DebtSettlementJourney

My Debt Settlement ($275k) Journey (ongoing)

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Hi All. 

I've lurked for awhile (learned a lot), and now I'd like to share my journey. It is ongoing but hopefully other reads can learn something...and perhaps I can get some feedback when I hit rough patches

Basically I had 15 accounts with 11 creditors, totaling 275k.  Due to a failed business, major family health issues, and other personal problems the debt piled up over a handful of years. 

I was literally depleting all my savings paying monthly payments and it got to the point where it was obvious the well was going to run dry.  I didn't want to file bankruptcy (I still don't, although technically that may be my best option), so debt settlement became the key option. If I get sued in mass, or I can't negotiate decent deals then C7 is my only option. I certainly do not have all the funds to settle these at the same time, so I'm trying to plan and spread them out. 

All debt settlement is being done DIY, and I have been largely proactive. Personally I found talking to OCs, JDB, and CAs to be a fairly straight forward process. Most haven't bugged me anywhere near the amount that I expected. Everything is totally unsecured. 

I'm also keeping track of all my assets and liabilities to claim insolvency for each settlement (so I don't have to pay taxes). I may potentially not be insolvent near the end of the process. 

I also signed up for the Veritas legal protection in case I get sued (I haven't yet).  My last payments were in the Sept-Dec range of 18.

As of 5/10/19

 

Chase Card 1:

Discussions are ongoing, but nothing truly ongoing.  I'm 125 days or so.  They started calling a lot so I had them stop calling my cell. There really hasn't been a serious offer on their part. It has been over a month since I made the do not call request and I haven't gotten any communication. Given their more lenient reputation I am looking to delay settling this. 

 

Chase Card 2:

Same as Card 1

 

BOA Card 1: SETTLED FOR 26.5%

I settled this account at about 130 days.  I had two accounts with BOA and I settled them jointly for about 26.5% in a lump sum. I was hoping to hold off but they accepted that offer so I was happy. They barely bugged me at all during the 130 days. I called them a few times to keep them updated but that is about it. Then on day 130 I called them, made the offer, and that is that. Combined this was my second largest creditor, so I am thrilled with this outcome. 

 

BOA Card 2: SETTLED FOR 26.5%

See BOA Card 1

 

Best Egg Loan:

Once I began to go past due on these accounts Best Egg offered a pretty nice extension. So I took it to mainly extend out my settlement window. My extensions officially ended at around 120 days and they just now consider me late. No serious negotiations at this point. 

 

Upgrade Loan (sold to Velocity, placed at CKS): THIS IS NOW MY TOP PRIORITY

I tried to negotiate this directly with Upgrade and made them fair offers (30-35%). Once it charged off (probably 120ish days) they sold it to Velocity who then placed it with CKS Financial. I've been negotiating with CKS (toughest to deal with out of everybody). I offered 28% first, went up to around 30%, then CKS tried to get Velocity to do 32.5%. Velocity has been pretty firm at 40%. In fact after the last counter of 32.5% Velocity said to do 40% or else they will go to court. I'm not sure if I believe them just yet since they bought it about a month ago. It is a higher balance so legal is definitely an option for them. 40% right now is really tight for me, so I think I may try to call their bluff. This is my number 1 focus right now.  CKS has a distinct style that is quite annoying (passing you amongst reps)... I also get the feel that they use more 'tactics' on you than other firms.

 

AMEX #1 (placed at ARSI): SETTLED for 40%

As you would suspect AMEX did virtually zero negotiating. After about 100 days it was past to ARSI. Not as tough negotiations with ARSI as with CKS and GC.  Ultimately given AMEX likes to sue I decided to go with 40% and they ultimately accepted. 

 

AMEX #2 (placed at ARSI sent to Gurstel):

At the same time as AMEX #1 this account was sent to ARSI then sent to Gurstel straight away. I've been negotiating with Gurstel directly and honestly it has been one of the simpler nicer experiences. It is a law firm so my settlement amount expectation isn't high and AMEX has their reputation. This is a smaller account so I'm trying to finish it off at 50%.  I'm slightly optimistic given I got the other AMEX/ARSI done at 40%. At this point I'm just waiting on a response

 

Marcus by Goldman (placed at Radius)

Marcus doesn't settle, but they certainly call a lot. It charged off in the 120-140 day range, and then sent to Radius. Of course now they are willing to settle, but they are only offering 65% (so 35% savings). I'm trying to target 30-40% settlements so we are far off.  They haven't called much (couple times in a month) and the negotiations aren't too serious. Holding off on this.

 

Earnest Loan:

No serious negotiations with them. They barely called but they do have one lady that was their "overdue" person, who was a little intense.  But she wouldn't budge at all. Regardless they just moved their servicing to SST. Given funds are tight I'm hoping to delay this one so I'm letting SST make the first move. About 150 days here.  My guess is it gets charged off and sent (probably sold elsewhere)

 

LightStream Loan

For the first 120 days I was told they don't settle. After it got sent to their "Default Recovery Team". Their offer right now is about 65% so it is a nonstarter. They aren't too intense and don't bug me too much so it is a lower priority on my current list. 

 

Citizens Bank Loan

They also claimed they don't settle and after 120 days it gets sent elsewhere. I talked to them a bunch before 120 days (they would call a reasonable amount), but they wouldn't budge. After the 120 day mark they basically went dark.  I'm holding off on reaching back out. 

 

Discover Card: SETTLED at 40% via payment plan

They were pretty flexible and easy to deal with the entire time. No problems with them at all. However they simply would NOT go below 40%.  At first they were around 50-60%, then I get a letter saying at the end of the month it would be referred to an attorney (at about 120 days). Despite having Veritas I obviously would like to avoid that.  I aimed for 30%, they came down to 40%. At first 40% lump sum, but I balked. We eventually settled on 30% and the last 10% via 23 month payments. I didn't mind this since it pushes my 1099C off for a couple years for this account. 

 

Citi Card 1:

At 60 days they were at 60%, 90 days they were at 40%, and they haven't moved since.  Now we are around 150 days. They've been easy to work with and were the first to offer legitimate settlement offers.  Citi hasn't been a top priority for me, but if I can get it down to 30% I'll jump at it. 

 

Citi Card 2 (sent to GC Services):

At about 115 days they sent this over to GC services, who also has been glued to the 40% mark.  GC hasn't called much but when I've talked to them they've been the meanest of the group by far (CKS calls the most but has been largely friendly). 

 

 

As you can probably see I've had more luck with big brand credit cards than the smaller unsecured personal loans. 

I'll keep adding to my story as things happen so hopefully you all can learn from my experience. If you have any tips for me, please do not hesitate. I need all the help I can get.

 

 

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My Velocity/CKS plan is probably wait until the end of the month, give them a ring and reoffer the 32.5%. 

Since this is a Upgrade/Webbank loan I think there is an arbitration clause (I'm an idiot and do not have my original docs...once it got sold I lost access to my Upgrade account)...

So as a last ditch effort I may 'threaten' arbitration and bump my offer up to 35%. And if they do not accept that then I'll see what their next move is and see if they are bluffing. If they aren't then that is why I have the legal protection (and potentially arbitration) in place. This is a larger balance so I just can't really get to 40%. 

Any suggestions on that strategy?

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I don't have any advice to offer, but really appreciate the fact you bothered to keep track of all of this and share it with us. One of the questions we get most often is "how much will Creditor ABC accept in settlement?"  Now we have a pretty detailed list for several of the biggies and some of the smaller ones as well. 

I'd like to pin this topic, if you don't mind. Let me know. 

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14 hours ago, Harry Seaward said:

I don't have any advice to offer, but really appreciate the fact you bothered to keep track of all of this and share it with us. One of the questions we get most often is "how much will Creditor ABC accept in settlement?"  Now we have a pretty detailed list for several of the biggies and some of the smaller ones as well. 

I'd like to pin this topic, if you don't mind. Let me know. 

Sure. I’ll keep this updated as I go.

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Paid and settled the second Amex account that was sent to Gurstel. Honestly they were pretty easy to work with, although I knew pretty quickly an extreme settlement was out of the table. Ended up doing it for about 46% (was closer to 50% but the account balance grew).

 

FYI so far everyone except BOA has emailed me the final settlement letters... so things move pretty quick.

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I officially settled with Velocity (original Upgrade).

Some background here: this was a fairly large account (>40k) that started as a loan with Upgrade. Upgrade sold it to Velocity post charge off who assigned it to CKS.  Given the large size it is worth their while to go to arbitration so I was a little worried here.  Plus Velocity has a reputation for suing, so I wanted to settle this one

CKS was the agency assigned and they were pretty firm at 40%. I offered 30-32.5% and CKS would always come back at 40%. In fact they would play some games (at least how I perceived it) where I got passed around to "supervisors" who would then "talk to Velocity" and would always come back with 40%. This happened a few times at least.  I question whether they even went to Velocity. They were generally nice though. After the last merry go round they said that Velocity told them to close the account and send it back for legal action unless I took the 40%. I told them I was willing to arb and my offer was the best I can do. 

Basically I called their bluff. CKS eventually closed the account to send it back to Velocity, I called Velocity the next day, and they settled right away around 32.5%.  We "negotiated", they sent a letter, and I paid in the span of maybe 30 minutes tops. Honestly in hindsight I wish I started lower with Velocity, but I'm happy with where it ended. 

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