Debt solutions available on this site:
- How to get the best deal on new debt.
- How to deal with old debt.
- Where to get real debt help and avoid scams.
- How to get creditors off your back.
- How to stop harassment by debt collectors.
- How to improve your credit rating.
- What to do if someone steals your identity.
What you'll get from this site: Practical advice.
Things you can do with reasonable effort to manage your debt more effectively.
In my years working with clients at the Consumer Assistance Council on debt related issues I found that people wasted too much time trying to understand the law. Knowing the law may be interesting, but it is not very useful.
The fact is that you need a lawyer to make the law work for you, and in most cases you have to go to court. That costs a lot of money. Most debts are not worth it.
We focus on things that you can do without a lawyer -- with the exception of bankruptcy, which is an underused tool for dealing with overwhelming debt. Bankruptcy lawyers are usually worth the money.
There are a few legal facts that are useful to know (for example the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act gives you a way to keep collection agents from bothering you), but for the most part we are dealing with the practical realities of the process of getting credit, running up debt, and dealing with collection efforts when you need to.
We also deal with debt errors (which are all too common), including old debt long forgotten about, but resurrected.
- New! How to Stop Collector Harassment!
- How to Get Creditors Off Your Back!
- How to Fix Your Credit Report - Get Rid of Incorrect Entries!
I started this site because in my volunteer work with a non profit that helps people with consumer issues, I learned a lot about credit and debt; and realized that without much better information, most consumers -- even highly educated consumers -- are at the mercy of the lenders and their aggressive collectors. The main purpose of this site is to help others. I accept advertising and sell ebooks to cover the costs of hosting.
For example, ads promising "debt relief" OR "debt help" are often misleading, promising more than they can deliver. There are only two places I am willing to recommend for real debt help. One is the association of consumer credit counseling agencies (check www.nfcc.org) and the other is a competent bankruptcy attorney.
Consumer Credit Counseling agencies will tell you whether or not a "debt management plan" is right for you. Such management plans consolidate your debt and let you pay it back over time. Go to our section on Credit Counseling. That will tell you more about Consumer Credit Counseling Services including debt help, counseling, consolidation and even some relief (with a debt management plan they can usually stop interest and late payments from accumulating.)
Find answers specific to Your situation:
If you owe money (or if creditors THINK you owe them money), this section will tell you how to handle the situation. Not all debt should be handled in the same way. Therefore, while most of these pages have similiar information, they are tailored to specific types of debt problems. Find your situation:
- Secured Debt - Debts secured by an asset like a house or car are called secured debts. You could lose the asset, the car or house, if you don't make your payments. read more...
- Original Creditor, Debts Under $1,000 -If you are being dunned by an original creditor (like a store or a credit card) for a debt of less than $1,000, you have some choices. read more...
- Original Creditor, Debts Over $1,000 - If you are being dunned by an original creditor (like a store or a credit card) for a debt of more than $1,000, the best thing to do is to face up to it and figure out a way to settle it. read more...
- Collection Agency, Debts Under $1,000 - If your debt of under $1,000 been turned over to a collection agency then you have some choice as to what you want to do. read more...
- Collection Agency, Debts Over $1,000 - If your debt of more than $1,000 been turned over to a collection agency, then you are probably going to have to deal with it. But I do not think you should deal with the collection agency! read more...
- Old Debt Over $1,000 - Debts of over 1,000 usually do not get sold to collectors the same way as small debts do. If this is the case you should verify the accuracy of the debt. read more...
- Old Debt Under $1,000 - Should you even bother to pay a small, old debt? read more...
- Incorrect Info/Person - Sometimes you are billed for money you do not owe. Sometimes you are not the person who owes the debt. (This happens especially with old debts.) In both cases you should aggressively fight all attempts at collection, at least until you agree that on the debt and the amount. read more...
- Identity Theft - This can ruin your credit for years, you must deal with it immediately. The government has created a detailed action list for you to follow. read more...
- Multiple Debts - If you have several debts piled up to unmanageable proportions you probably feel like you are under a mountain of debt. If this is your situation, you really have only two choices. read more...
- You're Not Sure if a Debt is Owed - Federal law requires that the debt collector inform you of the details of any debt, but often they do not have them.
- Dispute a Debt or its Amount - Sometimes people pay debts they do not owe just to get collectors off their backs. Don't fall into that trap. You can fight back.
- You Agree You Owe the Debt But are Unable to Pay it Off - When people are in this situation they often send a few bucks to the debt collector in hopes that will shut them up. Don't do this.
- You want to Settle the Debt at the Most Favorable Terms to You - Paying off the debt dollar for dollar with interest and late fees is unnecessary. There are ways to get a more satisfactory settlement.
- Credit Counseling - There are non-profit agencies that can help you, one-on-one, deal with your debt situation. We tell you what you can expect from them, and how to find a good one.
- Credit Agencies - How to get free credit reports from all three major credit agencies. The laws allow you to use a web site or call or write. This section tells you how.
- Credit Repair - How to repair your own credit and avoid being scammed by companies that make promises they will never keep. There are hundreds of companies out there that make unrealistic promises to repair your credit quickly and easily. This section tells you what is realistic and how you can do it yourself. Free.
- Credit Score - All of us have at least one credit score -- most have us have several. It is an attempt by credit reporting agencies and others to put our credit worthiness into one number. There are some things you can do to raise your number. And the higher your numbers, the less you will pay for credit. This section gives you five things you can do to improve your credit rating.
- Bankruptcy - There are times when the best solution is to declare bankruptcy. Find out how this can help you, what it will mean for your future, and how to go about it.
- Automatic Payments - Many people sign up for automatic payments either from a credit card or a bank account and then find they can't get out of it when they want to cancel. If you are stuck in this trap, you are not alone. Find out what you can do.
- Fair Debt Collection Practices Act - The federal government regulates debt collectors. There is a lot of information available on the FDCPA, often long-winded and boring. Learn the basics of how this Act protects you, the consumer, in our simple FAQ's.
- Debt Dictionary - A glossary of terms related to debt, credit and mortgages.
If you are thinking about getting a new mortgage, a second mortgage or doing a refi of an existing mortgage, this section will tell you how to get the best deal.
- Mortgage Basics - You could save thousands of dollars by being prepared for the biggest financial transaction that you are likely to undertake. This unbiased overview tells you what the banks and loan officer might not.
- Mortgage Types - National competition has created a dazzling array of rates and terms. Your job is not only to get the best rate you can given your situation, but also to get a loan that matches your needs.
- Terms and Conditions on Mortgages - The interest rate isn't the only thing that can cost you. Find out about the worth of Points, watch out for pre-payment penalties, do you need a no-doc loan and more.
Easy debt and high interest rates make credit cards dangerous for many people. You may start off with a low rate but it soon gets raised, you will get dizzy trying to keep up. And then there are the late fees!
However, credit cards have one big advantage over debit cards: Federal law requires that credit card companies intervene with merchants in your behalf, IF (and only if) you ask them to in the right way.
- Managing Credit Cards - Overview of how the system works and how it's geared to get more money out of you, the consumer, than you think.
- Types of Cards - Why a credit card is better than a debit card, and why it isn't.
- Credit Card Interest Rates - Low rates don't stay that way, the credit card company has lots of tricks to raise your rate when you aren't looking.
- Automatic Payments - Automatic payments are a growing problem, and most people don't understand that even with a credit card they can be difficult to stop.
- Credit Card Charges and Fees - Credit card companies makes most of their money with charges and fees. Find out what to look out for.
- Credit Card Disputes - The credit card companies want you to think it's easy to file a dispute against a charge on your card, but it isn't always the case. You have to follow a specific proccess to prevent an incorrect payment, and it can be (literally) hard to find.
We've done our best, in all of these sections, to keep the information as direct and simple as possible. We are not lawyers, but we have practical, everyday experience in what works best for consumers. Check out the sections that are useful to you, and let us know if you got any help.
You might also check our blog for the latest items of interest in the credit field.