Credit Counselors' Confessions: How We Got Ourselves Out of Debt

July 5, 2013
debt advice

MIDEAST DEBT-Dubai steps up asset sales to cut debt pile

We had a big house, nice cars, and took regular vacations. When I divorced, that was the first time I had to manage my own bills, and I wasn't very good at it. I was getting a nice monthly check from my ex-husband and I went back to work, yet I didn't change my spending behavior. I didn't really start to worry about money until four years ago when I got married again. But then I thought together we would be good financially and be OK. Wrong. Soon after we married, he lost his job. He wanted to start his own business, which I funded, and because of his chronic medical condition, I paid for his medications. I was no longer getting alimony and needed to sell the house. I took money from my retirement to make the mortgage payments. It finally sold, but at that point I owed $30,000 in credit card debt and $10,000 in federal taxes. I was broke for the first time in my life and I guess that's what it took to finally make changes. I dumped the husband, sold everything I had, and moved into a one-bedroom apartment. I enrolled in a debt management plan and am working with the IRS to settle the tax debt. I have two years left before I am completely debt-free, but I have never been happier. I have gotten over having to have 'stuff.' I guess for some people they have to lose everything in order to find out what is really important in life." -- A., a credit counselor with Apprisen The Spending Trap "From 2000 to 2008, I racked up about $15,000 in credit card debt, took out a risky adjustable-rate mortgage, rolled negative equity from one new car into the next (twice!), and used part of my student loan payouts for nonessential expenses. In 2005, I spoke to a credit counselor who recommended a debt management program, but I declined, not wanting to give up the credit cards. Three years later, I was laid off from a high-paying union job and was forced to liquidate my 401(k) to give myself a 'fresh start,' as I had not made much progress on my debt, and had no emergency savings and no job prospects. After three weeks on unemployment and a brief stint at a temp agency, I responded to an employment ad for ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions. After being hired and going through credit counseling training, I realized just how many mistakes I had made over the previous decade." -- S., a credit counselor with ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions A Little Bad Luck and a Little Bad Judgment "About a year ago, I was financially fine. My car was paid off; my parents were letting me live in their second home, so my only bills were utilities and my phone. I was a recent college grad working part-time at a bank.
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Debt Settlement Company Barred from Doing Business in Oregon as Part of State Lawsuit

July 5, 2013 (Be the first to respond) The Oregon Department of Justice and the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services have obtained a court order prohibiting World Law Debt and several affiliate companies from doing business in the state. The two agencies on Monday sued World Law Debt accusing the Texas debt settlement company of multiple violations of Oregons Unlawful Trade Practices Act, including charging excessive fees and claiming inaccurately that it had Oregon attorneys on staff handling client cases. The complaint also alleged the company financially abused its customers 65 years old and older. The state obtained a temporary restraining order Tuesday prohibiting World Law Debt and its affiliates from doing business in Oregon. It will seek a longer-term ban later this month. The DOJ strives to protect all Oregonians, particularly the elderly and other vulnerable segments of the community, said Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum. Teaming with the Department of Consumer and Business Services is an effective way to offer Oregonians the tough consumer protection they deserve. World Law Debt came to Oregon in 2009 offering to help debt-burdened Oregonians negotiate with their creditors, work out a payment plan and actually lower the amount they owed, according to the complaint, filed Monday in Multnomah County Circuit Court. World Law Debts Oregon customers authorized the company to take monthly withdrawals from their bank accounts, according to the complaint. These withdrawals were used to establish savings accounts for individual customers. When the consumer has saved enough, World Law claimed it would contact the creditors and negotiate a lump-sum payment or payment plan. In response to consumer complaints, Oregon lawmakers enacted new restrictions on the debt settlement industry in 2009, limiting the fees they charge and requiring they register with the Department of Consumer and Business Services. The department fined World Law Debt $70,000 last September for failing to register before doing business in Oregon and other violations of the law. World Law Debt has not paid the fine, remains unregistered and has continued to operate, signing up at least a hundred new Oregon clients since it got fined, according to the lawsuit. The Department of Justice is seeking more than $10 million in civil penalties, $25,000 for each of the 425 contracts the company entered into with Oregonians while it was not properly registered. The state is also demanding World Law Debt fully refund its Oregon customers. Oregon has 67 businesses that are licensed with the Department of Consumer and Business Services to help people with debt, including nonprofit credit counseling organizations. For Oregonians considering doing business with debt management companies, the department advises they first make sure the company is properly registered.
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A third of debt charity's clients say they were considering suicide before getting help (From This Is Lancashire)

Photograph of the Author This article meant to provide readers with insight on how credit card debt can really get out of hand and how difficult it is to overcome the problem that it causes. The article published on June 20, began by narrating how credit cards can easily be availed before the recession. A booming economy gave credit card companies the confidence to issue accounts to consumers who do not have a steady income to support payments. This is also true for mortgages and auto loans. What the article is driving at is that while generosity helps keep the consumer economy thriving, it became a problem when the decline happened. The article narrated how people lost their homes, valuable possessions and still landed in a heap of debt. The country was in some serious card trouble because people relied on credit cards to support even the most basic of expenses. The problem continues to escalate as the credit card bill shows an amount that the consumer cannot pay off. The article then concludes how the need for credit card debt help must be sought and that a third party debt relief service provider can play a huge role in debt freedom. Debt Consolidation Whiz warns how consumers must take extra care in choosing the company that they will hire to help with their debts. If they choose the wrong company, the consumer could end up losing hundreds or thousands of what they could have saved had they gone to a better debt relief company. The article suggests that credit counseling programs can be an option to solve debt problems. This program restructures the debts of the consumer and negotiates for a lower interest rate on the current debt. The article then cites the benefits of credit counseling: 1. Credit counselors directly work with creditors and lenders for interest rate negotiations. They have a close working relationship with creditor which makes it easier to do business and haggle for a lower rate. 2. Counselors can stop creditor and collection calls. 3. Credit counseling can accept any debt amount. The article is also quick to point out certain disadvantages. The programs usually take long to complete. The longer payment term allows the lower monthly payments but it usually costs more in terms of interest amount - even with a lower interest rate. Debt Consolidation Whiz suggests that consumers consider debt settlement as a way to get out of debt too. They believe that the potential to have a part of the debt forgiven could sound appealing to those who are burdened with credit card debt. To read the whole article, visit Debt Consolidation Whiz. The website is an online source of information about debt relief and debt consolidation. The site also provides debt relief company reviews for consumers looking to hire a debt professional. Read the full story at Top News
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Confessions of a credit councilor But equally, there is a sense of greater discipline going forward in that projects will be subjected to more rigorous scrutiny for commercial viability." <---------------------------------------------------------- Factbox on upcoming Dubai maturities: Dubai CDS, bond yield and stocks: ----------------------------------------------------------> STRATEGY Dubai's state-linked conglomerates snapped up a spectacular array of assets around the world, from stakes in high-profile companies to real estate, before the global financial crisis of 2008 triggered a crash in the emirate's property market. Many firms restructured their debt by extending maturities while promising full repayment through asset sales. Chief among these was Dubai World, which in a $25 billion restructuring deal signed in March 2011, set a two-tranche repayment schedule with lenders over five and eight years. The plan depends heavily on asset disposals to raise money; it envisioned the conglomerate raising $1.3-$2.3 billion in this way by 2012. That did not happen and until last month, Dubai World had not actually sold any major assets - a source of some worry to its bankers. Many bankers believed Dubai, hoping to fetch higher prices, was waiting for the global economy to recover further from its crisis before selling assets. This strategy could backfire if the recovery did not materialise. Some worried that Dubai managers might simply be unwilling to let go of their prize assets, for fear of booking losses on those bought at the top of the market; in that case, their stubborness could jeopardise the restructuring programmes. Others feared Dubai's partial recovery from its property slump might have lulled it into a false sense of complacency. But since last month, several actions have suggested such fears are misplaced. A unit of Toronto-based investment firm Brookfield Asset Management bought logistics warehouse developer Gazeley from Dubai World subsidiary Economic Zones World (EZW), the Canadian firm said. Dubai World had purchased Gazeley from Wal-Mart Stores in 2008 for an estimated 300 to 400 million pounds ($453-604 million). The price of the sale to Brookfield was not disclosed, but falls in asset prices since 2008 mean the sale may have occurred at a lower price. Proceeds from the sale of Gazeley are expected to go towards the repayment of a $1.2 billion loan secured by Dubai World affiliate JAFZA in June last year. EZW had pledged up to $300 million for JAFZA from proceeds raised by the Gazeley sale, and the funds will be used to part-repay the bank facility, according to a company prospectus. Meanwhile Dubai Group, a unit of Dubai Holding which is restructuring $10 billion in debt, sold its credit card business to Abu Dhabi's First Gulf Bank for $164 million last month. And the Tunisian government said another unit of Dubai Holding was considering a sale of its 35 percent stake in Tunisie Telecom; the unit bought the stake for $2.25 billion in 2006. Dubai Holding has also hired Citigroup to advise on a potential sale of its remaining 26 percent stake in mobile telephone retailer Axiom Telecom, bankers said. Some bankers think Dubai is acting now because global market volatility since late May, due to signs that U.S. interest rates will rise, has persuaded it to lock in deals for fear of losing opportunities. Others believe that with Dubai World facing a $4.4 billion loan repayment in May 2015, managers have decided they can wait no longer. "What we are seeing is that there is a bit more receptiveness to the idea of selling assets in Dubai," said a banker who has previously advised Dubai firms on acquisitions. He declined to be named because of commercial sensitivities. "It's not like they are willing to put everything on the block, but they are looking at assets closely and saying 'which of these can we sell and realise some value?'" MORE SALES AHEAD The recent sales will not by themselves be nearly enough to meet Dubai Inc's obligations. Other big Dubai World assets have been earmarked for sale under its restructuring plan, including stakes in MGM Resorts and Inchcape Shipping Services. Some of the toughest sales lie ahead; disposals of strategic stakes in companies operating within Dubai are envisioned for 2016-2018, with estimated proceeds of $9.8-$11.8 billion. It may be much more painful for Dubai World to exit such core firms.
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Debt Consolidation Whiz Discusses Out of Control Credit Card Debt and How to Best Solve It

We go into peoples homes and see them at their very lowest, but then we get to see their hope and dignity restored and that is a great joy. They are the words of Julie Macauley, who has run Radcliffes Christians Against Poverty (CAP) branch since it launched in 2012, based at Bridge Methodist Church, in Milltown Street. She offers free support to clients in financial difficulties, discussing their individual situation, giving them a budget and advice to become debt-free. Since starting work last year, Mrs Macauley has visited 23 people at their homes in Radcliffe, Bury, Whitefield, Ramsbottom and Tottington . One person has already become debt-free, while a further 17 people are working with CAP to pay their debts. Five people have chosen not to work with the charity. There is so much demand that Mrs Macauleys working hours have increased from eight to 20 a week, and it is hoped she will be able to do three full days soon, when funding allows. Birthday cake was served at a coffee afternoon held last week for volunteers and clients wishing to celebrate the success of the first year. Mrs Macauley said: We have had a really good year. We have all kinds of clients of different ages and with different problems. Some are youngsters who have got in a mess with loans and others are people who have had a family crisis or lost their job. As well as providing financial advice, Mrs Macauley offers to pray with the client but she insists that she does not only help Christians. Her current clients include two Muslim families and a woman who believes in Spiritualism. Mrs Macauley said: The service is the same for everyone. At the end of the visit, I always ask if they would like us to pray and nearly all of them want to. Thats optional and I dont force it on people. The charity has received financial support from the members of several churches, both in Radcliffe and other parts of the borough. Fundraising events have also been organised, including a quiz night which raised 2,000, a silent auction and coffee mornings. Mrs Macauley said: We are getting more and more support from churches. We started with Radcliffe Churches Together, but now we have churches in Bury and Ramsbottom as well. They are helping financially, but also volunteering at events and coming to peoples homes with me. We have a really good team of volunteers. Volunteers are still needed to boost the team and help with all kinds of tasks, from accompanying Mrs Macauley on visits to clients homes or helping people to set up bank accounts, to joining a prayer team or baking cakes for coffee mornings. She said: The branch is growing hugely. Although we have lots of help, the more we get, the more we can do.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit A third of debt charity's clients say they were considering suicide before getting help (From This Is Lancashire)

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