Consumer Debt Advice

There are many sources of consumer debt advice that can provide valuable guidance for anyone who is concerned about financial responsibility. For those who have dealt with nagging indebtedness or struggled with making ends meet, support and counsel can be an invaluable resource. There are many non profit organizations as well as professional financial services that can help families and individuals meet important monetary goals or get back on track when things have gotten out of hand. Some families might find themselves stressed out over economic issues due to spending habits that have not suited their income levels. Others may be facing major financial issues through no fault of their own. Serious illness that has brought with it crushing medical bills might be the cause of a family's monetary woes. Loosing a job or the loss of a family breadwinner can also result in personal financial chaos. But whatever the cause, sound consumer debt advice can often mean the difference between bankruptcy and solvency. Gaining stability in this area is so important for both peace of mind and quality of life. Whether choosing a non profit counseling service, paid professional advisers, or various online sources, reaching out for help is so important.

Meeting with a skilled counselor for consumer debt advice can often be the first step on the path to economic solidity. Trained professionals can take a look at a client's unique situation and can point out areas for improvement as well as solutions for trouble spots. Each situation is unique and each solution will be as well. Some families may be in need of a competent debt management program. Seeking guidance in this area is important, but locating a quality provider of this guidance may be even more significant. There are many professional agencies and sources of financial instruction that provide an invaluable service. However, there are also many organizations that indulge in practices that are something less than ethical. With these organizations, the welfare of the client is not the top priority, but making a profit generally is. High fees or promises that seem too good to be true may be warning signs that an organization is less than honorable. Most providers of solid consumer debt advice will offer practical solutions that are based in reality. Generally, the best place for an individual who is seeking financial counseling to start is to write down all debt and income and see how the two totals compare. Most reputable counselors will not offer miracle solutions, but rather they will offer practical counsel on how to budget, save, and pay off indebtedness.

Applying consumer debt advice may be as simple as following a few basic tips. Creating a budget that is both realistic and practical is always a good first step. Credit cards can be intoxicating if not handled with discipline. The wise use of credit and the prompt and timely payment of credit card debt can mean the difference between financial health and eventual ruin for many families. If a borrower handles credit wisely, this will be reflected in their personal credit score. Good credit means better interest rates and lower lending costs. When making the monthly payments on charge cards, paying more than the minimum monthly payment is always a good idea. For some families, indebtedness has grown to the point where only drastic action will turn things around. Seeking wise consumer debt advice is more important at this point than ever. An ethical bill management program can help clients by negotiating with creditors to roll unsecured debts into one monthly payment. Many creditors are more than willing to work with these programs because they realize that this may be their only option. If the creditor is not willing to work with these consolidation programs, they stand a good chance of never recovering any of the money that is owed them.

Some professional financial organizations offer consumer debt advice in the form of community workshops. These workshops cover such issues as budgeting, the wise handling of credit, home financing and ownership, identity theft protection, goals for saving money, wise spending habits, and how to attain and understand a personal credit report. In addition to these classes, some organizations also offer special courses that are geared toward young people. The hope is that by teaching solid financial habits early in life, many economic problems can be avoided in the future. Classes that are geared toward high school students can be very valuable. In addition to students in their teens, some educational organizations offer age appropriate classes that are geared toward younger children. Even pre-school age children can participate in classes that cover the basics of financial responsibility. The Bible talks about the value of an upright life in comparison to earthly riches. "Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich." (Proverbs 28:6)

Many providers of consumer debt advice do so at reduced cost. Others will offer an initial consultation that is free of charge. After this initial consultation, the potential client is welcome to sign up for further counseling, or may opt to not take advantage of the services that are offered. It is always a good idea to look into the qualifications of the organization before agreeing to meet for further counseling. There are a number of professional certifications and a reputable financial counseling service should be able to show that all counselors are trained and certified to meet the client's needs. Whatever resource is chosen, reaching out for help before financial situations get out of hand is always a wise step.

Consumer Debt Collection

Anyone faced with the possibility of consumer debt collection likely understands the stress and frustration of unpaid bills. Collection agencies are businesses that specialize in tracking down payment on delinquent accounts. Hired by creditors, these agencies will attempt to collect on bad debts, receiving a percentage of the amount of the money owed for their trouble. Some agencies take a different approach by purchasing debts outright from creditors. The purchase price for these debts is generally less than the initial amount of indebtedness. This approach has a two fold benefit. The agency makes money through payments from debtors on the original delinquent accounts. The creditor selling the debts can remove delinquent accounts from their accounts receivable roster. For the creditor, the difference between the primary debts and the price that is charged to the collections agency is considered a business loss and is written off. Of course, there are many laws and regulations that control the practices that are utilized to collect any money that is owed. Abusive behavior is clearly defined by law and is strictly prohibited. A consumer debt collection agency may be a department of the original debtor organization. When this is the case, this is known as a first party agency. A third party agency exists when an outside party is hired to collect on unpaid liabilities.

A consumer debt collection organization will generally attempt to collect money that individual consumers may owe on a variety of debts. These debts could include medical expenses, property taxes, generic household expenses, car payments, mortgage payments, credit card indebtedness, or money that is owed for child support. There are several ways that an agency can make contact with a debtor. These means of contact may include the postal service, the telegram, or via telephone or fax. However, there are specific times that are specified by law when a consumer debt collection organization can make contact. Calling in the early hours of the morning or making contact late at night is not permitted by law. In the unlikely event that an individual agrees to be contacted at all hours of the day or night, the agency is free to call whenever they wish. Consumers who retain legal representation have an advantage in this area. If an individual informs the collecting agency that they have hired an attorney, that agency must make all contact through the attorney and leave the debtor alone. Contact at a debtor's workplace is legal, but if a debtor makes it clear that their employer is not in favor of such contact, the contact must cease.

In a best case scenario, a consumer debt collection organization can be an asset to a debtor as well as a creditor. By working with the agency to try to come up with a reasonable approach for repayment, delinquent funds can be recovered and a debtor can have the peace of mind of knowing that they are working honorably to pay back money that is owed. That is not to say that there are not organizations that attempt to utilize practices that could be called abusive. Thankfully, there are specific regulations that can be enforced to insure that any behavior employed by a collections agency is above board. For example, an agency may not contact anyone else about an individual's indebtedness. Family members, friends, or neighbors should never be informed of a debtor's payment woes. A debtor's attorney, the creditor or any legal representation that is attained by the creditor are the only people who may lawfully be included in any correspondence or contact regarding the account. There are exceptions to this rule. If a consumer debt collection agency is seeking information on a debtor's address, phone number, or place of employment, other individuals may be contacted. But in making this contact, any inference to unpaid debt is prohibited.

There are many things that the law considers unfair practices in the area of consumer debt collection. Some of these unfair practices could include collecting more money than is actually owed according to the original lending agreement or outright deception on the part of the collecting agency during a phone conversation regarding the debtor's account. An agency representative is also not permitted to make exaggerated threats that are not based on legally appropriate and realistic actions. In any mailed correspondence, there can be no indication on the outer envelope that betrays the reason for the communication inside. For this reasons, postcards are not considered a legally appropriate method of communication with a debtor. The Bible talks about the freedom that is offered to believers. "Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." (2 Corinthians 2:17)

Unfortunately, there are many organizations that push the envelope of legal activity, and there are others who seem to have little regard for the law. In the event of harassment by a consumer debt collection agency, there are specific steps that a debtor can take to end this behavior. A consumer can contact the Federal Trade Commission about any abuses. Remaining informed about what a collector can actually do is a good first step. Basically, there are only three legal courses of action that a creditor can take. They can cease to move forward with any kind of business activity with the defaulting individual. Or, they can report delinquent activity to a credit bureau. Lastly, they can take a debtor to court to pursue legal action. If a debtor feels that they are being harassed, the debtor can send a cease letter to the creditor informing them of their desire for the harassment to end.

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