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on October 14, 2008
I purchased this book as I'm entering into the same problems as many other people, where the lure of easy credit has gotten me bogged down and stressed out. The first part of the book, where it talks about ways of running and hiding from the problem scared some sense into me.

Then the rest of the book, where it goes on to guide you through taking responsibility for what you (and the credit companies) got yourself into. And the information for working to get yourself out of the mess is great. It's given me the confidence to continue down the road toward settling my debts on my own, and knowing that professional assistance is still there if I need it. The book outlines lots of good information concerning debtors rights, challenging the creditors claims, constructing a workable budget for yourself and starting negotiations with your creditors.

Norm also re-enforces a very important point: In order to get yourself out of debt, you need to get control of your spending and stop creating new unsecured debt.
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on May 18, 2015
Some good information for someone that does not know anything about debt resolution.
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on June 15, 2015
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on November 8, 2014
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on August 5, 2008
I gained much incite into the credit industry. I, Thank you Mr. Perlmutter for that and the revised addition. The lay Man/Woman can read this with ease, and pickup alot of Great Info, and how to deal with their own situtations. It was mailed Fast and Furious and just in time! Respectfully, Deb
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on February 10, 2009
This is not, in my opinion, a very useful book for the ordinary consumer debtor.

It's also a little sloppy and fast and loose with facts and law. For instance, on page ten there's a "legal note" that asserts "in a bankruptcy, an unsecured debt that has been converted to a judgment retains its unsecured character and gets no preferential treatment in a distribution." Well, not exactly. First, a judgment that's recorded at the County Recorders office in my state, Arizona, where I've practiced bankruptcy law for thirty years, becomes a judgment lien upon real property owned by the judgment debtor in that County.

And that's just one example. But what bothers me more about the book is the assumption that it's fairly easy to negotiate credit card type debts. Frankly, it once was. About thirty years ago.

But these days a consumer who tries to talk to the credit card company with whom he is trying to negotiate is just as likely as not to get a call center in a country where English is not a first language. And trying to negotiate with folks there is all but impossible, because they're paid very few rupees per hour, and can only do what they are instructed to do on their call center flow chart.

In fact, credit card debts are among the most difficult debts to negotiate away, for the simple reason that there are a bunch of them in an ordinary situation. And to make the problems go away, all of them have to be willing to play ball. And the 80/20 rule applies in negotiations with a bunch of creditors. If you have 10 creditors, and all of them have to agree to get you to your goal, there will be two that never want to see things your way.

And another thing: ordinary consumer debtors, in my experience, don't have the mind-set and psychological balance to deal with negotiating their own debts away, or down. And one reason for that is that the debtor who negotiates for himself has no professional objectivity, and that clouds his judgment.

Another idea that this book pushes is that workouts with credit card companies and collectors can be done by the consumer borrowers themselves, and that in the process they will get the credit card companies to remove the derogatory information in their credit reports. I believe it will happen at about the same time the temperature in a place that bad people may go after the end of their lives drops below the point at which water become solid.

Another odd concept in the book is that bankruptcy is financial suicide, and that most credit card and unsecured debt problems should be easily dealt with by negotiation. I simply disagree, and it's not just because I'm an Arizona bankruptcy lawyer. I've seen people with overwhelming debt rebuild their credit and their lives after bad luck or bad decisions forced them to file, and they get on with their life just fine (note: it is absolutely correct that a bankruptcy, whether a Chapter 7, 13, 11 or 12 is a very big deal, and should never be gone into lightly. That said, you shouldn't take penicillin when you have the hiccups, but if you have pneumonia, you better head to the penicillin man.) Also take a look at Bounce Back from Bankruptcy, also available on Amazon, to see exactly how difficult it is to reestablish credit.

Is there anything good about this book? Sure.

For instance, the author strongly suggests that consumer debtors make a budget and learn their "nut", and learn to live within their means. Bravo.

But after I say that, I look back at another "legal note" that's misleading: "Judgments against corporations, limited partnerships and limited liability companies are normally not enforceable against individual owners, stockholders or limited partners and should have no effect on their personal credit record."

Well, that's true as far as it goes. But in the real world of small business, the primary owners of the business almost always have to personally guarantee substantial debt incurred by the business. So ignoring a threatened lawsuit because of the "legal note" above would get the average business owner with the average lawsuit against his business into substantial hot water, because that lawsuit would normally name him as a defendant as well.

So read this book, because it's interesting and because the author is clearly passionate and sincere. But before you take ANY of his advice, talk to an "av" rated bankruptcy lawyer, or a bankruptcy attorney who has a 10.0 rating from AVVO.com, or a Martindale AV rated bankruptcy lawyer, and read a lot of other books, because if your plan is based exclusively on this book, you may be stepping on a land mine.

p.s. as I write this postscript, there is a raging debate in Congress over a provision in the Bankruptcy Code that may, after amendment, permit the stripdown of some OR all mortgages on residential real property. Will that statute pass? Listen, I've practiced bankruptcy law in Phoenix, Arizona for about thirty years, and I've watched a long series of amendments to the "New Code" of 1979; and I've watched as Congress debated in the past. The 2005 amendments took about a decade to work their way through Congress. So MAYBE the Bankruptcy Code is about to change a lot. And MAYBE it's not. But if you're contemplating bankruptcy in Phoenix, Arizona, or anywhere else, you should be aware that the law is currently MAYBE about to change in a way that could be helpful to debtors, IF they qualify and are willing to put up with a Chapter 13 bankruptcy (which makes a root canal look like fun).
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on June 15, 2008
Among the unfortunate side effects of an economic downturn such as the United States is currently experiencing is the growing debt load that ordinary men and women find themselves having to labor under. Now in a fully updated and significantly expanded second edition, "How To Settle your Debts: Without Committing Financial Suicide" by certified public accountant Norman H. Perlmutter, is the perfect do-it-yourself manual for individuals, families, and businesses who find themselves sinking further and further into crippling debt. Of special note is the new chapter specifically addressing the problems associated with student-loan debt. A major culprit are the credit card companies who deliberately target people's desire for instant gratification for things they don't need and cannot afford. Complicated with deceptive interest rate schedules and conditions, anyone seeking to emerge from crippling debt must become informed with respect to the various techniques of predatory credit card issuers. Drawing upon his many years of experience and expertise in helping individuals and businesses deal successfully with the problems of excessive debt, Perlmutter deftly shows the non-specialist general reader how to wipe out their debt without having to resort to bankruptcy (which Congress has made even more difficult with the finance industry backed legislation); how to effectively deal with bill collectors; settling debts through leverage; clean up and rebuild personal and corporate credit ratings; deal successfully with tax debts, secured debts, and judicial judgements; resolve student loan debt repayment problems; as well as when and how to simply walk away from debts. "How To Settle Your Debts" should be considered profoundly valuable reading for anyone having to deal with problems arising from excessive debt, and be a priority acquisition for college, university, and community library Money/Finance reference collections.
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on October 7, 2009
I'm a recently retired attorney and I bought this book because a friend was having some serious problems with credit card debt. Though my practice was involved mostly in real estate and small businesses law, I know quite a bit about dealing with debt problems but the book attracted my interest because of the author's background in the debt collection business.

With a few minor exceptions I found the author's advice to be very sound and sensible. But, what I like most is the insider's awareness that he gives you of the devious world of debt collection and also the importance he places on the need to take control of your own situation to get the best possible outcome.

Perlmutter's book levels the playing field by exposing the abusive practices used by debt collectors and all their bogus threats that paralyze people from taking a proactive approach to help themselves. He dispels the numerous misconceptions that so may people have about being in debt and what it takes to get out of debt. He shows you that it's a manageable problem that can be overcome with some sensible adjustments to the way you live combined with some proactive steps that anyone can take to get themselves out of the mess they're in.

Reading this book gives an average person a realistic understanding of their problem and a foundation to create a plan that solves it best for their unique situation. It simply tells the truth which is something you don't often get from most sources out there offering assistance with debt issues. In fact, many are just looking to take your money. Anyway, after reading it I simply gave it to my friend and suggested that he read it and follow the advice and if he does, I believe that he will be able to get his situation under control.
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on May 22, 2012
You might read this book for the insider info, but you must read CREATE YOUR OWN PERSONAL BAILOUT: How I Settled $124K of Debt for Less Than $15K (in the fall of 2011) for more recent, first-hand solutions and experience. This lady cleared her debts for pennies on the dollar- literally. She did it fast and by herself. You will learn alot, fast.
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on April 23, 2009
I'm sorry to pan an obviously well-meaning book, but in a serious situation like being overwhelmed by credit card debts, misinformation can be quite harmful to people.

The very detailed critical 2-Star review by D. watson is right on the mark, and I second everything said there... but I also have something very important to add.

The author mentions ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about the very real INCOME TAX CONSEQUENCES of "settling" your debts for less than the original amount.

Mr. Perlmutter neglects to inform his readers about the legal requirement for creditors to REPORT to the IRS AS INCOME the DIFFERENCE between the original balance of the debt(s) and the lesser amount for which the creditor has agreed to 'settle'. This amount will be sent to the IRS on a 1099 MISC for that tax year.

So LET'S SAY you do manage to get your debt significantly reduced in a settlement negotiation with your creditor... you have done three unnecessary things:
1) you have admitted in writing, and with your recent signature that you are obligated to pay this (now reduced) debt, thereby making it much easier for the credit card company to prove their case in court if and when they sue you, and...
2) you have just increased that years' personal income by several thousand dollars with no withholding having been taken out, thereby insuring that you will OWE additional Income Tax for the current year, and
3)by re-negotiating that debt in the present day, you will have reset your State's Statute of Limitations on Unsecured Debt back to the very beginning again, thereby giving the credit card company more time in which to sue you if you fail to pay this time.

The credit card companies do not want you to know these things, for fear this knowledge may persuade you NOT to think they are doing you such a big favor by settling for less... but I would think that the author of this seemingly helpful, consumer-friendly book would want you to know! Was he unaware of these facts?

If you end up owing unpaid Income Taxes, the IRS will be then be added to your list of creditors... and THAT debt will automatically be SECURED by everything you own... and the IRS is the one creditor that CAN take your real property even if you live in a 100% Homestead State like Florida or Texas.

But, there is another approach to this situation, and credit card companies definitely do not want you to be informed of the benefits of THAT. It is simply walking away from unsecured credit card debts (defaulting) and forcing the creditor to prove that you actually owe them the money. In most cases they actually haven't kept the evidence necessary to prove their case in a court of law.

Below is the product link to a frank and detailed book about a couple who did exactly that, and forced a major bank's collection attorney to dismiss his case against them. No bankruptcy, no 1099 MISC, and no restarting of the Statute of Limitations (which has now run out, thereby preventing any further legitimate lawsuits against them):

DEFAULT !!! Escaping the Debt Trap and Avoiding Bankruptcy

IMHO it is worth exploring your other options besides just putting your head into the debt-lion's mouth and saying "thank you for not eating me alive". If you learn how it can be done, you might just muzzle that greedy lion instead.
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