The majority of Wyoming residents carry some form of debt. Despite our best efforts, sometimes things happen, and we may fall behind on our financial obligations.
If you are unable to make your payments on time, your creditor may attempt to take legal action against you. There is a possibility that they will file a lawsuit for debt collection, and you will need to make arrangements to settle a debt in Wyoming before your court date to avoid a judgment.
If you become the subject of a judgment, your life can be made miserable, as creditors and debt collectors are entitled to freeze your bank accounts, garnish your wages, or even seize your property.
Throughout this article, we’ll discuss how debt settlement in Wyoming works and how you can do it before going to court, as well as the laws you should be aware of.
3 Steps To Settle Your Debt In Wyoming
Follow these 3 steps to settle your Wyoming debt before your court date:
- Answer the debt lawsuit.
- Negotiate a settlement offer.
- Obtain a written settlement agreement.
1. File An Answer To The Lawsuit
Debt collectors and creditors will initiate a lawsuit against you by filing a Summons and Complaint with your local court. You will find in their Complaint the reasons for their legal claim, such as your non-payment of the debt, the amount due, and any interest or fees associated with the debt.
You should still respond to the lawsuit even if you intend to settle your debt with the creditor before your court date. Answers serve as your defense against Complaints.
Answers should address each claim listed against you in the Complaint and should include all the reasons why you believe that the lawsuit is invalid. For example, you may claim that the debt is not sufficiently validated or that the statute of limitations has expired.
In Wyoming, you have 20 days to respond to a debt lawsuit before the court orders a default judgment against you (30 days if you were served outside of Wyoming). If you are in default, your creditor or debt collector has the right to garnish your wages and seize your property.
Thus, it is vital to file an Answer to the lawsuit as soon as possible. You will be protected from a default judgment and be given time to negotiate a debt settlement agreement.
2. Negotiate A Settlement Offer
To settle the debt once and for all, you need to determine how much money you can offer.
Take into account your savings and the paychecks you will receive over the next few weeks. You may wish to consider selling items you do not need or borrowing money from family or friends if you do not have much available cash.
A more generous settlement offer will be more likely to be accepted by your creditor or debt collector. It is recommended that you begin your negotiations at around 60% of the total debt owed.
Expect your creditor to counter with their offer. Negotiations usually last several rounds before an agreement is reached. How much your creditor or debt collector will settle depends on the type of debt involved. Take a look at these facts:
- What type of debt is it? Is it a signed promissory note or a book account?
- Are you defending yourself meritoriously?
- Is there an offset?
- Is there interest on the debt?
- Does the fee-shifting provision appear to be valid? When a fee-shifting provision is in place, the borrower is responsible for paying the collection costs.
- How long has it been since the last payment was made?
- Has the debt been assigned to someone else or does it belong to the original creditor?
- The debt is part of a federal or state loan program or is it a private loan?
- Is it a secured loan?
- Does bankruptcy discharge the debt? Does it qualify as a student loan?
Creditors or collectors will consider all of these factors when deciding whether to settle. While 60% is a good starting point, you might be able to settle for less.
It is important not to accept a settlement that you know you cannot afford. Explain to your creditor your current financial situation if you are unable to pay the creditor’s offer. It is possible that they can accommodate your needs by extending your repayment period or accepting a smaller repayment amount.
Should you fail to repay your debt by the terms of your settlement agreement, the creditor will likely initiate a lawsuit against you, which will likely result in a judgment against you.
3. Make Sure The Settlement Agreement Is In Writing
You should obtain a written agreement from the creditor before making any payments to them.
The written agreement specifies the amount of money you will repay, the date when the payment is due, and where the payment will be sent. When you repay your debt, your creditor should waive the right to pursue further collection activities against you.
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It is possible to prepare an agreement before negotiating the debt with your creditor. By doing so, you will only have to insert the terms of the agreement before finalizing it.
There Are Wyoming Debt Collection Laws And Debt Settlement Laws That Can Protect You
As part of Wyoming’s commitment to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), consumers are protected from abusive creditors and debt collectors. The FDCPA prohibits creditors and debt collectors from taking the following actions against debtors:
- Contacting a debtor with obscene or threatening language
- If a debtor does not repay an obligation, they will go to jail
- Getting in touch with people the debtor knows and telling them the debtor owes them money
- Contacting a debtor before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m. about a debt
- A person pretending to be someone they are not, such as a law enforcement officer
- Declaring that they will take legal action against the debtor when they do not intend to do so
- Inquiring about debt more than seven times over seven days
In Wyoming, actions against consumers for outstanding debts are subject to a statute of limitations. According to Wyoming Statue 1-3-105 (1997 through Reg Sess), creditors have up to 10 years to pursue written obligations and 8 years for oral commitments. Creditors can file legal claims for debts on account and judgments for up to five years.
Additionally, the Federal Trade Commission recently amended its Telemarketing Sales Rule to encompass all debt relief organizations and companies under debt settlement regulations. This Rule applies to debt settlement practices in all 50 states, including Wyoming.
Companies that provide debt relief services, such as debt settlement companies, are prohibited from:
- Pay upfront fees. Until the debt has been actually settled or otherwise resolved, debt settlement companies cannot charge a fee to a consumer.
- A company fails to disclose certain information about its services to consumers before they enroll. A settlement offer can be made if the consumer saves a certain amount of money, whether there are consequences for failure to pay on time, what the customer’s rights are, and whether the consumer has a court order to enforce them.
- They misrepresent their services. The services of a debt settlement company cannot be characterized as false or unsubstantiated.
The Best Debt Settlement Companies
Several Wyoming debt settlement organizations can assist you.
National Debt Relief
The National Debt Relief Company is one of the largest debt settlement companies in the country. As a result of its programs, over 400,000 people have been able to obtain debt relief. The National Debt Relief Company specializes in the collection of unsecured debt, such as credit cards, medical bills, and personal loans.
In two to four years, people can expect to finish their programs, which charge fees of 15 to 25% of their debt.
Freedom Debt Relief
One of the largest debt settlement companies is Freedom Debt Relief. Over 850,000 people have been assisted by the program since 2002, resolving billions of dollars of debt. A typical program lasts between two and four years, with fees ranging from 15 to 25% of the enrolled debt. In addition to unsecured debts, Freedom Debt Relief can assist with secured obligations such as mortgages.
Century Support Services
Another debt relief company that is well-known among customers is Century Support Services. More than $1.7 billion in debt has been resolved by the organization since 2012. Clients of Century Support Services are charged a fee of 18% to 25% based on the amount of debt they wish to settle.
How Should A Settlement Offer Be Sent To A Creditor Or Debt Collector?
You can contact your creditor by email, phone, or letter if you’re ready to begin the debt settlement process.
The best method of communication is usually via email. Email provides a written record of the conversation between you and the debt collector. In the course of negotiating a settlement deal, you will be able to take into consideration the statements of your creditors before making any commitments.
It is recommended that you record the call if you prefer to negotiate a settlement over the phone. Following Wyoming Statute 7-3-702, only one party is required to consent to the recording. Your consent will be granted by you.
Debt Settlement In Wyoming
Debt settlement in Wyoming may raise several questions for you. The following are some of the most common inquiries we receive:
When Does A Wyoming Debt Become Uncollectible?
Unfortunately, debts do not disappear over time. Even if the statute of limitations has expired, your creditor will still be able to pursue you legally. Your creditor can continue to report the account and send you debt collection notices.
You can only eliminate your debt by repaying, settling, or declaring bankruptcy.
Should I Offer A Certain Percentage Of My Debt As A Settlement?
Debt settlements are more likely to be accepted by your creditors if you offer more. It is recommended that you start the settlement process with 60% of the debt’s value. Negotiate with what you can afford if you can’t afford that much. You may be able to obtain a more favorable arrangement if you explain your financial circumstances.
Can I Handle My Debt Settlement?
You can settle your debt on your own. It is important to understand how the process works before you begin. Before paying your creditors or debt collectors, make sure you obtain a written agreement.