He has all of the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.

Sir Winston Churchill

Who do I call ?

Tuesday evening , February 24, 2009.

You have decided to call to try to fix your debt problem.

Before you make any calls, make sure you have a clear plan of what you will be asking-offering in regards to your debt. Be prepared to take notes. The date and time, company name, employee’s name or ID are all important.

First, let’s review the personal loan and credit card case.

This is the moment to review your personal loan or credit card statement. You might want to add the total interest payments for the year, to show how good a client you are. If you’re not assertive, consider asking a relative or a friend to make the call. If your request meets objections —which it will—, ask for a supervisor or account manager, be persistent, persistent, persistent.

Make sure you call the owner of your debt, which in most cases will be the bank and not the collection agency. Dealing with the collector will be difficult and any request will have to finally be approved by the creditor —save yourself the time and aggravation.

Do you know who the original owner of the debt is?

  • If you do, call them and ask for the status of the account —you’re sure to find out if they are still the owners of the account.
  • If you don’t, then call the collector to ask him to fax you a debt verification letter —you can ask them for this information during your call, but don’t trust their word if they assure you that they own of the debt.

When you reach out to your card company, be sure to have your credit card number available:

  • Bank of America, (800) 500-5306.
  • Capital One, (866) 929-5303.
  • Chase, (800) 432-3117 or (302) 594-8200
  • Discover Card, (866) 567-1660.
  • FIA Card Services, (888) 635-0776.
  • Citi, (866) 936-4814.
  • Citi, the issuer of your Sears Card®, (866) 532-9532.
  • Citi, the issuer of The Home Depot® Credit Card, (866) 532-9689.
  • Citi, the issuer of your Macy’s Credit Card, (866) 785-1079.
  • Citi, the issuer of your retail and gas cards, (866) 683-0924.

So, after much preparation and several attempts at finding the right person, you have finally touched the heart of one of the bank’s representatives, who seems to understand your situation, and you have both reached an agreement: you’re interest rate is lowered, your penalties are revoked, you’ve settled your credit card balance for 50%...

Take the opportunity to ask them to clear your credit report blemishes with a paid in full statement. Items such as 60 days late, paid charge off, charged off settled for less are derogatory and should be erased from your credit report, if possible. This is your chance, the original creditor can have these erased, finish your negotiation on the right foot.

You should now ask for a letter of confirmation of the agreement —a fax copy is OK as long as it has the company logo and a signature. Let them know that you cannot make any payments until you receive this letter confirming your agreement.

Finally, do not ever forget that you are negotiating, there are no rules engraved in stone; specially now, when bankruptcy law is changing, new incentive laws are being published to help families in distress, and banks are staying afloat with our tax money.

If you’re after a mortgage loan modification or to refinance, to take advantage of the recent incentives, you have to contact your loan servicer, whose telephone number is on your payment coupon book.

In any case, here is the list for the major lenders:

ABM AMRO Mortgage, 800-783-8900
AmTrust Bank (fka Ohio Savings Bank), 888-696-4444
Beneficial, 800-333-5848
Charter One, 800-234-6002
Chase, 800-446-8939
CitiFinancial Mortgage, 800-753-3673
Citimortgage, 800-283-7918
Countrywide, 800-262-4218
Fifth Third Bank, 800-375-1745 Option 3
First Merit Bank, 888-728-9931
GMAC Mortgage, 800-850-4622
HSBC Mortgage, 800-338-6441
Huntington National Bank, 800-323-4695
Key Bank, 800-422-2442
LaSalle National Bank, 800-783-8900
Metlife. Fill their e-form here.
Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, 888-679-6377
National City, 800-367-9305, Ext. 53221
Ocwen Federal Bank, 800-746-2936
Option One, 866-711-1962
Popular Mortgage Servicing, Inc., 800-383-2292
Saxon, 800-665-7367
Select Portfolio Servicing, 888-818-6032
SkyBank 800-290-3359
Third Federal Savings, 888-844-7333
US Bank, 800-365-7900
Wachovia Bank of Delaware, 866-642-8608
Washington Mutual, 866-926-8937
Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, 1-800-416-1472
Wells Fargo Financial, 1-800-874-8901

This is the moment, if you haven’t already done so, to gather all your bills and sources of income, pay stubs as well as tax returns. Think of this step as if you were gathering the documentation for a mortgage loan application —it’s what the lender will ask from you. You’ll also need to prepare an affidavit hardship letter, explaining your particular situation.

One word of caution: lender loan origination fees are not specified in the ruling, so it may be a source of abuse.

Finally, do not ever forget that you are negotiating, there are no rules engraved in stone; especially now, when bankruptcy law is changing, new incentive laws are being published to help families in distress, and banks are staying afloat with our tax money.
 


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