We Owe What Episodes

Do's and Don'ts When Calling Creditors

If you have creditors calling you or sending letters, chances are you are feeling just a little bit of stress about it, and that stress could be hurting your ability to actually have a productive conversation with your creditors. Here is my plan for reducing stress - and emotions - in order for you to get results.

Pre-Call Tips

The first thing I recommend to anyone dealing with creditors is to get a script together. Know what you are going to say before you dial the phone or bang out an email. If you are nervous or put on the spot, sticking to the script will help you keep your cool. That means organizing your paper work and knowing everything from the account number to the amount due.

The second tip is to run through the script with someone who will be hard on you. This is not when you need a cheerleader -- tough love will help you get the points in your mind so that you function smoothly under pressure. Third tip- If you can speak with a reputable creditor counselor before you make your call, you may find even more empowerment. Here is a national website that will help you find a non-profit counselor near you. Remember, they often do phone consultations. For more information visit www.nfcc.org.

Once you have done the prep work for the call, you are ready to dial. I suggest you have your script in front of you, with all the information easy for you to see. Check out the sample script I provided to use as a guideline.

Sample Script:

Hello may I speak with a credit manager. (Feel free to give your name and account number, but nothing else at this time- insist on talking to a manager)

Hello this is ______ May I please have your name and ID number. Once they give it to you ask, "May I have your direct number? (Don't count on this- but it doesn't hurt to ask).

I would like to discuss (my account, your offer for a settlement, my debt).

Once you get a positive response that they indeed want to work with you, then you can begin to discuss specifics.

What Not to Say

Don't give out any information about yourself other than your name, the account or reference number and your email address. It will be important to have an email address for any documents or agreements, but you do not need to provide a phone number or address. All you need to say is, "I prefer to call you directly, but feel free to email me if you need information."

Don't start the negotiations by throwing out a number -- let them know of your hardship and ask if they will work with you, and see what they offer. From there, negotiate.

Don't give your best and final offer first. Start with a reasonable first amount of money that is below your best and final offer. Don't worry if you are far apart in the beginning- keep your cool and make a case for why your number is reasonable. Do stay calm and stay positive. If you don't reach an agreement, thank the person for their time and politely hang up.

If they do make you a settlement offer that you want to accept- do have them send it via email before you give them a mailing address. You want it in writing.

Follow Up

Expect the negotiations to require more than one phone call; so don't be frustrated if the discussions go back and forth a few times. If there is work you must do to follow up- then be sure to do it in a timely manner.

The Anderson-Battiste Family

Other segments featured on this episode of We Owe What:

Meet the Anderson-Battistes
Meet the Anderson-Battistes
Anna and Jordan are an artistic couple with big career dreams, but they can't seem to convert their talents into money making professions. With little guidance but a strong will to succeed, the Anderson-Battistes hope that Mary will re-route their path towards a financially sustainable future.
Watch Segment
Turning Fun into Funds
Turning Fun into Funds
Anna and Jordan have big dreams but their empty bank account is holding them back. Will Mary's rules be the direction they need to turn their fun into funds?
Watch Segment
Leap of Faith
Leap of Faith
When Mary makes a suggestion to help kick start Anna's new career, she hits an emotional nerve. Will Anna's reaction translate into hard work or defeat?
Watch Segment
Taking Responsibility
Taking Responsibility
After Mary helps kick start Anna's new career, it's time for Jordan to own up to his mistakes and lead by example. But is Jordan ready to face his toughest critics of all?
Watch Segment
Web Exclusive: Creative Promotion
Web Exclusive: Creative Promotion
Mary shows Anna a creative way to promote herself.
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