It was May of 2012 and I was on top the world! My gorgeous girlfriend and I had just closed on a great condo in Huntington Beach California and on Friday I was told that I got the promotion at my job!
I took my girlfriend and all my friends to an Angels baseball game to celebrate. The whole thing cost me $600 but I didn’t care! I was making bank now!
On Monday morning I walked into the office in my new Armani suit with a big smile on my face but something was off. The receptionist said hello like she normally did but avoided eye contact.
I asked if anything was the matter and she just replied “no sir nothing I’m just a little tired I guess”. I walked into my office and turned on my computer on but it wouldn’t accept my password. It said my login credentials were no longer valid.
As I was about to call IT my boss knocked on the door and asked to see me in his office.
We sat down and he just said “Curtis, when we first brought you on board we informed you of our strict social media policy is that correct?”
“Yes of course”
“When you got promoted we sent your file to our director of human resources. I guess she recognized your picture and she did some digging and this is what she found.”
He handed me a piece of paper. It was a facebook post from 2004 where I said “F*&k Bush! No Blood for Oil!” (referring to the Iraq war).
My heart sank.
I didn’t even remember that post but I knew what was coming next…
“Curtis I like you but you know our senior partners are personal friends of the Bush family. I told them it was just a stupid post from a long time ago but they wouldn’t listen…”
Tears began to form in my eyes…
“I’m sorry bro we’re letting you go”
My heart sank to my feet as he handed me my walking papers. I was just numb acting on auto pilot. I just heard myself say ‘thank you for the opportunity’ and felt myself walking to my office and packing my stuff into a box.
I heard the receptionist say “I’m so sorry Curtis”. I just replied “I’m not worried I’ll be fine” but nothing could be further from the truth.
I now had a $2,100 per month mortgage, a $340 per month car payment, and $10,000 in credit card debt for all the furniture we just bought for our condo (and other things).
I drove home and as soon as I walked in the door. My girlfriend knew something was wrong. I told her what happened and she was supportive…at first.
I began job hunting but it was the financial crises and no one was hiring. I wasn’t about to admit failure though so all of my unemployment was going towards my mortgage and car payment. A year later eventually I had to took out a personal loan to keep up the illusion.
Essentially I was borrowing from Peter to pay Paul.
Then my girlfriend came up and asked “why don’t you have a job yet?!” I told her its tough out there. I said “Why don’t you get a job and help me out?!” to which she replied “Because girls like me don’t have to work!”.
That was the last I heard from her. She packed her things and moved out.
The very next day the calls began…
It was Bank of America wanting to know why I hadn’t paid them in 3 months. I told them the situation and the girl on the phone said that’s not the bank’s problem and that they wanted their money.
Then a week later a 7am I heard the loud beeping of a tow truck outside of my window.
They were repossessing my car!
I ran out and told the I had an arrangement with the company that they said they would work with me. He just said ‘sorry kid that’s not what I was told’ and showed me the repossession order’.
I had been paying every two months and it seems the company had enough as they confirmed when I called that the vehicle was being repossessed.
I ended up doing a short sale on my condo and had to move back in with my parents. I had no job, no car, no condo and over $60,000 in unsecured debt. The debt collectors just wouldn’t stop calling! When I stopped answering my phone they somehow got my mom’s number and began harassing her!
Devastated I asked my mom what should I do. She just told me she loved me and not to give up.
I finally got a job…at Walmart.
That’s when everything just hit rock bottom. The next morning I was putting on my blue vest with the smiley face button to go to work when I turned around and saw myself in the mirror. I had gone from wearing an Armani suit and my own office to this…
I began to focus on that stupid smiley face button that said “how can I help you”. After two minutes of just starring at it I collapsed on the floor crying like I had never cried before.
My dad was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer two years before and I didn’t cry like I was crying at that time. My mom heard me and came into my room and just hugged me.
“I don’t deserve this! I don’t deserve this!” I just kept telling her to which she replied “I know baby. I know”
Eventually I did get another paralegal job. Half of my battle had been won but then there was still the $61,245 debt. Working in a bankruptcy attorney’s office I knew bankruptcy would be a bad idea.
Bankruptcy wasn’t the answer
As a bankruptcy paralegal I knew that bankruptcy was a bad idea.
Since I made too much money I knew I wasn’t going to qualify for a chapter 7 full discharge. That meant I’d have do to a chapter 13 bankruptcy which would’ve taken 5 years out of my life!
After what happened to my dad a few years back when he did a chapter 13 I knew that wasn’t the right move for me. Not to mention that the attorneys wanted about $2000 to take my case!
Also, I was pretty angry with BofA and didn’t want to pay them back all those stupid fees that they had racked up on me!
Another smaller reason I didn’t want to declare bankruptcy was because I work as a paralegal in a bankruptcy office. That meant if I filed for bankruptcy everyone in the office would know!
On top of that part of me considered filing for bankruptcy to be an admission of defeat! I wasn’t about to do that! Not after all this!
I explored different alternatives to bankruptcy
I looked into many different options. The first was a debt consolidation loan. On the surface it seemed like a great idea.
Consolidate all your debts into one single payment and save a ton of money on interest!
Sounds good right?
I soon found out that there was a tiny problem with that.
With my credit already being shot the interest rates I was being offered were outrageous! Upwards of 39.99% APR! What’s worse. I couldn’t find a company willing to lend me enough to cover my entire debt!
After doing the math I discovered that after the exorbitant interest rates the lending companies wanted plus the remaining balances not only would I have no saved not a single penny but a debt consolidation loan would’ve ended up costing me more than if I had just left it unconsolidated!
Suffice it to say a debt consolidation loan was not the right option for me.
Why Debt settlement was the right choice for me
One day I read something online about debt settlement. It’s where your creditors just call it even for significantly less than what is owed.
All I had to do was make a single payment to a debt settlement company who would then distribute the funds to my creditors after negotiating a favorable settlement agreement.
After careful research into which company I should go with I chose National Debt Relief.
About the company
This wouldn’t be a proper national debt relief review if I didn’t tell you about the company itself now would it? I went with them because
The company is well known, they have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and has been around a long time.
A smaller but noteworthy reason I chose them is because they are supporters of the Wounded Warrior Project (my pop is a Vietnam veteran), St Jude Childrens Hospital, Autism Speaks, Network For Good (The Animal Medical Center), and Unicef.
My experience with National Debt Relief
After calling a couple of other companies I just wasn’t so sure because they seemed a little shady and just too eager to sell me something. I called NDR and spoke with Jason for a free consultation.
Expecting a hard sales pitch I thought I was ready. However, wasn’t ready for what I really got though.
Yes of course he wanted to convince me to get their services but I really liked his caring nonjudgmental tone. It really felt like he cared about my issues.
I told him how much debt I had and to be honest I was so embarrassed but our rapport was as such that it went away. Especially since he informed me that he’s had clients in much worse shape than I.
After entering in my data he told me I would definitely be a good candidate for debt settlement (no surprises there) and to let them do all of the work.
I had to give him all of my information and they told me I had to make payments to a savings account set up in my name. After some months they would negotiate with my creditors to accept a lump sum. He told me most creditors often accept settlements instead of risking losing all of their money.
Jason explained that the process would take 12-48 months and my fee would be 18% of the forgiven debt but that would not be charged until after the process was complete.
I paid into the fund and after 6 months I got a call that Citibank (one of my creditors) agreed to settle. Six months later another creditor settled and finally after a year and a half BofA gave in and agreed to settle.
Much to my pleasant surprise my creditors agreed to call it even for about $18,000 out of the $60,000 that I owed!
That means after paying the 18% that NDR charged I ended up saving $37,500. I think Bank of America was willing to deal because they were under the TARP program at that time.
That being said my credit score took a hit and got knocked down 50 points but at that point my credit was already shot so I didn’t care much. No one in their right mind would lend me money anyhow.
Overall National Debt Relief was a good experience for me! I would never guarantee specific results for anyone else as everyone’s situation is unique.
National Debt Relief Vs. Competitors
National debt relief does have competitors so we should talk about them.
Their closest competitor that comes to mind is CuraDebt. They actually charge about the same and they also have a good reputation.
The reason I didn’t go with them is because they charge a monthly fee to maintain the savings account also they had just gotten licensed in my state and that bothered me. They also don’t offer a 100% money back guarantee like NDR does.
That being said curadebt is a decent company I just felt that National Debt Relief was slightly better for my needs.
What pushed it over the hill for me and made me go with NDR was the 100% money back guarantee. That meant I could back out at any time without losing any money.
What can I say I’m a guy. So for me the less commitments I have to make the better!
Are debt settlement companies a scam?
No, contrary to popular belief dishonest companies don’t stay around that long. National Debt Relief has been around for a decade!
Debt settlement companies are for profit organizations set up to help customers in exchange for a profit. If they–as any business–weren’t providing value they wouldn’t be around very long.
In other words if both sides don’t benefit the transaction doesn’t occur. Period. National Debt Relief has an A+ BBB rating. I seriously doubt they would have that if they were a scam or cheating customers.
What do others say about national debt relief?
National debt relief is an A+ rated business with the better business bureau
Consumer affairs 4.7/5 stars
Top Ten Reviews 9.6/10 stars
Trust Pilot 9.3/10
Glass Door 4.4/5