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Did I do the right thing?

When confronted with financial difficulties, it is hard to face reality. You are overwhelmed with feelings of frustration, hopelessness, fear and confusion. But you are the only one who can deal with this situation. Your debts are your responsibility. The Debt Management Plan (DMP) suggested by your counselor will help you repay your unsecured debts without having to file for bankruptcy, provided that your creditors accept our proposals and you comply with the stipulations of the agreement. Your counselor is available to help with any problems or questions that might arise during the program term.

What can I do to ensure the success of my DMP?

“Keep in touch with us and let us know if any problems or complications arises.”

“Send your deposit on time. You can send the payment via: Money order, cashier's check, personal check. You can also pay by debit card at any branch, through ACH, or via phone.”

“Notify us immediately of any change address, employment or marital status.”

“Scrutinize monthly creditor statements to make sure the payments you make via CONSUMER are properly credited and that creditors are honoring the agreed to concessions regarding finance charges, late fees, and others (if applicable).

What can I do to ensure that my DMP will actually work?

“Be prompt in your deposits. If you miss one payment, your creditors may resume regular collection efforts, including letters, calls and/or visits.”

“Send to CONSUMER all future payments intended for the creditors that were included in the Debt Management Plan.”

“If you do not understand something about your creditors’ statements, please call us as soon as possible. We will try to immediately clarify all of your doubts or concerns.”

“Verify with your counselor before applying for new credit. Doing so without previous express authorization from the counselor endanger the DMP status.”

Will CONSUMER reach out to my creditors?

Yes. As soon as you send us your first payment, CONSUMER will submit a proposal to each of the creditors that sponsor our services. This document will let your creditors know that you are seeking a repayment arrangement for your debt problem through our agency and that their cooperation would be greatly appreciated. The proposal will identify your account number, total debt, the number of creditors in the program, the proposed payment and the date that you sent the payment.

Will CONSUMER reach out to my creditors?

Yes. As soon as you send us your first payment, CONSUMER will submit a proposal to each of the creditors that sponsor our services. This document will let your creditors know that you are seeking through our agency a feasible repayment arrangement for your current debt load and that their cooperation would be greatly appreciated. The proposal will identify your account number, balance owed, the number of creditors in the program, the proposed payment, and the date that you sent the payment.

What happens if one of my creditors does not accept the proposed payment?

If a creditor does not accept the proposed payment plan, your counselor or another CONSUMER representative will contact you to request that you seek an alternative arrangement directly with the creditor, or to request an increase in your payment because your creditor requested more than the amount originally proposed.

Will my creditors continue calling me?

Some of your creditors may continue calling you for up to two months following the closing of your DMP. If this happens, talk to them. Remember that in order to clear your debts, you need the cooperation of all of your creditors, CONSUMER and of yourself. Do not attempt to negotiate your DMP directly with your creditors.

Will I receive statements from my creditors?

In the majority of the cases you will continue receiving them. These should reflect the payments that have processed through CONSUMER. If you do not see some payments reflected in the statements despite having made your deposit on a timely basis, immediately call us for the corresponding analysis and clarification. We also need you to immediately notify if you notice any irregularity in your creditor statements

Can I pay directly to my creditors even though a DMP has been negotiated and approved?

We do not recommend it. Once a DMP is formalized your creditors expect to receive payments from the agency from that point forward. Only in extreme situations (and after getting the green light from your counselor), should you venture to send payment directly to your creditors, in which case you would need to provide us with the evidence.

When is my payment due?

Your payment must reach our office by the date set by your counselor. However, we recommend that you send your payment at the beginning of the month, before the fifteenth day. For your convenience, you may pay via phone, regular mail, or personally at any of our branches. The earlier the funds reach us, the sooner we can disburse the money to your creditors.

Why are all creditors not included in the DMP?

CONSUMER is not a collection agency. Our goal is to help debtors whose creditors are willing to voluntarily sponsor our agency. Secured debts are excluded from this type of arrangement because most creditors prefer to go against the collateral if the client cannot make the payments. On the other hand, there are creditors who do not sponsor us as a result of their internal policies to the effect.

Will I receive evidence of my deposits?

Yes. Every month CONSUMER will send you a Statement of Activities that will detail the amount that we received from you during the previous month, the disbursement(s) that we carried out to your creditor(s), as well as the current estimated balance of each of your unsecured debts that were included in this arrangement. Our information might de different from the one that your creditors show in the statements that they send you each month. When you included your unsecured debts in a DMP, you disclosed how much you owed on each. Since some creditors continue assessing finance charges, their balances will sometimes be higher than ours. Please let us know if there are any significant account balance discrepancies, so that we might investigate their accuracy.

Can I pay with personal checks?

Yes. Your personal checks are welcome. However, paying with personal checks may lead to a delay in the disbursement process to your creditors. This privilege is extended to all clients for your convenience. However, if your check bounces (is returned by our bank due to insufficient funds in your account) you will be required to send subsequent payments via money order or manager’s check. CONSUMER will not be responsible for any finance charges, overdraft and/or other fees assessed by your creditors as a result of issuing a bad check. Another alternative is the direct debit, through which your payment is withdrawn from your checking or savings account each month. Clients may also pay via phone with a debit card or personally at any of our branches.

Who should I make payments to?

Our mailing address is as follows:

CONSUMER

PO Box 8908

San Juan, PR 00910-0908

What would happen if I could not send a payment because of a nonrecurring cash outflow such as my car insurance?

When your budget was established, your counselor assigned a line item to cover these types of nonrecurring expenses. If you follow your budget, you should not face problems paying these expenses and also meet your repayment plan. Call your counselor if you need additional help with your budget.

What would occur if I sent my payment late?

Your payment due date is set by your counselor based on your particular situation. If your deposit is late, we will not be able to disburse the funds on time to your creditors. If you miss a payment, it is likely that your creditors will charge you a late fee. You will also face the possibility of receiving creditor collection calls again.

Can I send a larger payment or pay off some or all of my debts?

Call us whenever you are able to increase your payment or pay off debts. Remember, the goal is to get out of debt as soon as possible. We will get in touch with your creditors to obtain your pay off balance. Make your final payment through CONSUMER.

What if I miss a payment?

Clients who do not make their first payment may be terminated from the DMP. Clients who have been in the DMP for several months and are now facing difficulty in making their payment for reasons beyond their control should contact their counselor or a Customer Service Representative to let them know and to discuss alternatives.

Why do I need to hand over all of my credit cards, including the ones on which there is no balance and those in which I am current?

One of the basic rules for getting out of debt is not to incur additional debt. If you kept your cards it would be very tempting to use them and overextend yourself. As a rule, your creditors will close or suspend your lines of credit. Upon successful completion of the Plan, some creditors will reestablish your credit based on your current ability to pay and your payment history while enrolled in the Plan. On the other hand, for the most effective and equitable treatment of your debts, we need to include all of your credit cards in the DMP.

Can I get a credit card while I am active in the DMP?

No. Your main objective is to get out of debt. When your debts are paid in full you might consider applying again for a credit card.

What happens if I drop from the DMP?

Your participation in the Plan is voluntary. Not only does it involve you, but also your creditors and our agency. If you withdraw from the Plan you lose the benefits of the lowering of your payments, reduction or waiver of finance charges, and the discontinuation of collection calls (provided that you comply with all of our stipulations). Also, you would no longer have our support and advice.

How will the DMP affect my credit?

Several factors affect how your credit report will look after completing the DMP. These include what your credit report looked like when you entered the Plan, the consistency of your payments while on the Plan, whether you increased payments over time, and your creditors’ reporting policies.

Should I follow a monthly family budget?

Definitely. During the counseling session, your counselor explained the importance of creating a budget and following it to the letter. If you do not abide by your budget you will never get out of debt and will never properly manage your personal finances.

Will CONSUMER help me if I need extra help with my budget?

Absolutely. Contact us to set up a new appointment so that your counselor can clarify all of your questions and concerns.

How does CONSUMER sustain itself if they do not charge for general counseling sessions?

CONSUMER receives contributions from creditors, since they believe that consumers deserve their cooperation when facing economic problems. In addition, we receive grants from HUD and NFCC. Also, we charge a nominal fee for some specialized and detailed counseling sessions: First-time Home Owners, Reverse Mortgage, Pre-Bankruptcy and Post-Bankruptcy, Credit Report Analysis, Mortgage Mediation, Debt Negotiation. We also assess a fee for our workshops and seminars.

How long will it take me to pay off all of my debts?

That is not a simple question because every situation is different. You can obtain a rough estimate by dividing total amount owed by your monthly payment, although you must take into consideration the fact that some of your creditors will continue charging you interest or other fees even if your are in full compliance with the DMP stipulations.

Whom should I call if I have a question or a problem?

Our customer service representatives are qualified to clarify most of your concerns. For specific or very complicated situations, leave a message for your counselor and they will try to return your call as soon as they can.