Key Differences Between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

October 20, 2017 Posted by kingcade

There are two main bankruptcy options available to people who are drowning in consumer debt, Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Choosing the right one is critical for success in wiping away your debts. Below is a guide that shares the basic attributes of both options to help you decide which option will work best for you.

Chapter 7 is a form of liquidation. This means the debtor’s assets are allocated among each of the creditors. In most Chapter 7 cases, debtors do not have assets above the legal threshold, which is set by state law and therefore they do not have to give up anything. The average Chapter 7 bankruptcy case lasts approximately three and a half months from filing to discharge. Approximately 96 percent of debtors who file under Chapter 7 receive a discharge of their debts.

When a debt is discharged, it is no longer legally owed. Unsecured debts such as credit cards and medical bills are typically dischargeable, with the exception of student loans. Secured debts such as mortgages or car loans are typically either relinquished or kept by continuing payments.

Chapter 13 is a form of a repayment plan. The debtor’s obligations are combined in one, regular payment calibrated to the debtor’s income. However, certain obligations such as utility bills might be paid outside the plan.

Chapter 13 plans can last anywhere from three to five years, but most are five-year plans. Approximately 41 percent of debtors who filed under Chapter 13 received a discharge of their debts and another 10 percent first tiled under Chapter 13 and later converted to Chapter 7 and received a discharge that way.

Click here to read more on this story.

If you have any questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

What is Considered Harassment by a Debt Collector?

October 19, 2017 Posted by kingcade

According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), debt collectors cannot harass, oppress or abuse consumers or anyone else they contact. Harassment by a debt collector can come in different forms.

Here are some examples of harassment:

  • Repetitious phone calls that are intended to annoy, abuse or harass you or any person answering the phone
  • The use of obscene or profane language
  • Threats or violence or harm
  • Publishing lists of people who refuse to pay their debts
  • Calling you without telling you who they are
  • Threats of arrest
  • Calling you before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m.

If you have been harassed by a debt collector, you can sue for violations of the FDCPA. If you sue and win, the debt collector must pay your attorney’s fees and may also have to pay damages.

Debt collectors are also prohibited from using false, deceptive or misleading practices including misrepresentations about the debt.

Here are some examples of misrepresentations of debt:

  • The amount owed
  • That the person is an attorney if they are not
  • False threats to have you arrested
  • Threats to do things that cannot legally be done
  • Threats to do things that the debt collector has no intention of doing

If you have any questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Related Resources:

https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ask-cfpb/what-is-harassment-by-a-debt-collector-en-336/

http://timothykingcade.com/?p=6622

What you Need To Know Before Cosigning a Loan

October 18, 2017 Posted by kingcade

Co-signing a loan puts more than your name on the line.  It is an all too common practice that gives you the opportunity to help another person, usually a loved one.  But it is important to remember that when you co-sign a loan, you essentially agree to repay the loan yourself. For example, you might co-sign for a car you never drive, a house you never live in or even a student loan for someone else’s college education.  Nearly 40 percent of cosigners found themselves paying some or all of a loan when the primary borrower they co-signed for was unable to make the payments, according to a survey conducted by creditcards.com.

Here are some important facts you should know before you co-sign a loan:

  • The effect it will have on your credit report. Once you cosign a loan, the debt appears on both of your credit reports.  This means, the loan can help both the primary borrower and the co-signer build a positive credit history if payments are made on time.  It can have the opposite effect if the primary borrower begins to miss payments.  These late or missing payments will land on your credit report and remain there for several years.  You can even end up paying late fees and have your wages garnished as a co-signer.  This may also limit your ability to borrow in the future.
  • You will be treated the same as the primary borrower. As a cosigner, the lender will expect you to pay the loan just as the primary borrower agreed to and will come after you for the payments.  Typically, lenders will target the person with the better potential to pay.
  • A warning about private student loans. These type loans are particularly difficult for the co-signer to escape.  Unlike federal student loans, private student lenders frequently require a cosigner since student borrowers are often young and without credit history or income.  Approximately 90% of borrowers who request cosigner release are rejected, according to a report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Here are some tips for managing your risk as a co-signer:

  • Know the borrower. And know them well.  Know their credit history and ability to repay the loan.
  • Review your budget carefully. If the primary borrower defaults on the loan, can your budget handle the added strain of another monthly payment?
  • Get copies of everything. In addition to the loan signing documents, request to have duplicate statements sent to you as well so you can keep track of the loan and confirm the primary borrower is not falling behind on any payments.
  • Get out as fast as you can. Have the primary borrower agree to refinance the loan under his or her name at some point in the future, as soon as their credit history and finances are better established.

Click here to read more on this story.

If you have any questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com

Steps to Take if You Are Facing a Medical Debt Lawsuit

October 17, 2017 Posted by kingcade

If you have been sued by a debt collector or medical service provider, you know how stressful it can be.  According to the National Consumer Law Center, half of the collection items on consumers’ credit reports are from medical debt.  You may be tempted to ignore a medical debt lawsuit and hope it goes away.  But this is one of the worst things you can do, because the debt collector will automatically win by default.

Here are some steps you can take if you are facing a medical debt lawsuit:

  • Confirm the debt. You cannot properly address the lawsuit if you do not understand where the debt came from. Look back at all past medical bills and find the date of service and itemized list of services rendered. Mistakes can happen, so make sure and confirm all details are accurate.
  • Seek advice. Consumers sometimes make the mistake of representing themselves in these type cases.  Hiring an attorney to advise you is a wise move and does not have to cost a lot.  Many lawyers provide a free consultation before taking you on as client.  During this consultation, they will advise you on the best course of action for your particular situation.
  • Prepare for court. You must first prepare an answer to the lawsuit, including any defenses and countersuits. This will involve filing paperwork, mailing paperwork and showing up on the initial court date.
  • Understand wage garnishment. If you are found liable for the debt or you fail to answer the lawsuit, the judge will rule against you and the court may issue an order allowing the debt collector to garnish your wages. By federal law, they cannot leave you with less than 75% of your income or $217.50 per week — whichever is greater. Medical debt collectors are able to garnish your wages, but they cannot garnish Social Security benefits, disability insurance payments, unemployment insurance payments, VA benefits, pension distributions, child support payments, or public assistance benefits.
  • Watch out for balance billing. This happens when your hospital or medical provider bills you instead of (or in addition to) Medicaid or Medicare. This is a forbidden practice and you are not responsible for any amounts due when this happens. You can prove if you were a victim of balance billing by requesting an “Explanation of Benefits” from your insurer that states the amount they covered and the amount you still owe.
  • Stop lawsuits before they happen. Make sure the hospital did not make an error that resulted in a larger bill.  Have your bill examined by a medical bill advocate, who is familiar with medical billing and coding and request they review the charges.  You can start your search with the National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants.  Debt collectors, hospitals, and other medical providers do not want to take you to court.  It costs them money, too and the odds of getting the full amount owed is slim.  They are almost always willing to work with you before filing a lawsuit.  Try to negotiate and apply for financial assistance.  You can also set up zero-interest payment plans directly with your healthcare provider.  Most importantly, keep the lines of communication open.
  • Consider bankruptcy as an option. At any point in the process, you can choose to file for bankruptcy, which can completely discharge your medical debt. There are two types of bankruptcy: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.  Chapter 7 bankruptcy is often considered the most straightforward kind of bankruptcy and allows consumers to gain a financial fresh start.  This requires you sell off your assets to discharge your debts. Despite what many people believe, it does not automatically mean you will lose your home, your car or your retirement savings.  If you file for Chapter 13, you do not have to sell off any assets, but the debt will not disappear.   Instead, you will be put on a 3-5 year payment plan in order to settle.

Those who have experienced illness or injury and found themselves overwhelmed with medical debt should contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney. In bankruptcy, medical bills are considered general unsecured debts just like credit cards. This means that medical bills do not receive priority treatment and can easily be discharged in bankruptcy. Bankruptcy laws were created to help people resolve overwhelming debt and gain a fresh financial start. Bankruptcy attorney Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Related Resources:

http://www.wftv.com/consumer/clark-howard/clark-your-life/before-you-respond-to-a-medical-debt-lawsuit-take-these-10-steps/616709645

FTC and 11 States Announce “Operation Game of Loans” Targeting Deceptive Student Loan Debt Relief Scams

October 16, 2017 Posted by kingcade

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and 11 states have announced a first of its kind federal-state law enforcement initiative that targets deceptive student loan debt relief scams. The nationwide crackdown includes 36 actions by the FTC and state attorneys general against scammers who allegedly took more than $95 million in illegal upfront fees from struggling student loan borrowers over the years.

It is alleged in these actions that the defendants charged consumers illegal upfront fees, falsely promised to help reduce or forgive student loan debt and pretended to be affiliated with the government or loan servicers, a violation of the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule and the FTC Act.

Operation Game of Loans also includes law enforcement actions by Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, and the District of Columbia.  Here is a recent case filed in Florida:

Student Debt Doctor (SDD): In an action filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, the FTC charged that Fort Lauderdale-based SDD and its owner, Gary Brent White, Jr., collected at least $7 million from consumers struggling to pay student loan debt. According to the complaint, the defendants charged illegal upfront fees of $750 or more. Using social media, e-mail, and telemarketing, SDD promoted its services across the United States, in English and Spanish. SDD falsely promised loan forgiveness often in as little as five years or less, and told consumers not to communicate with their loan servicers. The defendants also fabricated income, unemployment status, and family size information on relief applications in order to qualify borrowers for eliminated or reduced monthly payments. The court entered a temporary restraining order (TROon October 3, 2017.

Click here to learn more about the five new cases filed against 30 defendants as part of Operation Game of Loans.

For borrowers who are struggling with student loan debt, relief options are available. Many student loan borrowers are unaware that they have rights and repayment options available to them, such as postponement of loan payments, reduction of payments or even a complete discharge of the debt. It is important you contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.