Debt Negotiators, Credit Destroyers

Stay away from debt negotiators if you need to repair your credit. They’ll do more harm than good to your valuable credit rating.

In many cases, debt negotiators could be more accurately dubbed “credit destroyers.” If you don’t know what to watch out for when dealing with debt negotiation companies, that’s exactly what they’ll do.

Debt negotiators often make a very bold claim; that they can get your creditors to agree to accept only a percentage of the amount you owe them. While this may in fact be true, your credit may be destroyed in the process. In a worst case scenario you could also end up owing even more money than the debt negotiator promised you would save.

Avoid debt negotiators who make claims that seem too good to be true. Any debt negotiator who guarantees that your unsecured debt can be removed should be regarded with healthy skepticism. The only thing that’s likely to end up being removed is your good credit rating.

You may also have to pay several expensive fees upfront in order to gain some very questionable advice. Unscrupulous debt negotiators may try to convince you to stop paying your credit card bills altogether. If you follow this advice you’ll regret it.

For each missed credit card payment, you’ll be charged late fees and your credit score will plummet. In the meantime you may be charged hefty monthly fees by your debt negotiator who is claiming to be working to reduce your debt.

In actuality, the negotiator waits for several months and then contacts each of your creditors to tell them that you no longer have the means to pay off your debt. The negotiator will try to convince the creditors that they should forgive some of your debt. If successful, the negotiator may reach a settlement with your creditors to close out your account and require you to pay back somewhere between 10 – 50 percent of the original balance owed. If a creditor is convinced that you’ll default on your debt, they may be willing to forgive some of your debt in as effort to at recoup at least some of their losses.

It might seem like a great idea to enlist the services of a debt negotiator if you owe $9,000 and can get your debt reduced to $5,000, for example. The $4,000 you save will be considered taxable income by the IRS, however. Come tax time you could end up losing your yearly refund and even owe money. The IRS is not as forgiving of debts as some creditors may be.

Although a debt negotiator may convince many creditors to forgive some of your debt, there’s no guarantee your creditors will agree to any settlement. In the meantime you could be sued for nonpayment, have your wages garnished and put your assets at risk. Your credit rating will also end up in much worse shape than before you consulted with a debt negotiator.

No “quick fix” solutions offered by debt negotiators will improve your credit score. Only time and a commitment to pay off your debts will truly help you in the long run. Remember, the choices you make today will have a profound influence on all of your possible financial futures.

Sheryl Sandberg’s Timeline: Past, Present – And Future

She’s a blazing star in every sense of the word. At 43, Sheryl Sandberg’s life story reads like a bestselling novel. Now that Sheryl joined the billionaires’ club when Facebook went public earlier this year, what will her future bring?

Timeline, Facebook’s life story feature, received a lot of attention when it debuted in 2012, but it only covers the past and present. Does Sheryl’s own timeline include a future element? If so, how does she plan to invest her time, energy, and passion among the big buckets of work, family, friends, education, and service?

If Sheryl mapped out her work and service lives, from when she graduated from college in 1991 to her future senior years, it might have looked like this:

Life Title: WOMEN LEAD THE WAY

First Twenty Years – Ages 1-20 (1969-1988) – Laying the Groundwork

Grew up in Florida, always at the top of class. Attended Harvard College, majoring in Economics. Met professor Larry Summers, who became mentor and thesis advisor. Graduated from Harvard in 1991 and awarded Phi Beta Kappa.

Second Twenty Years – Ages 21-40 (1989-2008) – Building Public and Private Sector Foundation

Public Sector – Work at World Bank from 1991 to 1993, concentrating on health projects in emerging countries. Work as Chief of Staff to U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers in Clinton Administration in Washington D.C. from 1996 to 2001.

Private Sector – Graduate from Harvard Business School in 1995 at age 27 as a Baker Scholar, the highest distinction. Work at McKinsey for one year as a management consultant. Leave private sector to work in White House for several years. Return to private sector in 2001 to join Google in Silicon Valley as Vice President of Online Sales and help start Google’s philanthropic arm, Google.org. Hired by Mark Zuckerberg to become chief operating officer at social media giant Facebook in 2008. Mentored Mark. Became national spokesperson for women in business.

Third Twenty Years – Ages 41-60 (2009-2028) – Putting It All Together

Help take Facebook public in 2012. Become a billionaire on paper at age 42. Facebook stock tumbles after the IPO. (The facts so far – now for the future imagined… ) Orchestrate a successful online advertising strategy that leads to strong revenue growth and a stock recovery. Leave Facebook in 2014 to create Women in Politics think tank. Write a memoir/activist book about women in business at age 46. Run for U.S. Senate in seat for California vacated by Barbara Boxer in 2016 at age 48.

As U.S. Senator, champion landmark bill to integrate solar panels into rooftops for all new housing construction. Run for President in 2024 at age 56. Become the first woman President of the United States. Pass Equal Pay Act to remove final institutional barriers to equal pay for equal work. Put Elizabeth Warren on the Supreme Court.

Fourth Twenty Years – Ages 61-80 (2029-2048) – Redefining the Post-Presidency

Second term as President of United States from 2029-2033. Pass Education Act to revamp K-12 public education to global leadership standards. After the presidency, start a foundation for encouraging women to campaign for peace in the Middle East. Travel the world to encourage and support women running for political office.

Fifth Twenty Years – Ages 81-100 (2049-2068) – Life Re-Imagined

Become an American Association of Retired Persons advocate for aging well through lifelong learning. Focus on use of virtual classroom training to foster global learning communities.

Graphic of Sheryl Sandberg’s Timeline

For some people, it’s easy to predict what their future will bring based on looking at their past and present. For others, it’s not so clear. One thing’s for sure; people who are able to imagine and articulate a positive future for themselves are far more likely to make it happen. What’s on Sheryl’s private life map? She hasn’t told us, but we bet that if she does put the U.S. Presidency on her life map, she just might get there.

Job Applications – The Content of Your Presentation

The content of your presentation will be based on a simple formula, one I’m sure you’ve come across in many contexts. The basic format is simple and is always the same:

Tell them what you’re going to tell them

Make your points

Tell them what you’ve just told them

In other words, an introduction which gives an overview of the presentation, followed by a short talk based on the points listed in the overview and to finish, a summary of the points you have just covered.

How you present the material will depend on the audio visual aids available and which you feel most comfortable with. Let’s say you choose Overhead Transparencies (OHTs).

Your overview will be an OHT with a list of topics to be covered.
Then you will have one or two OHTs to illustrate each point.
You can use the first OHT again to summarise, or if you feel it is more appropriate, a new one which sums up the conclusions you have come to in the talk.

Some Tips for using OHTs

Make sure you use the right sort of OHT – there are different OHTs for use with laser and inkjet printers and so be sure to get the type which matches the printer you’ll be using. Otherwise the result could be smudged or blurred.

Font size – don’t use anything under 24 points as this will be difficult to read.

Don’t put too much information on each OHT. About 6 well spaced out lines of text is enough.

Check the Overhead Projector before you begin and make sure you know how it works.

Use a pen or pencil and point to the actual OHT and not the screen onto which it has been projected.

Leave each transparency up long enough for everyone to read it, but if you are talking quite a bit in between OHTs, switch the projector off. This may not be necessary in a very short presentation. Use common sense.

Using Notes

If you have practised in advance and are familiar with your subject, notes should not be necessary. Use the OHTs or other visual aids to prompt you. If you are asked to do a longer presentation and feel you can’t do without notes, keep them brief and leave them on the table for emergencies. Remember, your presentation should never be a reading of your notes. You can read a quotation or figures which you might not be expected to remember, but never, ever simply stand there and read your notes from start to finish. Notes should be a prompt, used only if nerves get the better of you and cause you to dry up.

Prepare to do without Audio Visual Aids

The more technical the aids you use, the more likely they are to go wrong. So always be prepared to do the presentation without them. If you are using PowerPoint, print out your slides and make sure you have a copy for each member of the panel. If using OHTs, a whiteboard or a flipchart make some sort of handout to illustrate your points. It’s not only technology which can go wrong – interviews can be moved to a room without a whiteboard and people can forget to provide a flipchart.

Handouts

A professionally produced handout is a good way to round off a presentation. It gives you a chance to show that you know your subject or have done your homework on the company. Don’t make it too long or use dense text. A short, illustrated and relevant handout will make a good impression and if it’s touch and go between you and one other candidate, might just tip the balance in your favour.

© Waller Jamison 2005