Dealing with debt: Who will come to the rescue?

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Dealing with debt: Who will come to the rescue?

CREATED Mar 20, 2013

Reporter: Simone Del Rosario

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Noelle Scuola's little girl, Aubrey, is all smiles, but it's hard for Scuola to smile under the weight of mounting medical bills and calls from collectors.

“Are you concerned it's going to spiral out of control?” Nine On Your Side’s Simone Del Rosario asked.

“I feel like it already has in a sense,” Scuola said. “The collections people that call me say if I don't make the payment on time or if I miss a payment, it's gonna ding my credit.”

She says she never would have gone to the hospital if she knew the bills would be so expensive she can't make ends meet.

“I want to make sure I can provide for my kids and right now, it feels like it's getting out of hand, that I won't be able to.”

“What if, one day, someone just put a letter in your mailbox and said, ‘Your debt has been forgiven.’ How would your life be different?” Del Rosario asked.

“I'd probably cry because it's been like this for a couple years,” Scuola replied. “I'm too young to be dealing with this.”

One nonprofit is doing just what Del Rosario mentioned. Strike Debt recently bought a bundle of emergency room debts totaling more than $1 million: But they only paid pennies on the dollar. Donors who pitched in a collective $21,000 cleared the debt for 1,000 people in two states.

They say Arizonans could get lucky in the future.

But until then, "Don't Borrow Trouble" Coordinator Evelia Martinez has a few tips to help you take control.

“The sooner you face your problem, the more options you're going to have. The longer you procrastinate, the more difficult it can become,” Martinez said.

She said to contact the creditor immediately to explain your situation. Negotiate a payment plan, even if it’s less than the minimum payment. Plan a budget and stick to it. And above all, be honest: Creditors will be more willing to work with you.

If you need help dealing with your debt, there are a number of organizations you can reach out to. Primavera Foundation provides “financial fitness” classes in English and Spanish. You can find out more on their website or call 882-5383. And Don’t Borrow Trouble is just a phone call away. Their hotline is 792-3087.

If you’d like to donate to Strike Debt and the Rolling Jubilee project, you can visit their website. They say $1 donated translates to $20 in debt forgiveness.