Dealing With Debt: What You Need To Know

by Elle Martinez, Guest Blogger

Founder/ Podcaster, Simplify & Enjoy

1.18.2022
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Articles

The Financial Stress of Debt

For many families, the impact of COVID-19 includes their finances. Whether it’s seeing their hours cut, a furlough, or they lost their job, part of staying afloat may have included taking on more debt. 

In November 2021, the public debt of the United States was around 28.91 trillion U.S. dollars, an estimated 1.46 trillion more than a year earlier.1 

If you’re dealing with debt, here are some tips on how to negotiate as well as other options when your debt collectors are crossing the line and start harassing you.

Not Sure How Long It Will Take To Payoff Your Debt?

Use our calculator to help plan out your credit card payments.

Try Coastal's Credit Card Payoff Calculator

The Art of Negotiation

Attorney Taylor Kolsh walked me through a few key steps to help you negotiate your debts and make them more manageable.2

Consolidate Your Debt
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Tips For Negotiating Your Debt

 

  • Be proactive and reach out. It can be easy to ignore the calls, especially when you’re dealing with financially tough times. However, that typically makes it worse as you may get hit with additional fees. Let them know you want to work out a payment plan.
  • Verify the debt. Some collectors are actually companies that buy from other companies. Sometimes, they don’t have correct information on other accounts. Make sure that the balance listed is accurate. Ask them to provide proof that you owe.
  • Run the numbers yourself. Debt collectors may push to commit to a higher payment, but if you’ve already ran the numbers, you should have a clear idea of what you can sustainably afford.

Best case scenario, you’ll be able to negotiate more manageable payment plans as you get back on your feet.

Another option to consider is refinancing your debts. Some found it a very helpful option as they can consolidate multiple high interest loans into one that’s more manageable.

How Coastal Can Help You

Coastal is committed to helping you get back on your feet and start building financial stability so if you haven’t already, reach out and see what they have to offer. 

Tackling your debt isn't something you should have do alone - that's why Coastal has partened with Greenpath financial services to provide free debt counseling to Coastal members!

Free Debt Counseling

What to Do When Debt Collectors Harass You

It’s an unfortunate truth that not all debt collectors are reasonable. Recently I spoke with Taylor Kosla, an attorney who specializes in consumer law about how the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act may offer you some protections and options.

The purpose of the FDCPA is to protect consumers from abusive debt collection practices. Under FDCPA, debts such as your credit cards, medical debts, consumer debts like your car loan, and mortgages are covered.

Under the FDCPA a debt collector:

  • Cannot contact you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m (unless you agree to do it)
  • Cannot contact your job if you informed them they are not allowed to
  • Cannot contact you if you already informed them you hired an attorney
  • Cannot discuss your debt with anyone else except you, your spouse, or attorney
  • Cannot make false threats
  • Cannot misrepresent themselves as an attorney if they are not

On the other side, the debt collector has to provide you with accurate information about any debts you owe. If they bought your debt, then you can request the name and address of the original creditor.

Please know you have the right to dispute the debt. They are also required to give you that information if requested within five days of initially contacting you.

Please check out the whole FDCPA here to see all the protections offered. As a general rule, have written documentation and keep copies of any letters exchanged. Need help on writing those letters? Here are samples you can use.

You can also file a complaint on a harassing debt collector by calling (855) 411-CFPB or file it online with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

If you’re worried about the expense of hiring an attorney, then you may be relieved to learn that under the FDCPA, their fees may be covered.

Getting Help with Your Debts

I hope these tips help you get back on your feet. If you’re stressed out about your debts, please reach out. Coastal is ready to review your options so you can get financial relief and peace of mind.

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1. According to Statista.com, 2021.

2. This blog post is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, tax, financial, or other advice. Please consult a qualified professional for advice specific to your individual circumstances.