Settling unsecured debts
If you are experiencing money problems, trouble paying your debts or your financial situation is deteriorating you need debt relief. Ideally, you can either avoid paying some of your unsecured debts or you can pay off some of your debts for less than 100 cents on the dollar. Depending upon the situation you might be able to settle one or more of your unsecured consumer debts for anywhere between 5% and 85% of the balance owing.
Type of debts where generous settlements may be available
If you owe money to the government the government will usually take the position that it wants you to repay the entire debt. It is also difficult to settle debts with certain types of consumer creditors such as a landlord or a utility; water, hydro, cable or internet service provider. If you do not pay your rent your landlord is going to evict you. If you do not pay your cable bill your cable service will be disconnected. However, there are plenty of opportunities to settle debts at major discounts with certain types of unsecured debts including credit cards, personal loans, lines of credit and cellular phone charges.
Settlements involving purchased debt
In Canada today about 90 per cent of the debts collection agencies attempt to collect are debts owned by the original creditor. However, in some cases a creditor will sell a large group of debts to a company called a debt buyer, a company that specializes in buying debts. Typically debt buyers purchase debts that are more than 3 years old for pennies on the dollar. If a collection agency is attempting to collect an older debt from you that is owned by a debt buyer the collection agency may be willing to settle this debt for as little for 5 cents or 10 cents on the dollar.
Settlements involving debts owned by the original creditor
Typically major credit grantors in Canada attempt to collect a debt on their own for 3 to 6 months before placing the accounts for collection on a commission basis with a collection agency. When an account is initially placed with a collection agency it is referred to as a first assign. Some creditors may not permit settlements on first assigns. Other creditors may permit settlements for approximately 85% of the balance owing. After a year a delinquent account may be recalled and placed with a new agency as a second assign and the creditor's blanket settlement instructions may then be reduced to somewhere around 65% of the balance owing. Upon the expiry of another year the debt will likely become a third assign and the settlement guidelines may be reduced to approximately 50% of the balance owing.
In some cases it may be possible for a collection agency to obtain permission from its creditor-client to settle a debt for an amount even more generous than that permitted under the client's blanket settlement instructions. A creditor may consider settling a debt for a lump sum payment less than its blanket settlement guidelines where the creditor is satisfied the consumer will never be in a position to repay the debt or the creditor is on the verge of insolvency.
Importance of obtaining a written settlement offer before making a payment
In the event you negotiate a settlement with a collection agency it is important that you obtain a satisfactory written settlement offer from the collection agency before making your payment to the collection agency. Failure to do so may result in the creditor or another collection agency attempting to collect the balance from you.