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Have you ever received a letter like this in the mail:
It seems official, but at a closer look you’ll see that there is no mention of the company name, address, or website. (I redacted personal information of the recipient and the contact phone because I don’t want to give this company free publicity!)
All it is, is a solicitation to sign up for their credit-consolidation services. Of course, some credit consolidation services are legit, but I would recommend steering clear of any who resort to these types of tactics to bring in clients. The wording of the letter is very fear-based with no real substance.
Even the outside of the envelope is sketchy:
All those big demands:
IMMEDIATE RESPONSE REQUESTED
DO NOT BEND
And of course the WARNING:
$2000 FINE, 5 YEARS IMPRISONMENT, OR BOTH FOR ANY PERSON INTERFERING OR OBSTRUCTING WITH DELIVERY OF THIS LETTER U.S. MAIL TTT. 18 SEC. 1720 U.S. CODE.
Which, by the way, is true – it’s a federal offense to obstruct mail. That’s true with the postcard you send to grandma, or this junk mail.
And, it is junk mail. You know how you can tell easily? Look in the upper right hand corner of the envelope. It says, “Presorted Standard.” That’s a kind of code for junk mail. If you wanted to refuse this letter, or return to sender, it would just go in the bin at the Post Office. If you move, “Presorted standard” mail doesn’t get forwarded. It truly is junk mail.
If you were actually being pursued by credit agencies, they would contact you via Certified Mail (where you had to sign and/or provide a photo ID), or regular first-class mail. Not junk mail – not “Pre-Sorted Standard” mail.
Now, if you do find yourself in need of debt assistance…if your bills are piling up, and you’re not sure where to go for help, there are some options available to you:
- See if you can get a 0% balance transfer on one of your current credit cards. Usually they run about 12-18 months and there is a 3-5% balance transfer fee, unless you open a new card, which sometimes offer a 0% incentive. Credit Unions are especially known for this. Make sure whatever fee you pay is less than what the interest would be over the term of the offer.
- Look at Peer-to-Peer lending companies like Prosper and Zopa. They’ll charge interest and fees to set up a personal loan so you can consolidate your debt, but usually the rates are much more reasonable than “consolidation” companies.
- If you find that you’re in way over your head, speak to a bankruptcy attorney to see what your options are. You don’t need to make a commitment to file for bankruptcy, just start a conversation and see what kind of guidance they can provide. Maybe they know local resources that can help you get your finances under control.
- Check out this thorough guide on coping with debt from the Federal Trade Commission.
- Get to know Dave Ramsey. He has common-sense tips to approach and tackle your debt. Whether or not you care for his personality, his methods are sound.
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