It can be almost too easy to get yourself in over your head with credit card debt. If you are swimming in credit card debt and you need help, you’ll find a variety of services available for helping you manage your debt. The Federal Trade Commission warns consumers to be careful when hiring a debt settlement firm to negotiate with creditors because there is no guarantee that the firm will be successful and you may encounter high fees for these services. Instead, you can negotiate credit card debt reduction yourself by contacting your creditors directly.
Things You'll Need
- Recent credit card bill
- Current bank statement
- Recent income tax returns
Gather your most recent credit card bill so you have current data about your credit card balance. Examine your finances to determine how much you can afford to pay – both for monthly payments or for a lump-sum settlement. Gather copies of bank statements and income tax returns to enable you to prove your financial difficulties with the credit card company, if necessary.
Call the customer service number, found on your credit card statement. Ask to speak with a customer service representative about a settlement for debt reduction.
Speak with the customer service representative about your credit card balance. Verify your account information and explain that you wish to enter into an agreement to pay a reduced balance because of your financial difficulties. Answer any questions about your financial situation and offer to send copies of your financial documents, if necessary. Specify the lump sum or the monthly payment you have determined you can pay for your debt reduction settlement.
Escalate your request and negotiations if the initial customer service representative cannot or will not negotiate. A supervisor may be able to make this decision instead. If the representative accepts your offer, ask for a confirmation letter to outline the details of your agreement. If the representative declines your offer, end the call and move to the next phase of your plan – writing a letter.
Write a business letter to the supervisor of the customer service department. Include your account number and the full name of the account holder. Open the letter with a direct request to reduce your credit card debt in the initial paragraph. Provide details about the reasons you are requesting this reduction and state the precise offer you are making. Finish the body of the letter in the final paragraph by asking the credit card company to contact you to discuss the matter within one business week. Sign the letter and place your telephone number and email address under your name. Enclose copies of your bank statement and income tax return to validate your request. Make a copy of the letter for your own files and send the letter to the credit card company via certified mail with return receipt requested.
Call the company within one business week if you do not receive a response. Ask to speak with the supervisor of the customer service department. Push politely for a resolution to urge the credit card company to accept your offer. If your offer is accepted, ask for a confirmation letter to record the agreement. If your offer is not accepted, continue striving to make the minimum payments and consider approaching the company again in the near future.
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