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  • Writer's pictureJames Heinz

How To Negotiate Your Own Debt Settlements Successfully

Updated: Jan 20

Struggling with high amounts of debt can feel overwhelming. Many consumers feel powerless against massive interest charges and due amounts that seem insurmountable. 

However, there are proven strategies and techniques you can use to negotiate your own debt settlements successfully. With some preparation, persistence, and savvy negotiating skills, you can potentially save thousands of dollars and free yourself from the burden of debt.

Understanding Debt Settlements:

Debt settlements, also referred to as debt relief or debt negotiation, involve working directly with your creditors and collection agencies to reduce the total amount owed. This usually means agreeing to pay a lump-sum amount that is less than the full balance in exchange for the account being considered “paid in full.”

According to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) data from 2021, the average debt settlement allowed consumers to pay off debt for well below the full amount, as much as 50-60% less. By negotiating debt settlements effectively, you gain control over your finances and can reduce or eliminate interest charges.

When Debt Settlements Successfully Work Best:

Debt Settlements Successfully

Debt settlements tend to work best for unsecured debts like credit cards, medical bills, personal loans, and utility bills. They are also most effective when you have high balances but sufficient income to pay off a reduced lump sum over a short time frame (e.g. 12-48 months).

You are a prime candidate for DIY debt negotiation if you:

  • Have $10k or more in unsecured debt

  • Can save up 20-50% of the full amount owed over 1-4 years

  • Have experienced a financial hardship recently

  • Gather Key Information Upfront

Before contacting your creditors, take time to gather key details about each debt:

  • Original creditor name, account number, balance, interest rate

  • Collection agency name and contact info if applicable

  • Payment history and status (in default? In collections? Charge-off?)

  • Any special circumstances (e.g. medical emergency expenses)

  • Documentation like account statements, terms and conditions, and records of financial hardships will also help strengthen your case.

Estimate A Reasonable Offer Amount:

One of the keys to successful DIY debt negotiation is making a reasonable lump sum offer that creditors will seriously consider. As a rule of thumb, save up 20-50% of the current owed amount before reaching out.

For example, if you owe $15,000 across multiple credit cards, aim to have $3,000-7,500 available when you being negotiations. Creditors routinely accept offers in this range since it guarantees them immediate payment. They also understand consumers have fallen on tough times if balances have gone unpaid.

Contact Creditors With Professionally Written Letters:

With your documentation, offer amount, and payment timeline (e.g. 12 months) ready, it’s time to contact creditors. Reaching out with professionally written dispute or settlement letters increases your chances of success compared to impromptu phone calls.

Letters demonstrate you are serious and have a plan. Use a polite but assertive tone and reiterate key details like account numbers, balances owed, proposed settlement amounts, and ability to make a lump-sum payment. Also emphasize any financial hardships contributing to late payments.

Be Persistent And Negotiate As Needed:

Remember, first settlement offers are usually not accepted outright. Prepare yourself for some back and forth negotiation with creditors over the phone after sending your first settlement letters.

Creditors may counter propose different amounts, timelines, or structures. Listen carefully to understand their reasoning, but don’t feel rushed into accepting an amount you aren’t comfortable with. Politely reiterate your original offer if you feel it is fair based on your financial situation.

Be persistent and continue negotiating until you land on an offer both you and the creditor can live with. Once an agreement has been accepted verbally, request formal documentation in writing before making the lump-sum payment. This protects you legally in case of any disputes down the road.

Other Tactics To Improve Debt Settlements Successfully:

In addition to reasonable offers and professionally written dispute letters, a few other proven tactics can improve your chances of creditor acceptance:

  • Leverage Competition: Mention that other creditors have already accepted lower settlement offers (even if not completely true yet). Creditors don’t want to risk non-payment so may match other offers.

  • Time It Smartly: Reach out to creditors right before an account gets charged off or sent to collections, when internal collection agents are more motivated to “save” the account.

  • Bundle Multiple Accounts: Creditors may accept lower overall offers if you negotiate multiple account settlements together, especially if you’ve been a long term loyal customer.

Watch Out For Debt Settlement Scams:

While legitimate debt relief services can add value with proven negotiation expertise and legal considerations, many heavily advertise debt settlement “companies” are scams or charge outrageously high fees. Rest assured with diligence, patience, and the steps outlined above, you can negotiate directly with your creditors just as successfully.

By better understanding the debt settlement process and arming yourself with reliable negotiation strategies, you gain power over your finances and can work directly with creditors to reduce balances owed. If you have over $10k in debt and the ability make lump sum payments over a 1-2 year timeframe, take control of your financial future by negotiating your own debt relief settlements today.

Shepherd Outsourcing provides customized services to assist with managing finances, understanding your full financial picture, and creating plans to maximize savings. Contact us today for a free consultation.


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