Federal government proposes new student loan repayment plan
These days, it is nearly impossible to leave college without having taken out some student loans. Unfortunately, given the job market, finding a job to pay back those loans can seem like an equally daunting task.
Chapter 7 and 13 Bankruptcy Considerations for Florida Filers
Bankruptcy can provide relief to individuals buried in all sorts of debt, including consumer loans, mortgages and car loans. Since these debts are dealt with differently, depending on what type of bankruptcy for which a filer is eligible, filers should carefully review their debt situation with a lawyer.
Study Shows Bankruptcy Filings Among Senior Citizens Are On the Rise
According to a study released by AARP, the amount of bankruptcies filed by people ages 65 and older has increased exponentially in recent years. The study, which was conducted by the Consumer Bankruptcy Project, found that between 1991 and 2007, bankruptcies among seniors increased by 150 percent. For those aged 75- to 84-years old, bankruptcy filings increased over 400 percent during that time.
The Impact of Unpaid Medical Bills is Often Underestimated
Medical emergencies and other health problems often put life into perspective very quickly for people. Money is generally an afterthought until the bills come due. Unfortunately, those medical bills can quickly cause long-term financial heartache that is difficult to cure.
Protecting Yourself Against Abusive Debt Collection Practices
The current state of the economy has left many Americans with numerous unpaid bills and mounting debt. Increasingly, those in charge of collecting that debt have gone to extreme lengths to make sure they are paid.
Tax Implications of Debt Forgiveness
The prospect of a creditor forgiving a portion of debt may seem like cause for celebration for the debtor. Unfortunately, the IRS may also celebrate.
Occupy Education: How Student Loans Are Plaguing Florida Graduates
Going to college is supposed to lead to a good job. That’s what loan marketers and schools themselves tell prospective students. But with the U.S. unemployment rate at 8.6 percent at the end of 2011, those promises have worn thin — and left a lot of people with a lot of student loan debt that is hard to pay back.
FTC Rules on Deceptive Debt Relief Practices Continue to Evolve
They are wolves posing as shepherds. Companies that claim they will lead you out of debt quickly and often just want to take your last dollar — leaving you more exposed to creditors than ever.
Credit Card Issues are Frequent In Florida
Credit and debit card fraud is one of the most prolific fears among average Americans. In a comprehensive survey spearheaded by the Consumer Federation of America, various state agencies reported the most prevalent, worst and fastest-growing sources of consumer unrest. Not surprisingly, credit and debt complaints came in at number two on the list of top consumer concerns.
Dealing with Medical Debt Through Bankruptcy
With today’s economic conditions, serious injuries or illnesses can cause serious financial upheaval. Prolonged ailments requiring long recovery periods can deprive people of their ability to earn a living. It is common knowledge that most people are one severe illness away from being in financial ruin.
Bankruptcy and Credit Scores
Filing for bankruptcy is always a big decision, with many factors to weight.
One of those is the effect that a bankruptcy can have on your future credit possibilities. In the short term, bankruptcy will significantly lower your credit score - and this can create extra costs for you when you work to rebuild your credit, or try to purchase a car or a home.
Debt, Divorce and Bankruptcy in Florida
It’s not only the fact that the stress of money problems is a frequent cause of divorce. That is indeed a major problem. But the issue goes beyond the cause of the divorce to the way that debts get divided up when divorce does occur — and how credit card companies and mortgage lenders respond to that division.
New Federal Law Protects Government Benefit Payments From Garnishment
Federal law has long prohibited creditors from garnishing Social Security, disability and veteran benefits, as well as other payments to disabled and low-income individuals. Unfortunately, banks have not always been careful about making sure frozen bank accounts contained no protected funds.
Bankruptcy as a Means to Stay in Your Home, Despite Mortgage Problems
In these tough economic times even homeowners with steady incomes can find themselves facing foreclosure. In this situation, filing for bankruptcy is an option to consider closely.
Florida Bankruptcies Remain High as Foreclosure Challenges Continue
After a record number of bankruptcy filings in 2010, the numbers were down somewhat for the first three months of 2011 in the Middle District of Florida. The Middle District includes 35 of Florida's 67 counties, including Jacksonville, Tampa, and Orlando. While the number of filings was reduced by almost 16 percent, the total number of bankruptcies filed was still high, at 13,596.
Florida Mortgage Modification: Dual Tracking as a Double-Cross
The foreclosure system is clogged, both in Florida and across country. There have already been huge numbers of foreclosures, and there are so many in the pipeline, that the pace has slowed in recent weeks.
Debt Settlement Companies Continue to Engage in Deceptive Practices
Debt settlement companies are not supposed to engage in deceptive practices. Detailed government rules are designed to stop them from doing things like charging up-front fees that often leave debtors worse off, not better, or pushing their services aggressively through telemarketing. But despite new rules from the Federal Trade Commission, many unscrupulous debt consolidation companies continue to prey on vulnerable people.
Congress to Consider Medical Debt Relief Act
The nation's economic downturn has already inflicted untold emotional pain. Unemployment is high, real estate has sagged, and millions of Americans are crippled by debt problems. It has been, in short, a perfect storm.
Increasing Bankruptcy Among The Elderly: A Canary In The Coal Mine?
Retirement was supposed to be “the golden years.” But these days, many elderly people find themselves in dire financial straits. Mounting credit card debt is leaving many with bankruptcy as their only viable option. Medical expenses, daily living costs, helping with adult children, shrinking or nonexistent retirement plans or savings — these all add up to not enough money to live on.
Discharging Second Mortgages in Bankruptcy
Homeowners who are behind on their payments and facing the threat of foreclosure need to take a hard look at all of their options. In the case of second mortgages, cashed-strapped homeowners who've seen the equity in their homes fall may want to consider seeking to discharge the second mortgage in bankruptcy.
Proposed Legislation May Reclassify Student Loans in Bankruptcy
Even as the economy begins to improve, many new graduates struggle with repaying their student loans. The United States Student Association estimates that borrowers hold $730 billion in student loan debt, with 60 percent ($440 billion) in deferment or default. With student loan debt outgrowing credit card debt, some are considering bankruptcy, even though current law does not allow discharge of such debt, except under limited circumstances.
Giving Bankruptcy Judges "Cramdown" Power To Address Foreclosure Crisis
The downturn in the real estate market two years ago was a major factor in sending America into recession. The subprime mortgage crisis exposed a house of financial cards, and the first wave of mass foreclosures began.
If a debt collector is calling you about a debt you do not owe you have rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The statute of limitations mentioned at the end of the story only applies to the filing of a law suit. A debt collector attempting to collect a credit card debt can still call you to collect after the statute of limitations has expired so long as they don't threaten to sue you if you do not pay. Also, the reporter says that the statute of limitations is 4 years which is true if there is no written contract. However, if there is a written contract between the parties, the statute of limitations is 5 years in Florida.
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New Wave of Foreclosures Coming in 2010
As 2010 began, there were some signs of stabilization in the housing market according to the CEO of Freddie Mac, Charles Haldeman, Jr. Federal tax credits, low prices and low mortgage rates were all expected to fuel the recovery. Still, Haldeman cautioned at the time, the recovery was fragile and there was the potential for a large wave of foreclosures. Unfortunately, Haldeman appeared to be right.
Automated Debt-Collection Lawsuits Engulf Courts
As millions of Americans have fallen behind on paying their bills, debt collection law firms have been clogging courtrooms with lawsuits seeking repayment.
Few have been as prolific as Cohen & Slamowitz, a Woodbury, N.Y., firm that has specialized in debt collection for nearly two decades. The firm has been filing roughly 80,000 lawsuits a year.
Vulgar voicemails force debt collector to pay $1.5 million
DALLAS - The harassing and threatening voicemail messages left on Allen Jones' mobile phone are nothing short of vulgar.
"This shouldn't be tolerated," he said. "Nobody should have to experience what I had to experience."
Debt collectors from Advanced Call Center Technologies, LLC left eight messages for Jones in August 2007 trying to collect what it said he owed on a credit card.
Letting Go: A Possible New Solution for Florida Homeowners in Distress
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment in the United States has been holding steady at 9.7 percent in 2010, after peaking at 10.1 percent in October 2009. In contrast, the unemployment rate in Florida is on the rise, reports the Sun Sentinel. In March 2010, unemployment rose to 12.3 percent, the highest since recordkeeping began in 1970. This is an increase of 2.7 percentage points from the March 2009 rate.
With unemployment rates at these levels, many people in Florida and beyond are contemplating filing for bankruptcy or facing the prospect of losing their homes.
Why We Must Hold Debt Collectors Accountable for Harassing Consumers
Normally it is not a good idea to quote the language of a statute when trying to explain things to people who are not lawyers. Most statutes are written by attorneys and are so complicated that the average person is unable to understand them. However, in 1977 Congress passed the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The first section of the statute is labeled “Congressional findings and declaration of purpose”. These findings and declaration of purpose are so clearly and effectively stated, I have decided to quote the language of the statute.
15 U.S.C. § 1692. Congressional findings and declaration of purpose.
(a) There is abundant evidence of the use of abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices by many debt collectors. Abusive debt collection practices contribute to the number of personal bankruptcies, to marital instability, to the loss of jobs, and to invasions of individual privacy.
(b) Existing laws and procedures for redressing these injuries are inadequate to protect consumers.
(c) Means other than misrepresentation or other abusive debt collection practices are available for the effective collection of debts.
(d) Abusive debt collection practices are carried on to a substantial extent in interstate commerce and through means and instrumentalities of such commerce. Even where abusive debt collection practices are purely intrastate in character, they nevertheless directly affect interstate commerce.
(e) It is the purpose of this subchapter to eliminate abusive debt collection practices by debt collectors, to insure that those debt collectors refrain from using abusive debt collection practices are not competitively disadvantaged, and to promote consistent State action to protect consumers against debt collection abuses.
In the first finding, Congress makes it clear that debt collectors were using abusive, deceptive and unfair techniques to collect debt. They further recognized that abusive debt collection practices often led to very negative results to consumers. I can tell you from my experience as a bankruptcy lawyer that the abusive tactics of debt collectors are often the final straw that makes a consumer decide to call a bankruptcy lawyer. Previously, I limited my practice exclusively to representing consumers in bankruptcy cases. However, I would hear horror stories about the abuse my clients were receiving from debt collectors. They would tell me their story and they would almost always say “I just can’t take it anymore.” The only way I could help them would be to represent them in either a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The clients took some comfort in the fact that they were now being represented by an attorney and the knowledge that as soon as the bankruptcy was filed, the debt collectors would no longer be allowed to call and harass them. Although the bankruptcy was an effective way to stop the abusive phone calls for my client, it was not effective at all in preventing a debt collector from abusing the next consumer. I finally got tired of hearing the stories and realized that maybe bankruptcy wasn’t the only option. That’s when I decided to start representing consumers by filing cases under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
The FDCPA provides up to $1,000.00 in statutory damages, actual damages plus reasonable attorney fees and costs. In Florida we have a state statute which also protects consumers from abusive debt collectors called the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act. It is similar to the FDCPA and also provides up to $1,000.00 in statutory damages, actual damages, reasonable attorney fees and costs. However, the FCCPA also has a provision for punitive damages where the debt collector willfully violates that statute.
Both the Florida and Federal Statutes are powerful tools to combat unfair and abusive debt collection activity. Congress and the State Legislature recognized that the government was not equipped to properly police the collection industry. That is why they created these two statutes. They, in essence, have left the job of policing this industry to consumers. For many debt collectors, the only thing they understand is MONEY! Their unfair, deceptive and harassing tactics are intended to make the consumer give up and pay and the goal is to make as much money as possible. Many times, the collection violations are done intentionally because the debt collector knows that most consumers do not know their rights and that it is very unlikely that they will be sued for the violation. If more consumers would exercise their rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and make the debt collectors PAY for violating the law, the number of violations may be reduced. The goal of the consumer who is harassed by a debt collector should not be to get as much money as they can out of the law suit for their own benefit. The goal should actually be to make the debt collector pay as much money as possible to, hopefully, make the collector think before harassing the next consumer they attempt to collect from. That is why if you have been the victim of abusive, harassing or unfair debt collection tactics, you should call an attorney who can help you bring a suit under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Make Sure You Get Credit for your Bankruptcy Discharge!
When you file bankruptcy you should expect to receive a discharge and a fresh financial start. In a perfect world your credit reports would be properly updated to show that your debts have been discharged. That is important if you wish to reestablish your credit following the bankruptcy. Unfortunately many creditors do not contact the credit bureaus to provide them with the updated status of the discharged debts. If your creditors fail to properly update your credit reports following your bankruptcy, you will probably not be able to get a loan for a house, car or maybe even new credit cards. Most people don't know their credit reports have not been updated until they are denied credit following their bankruptcy discharge.