Ads Promote Fake ‘Obama Student Loan Forgiveness’

August 23, 2016 Posted by kingcade

If you have student loan debt, you have probably already seen the advertisements online promoting “Obama’s New Loan Forgiveness Program.”  Companies are charging borrowers upfront fees for services they can receive for free from the Department of Education.

Nine percent of student loan borrowers have used debt-relief companies, according to a recent survey by borrower advocacy group Student Debt Crisis and personal finance website NerdWallet. These consumers paid an average of $613 for income-based repayment plans and loan consolidation that they could have received at no cost from the federal government, the survey found. Sixty-five percent said the services did not improve their financial situation.

The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau has shut down three companies and the Department of Education has sent cease-and-desist letters to five just this year.

The Obama administration did expand repayment options for federal student-loan borrowers. In 2012, the Department of Education offered the “Pay-as-you-Earn” plan that reduced monthly payments to 10 percent of a borrower’s discretionary income, which was lower than the 15 percent required under the original income-based repayment plan.

Last year, an update was made to the plan, giving more than 1.6 borrowers more affordable student loan repayment options entitled, “The Revised Pay-as-you-Earn” plan. The percentage of borrowers enrolled in income-based repayment plans has quadrupled over the past four years from 5 percent in 2012 to nearly 20 percent in 2016.

The Department of Education offers four income-based repayment options for federal student loans. To enroll in any one of these plans, borrowers must complete an application from their loan servicer or online at StudentLoans.gov to verify their income.

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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.

 

Florida Attorney General Filed Court Action to Stop Foreclosure Fraud

August 22, 2016 Posted by kingcade

A court action has been filed to stop foreclosure fraud.  Attorney General Pam Bondi filed the action to stop a group of non-lawyers from operating an illegitimate foreclosure defense and loan modification law firm.

“Florida homeowners facing the stress of foreclosure should not have to worry about scammers posing as lawyers and making false promises of relief to get what little money the homeowners may have. Thanks to the great work and dedication of my Consumer Protection Division, we will continue to fight foreclosure rescue fraud and protect homeowners,” said Attorney General Bondi.

The attorney general’s office alleges three men- Adam Forman, Joseph Hilton (a.k.a – Joseph Starr), and Victor Spagnuolo operated eight firms that were used to scam homeowners into paying large upfront fees for legal services.  Another problem, not one of them was an attorney.

The named firms are Asset Protection Law Firm, Heritage Law Group, Liberty Law Group, Consumer Legal Resources, Consumer Legal Advocates, Legal Referral Services, Galler Lehman Law and Selective Housing Solutions.

According to the office, the men also face possible criminal charges for the unlicensed practice of law from the Coral Springs Police Department, Boca Raton Police Department, the Broward County State Attorney’s Office and the United States Secret Service.

There were 37 complaints received from consumers about the defendants’ “deceptive and unfair practices.” Some of the allegations included misleading representations regarding the law firms’ expert legal services, charging unlawful up-front fees prior to the services being completed, failing to protect the consumers’ homes from foreclosure and failing to obtain loan modifications as promised.

Full restitution is being demanded for consumers who have been affected by the crime.  The complaint also seeks an injunction that will prevent the defendants from engaging in future loan modification, foreclosure defense and legal services.

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Choosing the right attorney can make the difference between whether or not you can keep your home. A well-qualified Miami foreclosure defense attorney will not only help you keep your home, but they will be able to negotiate a loan that has payments you can afford. Miami foreclosure defense attorney Timothy Kingcade has helped many facing foreclosure alleviate their stress by letting them stay in their homes for at least another year, allowing them to re-organize their lives. If you have any questions on the topic of foreclosure please feel free to contact me at (305) 285-9100. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

The Medical Debt Crisis: Americans still struggling to pay off Massive Healthcare bills

August 19, 2016 Posted by kingcade

Recent data shows that Americans are forgoing medical care and using extreme measures in an effort to pay off their medical debt. Although, the Affordable Care Act is helping reduce the burden of medical debt for some American consumers- for states that have not expanded Medicaid, millions of Americans still lack insurance and many of the affordable plans offer minimal coverage. The result is that in 2014, 64 million people were struggling with medical debt, the number one cause of bankruptcy in the United States.

Two surveys (in 2008 and 2012) explored the finances of lower to middle-income households carrying credit card debt. It was found that households carrying medical debt on their credit cards were more likely to take extreme measures to pay off their debts and forgo necessary medical treatment. Even for the insured, medical debt can negatively impact household finances.

In the 2008 and 2012 surveys, the average total credit card debt fell from $11,019 in 2008 to $8,762 in 2012, a 20 percent decline. Medical debt alone fell from $2,055 in 2008 to $1,679 in 2012, an 18 percent decline. A possible reason for the decline could be the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act (CARD Act). Studies show that the CARD Act dramatically reduced fees for credit card users. Research by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau suggests the CARD act reduced hidden fees, saving consumers billions of dollars. It is also possible the Affordable Care Act played a role along with the improving economy.

Costly medical procedures can quickly lead to a household’s debt spiraling out of control. A key contributor is the out-of-pocket costs, not covered by insurance. The survey revealed dental expenses were the most frequently cited as a contributor to credit card debt; of those respondents who report they experienced a dental expense, a large share said that the expense contributed to their credit card debt. Many basic insurance plans do not include dental.  Emergency room visits and purchasing prescription medication contributed to nearly half of the reported credit card debt.

There are some legislative options in the works. The Medical Bankruptcy Fairness Act, proposed by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), would help families dealing with medical debt keep their homes by providing them with bankruptcy protection, and would forgive student debt. It also waives the requirement that individuals who file for debt relief receive credit counseling, if the debt is medical-related. The Medical Debt Responsibility Act, introduced by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), would require that fully paid medical debt be removed from credit reports within 45 days.

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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, 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.

Unauthorized Practice of Law by National Bankruptcy Law Firm

August 18, 2016 Posted by kingcade

A woman filed a Chapter 13 petition signed by attorney Joseph Kosko, a former partner in the law firm of Volks Anwalt, who solicited her via direct mail. After the law firm missed numerous deadlines, the bankruptcy court held a contempt hearing regarding the representation by Kosko, Volks Anwalt, and its sole owner and managing partner, Jessica McClean.

The court issued a Notice of Deficient Filing on November 9, 2015 because the Debtor’s petition was a “bare bones” filing and did not contain all of the required schedules, statements, summaries, declarations, and local forms.  Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure (“Bankruptcy Rule” or “Rule”) 1007(c) requires any missing documents to be filed within 14 days of the filing of the petition or, in this case, by Friday, November 20, 2015.

The bankruptcy court found that Volks Anwalt’s business plan developed by McClean included a marketing strategy that used direct mailings targeting individuals subject to foreclosure. In the specific case, Kosko and Volks Anwalt not only failed to file the bankruptcy in time to save the woman’s home, but also failed to include her Social Security number in pleadings, did not provide her with the proper disclosures required by 11 U.S.C. §§ 342 and 527, nor intended to appear at her §341 Meeting of Creditors.

Volks Anwalt operates in 43 states.  As of February 2016, the firm had handled approximately 400 bankruptcy cases since it opened in May 2015. The bankruptcy court found that Kosko violated the North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct in terms of competence, diligence and failure to communicate with the client. In addition, Kosko, McClean and Volks Anwalt had engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, as McClean is only licensed in Florida and New York.

In the end, the court disbarred Kosko from practicing in bankruptcy court for one year, McClean for five years, and ordered all fees be emitted. Kosko and Volks Anwalt must pay the client $5,000.00.

To read the opinion in its entirety, click here.

If you 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, 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://ncbankruptcyexpert.com/2016/08/17/bankr-w-d-n-c-in-re-banner-unauthorized-practice-of-law-by-national-bankruptcy-law-firm/

 

How the Presidential Candidates will Address Student Loan Debt

August 17, 2016 Posted by kingcade

Student loan debt has topped $1.3 trillion and impacts approximately 43 million Americans, prompting a variety of efforts to help struggling students pay for college. It is also a very hot topic politically, with both presidential candidates expressing concerns about the federal government profiting off these loans.  While some attribute the decline of state funding to driving up education costs, the presidential campaign has emphasized what Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has called “the crushing burden of debt.”

Hillary Clinton’s Plan

One of the provisions in Mrs. Clinton’s plan to provide tuition-free education at public colleges and universities for students whose families make under $125,000 a year has sparked the most debate. But when she originally rejected Democratic rival Bernie Sanders’ more expansive plan, it invoked a long-running argument about who should shoulder the costs.

“I disagree with free college for everybody. I don’t think taxpayers should be paying to send Donald Trump’s kids to college,” she said at a Democratic debate in November 2015.

But some researchers have argued that certain provisions in Clinton’s plan will not have as much impact on how students pay for college as she claims. One example is her platform’s promise to “significantly cut interest rates so the government never profits from college student loans.”

Donald Trump’s Plan

Mr. Trump’s plan would give more oversight to colleges to decide whether to grant loans to a student based on their prospective major and future earnings.

“If you are going to study 16th-century French art, more power to you. I support the arts,” said Dr. Clovis, a professor at a professor at Morningside College in Iowa, who now serves as the campaign’s policy director. “But you are not going to get a job.”

Some researchers say these efforts defeat the purpose of providing government aid for students hoping to attend college in the first place, putting lenders in the positions of picking “winners and losers,” and determining destinies for young people who, like all of us, deserve a shot at the American dream. The campaign’s plan would also give private banks oversight over government-backed student loans, reversing a 2010 decision under President Obama to make the federal government the lender.

There is a substantial racial gap in who holds student loan debt. Some 54 percent of young African-American households (aged 25 to 40) have student debt, compared to 39 percent of young white households, according to a recent study.

Some advocacy groups have pushed for more transparency in how the Education Department collects debts from borrowers. In March, the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Consumer Law Center sued the department, in an attempt to learn more about how debt collection practices could impact borrowers of color.

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.