Posts Tagged: ‘Fair Debt Collections Practices Act’

How to Handle Debt Collectors When They Call

September 1, 2017 Posted by kingcade

Receiving a call from a debt collector can be stressful, especially if you are tight on money. However, sometimes collection agencies have the wrong contact information or may be trying to collect on a fake debt. Collection agencies may also use aggressive tactics to scare you into paying a debt. Here are some tips from the Better Business Bureau to help you respond to debt collectors correctly.

Your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act:

  • Debt collectors are required by law to provide information in writing. If you are contacted by a debt collector, ask to be provided with an official “validation notice” of the debt.
  • You must respond in writing within thirty days of receiving the debt notice to avoid further action by the collector. If you have proof that the debt has been paid, provide that as well.
  • A debt collector must prove that you owe the money before they can try to collect if you dispute the debt in writing within 30 days.
  • They cannot harass, oppress or abuse you. They are prohibited from swearing at you or calling repeatedly.
  • They cannot contact you at work if you tell them not to do so.
  • They cannot continue to call if you request, in writing, that they only communicate with you by mail.
  • They cannot collect a debt that you do not owe.

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 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.

The Cost of Bankruptcy and How to Pay for It

August 2, 2017 Posted by kingcade

You are struggling financially and need to file for bankruptcy.  A common question is how I can afford the cost of hiring an attorney when I can’t even meet my bills?  Many people think they cannot afford to file for bankruptcy.  However, bankruptcy laws allow you to eliminate some debts and lower payments on others.   This now “freed-up” money, oftentimes hundreds of dollars a month, can be used to cover the cost of your bankruptcy attorney and filing fees.

The U.S. Federal Bankruptcy Laws were designed to give you a fresh start and a second chance when it comes to your finances.  

When it comes to the cost of bankruptcy, you will face two expenses: the court filing fees to handle your case and the attorney fees for your bankruptcy lawyer who files your case and represents you in court.

There are several types of bankruptcies to choose from, but the most common consumer bankruptcies are Chapter 7- where most of your debts are forgiven, and Chapter 13- where your debt is reorganized and restructured into a payment plan.

Filing fees remain the same nationwide, but your attorney fees can vary greatly, depending on location, the complexities of your case and your attorney.

  Chapter 7 Chapter 13
Filing fees $335 $310
Attorney fees* $500 – $3,500 $1,500 – $6,000
Total $835 – $3,835 $1,810 – $6,310

 

Here are some tips on how to pay for your bankruptcy:

  • Work out a payment plan with your attorney. Payment plans can vary.  Some lawyers allow you to spread the payments over six months, others over three months.  Most will want payment in full before filing your case.  The simple reason: Chapter 7 bankruptcy eliminates most of your debts, so you would not be legally obligated to pay your attorney any outstanding fees after filing.
  • Raise the money. Try to earn some additional income.  Consider having a garage sale, selling items on consignment, on Ebay or Craigslist (i.e. – think old electronics, hand bags, etc.) or taking on a part-time job to earn some fast cash.

Consumers who owe debt know the fear associated with going to the mailbox, answering the phone when it is an unknown number.  This fear is eliminated once hiring an experienced bankruptcy attorney.  Debt collectors must stop contacting you immediately and communicate only with your attorney- thanks to the protections in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

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/bankruptcy-costs-pay/

 

How to deal with ‘old’ debt

September 21, 2016 Posted by kingcade

When a debt exceeds the statute of limitations, it is referred to as “time-barred debt.” That means creditors cannot legally sue you.  But they may still try.  They may continue contacting you. It is important you proceed with caution, because the practice of debt collection has many pitfalls.

Perhaps you never took out the debt, that the collector has the wrong amount or that you already paid and the collection attempt is a mistake.

A debt collector should send you a validation notice within five days of first contacting you. This notice should include the debt owed, the amount, date of last payment, who the collector is and how to request information on the original creditor. If you do not receive this notice within 10 days after the debt collector first contacts you, ask for it.

Challenge it!

If you are being asked to pay a time-barred debt that is not yours, that was already paid off or invalid, you can write the creditor to dispute the debt.

You have 30 days from first contact to challenge the debt before it is deemed accepted by default. If you dispute the debt within this window, debt collection efforts must stop until the issue is resolved.

Be as specific as possible in your letter. Say why the debt collection attempt is invalid, including information about payment history or why the debt may not be yours and any other relevant information. Send the letter by certified mail so you get confirmation of receipt.

If for any reason you feel the debt collector has violated your consumer rights, file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or the Federal Trade Commission.

The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) originally enacted in 1978 requires that debt collectors provide consumers with certain basic information such as the amount of debt owed and the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed. A lesser-known requirement of the FDCPA says debt collectors must give consumers a 30-day notice to dispute the debt before it is assumed as valid.

Pay it off- but proceed with caution.

Although you may think paying a little bit of the debt owed will get the creditor off your back, it can make things much worse. Making even a single payment on time-barred debt can bring it back from the dead and reset the statute of limitations.  In some states, even if you pay as little as a $1, you will reactivate the entire debt and you can be sued for the original debt plus fees.

If you want to pay off the debt, you have several options:

  • Pay in full with a lump sum;
  • Work with the creditor to set up a payment plan;
  • Make an agreement to settle the debt by paying a portion.

If you pay the debt in full, make sure the collector sends you a confirmation in writing.  Hold onto this in case the payment is not properly recorded or the debt gets sold, again.

Discharge the debt through bankruptcy.

If you feel the debt is just too much to pay off or you want to rid yourself of the debt for good, you could file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.  After filing, you are likely to see your credit scores improve.

Steps to take if you are sued.

Creditors may sue you even though a debt is past its statute of limitations.

The most important thing: DO NOT ignore the lawsuit. Ignoring it will likely lead to an automatic judgment against you and result in wage garnishment. Consider talking with an attorney about how to proceed, and gather all documents you have proving that the debt is time-barred.

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.

Related Resources:

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-expired-debt-20160917-snap-story.html

Citibank Ordered to Stop Collections on $34 Million in Credit Card Debt, Fined $8 Million

March 1, 2016 Posted by kingcade

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) fined Citibank $8 million last week for allegedly selling credit card debt with inflated interest rates and failing to send consumers’ payments to debt buyers. The credit card giant has also agreed to stop collections on $34 million in credit card debt held by nearly 7,000 consumers.

The CFPB said that Citibank hired two debt collection law firms, Faloni & Associates, LLC, and Solomon & Solomon, P.C., who reportedly altered affidavits filed in New Jersey debt collection lawsuits. Both firms are accused of changing either the dates of the affidavits or the amount owed; in some cases both, after they were executed, which is a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  Citibank claims the agency first learned of violations in 2011 and stopped referring new credit card accounts to it.

In a separate action, the CFPB ordered Citibank to refund $11 million to consumers who were affected by the alleged altered affidavits and nearly $5 million to approximately 2,100 consumers who were affected by the inflated APRs. Citibank has complied and has already issued refunds. Citibank did not admit or deny any of the CFPB’s allegations as part of the enforcement actions.

Fair debt collection practices have been a focus for the CFPB in recent years. Both JPMorgan Chase and American Express have been fined millions for illegal debt collection practices involving credit card debt.

CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a press release, “Citibank sent inaccurate information to buyers when it sold off credit card debt and it also used law firms that altered court documents. Today’s action provides redress to consumers who were victimized by slipshod practices as part of our ongoing work to fight abuses in the debt collection market.”

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.foxbusiness.com/features/2016/02/24/citibank-will-stop-collecting-34-million-in-credit-card-debt.html

http://www.americanbanker.com/news/law-regulation/cfpb-fines-citibank-8m-over-debt-collections-1079533-1.html

 

Courts Help Debt Collectors Prey on America’s Working Poor

February 18, 2016 Posted by kingcade

Even though the economy is improving, many of America’s working poor, under-employed and unemployed people continue to struggle financially. In addition to their financial troubles, many households face debt collectors who harass and sue them on incomplete or inaccurate information.

To make matters worse for struggling consumers, court judgments often favor debt collectors without determining the validity of the claims. Due to the growth of this problem, it has been the focus in recent research. Both the Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Alliance for a Just Society recently released reports documenting this disturbing trend.

The report released by the HRW titled “Rubber Stamp Justice,” revealed that courts routinely award default judgments, without the consumer present, in tens of thousands of cases.

The Encore Capital Group, the largest debt collector in the country, has reportedly filed between 245,000 and 470,000 new lawsuits per year in recent years. The report also showed that in 2014 Encore and its competitor, Portfolio Recovery Associates, collected more than $1 billion through debt collection lawsuits.

The report stated, “Fundamental problems with debt collector lawsuits often come to light only after the companies have already won judgments they were never entitled to, in courts that never asked them to present any meaningful evidence in support of their claims.”

Several states have created “judgeless courtrooms” for such cases where consumers are forced to participate in unsupervised discussions with debt buyers and their attorneys. The intention is to provide open forums for compromise, however consumers often end up forfeiting their rights for a future court hearing.

The top consumer debt collection concerns filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau between November 2013 and August 2015 are below:

  • Demands to pay a debt that affected consumer(s) believes is not owed;
  • Frequent or repeated calls about the same alleged debt;
  • Failure to provide documentation to verify the debt.

The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) originally enacted in 1978 requires that debt collectors provide consumers with certain basic information such as the amount of debt owed and the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed. A lesser-known requirement of the FDCPA says debt collectors must give consumers a 30-day notice to dispute the debt before it is assumed as valid.

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.