New Years Resolutions: Be Debt Free

by DebtGuy 2. January 2010 11:42

Now that the holidays have passed, many people are starting to get credit card statements in the mail showing higher balances than ever before. It can be frustrating to see monthly balances remain high despite paying each month on the balance owed.  Many people don't realize that if you make just the minimum payment, you will be paying on that debt for over 20 years!  AmeriFree offers pre-negotiated concessions available from most creditors through our exclusive programs, and can pass them on to you through several of our debt reduction plans.  We hope you include in your New Year Resolutions a goal to reduce your debt this year.  Our financial credit counselors and debt settlement professionals are ready to customize a simple plan that can help you be debt free sooner than you may think is possible.

May 2010 be the year you decide to become Debt Free!

- The AmeriFree Team

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Financial Education

New Credit Card Law & What it Means for You

by CreditCardDebt 24. August 2009 05:14

Sweeping new laws to govern the credit card industry, making cards easier to understand for consumers!

 

Its official President Obama has signed a federal law to protect millions of consumers from credit card company abuse; we are in a new era for managing credit.  This new law contains the most far-reaching changes we have seen in the credit card industry in decades. 

 

But what does it actually mean for you, the card holders?

 

There will be a new “normal” with credit cards becoming more transparent, easier to understand, slightly more expensive for most and less accessible for low-income families.  Experts also believe we could see a return of routine annual fees, less rewards cards and many bills being due immediately without the traditional month long grace period. 

 

For millions of credit card users it means avoiding retroactive interest rate increases on existing card balances, more advanced notice of account changes and fewer penalties, late fees and high interest payments. 

 

The method of advertising/enticing new users has been tightened up as well…good for all new credit card seekers!

 

Here are some highlights:

 

1.   There will be limits to the amount of interest rate hikes on all credit cards, such as when a promotional rate ends, a card has a variable rate or if someone pays an account late.  Interest rates on new transactions can only be increased after the first year.  Any “significant” changes to an account cannot occur without a 45 day advance notice to the consumer.

 

Universal default, the practice of raising interest rates on customers based on their payment records with other unrelated credit issuers (utility companies and other creditors) will no longer be allowed.

 

2.   Consumers will have more time to pay their credit card bills.  Card issuers are required to give account holders a “reasonable” amount of time to make payments on their accounts.  What that means for you is a minimum of 21 days to make a payment.  Card issuers can no longer set early morning or other arbitrary deadlines for payments.  Any deadline set before 5pm on the payment due date will be illegal under the new law.   Payments due at those times, on weekends, holidays or when the card issuer is closed for business will no longer be subject to late fees.

 

3.   Your highest paid balances will always be paid first when you make a payment greater than your minimum required payment.  Current industry practice has always been to apply all amounts over the minimum payment to the lowest interest balances first, thus extending the time it will take you to pay your account off.

 

4.   No more automatic over-the-limit fees on accounts.  All consumers must “opt in” to the card issuers’ over-the-limit services.  Those who opt out will have their transactions rejected if they attempt to exceed their credit limits.  Also the law mandates that any fees charged for going over the limit must be reasonable.

 

5.   Now for the one that we found most interesting.  Card issuers must now disclose to consumers the consequences of making only the minimum payment required on their monthly statements, namely how long it will take them to pay off their entire balance if they make only the minimum payment each month…years to payoff is a real “shocker” to most consumers.  Issuers must also provide information to the consumer outlining how much the consumer must pay in order to pay off their balances within 12, 24 or 36 months, including all interest and annual fees on their account.

 

For more information, or if you find yourself drowning in debt, please contact AmeriFree to discuss how our Debt Management Plans (Credit Counseling & Debt Settlement) may be able to help reduce your payment and eliminate stress from your life!

 

Please check back often as information is continually being added...

 

Matthew

Debt Blogger

How to Choose a Debt Management Company

by DebtGuy 8. August 2009 09:18

When someone is in debt, and wants access to special programs designed to help them become debt free, they have many options to choose from.  Although there are many services out there to help that person become debt free, there are also numerous companies out there looking for a quick buck, regardless of what the does to the consumer. 

There are numerous options out there to help people become debt free.  Services such as credit counseling, debt settlement, debt negotiation and credit repair all fall into this category.  Established, regulated industries such as those in the credit counseling arena follow strict state-mandated guidelines, and are subject to numerous controls and audits.  Other services, including debt settlement and debt negotiation, are newer, and are subject to less government oversight as the industry is so new.  Most often the bad apples can be found in these latter industries.

In deciding between debt management companies, make sure you know what kind of questions to ask.  One of the better ways to discover which company is a good candidate to meet your financial goals to get out of debt is to call them, and speak to someone at the company. For example, if a debt settlement company collects the majority of their fees in the first 12 months of a program, do you think they really have a financial incentive to be there for you in the later months of the program?  Did they just pop up over night?  Do they give you multiple options to choose from when it comes to the debt management program, or do they only offer a single program (one size fits all)?  Do they have a track record of providing good service while helping thousands and thousands of people get out of debt?  If the company has been in business for a long time, and has clients that remain with the program, you can know they are a good company to work with.

Since 1994, the management team at AmeriFree Financial has designed consumer friendly programs which have helped close to three quarters of a million people with their debt.  We offer both credit counseling and debt settlement services, allowing consumers to choose the debt management program that would best fit their needs.  We offer top quality credit counseling services, and our debt settlement program was designed to model the credit counseling industry in that we do not collect front loaded settlement fees.  Speak with a counselor at AmeriFree Financial today.  The call is free, and within 10 minutes you can have a financial plan to get out of debt quickly, and be debt free.

 

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Financial Education

Debt Settlement...What Does Big Brother Think?

by CreditCardDebt 5. August 2009 05:26

Do you find yourself asking whether debt settlement is a safe or a wise course of action for you? Many of us have become accustomed to asking the government (Big Brother) to provide advice on how to get back on our feet.  The question then is a simple one; does the government advocate debt settlement? Surprisingly the answer is a resounding YES!

 

With the increasing economic instability worldwide the government is looking out for consumers more than ever.  Good news for anyone swimming in debt, but how is the government helping?  Let’s just say Big Brother is putting a little “necessary encouragement” where it needs to…In fact, the FDIC has been told to regulate bank debt settlements to prevent unfair and deceptive practices from harming any consumers looking to get out of debt.

 

Why is the government helping?  The main reason is consumers are having a very difficult time making ends meet these days.  With wages going down, increases in corporate layoffs, and necessities becoming more expensive (fuel, food, etc.) consumers just don’t know where to turn.  While the law does allow you to file bankruptcy, the government does not advocate it because it damages the economy by forcing all involved parties to take a greater loss than they might otherwise have to. With debt settlement, the amount of that loss can be mitigated. You get to keep your assets and your creditors take a smaller loss on their investments.

 

The government has advised banks and other lending organizations to consider debt settlement as a “favorable” alternative to increasingly harsh collection action. Even though the government may not help you directly, it is still a good idea to get help from someone.  If you think you may benefit from debt settlement I encourage you to review the information on the AmeriFree website.

 

Bottom line is Big Brother wants to help but does not have the necessary resources at this time to do so…

 

Hope you found this information useful.  Please come back often as information is continually being updated.

 

Matthew

Debt Blogger

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Financial Education

Alternative Ways to Handle Unsecured Debt

by CreditCardDebt 4. August 2009 06:26

New statistics demonstrate that most Americans are struggling with a minimum of $8,000 in unsecured debt.  Making matters worse they are attempting to pay that debt back on a median income of less than $50,000 a year, which for most is difficult to do.  Unfortunately many people are choosing bankruptcy as a way out of their financial troubles.  Why, you might ask?  Most are simply not aware of some more consumer, and creditor, friendly options out there for them to try.  I don’t disagree that bankruptcy does serve a purpose but humor me today as we look at some alternative solutions; credit counseling and debt settlement.

 

First, let’s define what “unsecured debt" means.  Unsecured debt is debt not secured by any property or collateral, meaning that a creditor cannot place a lien against your property and that your property cannot be taken away in order to pay the debt.  Some examples of unsecured debt are credit cards, certain medical bills, department store cards, and cell phone bills.

 

Second, how does credit counseling and debt settlement work?  Let me start by stating that credit counseling and debt settlement should always be done through an experienced entity like AmeriFree.  When a consumer enters AmeriFrees credit counseling program they are essentially contracting with us to contact their creditors, propose fixed payment plans, take creditor calls and distribute monthly payments for up to 5 years.  That’s right…within 5 years you can eliminate your unsecured debts by enrolling in our credit counseling program.  Our debt settlement is similar to credit counseling except that your individual accounts are actually settled with your creditors.  Debt settlement programs typically run 2 to 3 years and require you, the consumer, to deposit funds in an escrow account that builds up until there are enough funds to adequately settle individual enrolled accounts.  Once there are enough funds available to settle our negotiators work directly with your creditor to come up with a mutually agreeable settlement amount.  Debt settlement can save you money with the average settlement, including fees, costing much less than your original amount owed.  Please review our debt settlement information for all of the ins and outs.

 

I hope this information opened some new doors on alternative ways to handle your unsecured debt!  Please check back often as new information is continually being added.

 

Matthew

Debt Blogger

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Financial Education

Considering Debt Solutions vs Bankruptcy

by DebtGuy 3. August 2009 03:17

Consumer debt ballooned over the past ten to fifteen years, primarily due to the ease of obtaining low interest rate loans, and consumer’s excessive use of home equity line of credits due to soaring home prices.  With credit so freely available, regardless of credit risk, consumers mounted significant credit card and other debts.  When spending outpaces savings, it often leads to bankruptcy, however with new laws regarding bankruptcy, it has become harder to file, and costs a lot more money.

With a greater number of people unable to qualify for bankruptcy, nor willing to suffer the consequences of filing, they are on the lookout for different options.  Debt consolidation programs like Credit counseling and debt reduction programs like debt settlement help consumers shed debt without the lasting effects of bankruptcy.  These programs are built around recommendations provided by credit counselors based on individual needs.  Once a customized plan is in place, the debt solution company works directly with the consumers creditors to put the plan in action.

Although entering bankruptcy seems easy, more often than not it is not the case as a bankruptcy remains on your credit score for seven years.  A debt reduction program can leave you debt free within two to five years, and does not affect your credit as adversely as bankruptcy.  If you are able to enter a debt consolidation program like credit counseling, you also will be debt free within two to five years, but entering this program will not negatively affect your FICO score.

Do you feel like you are running out of financial options, and facing mounting debt?  Call now and speak with one of our friendly debt experts.  In just fifteen minutes you can have a financial plan to be debt free.

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