If you have gotten yourself into debt, don’t despair. You can help yourself get your life and your good credit reputation back.
What You Can Do for Yourself?
Review your specific obligations that creditors claim you owe to make certain you really owe them. If you dispute a debt, first contact the creditor directly to resolve your questions. If you still have questions about the validity of the debt or the collection practices, contact your state or local consumer protection office or state Attorney General.
Contact your creditors to let them know you're having difficulty making your payments. Ideally, this should be done before a payment is late or missed. Tell them why you're having trouble -- perhaps it's because you or a spouse recently lost a job or have unexpected medical bills. Try to work out an acceptable payment schedule with your creditors. Most are willing to work with you and will appreciate your honesty and forthrightness. Many have "hardship programs" which provide for adjustment of payments for a period of time.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Law prohibits a debt collector from showing what you owe to anyone but your attorney, harassing or threatening you, using false statements, giving false information about you to anyone, and misrepresenting the legal status of your debts. Remember that under other federal laws to collect debts, creditors cannot seize most government assistance and can only garnish a portion of wages to collect debts.
Budget your expenses. Create a spending plan that allows you to reduce your debts. Itemize your necessary expenses (such as housing and health care) and optional expenses (such as entertainment and vacation travel). Start a savings plan so that funds are available for unforeseen but essential expenditures. Stick to the plan.
Try to reduce your expenses. Cut out any unnecessary spending such as eating out and purchasing expensive entertainment. Consider taking public transportation rather than owning a car. Clip coupons, purchase generic products at the supermarket, and avoid impulse purchases. Above all, stop incurring new debt. Consider substituting a debit card for your credit cards.
Use your savings and other assets to pay down debts. Withdrawing savings from low-interest accounts to settle high-rate loans usually makes sense. Selling off a second car not only provides cash but also reduces insurance and other maintenance expenses.
Look for additional resources from governmental and private sources for which you may be eligible. Government assistance includes unemployment compensation, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), food stamps, low-income energy assistance, Medicaid, and Social Security including disability. Other resources may be available from churches and community groups. Often these sources are listed in the Yellow Pages of your phone book.
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Take control of your credit now! While you continue to wait; the great deal on that car you wanted will be over; the house you dreamed of will be sold; the job you had your heart set on, will be given to someone with a better credit score. Nothing is ever gained by procrastination. Start Your Journey on the Road to Good Credit Today!