Before signing up for a Debt Management Plan, it’s best to do your research. We have had many consumers complain that the company they used did not perform properly. Usually we do not recommend using a Debt Management company, here is some information that will help you decide if it is the course of action you wish to take.
Once you decide on which company to use, a counselor will spend some time reviewing your personal finances and budget. The counselor will offer expert advice on reducing debt and controlling spending, and the consumer will be given a new budget that is customized to his/her unique situation.
Most consumers benefit from this counseling and education alone, but some consumers need the additional help of a Debt Management Plan.
Keep in mind:
Unsecured debts may be included in the plan; secured debt such as mortgages, home equity loans, and auto loans are not included, nor are student loans.
Collection debt may be included if the collector has not gotten wage garnishment after receiving a court judgment.
All of the consumer’s credit cards must be closed, while on the plan, and no new credit may be obtained.
The Debt Management Plan alone is only part of the solution.
The DMP is a voluntary agreement between three parties; the counselor, the consumer, and the creditor. Each party has certain expectations to meet if the DMP is to be successful.
A Debt Management Plan serves the dual role of helping consumers repay their debts while seeing creditors receive the money they are owed. Because they benefit from this arrangement, creditors are willing to work with the counselor in various ways:
Accept payments. Creditors allow the counselor to transmit payments electronically directly to them, so the funds the counselor will disburse on behalf of consumers are transferred quickly and without any complications. Even creditors who don’t offer other kinds of help will accept payments; it’s extremely rare that a creditor will refuse to accept payments through a DMP.
Stop calling. The counselor can’t make a creditor stop calling to collect a debt, but usually their calls will stop once they’ve received three monthly payments in a row.
Update your credit report. While on the DMP, your credit report will say that you are enrolled (this has no effect on your credit score). After you complete a DMP and pay off your debts, the creditor will mark the debts as paid in full.
Concessions. Creditors may waive interest rates, lower monthly payments, re-age accounts to stop late fees, or offer other concessions to help consumers successfully complete a DMP. Every creditor offers a different set of concessions, but most of them help in some way.
The final partner in the Debt Management Plan is the consumer. The consumer’s obligations to the Debt Management Plan are crucial:
Learn. Clients should take advantage of the free education found on the web that offer on a variety of topics, including budgeting and using credit wisely.
Make payments. As long as payments are made in full and on time each month, a consumer will have no trouble succeeding on the DMP.
Do not seek new credit. If a consumer tries to apply for new credit while on a DMP, the other creditors will know about it through the consumer’s credit report. They will stop offering concessions and reinstate fees and interest rates from before the DMP began.
Read all statements and their progress report. It’s crucial that the consumers monitor the statements they get from their creditors every month. (The creditors will not disclose this information directly to the counselor.) They should compare that information to what’s in their monthly progress report and ensure that everything matches. If anything is different between the creditor statement and what they show in their paperwork, the consumer should call us right away.
Call for help. If a consumer needs any additional advice or assistance, they should call us right away.
Due Dates. Clients may need to talk to their creditors about shifting payment due dates to ensure that the DMP payment comes in soon enough to make all debt payments on time. Clients may want to pay a month in advance to stay ahead of the due dates and ensure they never have late payments.
Late Payments. If consumers do make a late payment to the Debt Management Company, the disbursement they make to the creditors will be late, and the consumer’s credit report will be negatively affected.
Missed payments. Clients should call them if they think they might miss a payment for any reason. Creditors may suspend concessions for consumers who are delinquent, and they will expect consumers to make up the missed payment to get back on track with their DMP.
Clerical errors. If a payment is improperly credited or the amount is entered incorrectly by a creditor, it could lead to big problems. As always, consumers should confirm that their progress report matches the creditors’ monthly statements, and call us if anything is inconsistent.
Debt management does have a negative affect on your credit scores because each account is listed on the credit file as, “Managed by Debt Consolidation”, which will remain on your credit files for 7 years once the debt is paid in full! The Credit Guru has been getting the 3 credit bureaus, (Experian, Equifax and Transunion), to remove these from consumers credit files successfully for over 23 years.
Only certain kinds of debts can be included in a Debt Management Plan. Credit cards and other unsecured debts traditionally make up DMPs; secured debts cannot be included, nor can student loans or tax debt. However, by targeting and eliminating credit card debt, consumers can free up income to apply to other obligations like student loans.
Some consumers have non-credit card related debts that are unsecured, such as small medical or collection debts. These can typically be included in a DMP,
The Debt Management Plan, Step-by-Step
Client receives credit counseling session, which includes a budget and debt repayment plan.
Client is offered free educational materials and personalized money management advice.
The consumers debt and financial information is entered into their computer system. If the consumer is a good candidate, a Debt Management Plan is proposed.
Proposals are sent to creditors based on the DMP that was created from the consumer’s information.
Clients sign up for automated payments. The consumer’s monthly payment is transferred automatically every month from the consumer’s bank account.
Funds are distributed by us to creditors using electronic transfers, ensuring payments are received on schedule.
We send a monthly progress report to the consumer.
Client reviews this progress report, comparing it to the statements s/he gets from the creditors.
When one debt is paid off, the DMP payment remains the same. The extra funds that you’re going to the paid off account are split up between remaining accounts. This accelerates debt payoff.
Client should call us at any time during the life of the DMP to report any issues or concerns, seek additional assistance and advice, or if any of their circumstances change.