Posts Tagged: ‘Fair Debt Collection Practices Act’

Steps to Take if Your Personal Debt Goes to Collections

June 5, 2018 Posted by kingcade

When someone is facing serious amounts of debt, it can feel like there is no end in sight. Odds are the individual is fielding continuous calls from debt collectors, all of whom are threatening legal proceedings if the person does not pay the debt owed. However, certain steps can be taken to help handle personal debt issues and hopefully avoid a lawsuit.

1. Review the Debt in Question.
The first step is to review the debt amount. Do not automatically trust what the debt collector is telling you, the debt they are attempting to collect could be expired or past the statute of limitations. It is recommended that the person facing the debt collection action first examine the information provided, research the collection agency that is reporting the debt and see if any discrepancies exist. The debtor has 30 days to verify that the amount is correct after the collection agency has contacted him or her. Take advantage of this time and carefully review the debt before making any payments.

2. Dispute an Incorrect Debt.
If, during this 30-day period, the individual discovers any figure that is inaccurate or unusual, it is recommended that he or she report this and provide proof that it is inaccurate. It is possible that the debt collection agency will clear up any discrepancy and adjust it as necessary.

3. Be Aware of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Not many individuals are aware that they do, in fact, have rights when it comes to collections. Simply because someone has missed a payment and has fallen delinquent does not mean that he or she has no rights. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is a federal law that protects the rights of consumers against harassment and aggressive collection practices by third-party collection agencies. Take the time to review the law and to understand what these rights include.

4. Discuss Payment Options.
If the debt is valid, it can help to talk with the collection agency about payment options. At the end of the day, these companies would rather be paid than have the debt be discharged in bankruptcy. Talk with the company to see what payment options are available. The consumer should examine his or her household budget to see what can be done to make payments to repay this debt.

5. Negotiate the Debt.
Another option that many consumers do not realize they have is to negotiate the debt. Many debt collectors or creditors are quite open to discussing other options for payment. If the individual is facing extreme circumstances or hardships, the creditor or collector may be willing to at least reduce the amount of debt owed or extend the deadline for payment.

6. Know the Statute of Limitations.
Every legal matter comes with its own set deadline for when legal claims can be made. Every state has its own statute of limitation for how long debts can be pursued. It is important that the consumer research what his or her timeline is and know what actions affect this timeline.

7. Be Aware of the Timeline.
After the collection proceeding is over, the debt will stay on the person’s credit report for seven years. This seven-year timeline does not start from when the delinquent account was originally opened but rather seven years from the time it became delinquent. Being aware of this fact can help when negotiating a payment on the debt since a paid debt will be viewed more favorably than one that continues to remain unpaid.

8. Understand the Consequences.
It is equally as important that the individual know what the consequences are to leaving a debt unpaid for too long. It also helps to know what the consequences are of ignoring a legal action if one is eventually filed. If the person is sued, it is extremely important that he or she at least appear in court and respond. It can be tempting to just ignore the matter, but by not appearing in court, the individual is likely to lose by default judgment and could have their wages garnished.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

What happens if a creditor tries to collect on a debt during my bankruptcy?

March 16, 2018 Posted by kingcade

After you file for bankruptcy, creditors are not allowed to contact you regarding any debt you owe; they must deal only with your attorney.  The protections allotted by the bankruptcy automatic stay prohibit all collection activity, including legal action, wage garnishment, even contact by phone or mail in an attempt to collect on a debt.

There are a few exceptions. For example, the automatic stay does not stop criminal cases, some child support actions, and certain eviction cases. The automatic stay also does not apply to debts incurred after the bankruptcy case was filed. Here’s how to determine if a creditor violated the automatic stay and what you can do if a creditor continues trying to collect a debt.

The penalties for violating the automatic stay depend on the nature of the violation and whether it was done with deliberate disregard for the bankruptcy filing. You have several options if a creditor continues to pursue a debt in violation of the automatic stay.

Tell the creditor about your bankruptcy. Most debt collectors will stop contacting you if you tell them this.  Many times the debt collector is unaware of your case.  For example, if a collector garnishes your wages after the bankruptcy case is filed, it must immediately return the money.

Notify the bankruptcy court. If the collection attempts continue, the next step is to notify the bankruptcy court. The court can sanction the collector for violating its automatic stay order.

File a lawsuit. If a debt collector continues to try and collect on the debt, it may not only be violating the automatic stay but also other state and federal laws including, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

Our firm works to hold creditors accountable for violating the protections allotted by the U.S. bankruptcy laws.  Recently, our firm’s motion was granted by a Florida judge in a case that held the creditor in contempt of court for violating the automatic stay in a Miami bankruptcy case. The Order directed the creditor to cease and desist all eviction proceedings until further order of the court.  The creditor in this case was also required to pay attorneys’ fees for our firm having to bring forth the motion to enforce the automatic stay to protect our client.

If you are dealing with a creditor you think may have violated the automatic stay, contact your attorney immediately.  An experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney will know whether the contact was innocent in nature or a willful violation worth pursuing.

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.

Debt Collection Law Firms Must Follow FDCPA in Foreclosure Cases

March 7, 2018 Posted by kingcade

A federal judge has ruled that debt collection law firms are now subject to the rules of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act in mortgage foreclosure cases.  The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was designed to help prevent creditor abuse and harassment.

U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Savage of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania denied a motion by law firm Phelan Hallinan Diamond & Jones seeking to dismiss plaintiffs Tina Collins and Glendale Walker’s FDCPA claim, which alleged the firm failed to cease all collection activity before verifying the debt after the plaintiffs first disputed it.

According to the judge’s opinion, the plaintiffs alleged that the foreclosure complaint and Phelan Hallinan’s response to their notice of dispute “contained false and misleading representations thru [sic] deceptive means in an attempt to collect a debt.’” In addition, Collins and Walker claimed that the firm threatened to proceed with the foreclosure action without first verifying the debt.

The plaintiffs also claimed that the firm falsely represented itself as counsel to Wells Fargo, leading Collins and Walker to believe that Phelan Hallinan was a part of Wells Fargo’s legal department.

“Foreclosure, although legal in nature, is ‘activity undertaken for the general purpose of inducing payment,’” Savage said. “A debt collector cannot avoid FDCPA liability simply by proceeding in rem rather than in personam. Therefore, for purposes of this action, Phelan was acting as a debt collector and engaged in debt collection activity when it communicated with the plaintiffs and filed the foreclosure action.”

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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 McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.