express was the most unhelpful and the most scary. I owe them about $50,000 between two cards, a business card and a pesonal card. I explained my situation to them and they think I can pull money out of the air. I have always paid them on time, I would pay them if I could, I seriously would.

What will AMEX eventually do? Can they take money from any of my checking accounts they have on file, when I made payments to them in the past over the phone? Do they usualy take you to court? Will they honour a cease comm letter to stop calling me?


Dear Patricia,

I am not a bankruptcy attorney and I can’t give you legal advice. What I do know about IRS and bankruptcy I’m not sold on the accountants advice. If the IRS files a lien on your property it survives any discharge in Chapter 7 bankruptcy and if you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy the amount of the claim can be reduced. So there are some advantages to filing for bankruptcy to deal with the total situation.

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But rather than trust the accountant, or me, contact a local bankruptcy attorney and go in and talk to them about your situation. Generally bankruptcy lawyers off a free bankruptcy consultation to answer questions. And what you need here are facts, not assumptions.

American Express is doing their best to scare money out of you. A cease and desist letter does not apply to the original creditor, only third party collectors.

So in order to address all of your situations and get you on a payment solution that you can make, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy sounds like the best approach. If the lender comes up with a payment you can make and you can afford that, you can keep your house in bankruptcy. The AMEX and IRS debts will receive what you can afford to pay them at the end of your bankruptcy, any remaining debt due them will be wiped off.

The final benefit of the bankruptcy protection is that once you are represented by a bankruptcy attorney then American Express can no longer contact you.

As an aside, I believe that once you take action to address your situation that you will find that your income will start to go back up. Nothing kills creativity and enthusiasm than overwhelming and scary debt.


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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.
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