Category: ‘Credit’

Pompano Beach “Debt Relief” Companies Scammed Victims out of $70 Million

August 7, 2017 Posted by kingcade

A debt relief scheme headquarted in Pompano Beach has scammed nearly 15,000 people across the country, according the Florida Attorney General’s Office and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

A civil complaint filed in federal court in Fort Lauderdale alleged that telemarketers at several of the companies managed from the Pompano Beach office building offered to pay off personal debts for customers, settle or obtain dismissals for these obligations and loan consolidation- all while improving their credit scores.

The defendants in the case were Jeremy Lee Marcus, who was described by the receiver as the CEO and an owner of the group of companies in the debt relief operation; Craig Davis Smith, the COO and also an owner; and Yisbet Segrea, an executive who ran the office in Panama, plus dozens of corporate defendants. These included 321Loans Inc., Financial Freedom National Inc., Helping America Group, Marine Career Institute Sea Frontiers Inc., Instahelp America Inc. and Breeze Financial Solutions.

Customers were convinced to pay a few hundred to more than a thousand dollars per month to the “so-called” debt-relief companies and their operators who orchestrated the scheme.

After numerous customer complaints, it was discovered that in most cases no payments were ever made towards the customers' debts. Customers ended up becoming victims.  As a result of the scam they incurred even more debt.  Some customers were sued by their old creditors or were forced into bankruptcy.

The scheme used Internet advertising and websites, direct mail and unsolicited phone calls to market itself. The company bought presumably legitimate debt-relief firms and used their clients’ names as well as personal and financial information.

Here is how the scam worked:

  • Companies in the scam used ads on their website and sent out personal letters to the victims’ home addresses. These companies would go so far as to falsely identify themselves as nonprofits, offering low-interest loans so a consumer could combine all debts and make one payment at a lower interest rate;
  • Consumers would have to agree to have their bank accounts debited immediately for their first loan “repayment” or for a processing fee. Then monthly “repayments” were automatically taken from their accounts, ranging from $200 to over $1,000;
  • Few or no payments were ever made to creditors;
  • When consumers were told by original creditors that none of their bills had been paid, dismissed or settled, the scammers strung them along with false explanations, such as more time was needed to validate the consumers’ debts or to confirm payoff amounts. Clients who called to complain were given excuses and treated poorly.  The only contact number available was disconnected.

Click here to read more on the scam.

The following website (www.321loansreceivership.com) has been set up to inform victims and the public about developments in the receivership process.

If you have any questions on this topic or are in a 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.

Debt Questions you may be Afraid to Ask

August 4, 2017 Posted by kingcade

Talking about debt can bring up all sorts of emotions, leaving some to worry in silence about their own debt or a family member’s finances.  Here some answers to some of the most common questions about debt.

Can I inherit my spouse’s or family member’s debt after they die?  This depends on the debt. The assets left behind after a death typically go towards paying off that individual’s debt.  After that runs out, the creditor typically suffers the loss.  Co-signers when it comes to student loans, mortgage debts and joint credit cards will likely be on the hook for any remaining balance.  Know the dangers co-signing a loan and make sure and carry enough life insurance to cover all of your debts.

Is there a limit to the amount of debt I can take on?  The answer is no, but it depends largely on the type of debt.  Lenders sometimes offer you more credit than you can pay back.  Think of a loan you would take out to start a new business or taking out a mortgage to purchase a new home.  Even if you qualify for the loan, be realistic about what you can afford to repay.

Can I be arrested for outstanding debt?  The answer is no.  The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) bars debt collectors from harassing and threatening you with arrest or jail.  However, they can sue you for payment.  Know your rights when dealing with debt collectors and consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney before receiving a court summons or being sued by a creditor.

If I file for bankruptcy, will ALL of my debt be erased?  Alimony and child support obligations cannot be erased in bankruptcy.  Student loans, certain tax debts and judgments against you can be difficult to get discharged as well.

Click here to read more on this story.

If you have any questions on this topic or are in a 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.

Rebuilding Your Credit After Bankruptcy

August 3, 2017 Posted by kingcade

Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows you to get a fresh start financially and erase past debts, but a legitimate concern consumers have is the effects it will have on their credit score and their ability to take out credit again.

One of the biggest misconceptions about filing for bankruptcy is that it will ruin your credit score and your financial future.  To the contrary, after filing for bankruptcy you can begin restoring your credit right away.

Here are some steps you can take to begin rebuilding your credit after filing for bankruptcy:

Create a budget.  This will help you stay on top of your finances and is something you should have gone over in the “pre-discharge” credit counseling.

Build an emergency fund.  Research shows that having as little as $250 saved up for an unexpected expense can protect families from having to resort to pay day loans and credit cards.

Plan your post-bankruptcy credit strategy.  Assess your situation by first checking your credit score.  Dispute any inaccurate information on your credit report and have this corrected immediately.  Remember, a Chapter 7 filing will wipe out your debts, but it does not wipe your credit reports clean.  Make sure and double check all three reports.

Here are some ways to access to new credit while rebuilding your score.

Secured loans are typically offered by credit unions or community banks.  One type of secured loan involves borrowing against money you already have on deposit.   The other type can be made without upfront cash.  Instead, this money is loaned to you and is placed in a savings account and released to you only after you have made the necessary payments.  In return, the financial institution agrees to send a report to the credit bureaus.

A secured credit card is backed by the deposit you make and the credit limit is typically the amount you have on deposit.  This can help repair your credit while you wait to become eligible for an unsecured card.

A co-signed credit card can improve your score, but it is definitely a big ask. Essentially, this individual (the co-signer) is risking his or her own credit history for you and will be on the hook if the full amount is not paid on the card.

If asking to co-sign is too much, an authorized user status will work.  Basically, you are an authorized user on that person’s credit card.  Just make sure the credit card will report the payment activity by authorized users to the credit bureaus, otherwise it will have no effect on your score.

A lighter debt burden automatically makes you more desirable to lenders, so be vigilant about paying on time.  Keep your credit card balances relatively low compared to the card’s limit.  For example, less than 30% is typically advised while using just 10% of the available credit is even better.

Still not convinced?  A testimonial from one of our clients in regards to their credit score after filing for bankruptcy.

My credit score said on all three reports 775, I couldn’t believe that I had such a great score before 10 years. Tim for me was the best move I have made for my situation. I have no regrets, I am glad the past is the past. – Bill T.

If you have any questions on this topic or are in a 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:

https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/finance/rebuild-credit-after-bankruptcy/

Changes to Healthcare could lead to More Bankruptcies

August 1, 2017 Posted by kingcade

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, personal bankruptcy filings dropped about 50 percent, from 1,536,799 in 2010 to 770,846 in 2016.  Studies have shown medical debt as the leading cause of personal bankruptcy filings.  As legislators and the executive branch renew their efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, there is concern about what that will do to coverage and premiums.

A study conducted by the American Medical Association in 2007 found that 67% of those who filed for bankruptcy cited medical debt as a major factor.  For middle class homeowners, the issue of medical coverage was even more influential, with half of all foreclosures caused in part by medical debt. The uncertainty about the fate of healthcare coverage for many Americans may cause the number of bankruptcies and foreclosures to increase in the coming years.

The current healthcare bill that is being debated may result in 22 million to 32 million Americans losing a portion of their current healthcare benefits.

Click here to read more on this story.

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.

Related Resources:

https://www.consumerreports.org/personal-bankruptcy/how-the-aca-drove-down-personal-bankruptcy/

Student loan debt has grown 250% in the last 10 years

July 31, 2017 Posted by kingcade

Student loan debt has skyrocketed, as much as 250 percent across the U.S., according to a new report.  This puts total student loan debt at $1.4 trillion.  Between 2004 and 2014, the U.S. saw an almost 90 percent increase in the number of student loan borrowers, and a nearly 80 percent increase in average balance size.  The average amount of debt per borrower is now $26,700.  Value Penguin, the consumer spending site that published the report ranked the states where the average amount of student debt is the highest.

  1. New Hampshire

Number of graduates with debt: 76 percent
Average debt: $36,101

  1. Pennsylvania

Number of graduates with debt: 71 percent
Average debt: $34,798

  1. Connecticut

Number of graduates with debt: 64 percent
Average debt: $34,773

  1. Delaware

Number of graduates with debt: 65 percent
Average debt: $33,849

  1. Rhode Island

Number of graduates with debt: 64 percent
Average debt: $32,920

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.