Archive for: ‘October 2016’

One Wrong Move Can Bring your ‘Zombie’ Debt Back to Life

October 31, 2016 Posted by kingcade

In the spirit of Halloween, we want to warn you about zombie debt.  As the name suggests, zombie debt is a debt that you thought was dead but has come back to life.  This could be a debt you already paid off, a debt you settled with a creditor, a debt where the statute of limitations has expired, a debt that was wiped out in bankruptcy, or a debt that was never yours to begin with.

Zombie debts are old debts.  That in itself is what makes them so dangerous to consumers, especially when debt collectors apply high-pressure tactics to have you pay up.

Another downside, these debts are oftentimes hard to verify. As debts are sold and resold, information can vanish, leading collectors to seek payment on erroneous debt.  Making even a single payment on an old debt can reset the statute of limitations, leaving you vulnerable to a lawsuit.

Debt collection is the largest source of consumer complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, with more than 85,000 complaints filed in 2015.  The leading complaint: Consumers being harassed for debts they did not owe.

Here are some steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim and put zombie debt to rest for good:

  • Request a validation letter.  This will outline details, including the original creditor, the amount of the debt and how you can challenge it. This will help you verify that it is your debt and has not already been paid.
  • If you already paid the debt: Write a letter to the collections agency demanding that it cease contact. The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act requires them to do so. Remember: You cannot legally be sued for a debt that is past the statute of limitations, even though collectors may still try.
  • Pull your credit report to determine whether it is being reported to the credit bureau.  You can do so for free at www.annualcreditreport.com.
  • Know your rights. Do not let a debt collector bully you.  The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act protects you against abusive collection tactics.
  • If the debt is not yours, it is otherwise invalid: Write a letter challenging the debt within 30 days of the initial contact.
  • If you do owe the debt and can pay, resolving an unpaid account can end the collection calls and improve your credit score. Get any payment agreement in writing before sending money.
  • If you do owe the debt and cannot pay: Tell the creditor you cannot afford to pay. Never give your credit card information or bank account information to a creditor.  Instead, pursue debt relief through credit counseling or bankruptcy.

No matter what, be proactive. Do not ignore anything you receive in the mail from a debt collector and make sure and keep all of your correspondence in writing.

At the law firm of Kingcade & Garcia we want you to have a safe and Happy Halloween this year!   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, 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.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2016/10/31/debt-collectors-zombie-debt-payment/92666504/

http://detroit.cbslocal.com/2016/10/31/dont-get-bit-by-zombie-debt-this-halloween/

 

How to Pay for Bankruptcy When You’re Broke

October 28, 2016 Posted by kingcade

Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy costs anywhere from between $500 to $3,500. If you are already in financial distress, it may be difficult to come up with the fees you will need to file. Follow these three strategies to pay for bankruptcy.

Raise the money

First, minimize your outgoing cash. For example, if you are still making credit card payments, stop making them. Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharges unsecured debts such as credit card balances. Next, try to find some additional income. This can be done by selling old electronics or taking on part-time work. You can also use your tax refund to pay attorney and bankruptcy filing fees.

Work out a payment plan

If you find the right attorney, you may be able to make payments for the services and filing fees. Ask about setting up a payment plan in the initial meeting with any bankruptcy attorney you are considering. Your attorney can also with work the court on a payment plan for your bankruptcy filing fee.

Go pro bono

If your income is less than 150% of the official poverty line for your family size, you might qualify for free legal services or waived fees. If you are not sure how to find out if you qualify, your local bankruptcy court will have information on free legal clinics and local free legal aid resources. Also, the American Bankruptcy Institute has a bankruptcy attorney directory that can help you find pro bono attorneys in your area.

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 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.

Life After Bankruptcy

October 27, 2016 Posted by kingcade

You have filed for bankruptcy and are looking forward to a fresh start. However, your credit rating has taken a substantial hit. The bankruptcy is likely to stay on your credit report for ten years, therefore, for a period of time it may be difficult to get a loan or credit card. However, you can take these steps after your debts are discharged to take advantage of your fresh start.

Start an Emergency Fund

If you filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you have likely had most of your debts discharged. This means that your salary is yours to spend and you will most likely be living on cash rather than credit. It is imperative that you build an emergency fund with your extra cash.

Rebuilding your Credit

In order to restore your financial life, you have to rebuild your credit. You can begin establishing good credit immediately after your debts have been discharged. However, it may take some time to build up your credit score. If you own your home, paying your mortgage on time is a good place to start. Mortgage lenders report to the credit bureaus.

Adopt a Positive Attitude

Experts agree that attitude and persistence make a huge difference in your life after bankruptcy. For example, if you start a savings account, carry no debts and have an emergency fund, you are telling yourself that you can take control of your finances.

First New Credit Card

Once you have established good spending and financial habits, you can apply for a secured card as soon as six months after your debts are discharged. Secured cards allow you to put money in an account and the credit card company will give you a credit limit of that same amount. You pay the bill as you normally would and then get the deposit back when you close the account or switch to an unsecured version.

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 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.

Credit Card Debt Approaches Post Recession Levels

October 26, 2016 Posted by kingcade

 According to the Household Debt and Credit report released by the Federal Reserve Bank, total household debt balances grew slowly throughout the second quarter of this year. As of June 30, 2016, total household debt had reached $12.29 trillion, up $35 billion from the first quarter of 2016.

At the same time, the nation’s cumulative credit card balance reached $729 billion, which is up $17 billion from the first quarter. While still below its peak of $866 billion in the fourth quarter of 2008, economists say that the numbers are on track to reach pre-recession levels of credit card debt around the second quarter of 2017. However, economists also say that conditions might change and previous numbers do not necessarily mean we will enter into another recession.

While credit card debt is up, credit card usage is actually down substantially from previous highs. Credit card usage peaked in 2008 at 68 percent of borrowers, then swiftly declined to 59 percent during the recession due to banks reactively and proactively closing accounts.

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 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.

Beware of Credit Card Skimming Scams at Gas Stations

October 25, 2016 Posted by kingcade

Consumer protection officials are warning consumers about a new form of high-tech theft that can affect all credit and debt card users. Scammers are using devices known as ‘skimmers’ at gas pumps to steal account information from debit and credit cards that are swiped. These devices are also commonly found at ATMs.

According to Mississippi state Attorney General, Jim Hood, the devices are difficult to detect and come in two forms: internal or external. The external devices fit over the actual card readers at the pumps. The internal devices are typically communication cables connected to a device that records data from the cards.

“These devices may go undetected for weeks, all the while gathering sensitive account information from unsuspecting consumers,” Hood said. “Consumers need to call their financial institutions immediately if they see any unauthorized activity on their accounts, and watch closely for signs of tampering when using gas pumps or ATMs.”

Authorities offer the following tips to avoid becoming a victim of card skimming:

  • Pick pumps close to the entrance of the gas station or convenience store. Skimmers usually target pumps that are not near the entrance.
  • Pay with cash.
  • If you’re using a debit card, choose the option to process the payment as credit so scammers do not have access to your PIN.
  • Lightly wiggle the card reader on the pump. External skimmers might feel loose and come off.
  • Ask gas stations and convenience stores what type of anti-skimming measures they have adopted.

According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, more than 250 skimmers were confiscated from gas pumps between July 2015 and July 2016. Approximately 100 consumers’ card numbers were stolen from each device and $1,000 stolen from each consumer.

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 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.