Category: ‘Bankruptcy Law’

Millennials Struggle to Keep up Financially with Previous Generations

May 22, 2018 Posted by kingcade

The financial crisis may have hit the ’80s generation the hardest. Americans who were born in the 1980s, otherwise known as “millennials,” are finding themselves struggling financially more than generations before them. Following the Great Recession, which began in 2007, individuals born in the ‘80s are at wealth levels which are 34 percent below where they would be had the financial crisis not occurred. Most millennials have to save longer to buy a home, struggle with student loan debt and rising home prices.

The generation known as “millennials” is categorized as being born between 1981 and 1996. According to a report issued by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, people in this generation are at risk of being termed “the lost generation.”

“Not only is their wealth shortfall in 2016 very large in percentage terms, but the typical 1980s family actually lost ground in relative terms between 2010 and 2016, a period of rapidly rising asset values that buoyed the wealth of all older cohorts,” the report says.

This can be attributed to a number of factors. One major setback this generation faced was entering the workforce as the financial crisis was beginning. In fact, this generation seems to have been hit the hardest for this very reason. Entering the workforce at the time of a recession put these young workers at an immediate disadvantage for earning an income, as well as saving money towards big purchases or retirement.

Once the recession passed and the economy began to improve, these individuals faced difficulty in recovering from the hard hit.

Millennials have been on the receiving end of a 67 percent increase in wages since 1970, but this increase in pay has not kept up with the rising costs of living, including rent, home prices, college tuition, costs for childcare, healthcare, and entertainment.

This generation also has to deal with large amounts of credit card debt, on top of six figure student loan debt. After graduating from college at a time when jobs are not as prevalent, these individuals have had to resort to credit to pay for these expenses.

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 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:

http://www.businessinsider.com/1980s-millennials-wealth-the-great-recession-2018-5

https://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2018/05/21/crisis-hits-1980s-generation/

Rent-A-Center Accused of Kicking in Doors and Crushing Customers’ Credit

May 21, 2018 Posted by kingcade

Rent-A-Center has recently made headlines due to its unethical treatment of customers and harassing debt collection practices.  In fact, it has gotten so out of hand that the complaints and harassment lawsuits have grown in numbers.

Rent-A-Center customers throughout the U.S. are now complaining that Rent-A-Center has virtually destroyed their finances after they have leased electronics, appliances and furniture from the company.

Rent-A-Center is a Texas-based publicly-traded company. The company started in 1986, offering consumers a way to purchase electronics and other household items that they would not be able to afford otherwise. The customers rent these items, making payments on a monthly, semi-monthly or even weekly basis. At any time during the lease, the customer can terminate the lease and return the household goods, or they can keep making payments until they own the items in full. The company’s mission aims to help those in lower-income households by allowing them to purchase items they would not otherwise be able to afford.

Once a customer begins to fall behind on his or her payments, that is where issues arise. Just one missed payment, missed by something as small as a day, can trigger aggressive collection efforts.

One federal lawsuit, brought by a Florida resident, claimed that she was forced to hide in a closet with her two young sons while a Rent-A-Center employee pounded on her door to collect payment on her rented household items. Another lawsuit claims that a Rent-A-Center worker kicked in her front door after she fell behind on payments for her laptop computer.

Even debt collectors are complaining about the practices of Rent-A-Center. In 2014, the collection company, Acceptance Now, took on accounts from Rent-A-Center, but as soon as debt collectors began making efforts to collect on the accounts, customers continually informed the agents that their debts had already paid. The problem was Rent-A-Center’s records did not reflect these payments.

Many states allow rent-to-own companies, like Rent-A-Center to file criminal charges against customers who do not pay on their rental agreements and do not return items when asked to do so. The collectors are well aware of this information, and Rent-A-Center regularly uses these threats to scare customers into making payments. It can make customers feel trapped in a no-win situation, not only fearing for their safety against aggressive collectors but fearing jail time if they are not able to make payments.

Between January 2016 and June 2017, the Federal Trade Commission received 2,779 complaints regarding both Rent-A-Center and Acceptance Now. Out of these complaints, 90 percent of them involve aggressive collection tactics, involving employees banging on customer’s houses and blasting car horns outside of homes.

Know your rights when it comes to creditor harassment. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was designed to help prevent creditor abuse and harassment.

Click here to read more on this story.

If you have 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.

10 Things Debt Settlement Companies Won’t Tell You

May 17, 2018 Posted by kingcade

When facing overwhelming debt, it can seem like there is no way out, the thought of a third-party debt settlement company coming in and negotiating down the debt can seem like a dream come true. While it can be tempting to jump at this offer, there are several important facts that debt settlement companies will not tell you.

It is important to first understand what makes a debt settlement company different from the normal credit counseling service. A debt settlement company assists in negotiating down the individual’s debt. To qualify, the individual must stop making payments on any debts. All of the late fees, interests and penalties will continue to grow during this time, and the debtor will make payments to an escrow account held by the debt settlement company. When a specified amount has been saved, the company contacts your creditors and tries to get them to accept a lower amount to settle the debt.

  1. If it seems too good to be true…

The consumer facing mounds of debt is able to settle the case for less than what he or she owed. In return, the debt-settlement company collects fees from the consumer for having to negotiate the debt. However, like many things that sound too good to be true, it is not always that easy. In fact, the consumer can end up in a much worse financial situation than they were in before. The debt settlement company, on the other hand, comes out earning fees on the payments made by the consumer. Many times, the consumer will never end up seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and will end up filing for bankruptcy anyway. In the meantime, he or she has been making payments in an escrow account, while accruing fees and costs accumulate.

  1. Debt settlement is not an easy process.

The individual has to basically stop paying his or her bills and let all debt go into delinquency or default. The money that would be going towards the debt goes towards the debt-settlement firm and into an escrow account. By stopping payments on current debts, the creditors are supposed to be fooled into believing they will never receive payment, which will make them desperate to take a lower settlement. However, until that happens, it does not mean the collections efforts will stop. The creditors will want to receive payment and will continue doing anything they can to receive it. The debt settlement firm cannot stop the calls from coming, and they cannot stop the collection efforts during all of this.

  1. Debt-Settlement Companies Cannot Ask for Upfront Fees

In 2010, the Federal Trade Commission made it illegal for for-profit debt-settlement companies to charge upfront fees. Firms are not allowed to collect fees from the consumer before they have settled the debts. If the company is settling debts one debt at a time, fees can be collected on that settled amount, but they are not allowed to ‘front-load’ fees.

  1. There are other alternatives to debt relief.

Other debt-relief options are out there. Credit counseling is available, and many non-profits offer education for consumers on how to get rid of debts. Debt management programs offered through non-profit credit counseling services are also available. Additionally, if all else fails, bankruptcy is an available option. It helps to sit down with a bankruptcy attorney to discuss the possible options, as well as the best ones for the specific debtor.

  1. Debt-Settlement Will Not Save Your Credit Score.

The fact that the consumer simply stops paying his or her credit cards, letting them go delinquent means that the individual’s credit is going to take a hit. Even missing a payment for 30 days means that the consumer’s credit score is going to get hit. Once that happens, it can be hard to get it back.

  1. The Consumer May Still End Up Filing for Bankruptcy.

When all is said and done, the debtor may end up back at the point where he or she would have ended up had he or she not sought debt-settlement.  The bankruptcy process provides some protections for debtors that debt-settlement does not. All collection efforts stop with the automatic stay, including the fees from accruing. Also, the Chapter 13 bankruptcy process allows a more structured way for the individual to pay back the debt.

  1. Not All Debt Will Be Settled.

It is possible that the debt-settlement company may not end up settling all of the debt. They normally deal with liabilities that are unsecured, like credit cards, medical bills and unsecured loans. Debts that have collateral attached to them, such as mortgages or car loans, can be a little more difficult. Creditors are not under an obligation to work with debt-settlement companies, which is why many debts end up not being successfully settled.

  1. Debt Settlement Lawyers Do Not Represent You.

Many debt-settlement firms will tell consumers that their attorney represents them in negotiations with the creditors. However, half the time that means the attorney is basically letting the debt-settlement company utilize their letterhead. Most of the time, the attorney on the letterhead will never truly represent the consumer, and consumers should never assume or rely on false promises that they are legally protected by representation.

  1. You don’t need them.

One big issue debt-settlement companies do not want you to know is that you can do this alone. Nothing prevents a consumer from negotiating a settlement directly with the creditor. Many consumers are actually successful in working with creditors on a mutually-beneficial solution, independent from third-party intervention.

  1. Prepare for Tax Consequences.

The Internal Revenue Service considers debts that are forgiven, cancelled or discharged to be taxable income. If a consumer is successful in reducing or paying off their debts through settlement, they may still owe taxes for the amount that has been written off. In fact, consumers will receive a 1099-C form for any debt that applies as income, and this will need to be reported as gross income for taxes. The only exception to this rule is for taxpayers who are insolvent, meaning they owe more than they own.

If you have 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.marketwatch.com/story/10-things-debt-settlement-companies-wont-tell-you-2016-07-19

 

Changes on the Horizon for Bankruptcy and Student Loan Debt

May 16, 2018 Posted by kingcade

In the past it has been nearly impossible to discharge student loans in bankruptcy. This issue has kept many individuals from filing for bankruptcy as they have seen it as not helping relieve them of the biggest debt they carry: student loan debt. That all could change after the U.S. Department of Education announced this year that it will be reviewing its policies and potentially changing the way student loan debt is treated in bankruptcy.

It is estimated that student loan borrowers in the U.S. owe a total of $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. According to the Brookings Institute, around 40 percent of these individuals will end up defaulting on their loans by the year 2023.

The current test for showing that student loan debt should be discharged bankruptcy is the undue hardship test. However, this standard is very subjective, and does not leave a definitive standard across the board of what amounts to undue hardship. Even Florida bankruptcy courts vary in their determination on what defines undue hardship.

The most commonly-used test is the “Brunner Test,” which requires the borrower to show that he or she cannot maintain a basic standard of living while making student loan payments. The borrower has to show that this undue hardship would last throughout the entire repayment period in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, and he or she will need to show that efforts have been made to try to repay federal loans.

The Department of Education is looking for ways to clearly define the undue hardship standard. According to Clare McCann, a deputy director of higher education policy at New America, it is likely the Department will broaden the definition.

The Chair of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, recently testified before Congress that the student debt crisis has the possibility of seriously hurting the economy if changes are not made.

A date has not been given for when the determination will happen, but it is one step closer to a change that will make a difference in the current student loan debt crisis in the country.

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. There are ways to file for bankruptcy with student loan 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 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.

 

Yahoo Users Can Sue Over Data Breach

May 15, 2018 Posted by kingcade

A federal court has recently ruled that a lawsuit regarding Yahoo’s recent data breach, exposing the personal information of its nearly 3 billion users can go forward. The decision was announced on May 11, after U.S. District Judge, Lucy Kohl, rejected a request from Verizon Communications to dismiss many of the claims made against the company for negligence and breach of contract. Verizon Communications purchased Yahoo’s Internet business in June 2017.

The case stems from three different data breaches that occurred between 2013 and 2016. Yahoo has been criticized with how slowly it reacted to the breaches and informed their users. The breaches were not discovered and revealed until after Verizon agreed to buy Yahoo’s business. Upon discovering this news, Verizon demanded a $4.5 billion cut in the purchase price for the company.

Customers were later informed about the release of confidential information, which increased users’ risks of identity theft. Users were then required to pay for credit freezes and continued monitoring on their credit reports.

Kohl stated that, had customers been informed about the breach sooner, they would have taken measures against identity theft and fraud. By the time the company had informed users of the breaches, many of them had already had their identities stole by hackers who used their personal data to file fraudulent tax returns and make illegal credit card charges.

Initially, the company had said that one billion users were a part of the hack, but it later came out that three billion of the users were affected by the breaches. In fact, the complaint filed by plaintiffs had to be amended in October 2017 after it was revealed that the breach ended up affecting three billion users.

Kohl said the fact the complaint had to be amended to include these additional users highlighted just how serious the issue of security was in the plaintiff’s decision to use Yahoo as an Internet service.

In March 2017, two Russian intelligence agents and two hackers were charged by U.S. prosecutors for crimes connected with the Yahoo breaches. One of the accused hackers, Karim Baratov, pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft and conspiracy charges.

If you have questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorneywho 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.consumeraffairs.com/news/yahoo-users-can-sue-over-data-breaches-031318.html

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-verizon-yahoo-breach/data-breach-victims-can-sue-yahoo-in-the-united-states-judge-idUSKCN1GO1TL