Negotiating with your lender: Get them to listen to you

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One key to getting your credit card company, bank, or other creditor to work with you when your financial situation is precarious is by making sure they're listening. Make no mistake, credit card companies want your business. Heck, they want business so badly, they're willing to give a credit card to just about any adult with a pulse. But of course, they want to be paid back.

So if you're trying to negotiate with a lender, the first step is to make sure they know that you want to pay them back. (Don't make silly references to bankruptcy and such. That's just a threat and doesn't get you anywhere.) If you're asking for a break on your interest rate or some extra time to pay, make it clear that you plan to pay everything you owe, but you need some temporary help. And once the credit card company or bank gives you that help, make good on your promises and pay as agreed.

Here's an example of how not to get your lender to negotiate. Be obnoxious, annoying, and belligerent. Believe me, the old adage of attracting more flies with honey is true. Be nice to the customer service representative and give her or him a reason to want to help you.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.
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