Archive for: ‘March 2018’

The Truth about Student Loan Debt Bankruptcies

March 30, 2018 Posted by kingcade

When it comes to bankruptcy and student loan debt, there are some common misconceptions. One being, that student loans are never dischargeable in bankruptcy. In fact, there are ways to file for bankruptcy with student loan debt. Congress has yet to establish what “undue hardship” means with regard to students’ having their loans forgiven in bankruptcy; still, courts have set legal standards for proving it.  In a new paper, Professor Jason Iuliano argues that bankruptcy courts have interpreted the discharge exception ‘too broadly,’ applying it to loans for unaccredited schools, loans for tutoring services, and loans beyond the cost of attendance for college.

The Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas recently adopted the narrow reading of §523(a)(8)(A)(ii) in Crocker v. Navient Solutions, LLC, Adv. 16-3175 (Bankr. S.D. Tx Mar. 26, 2018). The court denied Navient’s motion for summary judgment, finding that the bar exam study loan at issue was not within the discharge exception for qualified student loans or educational benefit repayments.

In another class action complaint filed against Navient and Sallie Mae, plaintiffs claim that servicers are defrauding student loan debtors of their bankruptcy discharge rights. Servicers illegally continued collecting private student loans that were fully discharged in bankruptcies because they were not qualified educational loans, according to the complaint in Homaidan v. Sallie Mae, Inc.  (17-ap-01085 Bankr. EDNY),

There has been talk about potential changes coming to bankrupt borrowers’ ability to discharge student loan debt. Even student loans covered in the bankruptcy discharge exception can still be discharged based on showing “undue hardship” and courts are more likely to approve undue hardship discharges than many debtors and some lawyers realize.

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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 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.

What happens if I ignore a debt collector?

March 29, 2018 Posted by kingcade

If you are unable to make payments on a debt, you may be tempted to turn a blind eye until you are able to come up with the money. But this is one of the worst things you can do.  You always have the right to ignore a debt collector, but it will not make the debt go away.  Here are some possible scenarios that can occur if you ignore a debt collector:

They leave you alone.  You might think this is a good thing and perhaps the debt collector has forgotten about your debt.  But this is unfortunately not the case.

Your credit score suffers.  A past due debt will appear on your credit report regardless of whether you respond to debt collection attempts or not.

Your debt is transferred to another company. If the first collector is unable to reach you after repeated attempts, your account can wind up with a different agency.  This can happen a number of times if the balance remains unpaid.

The debt continues to grow. Just because you stop paying your debt, does not mean the interest stops growing.  Add on collection costs and this can cause the debt to double over time.

They reach out to people you know.  Debt collectors can reach out to people who know you to try and locate you, especially if you have changed your phone number or address to avoid collection attempts.  They are not allowed to tell them about your debt.  Revealing debt to third parties (i.e. – family, neighbors, friends, co-workers, etc.) is a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

A lawsuit is filed against you. Ignoring a debt and failing to communicate with a debt collector can result in you being sued. You can try your best to defend yourself, but if a judgment is entered against you it can result in wage garnishment and even funds being withdrawn from your bank account to pay off the debt.

Stress mounts.  The stress of debt can cause anxiety, sleepless nights, even marital problems. Avoiding debt collectors can leave you on the edge, wondering when the next phone call will be or collection letter will arrive in the mail.

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If you have any questions on this topic or are struggling with out of control credit card debt, 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.

‘Zombie’ Debt Collections Plague South Florida

March 28, 2018 Posted by kingcade

According to a recent study, invalid and illegal debt collections are at a record high in the Sunshine State.  The practice also referred to as ‘zombie debt collections’ is defined as attempts to collect debts not owed, those that were already paid or discharged in bankruptcy, debts owed by someone else, or are a result of identity theft. Typically, this debt collection practice is done by third-parties, who have collected these debts written off by the original creditor.

If you feel you have been a victim of zombie debt collection, first request that the debt collector provide you written documentation verifying the debt and check for any discrepancies. It is important that you respond to all court summonses to ensure that a debt collector does not win a court case by default.

Last week, the Federal Trade Commission declared in a new report that Florida is the scam capital of the nation, with nearly 2.7 million consumer complaints made to the agency in 2017. The top categories included: debt collection, impostor scams, identity theft, phone and mobile, and banks and lenders.

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If you have any questions on this topic or are struggling with out of control credit card debt, 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.

Are you paying off your credit cards the right way?

March 26, 2018 Posted by kingcade

If you have multiple credit cards you are making payments toward, paying off the cards in the right order can make all the difference in how quickly you get out of debt. Turns out most consumers are using a repayment strategy that takes longer and costs more than it has to.

Here are some quick tips to help you tackle credit card debt the right way:

Go above the minimum.  When you receive your credit card statement, it will include the minimum monthly payment you are required to make.  This is typically 2 to 5 percent of your entire balance.  Paying only the minimum will have you avoid late fees and keep you from being reported to the credit agencies, but that is about it.  Depending on the interest rate of your credit cards, paying only the minimum could keep you in debt for 30+ years!

Avoid balance-matching.   According to a recent study, many consumers are allocating their credit card payments in proportion to the balances on each account.  For example, bigger payments are going towards cards with bigger balances, while smaller payments are going towards cards with smaller balances, also known as “balance-matching.”  The problem with this strategy is it avoids the interest rate entirely, which is a determining factor in how long it will take you to pay off the debt.

Utilize the debt avalanche method.  This is the optimal payment method and requires making additional payments to your highest-interest cards, first while making only the minimum payments to your lower interest credit cards.  Once your highest-interest credit card is paid off, move to the next highest-interest card, and so on, until your debt is eliminated.  This debt elimination strategy ignores the balances and uses only the interest rate to determine how to allocate payments.

Click here to read more on this story.

If you have any questions on this topic or are struggling with out of control credit card debt, 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.

Myths about bankruptcy and your credit score debunked

March 22, 2018 Posted by kingcade

There are many misconceptions surrounding the amount of time it takes to rebuild your credit after bankruptcy.  We are clearing up some of the common misconceptions about how bankruptcy affects your credit score.

Myth #1: All bankruptcy information stays on your credit report for ten years.

The Truth: Only the public record of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy lasts for ten years.   All other bankruptcy references remain on your credit report for seven years, including:  Line items stating “account included in bankruptcy;” Third-party collection debts, judgments and tax liens discharged in bankruptcy and Chapter 13 public record items.  Once these items begin to disappear, you will see a bigger boost to your credit score.

Myth #2: You will have poor credit as long as the bankruptcy information stays on your credit report.

The Truth: This is one of the biggest misconceptions and one that our clients can tell you is a complete myth.

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.

Hi Tim- I just wanted to send a quick note and thank you and your team for handling my bankruptcy case.  It is only a month or two after discharge, and my credit scores are already in the upper 600’s.  I’ve sent a screenshot in the event that you would like to use this to show prospective clients. – C.S.

You can begin to build your credit back with smart credit management.  Within a few years, you can obtain a “good” credit score ranging from 700 – 749 by doing the following:

  • Adding new credit, such as secured credit cards or small installment loans, to offset the negative information on your credit report;
  • Making on-time payments for all debt, new and old;
  • Keeping your credit card balances under 30% utilization.

Myth #3: Bankruptcy affects the credit of all filers equally, regardless of the amount of debt.

The Truth: Your credit score will factor in details such as the amount of debt discharged and the proportion of negative to positive accounts on your credit report. If you have a low amount of debt and only a few accounts included in your bankruptcy, your credit score will be higher than someone with a more severe bankruptcy case.

Myth #4: You cannot get a credit card or loan after filing for bankruptcy.

The Truth: Credit cards are one of the best ways to begin rebuilding your credit and you will be surprised how quickly offers for them will appear in your mailbox after filing for bankruptcy.  Secured credit cards, which require an upfront security deposit, allow you to spend and build credit easily and safely.

Myth #5: Bankruptcy will ruin your credit forever.

The Truth: Bankruptcy will damage your credit in the short term, but practicing good financial habits, can rebuild your credit to be stronger than ever. A report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia showed that those who filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2010 had an average credit score of 538.2 on Equifax’s scale of 280 to 850. But the average score jumped to 620 by the time those bankruptcies were finalized, approximately six to eight months later. There are many ways to rebuild your credit after filing for bankruptcy. There are certain limitations you will face after filing, but taking advantage of the right financial tools can go a long way in helping you get back on the right path for your financial future.

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 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.