If you are having debt and credit problems, you may consider taking the appropriate action to resolve the debt problem. The first step to resolve debt problems is to decide on the steps to accomplish your goal. This includes making a complete list of the amounts owed and the terms of payment for each amount.
Chances are you could use some advice on how to proceed. Many books exist on the subject of eliminating debt. Most bookstores will have numerous selections. Army Community Service on WSMR has a financial readiness officer to further assist you with more personal assistance. There are also non-profit organizations that you can research on-line to provide more information on debt related services. This includes working with your creditors to help make payments easier and advising you on the consequences of filing for bankruptcy, which should only be done with appropriate professional and legal guidance.
During this process you need to beware of credit repair service scams. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says don’t believe advertisements heard on the radio, newspaper, TV, and the internet that offer to erase, for a fee, accurate negative information in your credit file.
Some of these companies promise to show you how to create a new credit history using a new employer identification number. Then, they advise you to use it instead of you social security number when applying for credit. Misrepresenting your social security number is illegal. The FTC says that virtually everything a credit repair service can do legally, you can do yourself.
What about debt repayment services? Debt repayment services can work but you should review the options available in your community. Before you do business with a company, check it out with your local consumer protection agency or the Better Business Bureau in the company’s location. Some debt counseling service firms may charge high fees and fail to follow through on the services they sell. Others may misrepresent the terms of a debt consolidation loan, failing either to explain certain cost or to mention that you are signing over your home as collateral.
Are You in Trouble with Debt?
- An increasing amount of your income is going to debt payments.
- You pay only the minimum amount on loans and credit cards.
- You have reached your limit on credit cards.
- You use credit cards to pay for things that you used to pay for with cash.
- Debt prevents you from making contributions to your retirement plan.
- You experience worry, anxiety, or sleeplessness over debt problems.
- · You’ve been in debt before, got out of it, but are burdened by debt again.
Listed below are the applicable Federal Laws that govern debt and credit services.
- · Fair Debt Collection Practices Act: Governs the business practices of debt collection companies and protects consumers against illegal methods and invasion of privacy.
- · Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2004: Provides for a free credit report upon request once per year from Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union credit bureaus.
- · Federal Credit Repair Organizations Act: Governs the business practices of credit repair organizations and the services and information they provide to consumers.
- · Federal Telemarketing Sales Rule: Addresses business practices of companies offering loans by phone and promising a loan for an advanced payment or fee.
- · Fair Credit Reporting Act: Governs the management of information associated with consumer credit, reporting, dissemination of information, consumer rights to dispute errors, and time limits on the reporting of negative accurate information about credit.
Lastly, the EAP can refer you to services on WSMR and in the community where you can obtain help for problems with debt. The EAP is located in Building 1740. The EAP appointment hours are Tuesday and Thursday 1300-1600 hrs. The contact phone numbers are 678-6571/2112/1957.