Consumer Bankruptcy, COVID-19

Personal Bankruptcy Filings Drop in Light of COVID-19 Pandemic Relief

Personal bankruptcy filings are down, leaving many financial analysts questioning whether the drop in filings can be attributed to financial relief offered from governmental pandemic relief programs or to other economic factorsThis stimulus relief offered consumers a much-needed financial boost, but the question remains how long this boost will hold off future bankruptcy filings. 

The number of consumers reporting problems with paying their bills decreased between June 2019 and June 2020, according to figures from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).  The number of personal bankruptcies filed dropped 38 percent over a 12-month period between March 2020 and March 2021. 

Government stimulus checks, decreased consumer spending, and the availability of mortgage forbearance programs could be part of the reason for this decrease in filings. During this periodconsumers have also reported cutting back on discretionary spending on expenses, such as vacations  

Normally, a decrease in bankruptcy filings indicates an overall improvement to consumers’ financially lives, but experts warn against being too optimistic about these figures. Considering the COVID-19 pandemic is entering its second and the number of consumers who have died or become seriously ill during this time, it is unlikely that all consumers are thriving financially. 

The federal bankruptcy court system attributes the decrease in bankruptcy filings to many different factors, including a reduced amount of consumer spending, moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures, as well as the temporary closure of courtrooms for in-person hearings.  

In this study, the CFPB surveyed the financial lives of approximately 1,700 consumers, giving these individuals a series of subjective questions to answer regarding their finances. The number of survey participants reporting that they had money remaining in their accounts at the end of a month increased by 3.9 points to 46.6 percent. The number of consumers reporting that their finances were controlling their daily lives dropped 8 points to 32.7 percent.  

In the four years immediately preceding the COVID-19 pandemic hitting the U.S., consumer bankruptcies never fell below 750,000 annually. However, between April 2020 and April 2021, the number of consumer bankruptcies filed dropped to 473,000. At the same time, the number of business bankruptcies fell by 13.9 percent.  

As the government stimulus programs wind down and the moratoriums on foreclosures and evictions come to an end, this trend could quickly change, which is why many financial experts remain only cautiously optimistic about these figures.  

Please click here to read more.  

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.   

Consumer Bankruptcy, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Small Business Bankruptcy

U.S. Bankruptcy Filings Drop 38 Percent

Bankruptcy filings are on the decline, according to a recent report.  Statistics released by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, reveal bankruptcy filings dropped 38.1 percent for the 12-month period ending March 31, 2021. This dramatic drop in filings coincides with the COVID-19 pandemic, which first disrupted the economy in March 2020.

Bankruptcy filings fell for both personal and business bankruptcies. Non-business filings fell by a total of 38.8 percent, while business filings fell 13.9 percent.

Unemployment and layoffs initially soared at the beginning of the pandemic. However, several factors may have contributed to the sharp decline in bankruptcy filings. These include, but are not limited to: federal court closings, state lockdown orders that caused a decline in spending, increased government benefits, and eviction moratoriums have eased financial pressures on households.

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.

Source: U.S. Courts.gov

COVID-19, Debt Collection

Debt Collection Lawsuits Pause While One Debt Collector Continues to Pursue Collections

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, most debt collectors hit the pause button on collection lawsuits due to widespread national lockdowns. However, one of the largest debt collectors, Sherman Financial Group, continued to pursue its collection efforts. 

According to a study conducted by the Wall Street Journal, Sherman Financial Group had the largest increase of any debt collection firm between March 15, 2020 and December 31, 2020. The study analyzed filings from five state-court districts from the start of the pandemic to the end of 2020. The number of filings went up by 52 percent from the previous year. In comparison, debt collection filings went down by 24 percent with respect to the industry overall. 

Sherman subsidiaries filed 15,420 more debt collection lawsuits in 2020 than they did in 2019 in these five districts aloneThe districts surveyed serve approximately 13 percent of the nation’s population.   

In previous years, Sherman has been a smaller debt collection company. However, financial analysts believe that the company has established its reputation as a nonconformist in the debt collection industry. This is not the first time where Sherman has chosen to take advantage of a financial crisis to expand their reach in the industry. They behaved similarly during the 2008 financial crisis. 

Most debt collection companies have filed fewer lawsuits during the pandemic due to borrower hardship. For example, two of Sherman’s competitors, including PRA Group and Encore Capital Group filed fewer lawsuits in 2020 than in 2019 and limited new collection efforts. Another debt collection company, Oportun Financial Corp, suspended all new debt collection lawsuit filings, dismissed many of their pending cases, and capped interest rates on its outstanding loans. 

Of the lawsuits filed in the five districts surveyed by the Wall Street Journal, Sherman-owned subsidiaries accounted for 12 percent of the debt lawsuits filed, which was a six percent increase from the previous year.  

Facing debt collection is stressful and there are laws in place to protect consumers.  Debt collectors can be persistent, even to the point of becoming harassing and threatening at times. However, it is vital that consumers facing collections actions realize that they do, in fact, have rights, and these rights fall largely under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). 

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.   

Source: The Wall Street Journal

COVID-19, Foreclosure Defense, Foreclosures

Emergency Mortgage Relief Could Extend Through 2022

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of homeowners have benefited from the mortgage relief programs offered by the federal government, and some private lenders.  Now that a year has passed, approximately 2.5 million homeowners are still enrolled in some sort of mortgage relief program, whether it be payment suspension or mortgage forbearance, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) 

It is for this reason that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) wants to extend these provisions and programs further into the future to ensure that these homeowners are not forced into foreclosure.  

COVID-19, student loan debt

New PPP Loan Rules Make It Easier for Student Loan Borrowers to Obtain Funds

New rules with respect to who can receive financial assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will open the door for struggling student loan borrowers who have previously been unable to qualify for the PPP loan program. These new regulations took effect on March 1, 2021.  

The funds received through the PPP were meant to offer financial assistance to struggling businesses, allowing them to stay in operation during the COVID-19 pandemic. For the most part, these loans are forgiven later. Previously, any business that was owned 20 percent or more by an individual who had defaulted on his or her student loan payments was considered ineligible for PPP loan assistance. This rule clearly shut out a large group of individuals and businesses who arguably could use the governmental assistance.  

The Biden administration has changed this rule, effective March 1, 2021. A default or delinquency on student loan payments will not automatically disqualify a PPP loan applicant. This change comes along with several others, including priority access for businesses employing 20 or fewer individuals.  

Over the past several years, student loan debt has surpassed credit card and auto debt with over 42 million Americans carrying some amount of student loan debt. Of this number, approximately one-third of them are in either delinquency or default on these loans.  

According to a report by the Center for Responsible Lending, a large number of these borrowers are self-employed. Approximately 800,000 self-employed Americans are reportedly behind on their student loan payments. Additionally, 500,000 minorities have also be excluded from PPP assistance due to the status of their student loans.   Student loan reform advocates have praised this change, saying that small business owners have been bearing the brunt of the financial struggles suffered during the COVID pandemic.

Please click here to read more.  

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. 

Business Bankruptcy, COVID-19

Wave of COVID-19 Bankruptcies Hitting U.S. Bankruptcy Courts

As the country nears the one-year mark since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the financial effects are continuing to have effect on consumers and small businesses. The pandemic forced the shutdown of countless businesses throughout the country, and the expected wave of impending Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases is only now beginning to hit the nation’s legal system.  

According to court records, the number of Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings were up by approximately 20 percent, when compared to filings in 2019. These numbers are only expected to grow. 

Certain sectors of the economy have been hit much harder than others. According to figures from New Generation Research, restaurants, retailers, entertainment companies, and real estate firms have filed for bankruptcy protection more now than in previous years. The number of bankruptcy filings made by entertainment companies quadrupled in 2020 alone. The number of filings has tripled for oil and gas companies, while doubling for restaurant owners, retailers, and real estate companies. 

Thus far, more than $3.7 trillion in federal stimulus money has been issued in an effort to help offset the damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even with this money and the possibility of more coming in the future, many businesses have not been able to survive.  

The true effects of the pandemic may not be seen for several years. After the Great Recession of 2007, the bankruptcies that resulted were not filed until 2010, a few years after the start of the recession 

The widespread shutdowns brought on by COVID-19 have hit the restaurant industry hard, and financial experts worry that they may be the hardest hit from the financial crisis. The route these businesses will take can vary depending on what the businesses owners have decided to do. Many of them have already made the decision to close down completely in lieu of pursuing a business bankruptcy. Others have chosen to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, meaning that their assets will be liquidated and used to pay down the debts, leaving the restaurants permanently closed. 

With so many people working from home, the need for office space has also dropped off dramatically, leading to a drop in real estate values for both retail and office spaces, hitting the real estate sector, as well. 

Some of the larger chain retailers who have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy over the summer of 2021 include J. Crew, Neiman Marcus, J.C. Penney, Brooks Brothers, and Lord and Taylor. According to S&P Global, there was an average of two corporate bankruptcy filings per day in the months of June and July.       

Not only have retailers been hit hard but their suppliers have, as well. An example of this is Country Fresh, a supplier of fresh fruit snacks, sides, soups, and salads to convenience stores, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy mid-February 2021. This filing represents just one of the many suppliers who have been hit hard and are still struggling from the pandemic. It remains to be seen whether more filings will follow as 2021 progresses.   

Please click here to read more.  

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.   

 

Bankruptcy Law, COVID-19, Medical Debt, student loan debt

Bankruptcy Reform Bill Proposed that will Discharge Student Loans and Medical Debt

The Medical Bankruptcy Fairness Act of 2021 was unveiled by Democratic Senators this week in response to the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The bill would make substantial reforms to the current bankruptcy code, making it easier for those struggling with student loan debt and medical debt to discharge the same in bankruptcy.

Currently, the bankruptcy code treats student loan debt differently from other types of consumer debt. Borrowers must show they meet the ‘undue hardship’ requirement in order to discharge their student loan debt in bankruptcy.

COVID-19, Debt Relief, Foreclosures

Biden Extends Ban on Evictions and Foreclosures through March

Shortly after being sworn in as the nation’s 46th president, Joe Biden signed several executive orders. One of these signed orders included extending the ban on evictions and foreclosures for individuals affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

This new order extends the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) moratorium that was set to expire on January 31, 2021. The CDC’s order first went into effect in September 2020. This new executive order extends the ban for at least an additional two months past the expiration date.

Coronavirus, COVID-19, Debt Relief

Floridians Hope to Receive Relief from Second Round of Stimulus Payments

As coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to affect the economy, many have been wondering when another relief package would be passed by Congress. After the CARES Act was passed in March 2020, providing the first source of stimulus payments, consumers have been anticipating a second source of stimulus payments to help during their continuing financial struggles. Fortunately, at the end of December 2020, a second stimulus relief package was passed by Congress and signed by the President, providing them with a sense of reprieve.

As compared the $2 trillion CARES Act passed last March, this second package totals $900 billion. Additionally, while the previous package provided $1,200 per taxpayer, this new bill provides $600 per individual making less than $75,000 annually. The new legislation provides $600 per child, while the previous legislation provided $100 less per child.  

COVID-19, Credit Card Debt

Credit Card Debt Falls 9 Percent Despite Decline in Economic Conditions

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has hit the country’s economy hard, but this fact does not seem to be reflected in the nation’s credit card debt According to statistics from credit reporting agency, Experian, credit card balances have declined at a record rate in 2020.  

Economic crises tend to lead to a change in consumer behavior. World War II pushed consumers to change their spending habits in ways they had not done before. The COVID-19 pandemic with forced lockdowns and widespread unemployment has likewise put things into perspective for American consumers, pushing them to change their spending habits, as well, including how they use their credit cards.