Debt Collection

Debt Collectors Will Soon Be Reaching Consumers via Text and Social Media

Debt collectors will soon have another way to reach consumers. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a ruling outlining how collectors will soon be able to reach consumers via text messaging and social media The federal government has cleared the way for collection agencies to send unlimited texts, emails and even instant messages on social media platforms. 

Debt collectors will be required to include instructions on how to opt out of these messages within the text of the communication. The CFPB will also limit collectors to calling consumers to seven calls per week per debt.  

Debt Collection

Consumer Groups Dispute Proposed Debt Collection Rule

A new rule is being proposed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that would require debt collectors to notify consumers as to whether they can be legally sued for a debt they are attempting to collect. This rule follows complaints made by consumers regarding debt collectors threatening to collect on debts that they otherwise would not be able to pursue legally.

Every state has statutes of limitation which control how long an individual or entity can bring a legal action. For collection of debt, this timeline in Florida is five years for debts resulting from written contracts, such as personal loans, and four years for oral contracts or revolving accounts, including credit cards. If a creditor contacts a consumer regarding a debt past that deadline, the consumer is not under any legal obligation to pay.

Coronavirus, COVID-19, Debt Collection, Debt Relief

Debt Collectors Argue They are ‘Essential’ to Consumer Financial Health During COVID-19 Shutdown

The coronavirus (COVID-19) has hit American consumers hard, putting many of them temporarily out of work. Relief efforts have been made on a state-by-state basis to assist consumers.

New York residents have been given a 30-day freeze period from state-owned medical debt and student loan debt collections. Another similar announcement came from the mayor of Chicago with respect to city debt through April 30, 2020.  The Department of Education has suspended collections on federal student loans, and they are encouraging private student lenders to do the same.

Bankruptcy Law, Debt Relief

The Biggest Violations Made by Debt Collectors

Debt collectors can be persistent to the point of becoming threatening or intimidating. However, this does not mean consumers are without rights. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) protects consumers from unfair debt collection practices by third-party debt collectors. The law provides when debt collectors can contact individuals, what information they can provide to third parties, and other protections.

In 2018, the Federal Trade Commission received a total of 84,500 complaints regarding debt collectors. The following violations are the most common offenses made by debt collectors.

  1. Failure to Provide Written Verification of the Debt.

Any person who is contacted regarding a debt has the right to get written verification of the amount owed. Under the FDCPA, the debt collector must send written verification of the debt within five days after making initial contact. In that communication, the debt collector needs to provide the amount owed, the name of the original creditor, and information regarding how the individual can dispute the debt. However, many debt collectors fail to follow through on this requirement. Alternatively, many consumers are not aware they have the right to request this information.

Bankruptcy Law, Credit, Timothy Kingcade Posts

How Long Do Debt Collections Affect Your Credit Report?

When you are being pursued by debt collectors, the incessant phone calls can make you feel anxious and stressed.  The number one piece of advice we give when dealing with creditors is to be honest with them.  Never make a promise to pay if you are unable to do so and do not avoid creditors or collection attempts.

A collections action is essentially any type of collection on a debt. Whenever a creditor submits an account to collections, a notification is submitted to the credit reporting agencies. This notification will almost always result in the consumer’s credit score dropping. The more collections that show up on the person’s credit report, the bigger the drop will be. Any type of collections will show up on a credit report, including credit cards, medical bills, loans and mortgages.

Once a collections action is reported, it will stay on a person’s credit report for seven years.  The same time period applies for missed or late payments. To put these figures in comparison, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case will stay on a person’s credit report for ten years and Chapter 13 bankruptcy for seven years.

Credit reports treat debts all in the same manner, so if the collection is for a secured debt, such as a home or car, it will be treated the same way as credit card debt. However, medical debt is treated somewhat differently than other unsecured debt. New rules regarding medical debt have made it more difficult for it to impact your credit score as quickly. The new rule builds additional time between patients and insurance companies to resolve such matters.  Up until this point, there was no grace period and medical debt could appear on your credit report as soon as it was reported as an unpaid debt. The three credit reporting agencies now have to wait 180 days before putting an unpaid medical bill onto your credit report.

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.

Related Resource:

https://www.myfico.com/credit-education/faq/negative-reasons/how-long-negative-information-remain-on-credit-report

 

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

Tips to Protect Yourself from Zombie Debt Collectors

Debt collectors can be persistent when it comes to trying to collect on a past-due account. While many of these efforts may be completely valid, debt collectors will even try to collect on debt that is not legally collectible, otherwise known as “zombie debt.”

What exactly is zombie debt? A zombie debt is a past-due account that is outside of the statute of limitations, meaning it is not legally collectible. Every state has a statute of limitations which sets how long a creditor has to sue on an unpaid debt.

Florida’s statute of limitations varies depending on the type of debt. For example, written contracts such as personal loans, the statute of limitations is five years. So once this type of debt is more than five years past due, the lender can no longer sue to collect money owed. For other debts, the statute of limitations is shorter. Oral contracts and revolving accounts such as credit cards have a statute of limitations of four years.

However, just because the timeline has passed does not mean the creditor will stop trying to collect on the old debt. Many debtors will mistakenly pay on a debt that is past the statute of limitations because they are not aware of this legal protection.

It is extremely important that you not pay on a debt that is past the date for the statute of limitations.  A single payment can reactivate the debt and reset the clock on the statute of limitations. This tactic is otherwise known as re-aging an old debt, and it is one that is commonly used by debt collectors to trick debtors into paying on a debt that they would not be legally obligated to pay.

If a debt collector contacts you on a debt, the first step to take is to request written verification on the debt. The debt collector must provide you with information to show how old the debt is and how much is owed. If the debt is past your state’s statute of limitations, you will not be legally required to pay back the debt.

It also helps to know your rights when it comes to communications from debt collectors. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), third-party debt collectors are prohibited from engaging in collection tactics that are harassing, threatening or illegal. If the collector is contacting you before the hours of 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m., they are in violation of the FDCPA.

The same rule applies if they contact you at work if you have informed them that they are not to contact you there. They are prohibited from using threatening or abusive language when trying to collect on the debt, as well. They also cannot misrepresent who they are by saying that they are an attorney or litigation firm when contacting you. They are also not allowed to threaten a lawsuit if they know they have no grounds to file one, especially if the statute of limitations has expired.

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.

If you have received notice of a lawsuit on a debt that has expired per the statute of limitations, do not ignore the suit and simply assume the court will recognize on its own that the debt is old. Courts give you a limited time to file an answer to a legal complaint, and by not responding, you could end up with a default judgment that is not in your favor. If you receive a notice of a claim for a debt that has expired, it is important that you contact an attorney who can file an answer on your behalf stating that the debt is past the statute of limitations and further protect your legal rights.

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, Credit, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

5 Signs it’s Time to File for Bankruptcy

Filing for bankruptcy is a complicated process and a decision that should not be taken lightly.  But for some, it is the only solution that will get them out of debt and serious financial problems.  So how do you know if bankruptcy is right for you?  Here are five signs it’s time to consider filing for bankruptcy:

You are being sued by debt collectors.  When you fail to make payments on a debt, that debt gets turned over to a collection agency.  If the collection agency’s calls and letters go unanswered they may file a lawsuit against you.  Fighting these lawsuits can be difficult and if you lose, you will likely end up paying more in attorneys’ fees and court costs.  It is best to not let it get to this point.  Filing for bankruptcy provides you legal protection against creditors and debt collectors.  Once the automatic stay is issued, it bars any additional collection attempts, including lawsuits being filed against you.

Your credit cards are maxed out.  This not only is affecting your credit score negatively, but you are likely trapped in a cycle of making only the minimum payment on these cards while the interest accrues to amounts you will never be able to pay off.  Credit card debt is one of the easiest kinds of debt to discharge in bankruptcy.

Your wages are being garnished. If a creditor obtains a court order for a wage garnishment, your employer is required by law to abide by the order and withhold money from your check each pay period until the debt is paid off.   If your wages are being garnished you can still be protected by the automatic stay, which will halt further wage garnishment.

You cannot afford your bills.  If you were recently laid off from your job or had an unexpected medical expense, for many Americans it is just a matter of time before even a small amount of debt can spiral into something much greater.   Chapter 7 bankruptcy is specifically designed for individuals and families whose income level is not sufficient to pay their debts.

You are in danger of losing your home.  If your financial situation has reached the point where you are behind on mortgage payments and facing possible foreclosure, filing for bankruptcy can help you get caught up on those payments while staying in your home.

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.

Related Resources:

https://smartasset.com/credit-score/4-signs-its-time-to-file-bankruptcy

Bankruptcy Law, Credit, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

Seniors and Bankruptcy: The Reasons Older Americans Are Filing

Medical debt is the No. 1 cause of personal bankruptcy filings in the United States and a key reason more seniors are filing for bankruptcy.  Another reason for the uptick in bankruptcy filings among Americans 50 and older is the rising cost of healthcare.  We recently did a posting on Tips for Seniors to Avoid Medical Debt. The 2005 Bankruptcy Reform Act made it more difficult for some consumers to qualify for bankruptcy, but it did not change the number of people who had more debt than they could afford to pay.

Making matters worse for older Americans are the collection practices of unscrupulous debt collectors. A recent report from the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that debt collection was the most-complained about product or service for consumers over 62.

Bankruptcy brings with it emotional relief and getting their case filed and debts discharged relieves so much stress for our clients.  Seniors can protect assets through bankruptcy. Social security, 401(k)’s, pensions, qualified profit-sharing plans, and individual retirement accounts worth up to $1.245 million are all exempt from creditors during bankruptcy. This means that retirement income and savings are out of reach and protected under federal law. Protecting equity, which is the value of a property, minus the amount owed, is important for seniors. Using a homestead exemption, designed to protect the equity of a main residence in a bankruptcy, will usually keep retirees from losing their homes. Florida homeowners can take advantage of the fact that Florida does not have a limit on the equity that is exempt.

Click here to read more on this story.

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.

Bankruptcy Law, Credit, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

What Debt Collectors Can and Cannot Do

The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) limits the tactics that debt collectors can take to collect on a debt.  Here are 10 things debt collectors can and cannot do.

5 Things Debt Collectors Cannot Do:

  1. Come to your place of work. It is illegal for a debt collector to come to your workplace to collect on a debt. The FDCPA prohibits a debt collector publicizing your debts and showing up at your place of work to collect on a debt.
  2. Harass you. Harassment can come in a variety of forms and include: repeated phone calls, threats of violence, publishing information about you, abusive or obscene language.
  3. Arrest you for debt. You cannot be arrested for a debt you owe.
  4. Purse you for a debt you do not owe. Incomplete or inaccurate documentation can lead to a debt collector pursuing the wrong person for payment.  The issue is not uncommon, but it is illegal.
  5. Call you at any time. It is illegal for debt collectors to call you before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m. You can request that a debt collector stop calling you, but your obligation to pay still remains.

 

5 Things Debt Collectors Can Do:

  1. Seek payment on an expired debt. Even debts that expired according to the statute of limitations can still be requested from debt collectors.  These unsecured debts can include credit cards and medical bills.  Remember: You cannot be sued for payment on these expired debts.
  2. Pressure you. While debt collectors cannot threaten you, they can apply pressure to collect payment.  Pressure can include daily calls, frequent letters or talk about pursuing a lawsuit for payment.
  3. Sue you for payment on a debt. A debt collector can sue you for non-payment. These type lawsuits can result in wage garnishment, bank levies or both.  It is best to consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney before you are sued or there is a judgment entered against you in regard to an outstanding debt.
  4. Sell your debt. A collector can resell debt it has not been able to collect on. So if one debt collector stops contacting you about a debt, do not be surprised if another starts.
  5. Negotiate what you owe. Because debt collectors buy debts for sometimes pennies on the dollar, they have fairly large profit margins if they collect the original amount owed. This gives them more flexibility in negotiating payment. You may be able to negotiate a settlement for 25% or 30% of what you originally owed.  Remember, to get the agreement in writing so you have proof that the amount paid was all that was required in the settlement.

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:

https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/finance/things-debt-collectors-cannot-do/