Credit plays an important role in American society. Consumers often make computer purchases on credit with the intent to pay the bill off at a later time. If you have an account with Dell that you'd like to settle now, the Federal Trade Commission has good news for you. According to the FTC, hiring someone to negotiate the settlement of a debt is unnecessary. You can do it yourself free by contacting Dell directly.
Read the billing statements received from Dell. Add up the total amount owed, including interest charges, late payments or any other fees assessed to the account.
Calculate how much you're able to pay towards this debt. This should be the highest dollar amount you can afford and will represent your settlement offer.
Call Dell and request to speak to a person of authority, such as a manager or supervisor. First-line customer service representatives usually don't have authority to accept offers. Inform the supervisor that you would like to settle the account.
Make a partial offer to Dell, but not the full amount owed. If you can pay $1,000 of a $1,500 debt, offer $500. If it accepts, you've just saved yourself $500. If it counteroffers, you have room to negotiate.
Get written confirmation of the verbal agreement after Dell accepts the offer. Never make a payment over the phone because without a written agreement to the contrary, Dell may apply it as a payment toward the outstanding amount due and still come after you for the balance.
Mail payment to Dell when you have the agreement in writing. Send a cashier's check or U.S. Postal money order via certified mail, return receipt requested to ensure the payment is received. It's a good idea to make a copy of the check or money order for your records prior to mailing.
Order a free copy of your credit report at least 30 days from the date Dell received payment. Under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA), consumers can receive one free report every year from Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Congress established a website specifically for this purpose (see Resources).
Check your report to see if the Dell account is present. If it is, make sure it shows a zero balance and has a status of paid or paid-settled. If the data on the account is incorrect, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives you the right to file a dispute. Under the FCRA, the bureaus have up to 30 days to investigate and make corrections.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, creditors are not required to accept any settlement offers. The company does so at its own discretion, which means it could demand full payment of the balance.
Settled accounts on a credit report can negatively impact your credit score since it indicates to lenders that you paid less than the amount you actually owed.
Creditors sometimes report debt settlement values to the IRS. If the amount written off is $600 or more, Dell may issue you a 1099 form, which means you will have to pay taxes on that dollar amount.
- Federal Trade Commission: Debt Relief
- Dell: Contact Dell Financial Services
- Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation: Credit Reports and Scores
- Nolo: Tax Consequences When a Creditor Writes Off or Settles a Debt
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Mack Mitzsheva is a tax lawyer, personal finance expert and the author of the forthcoming ebook, "10 Best Places to Work Online." Mitzsheva is also a social media entrepreneur with five successful sites under her belt. Always innovative, Mitzsheva is currently developing a cutting-edge budgeting app for newlyweds.