FPU Week 5: Credit Sharks in Suits

I have to admit, I was pretty nervous going into this week's class. We had chosen not to preview this week's video lesson. But that really didn't have me nervous. We had a couple weeks off between classes. But that really didn't have me nervous (ok, maybe a little).

Really, it was the previous two classes that had me nervous. I'll explain why inside.

Weeks 3 and 4 were Cash Flow Planning and Dumping Debt, respectively. These two are by far, the most difficult lessons. Also two of the most important. Weeks 1 and 2 are really just warm-ups for the real work of the budget and debt snowball. For many, this is the first time they are faced with the reality of their financial situations. The good, the bad and the ugly are all laid out in front of them, and if you didn't get week two, then God help you in weeks 3 and 4.

The unfortunate outcome in our past classes was drop outs. Even when we felt overextended by the size of a class, we knew, based on reports from other class coordinators, to expect a certain drop out rate. In practice, we saw this hold true.

This time, I am pleased to report that if we do have drop outs then they are quite minimal. Maybe it's the economy, and people are feeling more of a need to stick with this. It may also be that Dave re-ordered the lessons with the newest version of the class. Relating with Money used to be after Cash Flow Planning, and I think the new way makes far more sense.

As for this week's lesson, we were fortunate to have many families who had not been behind on their bills and had not dealt with collectors. At the same time, it makes it difficult for them to relate to the situation, or to see the value of the lesson. "Because that won't happen to me". Well, I hope not, but then again, it may just be that a friend or family member is in that position and needs some guidance. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to help them separate the signal from noise and come out the other side of that situation?

Alternately, you don't know what may come. While in college, I had a couple of bills get cross-ways and end up in the hands of collectors. Even though I settled those accounts and had them paid-in-full, years later I was contacted by some scum-bag collector trying to get me to pay on it again. With the information I learned in this lesson, I knew my rights under the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. I knew that if challenged, they had to provide proof of the debt. I knew how to handle it and what to expect. I also now know the value of hanging on to those statements showing the balance was in-fact paid.

How have you dealt with collectors in the past?


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