A Topical Discussion Regarding Credit Repair and Debt Management As They Relate to FTC Advice In the Booklet: 2018 Consumer Protection Guide for the Careful Consumer (Pages 8, 9)
First and foremost, Home Sweet Home is NOT a credit repair nor debt management organization. More specifically, Home Sweet Home IS a provider of consumer financial and credit advice, education as well as guidance. Moreover, Home Sweet Home is is more aptly classified as “Real Estate Consultants” and financial advisers. Multiple topics of are covered with regard to financial planning (as it pertains to financing and owning a home – including credit management and debt settlement. Our staff has over 50 years of lending, real estate, financial planning and credit consulting experience. This simply doesn’t exist with most credit repair or credit management organizations. Moreover, we believe that EMPOWERING the consumer with the management skills they need to successfully manage their own finances with a “hands-on” approach is the best course of action. Honestly, the consumer has the responsibility to manage their own finances – NO ONE can do it for them (unless provided with a Financial Power of Attorney). Truly, this approach is, BY FAR, best. For sure, an educated consumer and an empowered consumer is the best type of consumer.
Credit Repair | Debt Settlement | Credit Score Impact | FTC Advice: The Federal Trade Commission’s Opening Statement
First, the booklet, the 2018 Consumer Protection Guide for the Careful Consumer, makes the following statements in its discussion of credit repair and debt settlement:
“The Federal Trade Commission offers this advice when you’re in debt and trying to get your finances under control: Avoid any debt relief organization – whether it’s credit counseling, debt management or any other service – that…”
Plainly, Home Sweet Home does NOT engage in debt relief or does it make its business a priority to be such an organization. Also, we are not a credit repair organization. Instead, Home Sweet Home DOES educate, ADVISE and guide consumers with how to best manage credit and debt. And, why not? Especially when the management has real estate and mortgage lending experience. And, in the cases where a debt does require to be settled, Home Sweet Home does offer advice. We DO NOT settle debts for consumers. And, if the consumer has legal questions we will always recommend they consult a consumer rights attorney for the advise they need.
Not only is it a duty of loan officers and real estate agents to ADVISE consumers on matters of credit and debt, but it is also an EXPECTED industry standard. Similarly, we believe it would be in a consumer’s best interest to pay for rock-solid advice and guidance (especially from a person with YEARS of experience in the fields of real estate and mortgage lending. To say nothing of the fact, paying a reasonably-priced fee for service to own a home is a small price to pay.
Even in matters of credit and debt advice, paying for expert guidance and professional help should be expected. But credit and advice is only PART of the equation in terms of obtaining financing and owning a home – especially if you can save thousands in housing costs. But then again, we are talking about professional financial advisers who have loan officer and real estate agent experience. Whereas, in the vast majority of credit repair and debt management/settlement organizations DO NOT have any such experience.
Credit Repair | Debt Settlement | Credit Score Impact | FTC Advice: Avoiding A Service DOES NOT Mean You Can Avoid the Problem
In our opinion, the FTC can say avoiding credit repair organizations and debt management companies is a good financial strategy. Speaking with professionals who have industry experience in lending and real estate makes all the sense in the world.
However, not speaking to people to get proper advice will NOT solve the remaining problem of bad credit and unsettled debt as well as other financial areas where improvements could be made. Once again, the Home Ownership Program empowers consumers to manage their OWN finances. This is squarely at odds with financial organizations who do work for their clients and do not ADVISE on how to matter personal finances – including credit and debt. Squarely put, consumers MUST manage their OWN credit. Consumers should be educated on knowing how to settle their own debts for the best possible results. In this way, consumers have all the control. Consumers have the power. They have the understanding. Really, this is the only way that makes sense. Get advice. Solve the problem. Done.
But, the advice of a financial advisor is priceless. As a matter of interest, the New York Times published an article entitled, “Why You Should Hire A Financial Planner”. The article explained how hiring a planner or financial guru can be transformative. Surely, this is what the Home Ownership Program seeks to do for home buyers who want to First Time Home Buyer qualify for a home loan. Credit and debt is a major part of the puzzle. Doing so can have a big credit score impact.
We cover matters such as having a Last Will & Testament, Living Will (“Advance Directive”) with a Healthcare and Financial Power of Attorney. We look at insurance needs. Home Sweet Home does down payment savings consultations. And, our pros look at lining up the mortgage payoff with our client’s retirement goals. Even more so, we consult with our clients about improving income as well. There is so much more to consider. And, ultimately, we look to have our clients placed in a far better financial scenario than they’ve ever been prior to contracting with Home Sweet Home. These are important matters. They cannot and should not be ignored. In conclusion, we believe consumers should be encouraged to seek and contract the advice and assistance of well-qualified professionals whenever and wherever they need help.
Credit Repair | Debt Settlement | Credit Score Impact | FTC Advice: Our Take on Credit Counseling and Credit Education – A Word About Paying Upfront
Continuing, the article states, “Charges any fees before it settles your debts or enters you into a debt management plan (DMP).”
In their defense, charging upfront fees can be a bit scammy. Really, we understand. We also think consumers should not pay upfront BEFORE a debt settlement settles consumer debts. But, we aren’t a debt settlement company. Furthermore, we don’t settle debts for consumers. We SHOW, educate, and advise consumers on how to settle their own debts. Simply put, getting financial advice AND legal help makes SENSE. Consumers who get rock solid advice from consummate professionals win. In contrast, those who get no direction or advice at all – suffer. Worse still, getting the wrong advice from people holding themselves out to be knowledgeable – but who are not – can do more damage than good. Of course, paying to retain excellent counsel is the best of all buys. Actually, it’s a great bargain. In any case, this is especially true in the case of homeownership.
Credit Repair | Debt Settlement | Credit Score Impact | FTC Advice: Value
“Dreams and freedom are the same. In order for them to be, they come with a price.”
By the same token, you always get what you pay for. Likewise, if you pay nothing. Most of the time, you get nothing. No one works for free. No one. Not a single person with good business sense works for free. If they do, it should be counted as charity. And, to be quite blunt, anyone who works for free doesn’t have proper motivation to “work hard”. There is no reason to “perform well” – as there is NO reward. None. Zero. Absolutely, nothing. In the end, if the person providing all the hard work doesn’t think they will get paid for their hard work, it’s even more demoralizing.
As we see it, our time is valuable. It is to any worker who provides labor (which is valuable) to another person who gets value from paying for it. To sum it up, our time, good advice and information is very valuable. Good advice and information is the most important commodity on the planet. That’s why our society values education and advice so highly.
Credit Repair | Debt Settlement | Credit Score Impact | FTC Advice: A Word About Voluntary Contributions
The article goes on, “Pressures you to make “voluntary contributions,” which is really another name for fees.”
Home Sweet Home does NOT accept “voluntary contributions” in any form. Identically, we would never ask for any voluntary contributions ever – in any case.
Obviously, if any organization insisted on such, “voluntary contributions” – then they are fees. Pure and simple.
Credit Repair | Debt Settlement | Credit Score Impact | FTC Advice: A New Government Program
The booklet further states, “Touts a “new government program” to bail out personal credit card debt.”
We are NOT a ‘new’ government program. We are not part of any program provided by, through, or in conjunction with any level of government nor do we work in coordination with any government program. Our program is our own and has been around for several years – thus making it anything but ‘new’.
The Home Ownership Program is based on credit and financial advising, information, education. It is NOT offered or connected to the federal or state governments in any way.
Credit Repair | Debt Settlement | Credit Score Impact | FTC Advice: A Guarantee
The booklet goes on to another point, “Guarantees it can make your unsecured debt go away.”
Now, in our experience, the only guarantee is that “there are no guarantees” in life.
No one can guarantee that they can make your unsecured debt “go away”. Not really. Unless you pay. Unless you settle. Then, and only then, you can get your debts to “go away”.
Credit Repair | Debt Settlement | Credit Score Impact | FTC Advice: Communicating with Creditors
Home Sweet Home will never tell a consumer to stop communicating with creditors. Actually, doing so can worsen the problem. On the other hand, if harassment is a problem, sending a Cease and Desist Notice to the creditor may be in order. As it is, staying in contact with creditors is important. If a lawsuit is looming, getting affordable legal advice is always a good idea. And, if one occurs, retaining competent counsel is highly recommended.
Of course, no one wants to face harassment. Yet, putting your head in the sand isn’t the answer either. As indicated, communicating with a creditor to reach a debt settlement solution may be your best option. Generally speaking, no one wants to face a nasty lawsuit. Correspondingly, no one wants a judgment on their public record either. Obviously, having such a record will make it harder to qualify first time home buyer.
Credit Repair | Debt Settlement | Credit Score Impact | FTC Advice: Stopping All Debt Collection Calls and Lawsuits
Continuing, the booklet states, “Says you can stop all debt collection calls and lawsuits”
The way we see it, everyone wants to get paid. That’s just reality. For example, saying you can control the actions of other people is absurd. No one can “stop” collection activities and lawsuits – unless you pay or settle the account. That’s different. From our point of view, a Cease and Desist Notice could put an end to annoying or harassing phone calls and collection letters. It can help. Take our word for it, no one can “guarantee” stopping all collection calls and lawsuits. But, having a plan to avoid worsening credit or nasty litigation is ideal.
Besides, it’s easier to budget and set up payment plans. Using a good faith payment may help. No doubt about it. Paying can help. Installment plans help. And, as part of the Home Ownership Program, we help advise.
We recommend always knowing your rights. The Financial Consumer Protection Bureau put out a summary of consumer rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. If you have further questions, contact a consumer law attorney.
Credit Repair | Debt Settlement | Credit Score Impact | FTC Advice: Guarantees Settling “Pennies on the Dollar”
The booklet states, “Guarantees that your unsecured debts can be paid off for pennies on the dollar”.
No one has the magical powers to MAKE OR FORCE ANYONE to accept any settlement for “pennies on the dollar”. This is crazy nonsense. No one can do “mind control”.
Can it be done? Absolutely, it can be done. How do we know? We have done it. We have showed consumers how to settle accounts for as little as 5 cents on the dollar. We give our clients financial advice on how to settle their own accounts. Everything legal – well, legal issues need to be handled by an attorney at law.
Have our customers been declined on some of the settlements they offered? You bet. But it never ends there. Negotiating a good offer is the best way to settle a financial matter.
Truly, where there is a will, there is a way. Again, it’s all about negotiation. That’s where the Home Ownership Program can help people meet First Time Home Buyer qualifications.
Credit Repair | Debt Settlement | Credit Score Impact | FTC Advice: Free Information and Personal Financial Information
Again, the booklet states, “Won’t send you free information about the services it provides without requiring you to provide personal information, like your credit card account numbers and balances”
Home Sweet Home does provide free information via blog posts and the website. We even offer upfront advice at no charge. While we consider our consultations and work time, we believe by being a resource to our clients works best for both parties. While much of our information is specific, it is not massive and cumbersome.
In due course, we don’t ask for any personal financial information other than the general run-of-the-mill stuff. As usual, we ask about the financial shape of client’s credit condition and credit score up front. But, that’s about it.
We believe consumers should be empowered with the information they need to make important decisions. And, we’ll base our consultation advice based on the need-to-know information they provide us.
Credit Repair | Debt Settlement | Credit Score Impact | FTC Advice: Learning Budgeting and Money Management
Further, the book states, “Offers to enroll you in a DMP without teaching you budgeting and money management skills”
Imperatively speaking, Home Sweet Home makes a point to explain budgeting and money management skills as part of the home ownership process. Education is key. Knowledge is central to success. Learning key elements that are closely related to housing affordability is of paramount importance. Management is an ABSOLUTE MUST.
Home Sweet Home will take the time to address housing (as well as credit use) and debt-to-income ratios. The most important ratios have to do with the front end and back-end ratios. Credit use ratios are also having a major credit score impact – which has a strong impact on the overall debt-to-income ratio. Also, setting up a financial game plan to cover a down payment is a key part of the Home Ownership Program.
Any organization unwilling to provide some free information prior to doing business is a bad business practice.
Credit Repair | Debt Settlement | Credit Score Impact | FTC Advice: Making Payments Into A DMP Before Creditor Acceptance
Again, Home Sweet Home does not promote or engage in debt management plans. We believe that the consumer should be empowered to set up a debt management plan themselves. With competent guidance, consumers can make plans that best fit their needs. By working with creditors, even in conjunction with an attorney, consumers can be successfully guided in this area.
Home Sweet Home can (and does) provide financial guidance and education on matters of debt management and settlement.
Certainly, it is bad business to enroll anyone into a debt management plan without first consulting consumer creditors. This creates unnecessary conflict and problems with acceptance later down the timeline.
Credit Repair | Debt Settlement | Credit Score Impact | FTC Advice: In Conclusion
Consumers are better off seeking guidance from professionals who have a background dealing with credit and debt in industries such as real estate, mortgage lending, and consumer loans. Additionally, consumers can be empowered with guidance, education, and advice in order to reach their goals – especially with regard to homeownership. In the end, it pays to know what you can do for yourself rather than pay someone else to do something for you. And, if you are a prospective home buyer, speaking to professionals who have a lending and/or real estate background only makes sense.
Ultimately, an educated consumer is an empowered consumer. They can manage more on their own and save money doing so. All in all, consumers WIN BIG when it comes to getting the education, guidance, and advice from competent professionals who have the necessary background experience.
So, what are your comments, questions, and concerns? How can we help you? Contact us TODAY.
The Home Sweet Home Team