New York City Debt Collection Defense Attorney

4-Step Approach to Settling a Debt (2023)

Dealing with a collection agency to settle a debt? Here's a structured approach to ensure you make informed decisions:

1. Validate the Debt You Owe

Upon initial contact, debt collectors are obligated to furnish specific details about the claimed debt. Typically, they must relay this information in written form, be it through traditional mail or electronic means.

This verification or “validation” assists you in ascertaining the legitimacy of the claimed debt. If the details seem unclear or ambiguous, you can seek further clarity on the debt's specifics from the collector.

Do “debt verification" and "debt validation" mean the same thing?

No, "debt verification" and "debt validation" are terms that, while sometimes used interchangeably, often have distinct meanings in the context of debt collection.

  • Debt Validation: This typically refers to the process under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) where a consumer can request that a debt collector provide proof that they owe a certain debt. When a debt collector first contacts a consumer, the consumer has the right to request validation of the debt within 30 days. The collector is then required to provide evidence of the debt, such as a copy of the original contract or details of the debt's origin.
  • Debt Verification: While this can sometimes be used synonymously with validation, in certain contexts, it can also refer to the process that a debt collector undertakes internally to ensure they have accurate and sufficient information about debt and debtor before initiating collection efforts. This might involve confirming the amount of the debt, the identity of the debtor, and other pertinent details.

However, depending on the context or the specific legal or regulatory language involved, the terms might be used differently. It's always good to refer to the specific definitions provided in any given law, regulation, or contract.

Income and debt assessment-debt settlement

2. Make a Realistic Repayment Strategy

Once you've verified the debt's authenticity, you have the option to settle the amount in full or suggest a repayment structure. When devising a plan, consider:

  • Your Payment Capacity: Begin by assessing your current financial commitments. Tabulate your monthly net income against your recurring expenditures, including your desired monthly repayment towards the debt. Ensure a buffer for unanticipated costs and emergencies. Falling behind on other debts while settling this one might worsen your financial strain. Consider consulting a non-profit credit counselor.
  • Total Settlement Amount: Determine the lump sum you can allocate to clear the debt. This could be a one-time payment or multiple smaller contributions. Always remain within your financial means. Here is a budget calculator.

Do Not Hire Upfront-Charging Debt Settlement Firms

Exercise caution with debt resolution entities demanding pre-service payments. A few might overpromise and underdeliver. Furthermore, creditors may elect not to do business with your chosen debt-settlement entity.

If you need help, call us at (888) 271-7109, or complete this form.

Settlement Contract-The Langel Firm

3. Propose Your Repayment Plan to the Collector

  • Communicate Your Financial Stance: When conversing with the debt collector, lay out your financial scenario transparently. Chances are, you might find more flexibility with them than you had with the original lender. Engaging a credit counselor or legal advisor might also be beneficial.
  • Document Your Settlement: On finalizing a repayment or settlement modality, ensure you obtain a written confirmation of the terms and any commitments made by the collector. This might encompass cessation of collection activities and waiving off or marking the debt as settled upon adhering to the agreed terms.

4. Twelve Terms to Consider Including in a Consumer Debt-Settlement Agreement

When entering into a consumer debt settlement agreement, it's crucial to ensure that all essential terms are clearly laid out to protect both parties. Here are some terms you should consider including:

  1. Parties Involved: Clearly identify the debtor and the creditor. If agents or attorneys are representing either party, they should also be specified.

  2. Principal Amount: Mention the original debt amount and the settled amount agreed upon by both parties. This showcases the reduction in debt.

  3. Payment Terms:

    • Lump Sum or Installments: Specify if the settlement is a one-time payment or will be made in installments.
    • Payment Due Dates: If installments are agreed upon, list the due dates for each payment.
    • Accepted Payment Methods: Mention whether payments can be made by check, credit card, bank transfer, etc.
  4. Full and Final Settlement: The agreement should state that once the settled amount is paid, the creditor considers the debt fully satisfied and will not pursue any further collections on the remaining amount.

  5. Release of Claims: Upon payment, the creditor should release all claims against the debtor related to this particular debt.

  6. Default on Agreement: Specify what happens if the debtor defaults on the settled payment terms. Often, if the debtor defaults, the original amount may be reinstated minus any payments already made.

  7. Waiver of Additional Fees and Interest: Ensure the agreement states that no additional fees, charges, or interest will be added to the settled amount.

  8. Legal and Collection Costs: Address whether any legal or collection costs will be included or waived as part of the settlement.

  9. Governing Law: Identify which state's laws will govern the agreement and where any disputes will be litigated.

  10. Entire Agreement Clause: This states that the written agreement represents the entire understanding between the parties, superseding any prior oral or written communications.

  11. Amendment Clause: Specify that any changes to the agreement must be in writing and agreed upon by both parties.

  12. Notices: Detail how notices (like payment reminders or breach notifications) should be sent, whether by mail, email, or another method, and to which address or contact point.

Can You Still Settle a Debt After Being Sued For It?

Yes, it's often possible to settle a debt even after being sued for it. Here's a concise overview:

Settling Debt Post-Lawsuit:

  1. Negotiation Opportunity: Once a lawsuit is initiated, it might provide a new window of opportunity for negotiation. Both parties might be motivated to avoid the time, cost, and uncertainty of court proceedings.

  2. Court Encouragement: Courts often prefer parties to reach an agreement or settlement rather than proceeding to a full trial. This is especially true if significant amounts are involved.

  3. Legal Assistance: If you've been sued, it's wise to seek legal counsel. An attorney can negotiate on your behalf, potentially securing more favorable terms than you might achieve on your own. They can also guide you on the best course of action considering the lawsuit.

  4. Financial Implications for Creditors: Going to court is expensive. Given the associated legal fees and the chance that a debtor might declare bankruptcy (in which case the creditor might not recover any funds), creditors can sometimes be more inclined to settle.

  5. Payment Plans: While settlements often involve lump sum payments, with the help of an attorney, it might be possible to negotiate a monthly payment plan suitable to your financial situation.

Remember, each situation is unique, and while it's possible to settle post-lawsuit, the specifics of your debt, the creditor, and other factors will influence the outcome.

Debt Collection Mastery Quiz: How Well Do You Know Your Rights and Strategies?"

Welcome to our insightful blog post on managing debt collections. But first, let's see how much you already know! Take this quick quiz to test your understanding of dealing with debt collectors, and then dive into our blog for detailed insights and strategies.

  1. What is the difference between 'debt validation' and 'debt verification'?

    • A. They are the same thing.
    • B. Debt validation is a consumer's right under the FDCPA, while debt verification is an internal process by collectors.
    • C. Debt validation is only for credit card debts, while verification is for all types of debts.
  2. When creating a repayment strategy for a debt, what is crucial to consider?

    • A. Your star sign.
    • B. Your monthly income, expenses, and financial commitments.
    • C. The color of your wallet.
  3. Is it legal for debt settlement firms to charge upfront fees for their services?

    • A. Yes, always.
    • B. No, it’s often a sign of a potential scam.
    • C. Only on Tuesdays.
  4. When settling a debt, what is one of the most important things to secure from the collector?

    • A. A handshake deal.
    • B. A written confirmation of the settlement terms.
    • C. Their autograph.
  5. Can you settle a debt even after a lawsuit has been filed against you?

    • A. No, it’s too late then.
    • B. Yes, it’s often still possible to negotiate.
    • C. Only if you know a secret handshake.

Answer Key:

  1. B. Debt validation is a consumer's right under the FDCPA, while debt verification is an internal process by collectors.
  2. B. Your monthly income, expenses, and financial commitments.
  3. B. No, it’s often a sign of a potential scam.
  4. B. A written confirmation of the settlement terms.
  5. B. Yes, it’s often still possible to negotiate.

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