Legal Help With Credit Card Debt
by Timothy Murphy
While many people attempt to deal with credit card debt without outside assistance, there are times when a lawyer can be your only hope. Credit card companies may lower your credit line or raise your interest rate, make dozens of collection calls, or even file suit. By finding a qualified debtor's rights lawyer, sharing all of your financial information with her, keeping an open mind, and following your lawyer's advice, it is possible to escape credit card debt.
Choose the Right Lawyer
There are many different kinds of lawyers. Although most jurisdictions do not recognize legal specialties, as a matter of course most attorneys limit their practices to a small number of areas. When it comes to resolving credit card debt, you'll need a lawyer with a few different skills. Make sure he is familiar with
negotiation techniques and has handled credit card negotiations in the past. Find an attorney familiar with general civil litigation, as credit card debt often ends up in court, and you'll need someone who knows how to litigate on your behalf. Also, make sure your attorney is familiar with the bankruptcy process. You may not like
the idea, but sometimes it is the best solution. You'll want a lawyer who has all of these tools if you want an optimal result.
Gather All the Data
Get all of your bills together, calculate your monthly payments and know what you need to make each month in order to live. Then figure out how much debt service (the amount you're paying on all those credit cards) is costing you. Make allowance for daily expenses that you don't receive a bill for, such as food and gasoline. Look at your paycheck stubs, and know how much you make each month. Give yourself a clear picture of your financial life at the moment.
Obtain your credit report, and review each and every line item. If any items do not actually belong to you, make a note of it, and bring this to your attorney's attention. Credit reports can contain mistakes, and companies sometimes confuse one debtor with another.
Do a realistic self-appraisal of your spending habits. Know what things you can cut out, and know what things you won't eliminate, even if you should. You and your attorney both need to know what you have to work with, and what you'll need to learn to do without.
Face the Facts
One of the big things that holds people back from dealing with their credit card debt issues is a feeling of guilt. Nobody wants to admit that he messed up, spent too much, or just can't afford to live the way she wants to live. Get over it. Your attorney may settle some accounts for very little money, use procedural rules to prevent the
credit card company for getting your money, help you avoid paying judgments those companies obtain, or even wipe the credit card debt out completely through bankruptcy. All of those tools exist, and they are all legal. They exist for people in situations like yours. Don't hesitate to use them.
Make the Most of It
As your attorney gradually gets your debt under control, learn from the process. Don't repeat the mistakes that got you in hock to the credit card companies in the first place. Make a budget and stick to it. Follow your attorney's advice regarding debt management. Make those attorney's fees count.