Debt Collection Dispute Headed to the Supreme Court

January 18, 2017 Posted by kingcade

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether firms collecting on a debt they bought for pennies on the dollar can be held liable in lawsuits brought by consumers.  The justices agreed to review a lower court’s decision to dismiss a consumer class action lawsuit against Santander Consumer USA Holdings Inc. over allegations it violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act– a debt collection law enacted in 1977 that prohibits collectors from using abusive, unfair or deceptive practices to collect a debt.

The current case hinges on the definition of “creditor” and “debt collector” and whether a company that purchases debt should be treated as a creditor and therefore not subject to the law.

The case (Ricky Henson et al v. Santander Consumer USA, Inc et al, in the Supreme Court of the United States, No. 16-349) involves four Maryland residents who defaulted on their auto loans, and filed a proposed class action lawsuit against Santander in 2012 in federal court alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, such as misrepresenting the debt amount and bypassing debtors’ attorneys.

The debts had been sold to Santander, a Dallas-based vehicle-financing and lending company owned in part by a subsidiary of Banco Santander.  Santander then tried to collect on the loans.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia threw out the lawsuit last March, saying the law applied only to debt collectors, and Santander became a creditor when it purchased the loans.

The Maryland residents told the Supreme Court the 4th Circuit’s reasoning would “hamper both government and private efforts to combat abusive debt-collection practices.” The appeal to the Supreme Court comes as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is considering proposals to toughen regulation of the industry.

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If you are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, 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, 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 website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

 

When Debt Collectors Call Know your Rights

January 17, 2017 Posted by kingcade

When a debt collector calls, it’s important to know your rights.  In July, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau required debt collectors to do their “due diligence” to help ensure they are collecting on legitimate debt and put a cap on their weekly attempts to reach a consumer.  The bureau also increased enforcement, bringing more than 25 cases on debt-collection tactics that deceive or abuse consumers.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that protects consumers against unfair collection practices, including:

  • Calling you repeatedly to annoy or harass you;
  • Trying to collect more than you owe;
  • Failing to send a written notice of the debt;
  • Threatening violence, using profanity or offensive language;
  • Threatening dire consequences (i.e. – lawsuits, criminal prosecution, wage garnishment, jail time, permanently ruining your credit);
  • Calling you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.;
  • Revealing debt to third parties (i.e. – family, neighbors, friends, co-workers, etc.);
  • Contacting you at your work, after you have requested them to stop;
  • Failing to verify disputed debts;
  • Ignoring cease communication requests.

It is important that consumers verify everything when it comes to a debt they may (or may not) owe.  In a recent CFPB survey, half of Americans contacted about a debt in the past year said they were given inaccurate information about what they owed. Debt collectors are legally required to follow up their phone call with a written notice detailing the debt.

Understand that just because someone is calling to collect a debt, does not mean you should pay it right away.  It is always important to verify.  The collection attempt could be for a so-called zombie debt that is past the statute of limitation or a debt collection scam.

If you do in fact owe the debt, make sure and take notes. Write down every name and employee number you speak with, including the agency, the number they called, the time of the call, etc. Take notes on what was said.  This detailed record keeping can prove helpful if you need to file a complaint about the debt collector’s behavior in the future.

If you are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, 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, 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 website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Related Resources:

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/01/12/know-your-rights-when-a-debt-collector-calls.html

 

More Consumers Report Debt Collectors are Denying Requests for them to STOP Calling

January 16, 2017 Posted by kingcade

A shocking three out of four consumers reported that debt collectors ignored their requests to stop calling, according to a recent survey by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  The survey also revealed that consumers felt threatened by debt collectors, were contacted late at night and early in the morning and the debt collectors oftentimes used false information- all violations of The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

The survey examined a sample of consumers drawn from credit-reporting records about their experiences with debt collectors. More than 1 in 4 consumers contacted by a creditor or debt collector felt threatened, 3 out of 4 consumers who asked collectors to stop contacting them said they refused to do so. More than a third said debt collectors called between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m., according to the survey.

In addition, more than half reported a mistake in the debt, such as an incorrect amount, a debt not owed or a debt owed by a family member.  The frequency of calls was also excessive- 17% said they received eight or more calls in a single week.

Consumers are protected from these predatory and unfair practices by The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act– but only if they exercise their rights.  The law’s consumer protections include:

Communication: Consumers can tell debt collectors how and when to contact them- including telling them to stop contacting them entirely.

Harassment and abuse: Debt collectors cannot use abusive language, threaten violence or repeatedly call and harass them.

Truthfulness: Debt collectors must be honest about the amount of the debt, whether it is past the statute of limitations for lawsuits and cannot misrepresent themselves.

Debt validation: Consumers must receive a validation letter within five days of the first contact with information about the amount owed, the original creditor seeking payment and their rights on disputing the debt.

Click here to read more on this story.

If you are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, 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, 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 website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Related Resources: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-cfpb-debt-collectors-20170115-story.html

The Student Loan Crisis Facing Older Americans

January 13, 2017 Posted by kingcade

When we think of those struggling with student loan debt, we typically think of millenials still living with their parents.  However, many boomer parents are struggling, too.  According to a report from the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), older Americans are carrying an “unprecedented amount of student loan debt into retirement.”

In 2015, older consumers owed an estimated $66.7 billion in student loan debt.  Nearly 867,000 borrowers 65 and older owed federal student loans in 2015, now the fastest growing segment of student loan borrowers.

With these new findings, it seems the education debt crisis and retirement are closely tied.  A growing number of older borrowers are struggling to make their loan payments, oftentimes due to reduced incomes in retirement.

A growing number of federal student loan borrowers age 65+ had their Social Security benefits reduced or offset because of unpaid student loans – 8,700 in 2005 and 40,000 in 2015.   The vast majority of the older borrowers, approximately 73%, took out student loans to finance their children’s or grandchildren’s education.  Many of these loans were taken out under the Parent PLUS Loan Program, with a current interest rate of 6.31%, the only federal program that allows parents to borrow for the undergraduate education of their children.

Here are some tips for older borrowers struggling with student loan debt:

If you have co-signed your child or grandchild’s student loan, request the servicer send you an account statement so you can learn the outstanding balance and pay off the loan.

If you are struggling to make federal student loan payments, you may qualify for a payment plan that can substantially cut your costs.  For example, if you retire and your income drops substantially, you can apply for an income-based repayment plan.  This could reduce your payments and even suspend them.

Click here to read more on this story.

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, 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 website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Medical Debt Collection Firms Ordered to Pay $577K for Threatening Consumers

January 12, 2017 Posted by kingcade

Two medical debt collection firms must refund hundreds of thousands of dollars after they were caught falsely claiming there were attorneys involved in the collection actions. Two Oklahoma-based law firms, both named Works and Lentz, misled consumers by exaggerating the extent to which actual “lawyers” were involved in the collection attempts.

The companies involved in the case attempt to make collections on 700,000 accounts annually, collecting medical debt on behalf of hospitals, doctors, and other healthcare providers.  From January 2012 to August 2016, every letter sent to the alleged debtors was printed on the firm’s letterhead, giving the impression that a legal action was pending.

Approximately one month after the letter was sent out; Works and Lentz assigned the account to a manager who contacted the debtor, representing themselves as a law firm.

In addition, when consumers called the firm back, they were greeted with a message stating, “You have reached Works & Lentz, Attorneys at Law.”  The letters sent out to consumers ended with a computerized signature of an individual attorney with the title, “Attorney at Law.”   The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau alleges that in most cases there was never an attorney who reviewed the collection accounts.

As specified in The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, it is illegal for firms to use false, deceptive or misleading representations or means to collect a debt, including using false implication that any individual is an attorney or that communications are from an attorney when they are not. This law was designed to protect consumers and help prevent creditor abuse and harassment.

In addition to misrepresenting that they are attorneys, the CFPB alleges that employees of Works and Lentz provided information to credit reporting agencies related to consumers’ debts without verifying the information was correct.

Click here to read more on this story.

If you are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, 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, 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 website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.