When debt stress landed Barbara in the hospital she knew it was time for a change.
In 2008 Dr. Alan Manevitz went on The Early Show on CBS to warn about the health dangers caused by stress over debt. Clinicians named the disease Debt Stress Syndrome. It’s a condition where “mounting pressure to pay bills” leads to stress-related illness.
According to the report, the release of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline leads to increased heart rate, blood pressure, shortness of breath, muscle tension and inflammation. This, in turn, increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even infections like the common cold. It can also exacerbate existing conditions, such as chronic pain and cancer. Additionally, conditions such as upper and lower back pain, ulcers, digestive tract problems, migraines, insomnia, tension headaches and severe anxiety can manifest Debt Stress Syndrome.
The danger of debt stress causing health problems is real. Constantly living with worry about how you will cover bills or avoid collectors wears you down. While doctors can treat the symptoms and conditions caused by debt stress, they can’t cure the source of the problem. Ultimately, the cure lies in eliminating the debt causing the stress.
It’s a situation Barbara knows all too well. Luckily, she found a cure with Consolidated Credit.
Before the problems started, Barbara enjoyed her quiet life in the country…
Barbara lived with her husband in a small rural town nestled between Rising Sun and Patriot, Indiana. She and her husband did pretty well, but they weren’t careful about watching how much they charged on credit. The debt started to pile up; then they started juggling bills to try and keep everything current.
Eventually, they began to miss payments and stress took a physical toll on Barbara.
“We couldn’t keep up with bills. I started to feel sick. It physically felt really bad that we just couldn’t make the payments on time. It began to domino quickly.”
Things got worse when their accounts went into collections…
“The banks and collectors would call at all hours. They’d call Sunday morning at 8AM before we’d even woken up for church; they’d call all hours of the evening. It was constant. We couldn’t even eat supper in peace.”
In truth, the collection agencies that called Barbara at all hours violated her rights. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is very specific about when and how collectors can call you.
- Collection calls can be made any day, but not between 8AM and 9PM local time.
- The same collector can only make limited number of calls per day
- Most importantly, if you tell a collector they cannot call you at a specific time, they must honor that request.
If a debt collector violates those rules, you have a right to file a complaint with the FTC and CFPB. You can also sue the collector in civil court to recoup damages from the harassment. If you find yourself in a similar situation, you have the right to fight back!
You can also tell a collector to cease all contact. This does not end collection actions – they can still sue you in civil court. However, it can stop the calls. If you pursue this option, you can tell the collector verbally over the phone. But it’s also good to send a formal letter to the collector.
Barbara’s health degenerated from the ongoing stress…
Between the mounting bills and the phone calls, Barbara was really hurting. Finally, her husband had enough and rushed her to the hospital.
“I could hardly breath the night my husband took me to the hospital. The doctor told him that if he hadn’t acted that night when he did, I might have died from congestive heart failure.”
As Dr. Manevitz described, this is actually a characteristic path that Debt Stress Syndrome takes. The constant stress physically takes a toll on your body; if it’s ongoing, it can end in tragedy.
While convalescing, Barbara found the right remedy…
Once they got her stabilized, the doctor warned Barbara to decrease her stress levels immediately; it couldn’t wait. Barbara’s husband brought her home. While she was on bedrest, she watched a lot of daytime TV.
“I saw a commercial for Consolidated Credit. I thought, “That’s it. I’m done feeling like this and letting debt drive me into an early grave. I’m calling today.”
She started to feel better after the first phone call…
Barbara spoke to one of Consolidated Credit’s senior certified credit counselors, Angelica O’Hare.
“It was instant relief. Angelica was wonderful. She answered all my questions, explained the program and by the end of the call I had a solution.”
With ongoing support, Barbara was on the road to a full recovery…
“Whenever I had a question, I would call. Angelica or another member of the team would always answer right away or call me right back.”
Part of the credit counseling process is to help our clients build better financial habits. The counseling team helps clients set up budgets and learn health credit habits. That way, once you get out of debt you can stay that way.
“I am so happy that I called Consolidated Credit! It’s amazing what they’ve done for me. I’m making my payments each month and I’m happy. I can finally breathe easy again.”