There are No Secret Programs for Credit Card Debt

March 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Debt and Credit

There have been rumors circulating in recent weeks that XM/Sirius is headed for bankruptcy court.  If the quality of ads airing on some of their channels is any indication, I believe it.

I have been an XM subscriber for several years although that is likely to change soon.  One of the talk radio channels I listen-to broadcasts programs syndicated from terrestrial radio.  This means I have to endure ads when the source programs have commercial breaks.  Many of those ads are variations on the theme of “we can help you eliminate your credit card debt.”  Often, the debt elimination sales pitch makes reference to “secret programs” that the credit card companies “don’t want you to know about.”

What a pile of …..

These amazing debt relief programs are definitely a secret.  In fact, they are so secretive that I think you have to penetrate the depths of Area 51 to find them.  Otherwise, no one has ever heard of – or used – such a program.

Here are the programs that I know of that you can use to eliminate your credit card debt: 

Pay it off.

Discharge it in bankruptcy.

Negotiate all or part of it away.


Let’s not even discuss the death strategy.  So what “secret” debt elimination techniques are these relentless advertisers referring to?  That would be the “negotiation” technique, sometimes combined with the “payment” technique.  How innovative.  Oh, I forgot to mention the other component of these secret techniques:  the extra payment to the debt relief “expert” who teaches you these techniques.

I’m confident I am right about this.  One of the prominent advertisers of these “secret” programs is an outfit called “debt help experts.”  This group is actually a prospecting and referral service, trolling for desperate credit card junkies who are over their heads in debt.  Once they have your name, they sell it to one of the secret technique providers.   I found this in the fine print on their website:

Debt relief/reduction assumes successful completion of a program designed to help save funds to eventually satisfy unsecured debts, typically through negotiation and/or payment. 

There’s your secret:  Save enough to pay the balance and/or negotiate a reduction of the balance.  Mr.  ToughMoveyLove revealed the secret and it didn’t cost you a thing.

Now, about that negotiation strategy … I’ve actually done a little bit of that on behalf of some clients I worked with in a pro bono legal program.  Based on my limited experience, you had better be prepared to prove the full extent of your “brokeness” before they will voluntarily write off any of your credit card balance.  Being close to (and threatening) bankruptcy helps.  But I don’t think you want to go there.  If you are that desperate, try a debt management plan through a certified non-profit credit counseling agency.

Maybe there are secret programs out there that have escaped me.  Anyone care to clue me in?

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3 Responses to “There are No Secret Programs for Credit Card Debt”
  1. Roger says:

    I think you’ve pretty much covered the major ways of eliminating debt; the idea that anyone can realistically make your debt disappear is just fool-hardy. And that’s not even getting into the perverse incentives it creates if there’s the belief that some magic bullet will simply make the debt disappear; why cut your spending if all you need to do is go to some credit fixer and poof! Your debt is gone!

    And people wonder why it took a horrible recession to get us to save even a small fraction of our income…

  2. I agree with Roger. People who want a quick fix are in for a rude awakening.

    Debt to me, is the same as getting rid of excess weight or clutter, it will never be easy any way you look at it without hard work.

  3. Andrea says:

    There’s no secret, it’s at best a really expensive way to kill your credit and at worst, a flat out scam. I have a couple of posts that detail the settlement programs and scam aspect, titled … wait for it … “Debt Settlement Programs” and “Debt Assistance Scam.” :) I’m all about the snappy titles.

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