Debt Collection

State and Federal Agencies Teaming Up to Combat Illegal Debt Collection

Debt collection is a profitable business in the U.S., but not all debt collectors follow legitimate, legal collection practices. According to officials from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)most consumer complaints made annually involve illegal debt collection practices, which is why they have made recent efforts to crack down on these types of tactics. 

In response, the FTC has launched a multi-agency campaign called “Operation Corrupt Collector.” This crackdown campaign focuses on educating consumers on how to identify illegal debt-collection practices, as well as enforcement against debt collectors who are found to be breaking the law.  

Coronavirus, COVID-19, Debt Relief

5 Ways to Protect Your Stimulus Check from Creditors

As Americans begin receiving their stimulus checks from the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, many who are struggling with debt, worry this money will be intercepted by creditors seeking payment. More than 80 million stimulus checks have been processed thus far, which is a huge source of relief for the 20 million Americans out of work.

Many creditors view these stimulus payments as a chance to receive payment on outstanding debt, especially those that have already been reduced to court judgments. If a financial institution is given a garnishment order, it is possible they will immediately freeze that amount of money deposited into the account, only providing the consumer a limited amount of time before the funds are taken by the creditor.  However, certain measures can be taken to protect this stimulus money from creditors.

Bankruptcy Law, Credit Card Debt, Debt Relief

How to Stop Harassment for Debts You Do Not Owe

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)

Debt collectors will do just about anything to get a consumer to pay on a debt, their job depends on it.  This can even include the collection of old debts that are past the statute of limitations. According to recent figures from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), in conjunction with a complaint database through consumer advocacy group, U.S. PIRG Education Fund, 44 percent of all complaints against debt collectors have to do with attempts to collect on a debt that is not even owed by the person receiving the call.

The problem is many consumers are not aware that they do not owe on the debt, and they are not fully aware of their legal rights when it comes to debt collections. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), third-party debt collectors are limited in how many times a day they can call consumers, as well as the type of communication and language they may use while collecting on the debt. If the communication constitutes harassment, the consumer has the right to ask the debt collector to stop contacting him or her, and file a lawsuit against the collection agency.

Bankruptcy Law, Debt Relief

How to Defend Yourself Against a Debt Collection Lawsuit

When someone is facing a debt collection action, it can seem like a hopeless situation. It is a situation, however, that many Americans face. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), more than 70 million Americans have interacted with a debt collector.

Of these 70 million, 25 percent of them report feeling threatened during their communications with debt collectors, who often use aggressive methods to obtain payment. If the collection gets to the point where legal proceedings are filed, certain steps can be taken to protect your rights.

  1. File a Response

The biggest mistake that consumers make is to ignore the paperwork when they receive it. A consumer who is facing a debt collection proceeding will receive a summons and complaint, informing him or her that a legal action to collect upon the debt has been filed. This paperwork will provide information regarding how long the individual has to file a response to the legal action. If a response is not filed, however, the debt collector or creditor can get a default judgment against the individual, resulting in a garnishment of the consumer’s wages. If that happens, the court can add the collection agency’s legal fees, court costs and interest to the balance.

Bankruptcy Law, Credit Card Debt, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

Debt Collectors May Soon Be Able to Text and Email Consumers

Debt collectors may soon have even more ways to reach consumers who are past-due on their debts. A new proposed rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) may make it possible for debt collectors to contact consumers via email or text communications as they attempt to receive payment on overdue debts.

This news does not come as a pleasant surprise for many. After all, debt collectors do not have a good reputation for this very reason. They can be persistent, if not relentless, when it comes to debt collection.

It is reported that the CFPB received a record 84,500 complaints from consumers about debt collectors in 2017. The industry earns $10.9 billion annually and does whatever it takes to receive payment on a debt.  The industry does not seem to be slowing down either. Since the end of the recession, American consumers have taken on more debt, including car loans, mortgages and credit card debt.

This news follows recent revelations that are now coming out about the direction the CFPB has taken since the start of the Trump administration. Many critics argue that this move is further evidence that the agency is no longer going after corporations for financial abuses as hard as they have in the past. After all, this latest move does not seem to protect consumers as much as it protects the companies seeking to reach these consumers.

Arguably, the number of communications from collectors will increase, if and when this rule takes effect. However, the law does limit the frequency and content of communication being received. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) provides rules that collectors must follow. However, this law was originally written in 1977, which means it has not been updated to include email and texting technology. It is unclear at this point whether the law will be modified to reflect the updates in technology.

Without having any strict regulations to guide debt collectors on how often they can communicate with a person via text or email, collectors are essentially free to do what they want when contacting someone. The number one piece of advice we give to people dealing with creditors is to be honest. If you are unable to make a payment, do not make a promise to do so and never hide from creditors.

If you are ready to put an end to creditor harassment and make a fresh start, consult an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney at Kingcade Garcia McMaken. 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: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/text-me-debt-collectors-may-soon-be-able-to-text-and-email-consumers/

 

 

Bankruptcy Law, Credit Card Debt, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

The Best Ways to Pay Off Credit Card Debt In Retirement

When someone is entering retirement, the last thing that person wants to deal with is mounds of credit card debt. For the most part, retirees are living on a fixed or limited income, which means they have very few financial resources to pay off any lingering debt they may be carrying.

A fixed income also means there is little ability to handle any unexpected financial crises, which can include a costly home repair or medical expense.  In the event the unexpected happens, some retirees are forced to rely on credit cards or personal loans to cover the costs.  The interest on a personal loan or a single missed credit card payment, can cause the debt to spiral out of control quickly.

Here are some debt payoff tips for seniors struggling with credit card debt.

Refinance your debt.

One possible way to pay off a large amount of credit card debt is through refinancing or consolidation of the credit card debt. This payment could be made through a home equity line of credit (HELOC) if you own your home and hold a good amount of equity in it. A HELOC carries a lower interest rate than other methods of consolidating or refinancing debt since it is attached to collateral and is a secured loan.

Credit card debt can also be paid by consolidating all cards into one card through a balance transfer. By doing a transfer, the cardholder can attack one, larger debt, rather than pay minimum payments on multiple cards every month. However, these transfers normally come with a promotional period which means the cardholder can only benefit from the zero or low interest rate for a set period. After that time period expires, the cardholder will soon find his or her rates increase significantly.

Examine your budget.

Paying off your credit card debt can be nearly impossible, if you do not establish a set budget. By putting together a list of necessary expenses and reviewing what purchasing habits put you into debt, you cannot cut unnecessary expenses and free up money to go towards your credit card debt. It is also recommended that you avoid using your credit cards during this time period when you are working on paying off outstanding balances.

Target the card with the highest interest rate.

If debt consolidation is not a possibility and you are struggling to pay multiple credit cards, one method that is recommended is to focus on paying one card at a time. This method does take time and patience, but it can be successful. Look at what credit cards you have and list what interest rate is on each card. Take the card that has the highest interest rate and throw whatever extra money you may have towards that card first, while continuing the minimum monthly payments on the other cards. Once that card is paid, then focus on the credit card with the next highest interest rate and so on, until all cards are paid in full.

Work a part-time job.

Retirement does not always mean that you will never hold another job. In fact, many retired individuals choose to take a part-time job not only to earn some extra money, but to socialize and be out with people. Many retirees find a great deal of success in part-time consulting or freelance work after retiring from a long-term professional career.

For seniors struggling with insurmountable debt, help is here. Do spend your golden years being hounded by creditors.  Credit card debt is one of the most common problems we see facing those with serious financial issues. The stress can become compounded with collection calls and the threat of lawsuits.  Bankruptcy not only gives people a financial fresh start, but it is a powerful tool that can be used to protect valuable assets, including property, vehicles and retirement savings.

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:  https://www.theladders.com/career-advice/5-ways-retirees-can-tackle-their-credit-card-debt

 

Bankruptcy Law, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

What Constitutes Harassment by a Debt Collector?

For an individual struggling with insurmountable debt, the continuous calls and communications can be overwhelming and stressful. However, at what point do these communications constitute harassment? And if an individual believes that he or she is being harassed by a debt collector, what is the recourse this person has against the debt collector?

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

Debtors have protection from harassment from third-party debt collectors under a federal law, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Under this law, debt collectors are prohibited from harassing, oppressing or abusing debtors while trying to collect upon a debt. This behavior includes continuous phone calls meant to annoy or harass the individual, use of obscene language and making threats of violence or retaliation against the debtor.

Specifically, the FDCPA prohibits the following:

  • Repeated phone calls annoying, abusing or harassing the debtor or anyone answering the phone;
  • Use of obscene or profane language in these communications;
  • Threats of violence or causing harm to the debtor or other person on the phone;
  • Publishing a list of individuals who refuse to pay debts, not including reporting the information to a credit reporting company;
  • Not disclosing the debt collector’s information when communicating with someone;
  • Contacting third-parties connected to the debtor and giving them information regarding the debt and/or why they are calling;
  • Contacting the debtor at work or showing up at the debtor’s work.

The FDCPA prohibits misrepresentations from being made about the debt. Essentially, the FDCPA makes it so debt collectors cannot use false, misleading or fraudulent practices when collecting on the debt. This means the debt collector cannot lie about how much is owed, cannot make false threats that the company will have the debtor arrested, cannot make false statements that the person on the phone is an attorney when he or she is not, cannot make threats to do things that are not legal, and cannot make threats to do something that the debt collector, in fact, has no intention of doing or right to do.

After the debtor has experienced a series of these violations, the FDCPA requires the debtor to send written notification to the debt collector to stop communicating with him or her and informing the debt collector that this communication is in violation of the FDCPA. If the debt collector continues to push and communicate with the person after this notification, it is recommended that the debtor file a claim for an FDCPA violation. If the individual does file an FDCPA claim and wins, the debt collector will pay the debtor damages, as well as attorney’s fees for having to file the claim.

It is highly recommended that the debtor keep a file of all communication received by the debt collector and keep all recordings of voicemails or other communications. It is also recommended that the debtor write down all dates and times that these conversations have occurred, along with notes about what was discussed in the event a legal claim needs to be filed.

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.

Click here to read more on this story.

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.

 

 

Credit Card Debt, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

Debt Collectors’ Dialing Strategies Come Under Scrutiny in State Supreme Court Ruling

A recent Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling has given consumers more protection from creditors seeking payment on outstanding debts while leaving some questions unanswered for creditors. The court has ruled in Armata v. Target Corporation, that creditors are not exempt from rules that limit contact with consumers who owe them money.

A copy of the decision can be found here.

In this case, the consumer, Debra Armata, incurred debt through her Target-brand debit card, and this debt became more than 30 days past due. Target then began to collect on the debt and contacted Armata using a predictive dialer. These devices transfer the cardholders who do answer the phone to a live representative about 95 percent of the time with the other five percent of the time leading the person to a recorded message.  There are no voicemails left if the person does not answer the phone.

Under Massachusetts law, debt collection laws limit how many times a creditor can try to contact a consumer telephonically to collect on a debt, limiting these calls to two every seven days. However, according to the Massachusetts Attorney General, any unsuccessful attempts by the creditor do not constitute initiation of communication if the creditor was “truly unable” to reach the debtor or leave a message.

Target did not argue that it contacted the plaintiff more than two times in seven days. However, the company argued it did not initiate communications because it uses an auto dialer and does not leave voicemails if no one answers. The company stated it was exempt from these regulations for this reason as it was “truly unable” to reach Armata.

The Court disputed this argument stating that Target was trying to create too large of a loophole that would essentially allow any creditor to avoid the limits imposed by state law by using auto dialing technology. It would leave debtors unprotected from these continuous communications.

The attorney general’s term “truly unable” was better defined in the opinion. One example given by the court was if the person did not answer the phone and did not set up his or her voicemail. If that situation occurred or the person’s voicemail was full, or phone disconnected, then the company would qualify as being “truly unable” to reach the consumer.

The court also clarified that creditors who use automatic dialers or those who voluntarily decide to not leave voicemail messages, such as Target, are subject to the state’s regulations.

Target had also argued that the company was not able to leave voicemail messages because doing this would risk violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The court pointed out that the company did not fall within the restrictions of the FDCPA, since that law covers third-party debt collection agencies and not the actual creditors themselves, such as Target.

Click here to read more on this story.

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, Credit, Debt Relief

Rent-A-Center Accused of Kicking in Doors and Crushing Customers’ Credit

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.

Click here to read more on this story.

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, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

Second Landlord This Month Held in Contempt of Court for Willful Violation of the Bankruptcy Automatic Stay

Miami bankruptcy attorney Timothy S. Kingcade’s Motion Granted by Judge, Creditor Required to Cease and Desist all Eviction Proceedings and Pay Attorney’s Fees and Other Sanctions

MIAMI – (May 11, 2018) This is the second time this month Bankruptcy Attorney Timothy S. Kingcade, founding partner of Miami-based Kingcade Garcia McMaken and Attorney Kristina Gonzalez, have successfully obtained an Order for a client in a Chapter 7 case, requiring the creditor to  cease and desist all eviction proceedings and pay attorney’s fees.  The creditor in the case (In re Danny Looney Case No. 17-25332-LMI), Massmar Investments, LLC, was listed in the bankruptcy petition and was advised multiple times that the client was in bankruptcy.

“This is a victory today for our client. The landlord in this case chose to completely disregard the automatic stay put in place that protects bankruptcy clients from harassment and repossession of property. Despite having notice of the bankruptcy, the landlord continued with eviction proceedings, disregarded the law and harassed my client to no end,” Kingcade said. “Unfortunately, this is something we are seeing more of in my practice.”

The Order directs creditor, Massmar Investments, LLC to cease and desist any further eviction proceedings and dismiss the wrongfully filed eviction case, abide by the automatic stay, and pay attorney’s fees to Kingcade Garcia McMaken for having to bring forth the action.

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Miami-based Kingcade Garcia McMaken was established by managing partner and bankruptcy attorney, Timothy S. Kingcade in 1996. The firm represents clients throughout the State of Florida in Chapter 7 bankruptcy and foreclosure defense cases. The firm is committed to providing personalized service to each and every client, clearly explaining the options according to the unique circumstances of his or her life. The office environment and the service provided are centered on a culture of superior client care for the financially disenfranchised. All partners and associates at Kingcade Garcia McMaken specialize in consumer bankruptcy and foreclosure and have dedicated their practices to this area of the law. Additionally, all attorneys and staff members at the firm are bilingual speaking Spanish.

For more information visit, https://www.miamibankruptcy.com/.