Posts: 210
Registered: ‎04-28-2007
Re: Success Stories and Encouragement
Here's the short version of my story.

Filed for BK7 in 2003 after years of irresponsible debt management. The court referee basically lectured me about how stupid I was for filing and made me feel like a complete POS. The court wanted to convert me to a 13. I had a change of heart and decided to suck it up and make a go of it myself. I wasn't interested in being babysat by the court system for several years, and figured I could fare better on my own. I petitioned to get the filing dismissed and they obliged. Thus began the real work.

After the dismissal I knew that I had a small window of time before my creditors were notified and came beating down my door again, so I started formulating a plan of action. I absorbed every piece of information I could find about credit. How it works, how it's assessed, how it's reported, what rights I had as a consumer, what obligations creditors had under the FCRA, etc. I learned all about disputes. It was a really enlightening time. Instead of running from the enemy, I snuck up under it's slumbering belly and observed it's habits.

Next, I analyzed my debt and the severity of each account in order to prioritize. Honestly, I did engage a 3rd party to help with disputes. This was a huge step. As I started seeing success on that front, I began writing to creditors for my smaller accounts, paying them off when I could, settling when I could for less. At that point I was not hip to the concept of PFD, so I blew some opportunities early on to clean up my file. Later, I got pretty good at it and had a lot of success working with creditors directly.

On my larger accounts, I managed to settle for an average of 40%. This was tough, as I had to scrape together the funds before approaching the creditor. I learned early on as well that EVERYTHING needed to be in writing, using explicit and detailed language about what happens on both ends. I began paying bills on time, monitoring my bureaus. I sent, emailed and faxed countless letters. I worked on this for over 3 years on and off.

Jump forward to early 2007 when I started to see everything begin to pay off. In 2003 my scores were mid 400's. Today, I'm a dozen points away from 700 on 2 bureaus. Experian is being a little more stubborn, but not too far behind. I bought a house at prime in July and have 2 Amex cards, and that's mind-blowing to me.

Whenever I buy something with a credit card now I am reminded how it felt to go to a restaurant with family or friends and not be able to spring for the entire bill because I didn't have any credit. I remember not being able to rent a car, or take my family for a spontaneous weekend outing. I remember the piles of collection notices in my mailbox every day, and not being able to answer my own phone without checking the caller ID. It was a horrible feeling, and it still resides in my gut. I guess it's healthy. I don't ever want to forget.