DEEP IN DEBT?
Critical Steps to Win Over Creditors
Whether a debt obligation is $1,000 or in the millions, the overall advice for handling debt negotiation remains the same: communicate, consult with the appropriate experts and proceed with caution.
Soble, an attorney for 23 years, has worked on both sides of the debtor-creditor negotiation table, representing various multi-billion dollar banks and national finance companies as well as helping small business owners and homeowners. Here are five critical pointers he says have helped his clients succeed in negotiating their debt.
- Stay in touch with creditors. Times are tough for everyone. While it may not feel good, keeping the lines of communication open benefits both parties. Banks and creditors want to work out a payment arrangement. Ignoring and avoiding creditors gives them no alternative but to escalate collection action.
- Contact a credit professional early in the process. For those who are uncomfortable with negotiating, contacting a professional about a debt issue may be the answer. Reach out to a non-profit credit or debt counselor early in the process. Procrastinating can make the situation worse.
- Consult with the right kind of attorney. “Short sales” on properties are more common these days, yet going through a “short sale” does not automatically relieve the obligation to the bank. Mortgage obligations are written contracts, and real estate agents cannot interpret or provide advice on the law. Not all attorneys specialize in real estate or debt resolution, either. Talking with the proper professional can prevent costly mistakes.
- Never sign a blank document and watch those page numbers. How many business owners have lost thousands of dollars by signing blank forms? Plenty. Don’t become one of them. If a document has a blank page, draw a large “X” across it and initial it to prevent later insertions. Another safeguard is to make sure the document is properly numbered; if it has 7 pages, they should read “1 of 7”, “2 of 7″ and so on. It’s a protection against fraudulent or doctored paperwork.
5. Be on the lookout for scam artists. Avoid individuals who aren’t properly credentialed. That should be a top priority. Anyone involved with a real estate transaction needs to be licensed, from federally-regulated loan officers to state-regulated real estate agents and attorneys. And even then, ensure that the professional has the experience and reputation necessary to help out in a financial or legal crisis.