Online Help For Folks In Dire Financial Straits - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Online Help For Folks In Dire Financial Straits

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As the nation endures a recession, consumer debt is near $2.6 trillion, but help and advice is out there if you're one of the many Americans in need of it.

The website, AskDrDebt.com, has a question of the day, and also has frequently asked questions on other topics on everything from wage garnishment to job loss.

Jerry Greenblat with Inland Capital Services in El Cajon says most credit card companies will work with you to make your payments more manageable, and if your account becomes delinquent and is handed off to a debt collector, he says there are options to break up your outstanding debt into payments.

"Many people think they have to pay the lump sum off at once. Do a lot of people know they can negotiate? No," he said.

Greenblat says you can negotiate your debt down to as little as half of what you owe.

"It depends on what the debt's owed for and who creditor is. Many times you can negotiate your debt between 50 to 75 percent," he said.

The free website, which has a budget worksheet to help you keep track of your money, is provided by the American Collector's Association.

Greenblat says the worst thing you can do is avoid calls from debt collectors, and if you act quickly, you can keep your credit from taking a hit.

"I think the most surprising thing people don't realize is that normally debts are not reported on credit first 30 days. So best thing to do call when you get that first notice, and then it won't go on the credit report," he said.

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