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

Can you spot a debt relief scam?

When it comes to getting out of debt, if something sounds too good to be true, it likely is. When someone is facing a difficult financial situation and are unable to make ends meet, they may feel like there is nowhere else to turn. It is for this reason that it is important to be cautious when approached regarding debt relief.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Florida Attorney General are actively monitoring these types of scams in hopes of stopping them before more people become victims. Countless debt relief scams exist out, with individuals behind them looking for a way to make money with no intention of helping the person paying them. In fact, one of the strongest determinations of whether you are being targeted by a scam is when the company demands payment upfront. Odds are, once they take your money, they have no intention of doing anything at all.

The FTC and Florida Attorney general recently stopped this exact type of debt relief scam where the company told potential clients that they would pay, settle and completely get rid of their debt. However, once they took the person’s money to engage their services, they did absolutely nothing. In the meantime, the individuals who paid the company to settle their debts took the advice of the company’s representatives and stopped payment on their overdue accounts. Soon, these accounts fell into default, damaging the credit scores of the affected individuals.  Many of these victims were also faced with lawsuits from creditors.

This situation is unfortunately all-too-common. If someone offers to resolve your debt situation but insists that you pay them a large sum upfront, it is likely that this person is offering you a scam. A legitimate company will not force you to make a payment up front.

Another sign of a debt relief scam is the company will guarantee that all debts will be forgiven by creditors. No one can guarantee this fact, and if someone is making the effort to tell you that they can, odds are, they are part of a scam. Creditors are under no obligation to forgive debts.  Some will reduce the payment in a settlement amount, because they would rather at least receive some form of payment in lieu of having to pursue a collection action, but they are not obligated to do so.

When in doubt, do your research when choosing the right debt relief option. You may be able to find information about the scam before you become their victim, and if you do find yourself contacted by a debt relief scam, it is always recommended that the scam be reported to the Florida Attorney General’s Office and FTC.

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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.

Bankruptcy Law, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

Generation X Carries Most Debt Out of All Generations

Debt presents a problem for many Americans today, but one generation clearly stands out among the rest in terms of holding the most consumer debt. In fact, according to a recent study published by LightStream Survey conducted by the Harris Poll, nearly 80 percent of all members in the Generation X, ranging from ages 36 to 51, have some level of debt. The report showed that eight in ten members in this age category carry debt.

Coming in just below this were members of the Millennial generation, consumers between the ages of 20 and 35. Approximately 75 percent of all members in this age group carried debt. The next group was the Baby Boomer generation, which includes individuals between the ages of 52 and 70, with 69 percent of them carrying some type of debt.

While all three of these generations carry debt, it is the mindset of those in the Gen X category that presents the most cause for concern. Those surveyed in Gen X reported that they felt it was impossible to pay off a significant debt once it was incurred. Additionally, 25 percent of those in this demographic reported that they were not confident in how they were handling their finances. However, in the survey data, these individuals did state that they would be willing to give up hobbies or extracurricular activities to get rid of their debt payments, which does show some promise.

On average, individuals in Generation X carry $30,334 in “non-mortgage debt.” In comparison, Baby Boomers hold $27,513 and Millennials hold $22,784 in non-mortgage debt.

Getting out of debt can also be problematic for individuals in this generation, as well. Those who are younger may be able to use their savings or cash in their investments to reduce their debt, but it may be too difficult for Gen X members to dip into their retirement savings to pay off debt.

If you are struggling with insurmountable debt, dipping into retirement savings is never advisable.  These are protected in bankruptcy along with the following bankruptcy exemptions in Florida. Many individuals are already struggling to pay for obligations, including helping aging parents as well as adult children. While they are not quite at the age of retirement, they are approaching that point, making it too close for comfort to use retirement savings.

Continuing to struggle with debt is a slower, less effective way to pay it off.  Many different debt relief options exist, including debt consolidation, debt settlement or negotiation and bankruptcy – but it is important that as a consumer you research your options carefully.

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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.

 

Bankruptcy Law, Credit, Credit Card Debt, Debt Relief

Average U.S. Household Carries more than $8,000 in Credit Card Debt

Americans are borrowing more this year, as the average household carries $8,284 in credit card debt, according to the personal finance site WalletHub.  This total surpasses the previous year, where the amount of debt was $8,107 per household.

The total amount of credit card debt held by Americans is now at a staggering $974.2 billion, which is three percent more than the $949.9 billion reported last year.  Miami is reported as the second highest metropolitan area with the most credit card debt in the U.S.

One major problem with these figures is how close the debt is to being at the point where it is considered “unsustainable” when comparing the debt held to the average income being brought in by the average American.

The current debt load is said to be $177 from this point of “unsustainability.” What is even more worrisome is the Federal Reserve is expected to increase interest rates on December 19.

The study reports that American credit card debt is nearing the highest point it has been since the Great Recession. Financial experts are concerned that it could go past that point in 2019 if things do not change.

Not all the figures from this study were so dismal. Many Americans have worked diligently to pay off their debt, and WalletHub’s data showed that Americans paid off $40.8 billion in credit card debt in the first quarter of 2018. This figure represents the second-largest quarterly payoff of debt ever reported, which is promising. However, the study did also report that since that time, Americans have added $38 billion back to their credit card debt balances.

Many consumers have looked for resources to find debt relief. For some, credit counseling is a valid option, although it is important you know what to look for when choosing the right credit counseling agency. Our attorneys are here to help you if you are struggling to deal with credit card debt and wish to know your options.

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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.

 

Credit, Credit Card Debt

More than Thirty Percent of Homeowners Paying for Home Renovations with Credit

Despite the fact that American homeowners hold more equity in their homes than ever before, a growing number are using credit cards for major renovations. This trend has financial experts scratching their heads as to why these homeowners are choosing to use credit cards in lieu of less risky options to pay for major home expenses.

According to a recent study done by home improvement website Houzz and Synchrony Financial, of the home renovations completed in 2017, over 36 percent of them were funded by credit cards. This figure has jumped over 25 percent from 2011 where 29.5 percent of home renovations were paid with a credit card.  It appears as if this number is steadily increasing over the years.

In the survey, 85 percent of those who responded said that they utilized cash or savings to pay for their renovations, which is the ideal situation. However, 33 percent of them said they used credit cards to pay for the renovations, while only 15 percent of them used a home equity loan.

This new trend seems to be led by the millennial generation. These younger homeowners prefer to use credit in lieu of a long-term loan to pay for major expenses. Of the homeowners surveyed between the ages of 25 and 34 years old, 41 percent of them paid for home renovations with credit cards. Of the older demographic, specifically homeowners over the age of 55 years old, only 30 percent of them used credit cards for major renovations.

This younger generation of homeowners is more likely to pay off these expenses over the course of time. According to the survey, over 60 percent of those individuals intend to pay those credit card balances over the course of time. In fact, many of these homeowners make these large expenses by using a promotional card, many of which offer low or no interest for a specific period. If the homeowner can pay off the expenses within that period, they will not have to pay on any interest. The problem arises when the homeowner is not able to pay the balance before the promotional period expires. If that happens, he or she will be paying a large interest rate on the remaining balance. This possibility of incurring interest is additionally why many older homeowners prefer to pay for renovations with a home equity loan.

Another reason these younger homeowners are using a credit card for payment is the quick access they have to the funds. Applying for and being approved for a home equity loan can be a much longer process, and if the homeowner needs the money quickly, a credit card may seem like the better option. However, the consequences of using a credit must be weighed against the benefits before determining which option is best for you.

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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.

 

 

Bankruptcy Law, Credit, Debt Relief, Student Loans

Trump Proposal Could Protect Student Loan Debt Collectors

Bloomberg reported the U.S. Department of Education could issue a directive that says federal law prohibits state governments from regulating student loan debt companies that collect student loan debt on behalf of the Education Department.

A document from the Department of Education that was obtained by NPR states:

“Congress created and expanded the Direct Loan Program with the goal of simplifying the delivery of student loans to borrowers, eliminating borrower confusion, avoiding unnecessary costs to taxpayers, and creating a more streamlined student loan program. Recently, several States have enacted regulatory regimes or applied existing State consumer protection statutes that undermine these goals.”

If the directive is enacted, the student loan debt collectors will benefit because they would face less regulations. Student loan borrowers are currently protected by state regulators who do not allow collectors to use aggressive tactics and unfair business practices to collect on debts.

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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. 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.

Bankruptcy Law, Credit, Debt Relief, Student Loans, Timothy Kingcade Posts

New Data shows 43 Percent of Credit Card Holders Have More Than $15,000 in Debt

According to the Federal Reserve, credit card debt is the highest it has ever been in the U.S. In December, American’s had a total of $1.029 trillion in credit card debt. This means the average household had $8,732 in credit card debt. A survey conducted by Student Loan Hero reported that 43 percent of credit card holders surveyed had more than $15,000 in credit card debt and 58 percent had at least $6,000 of credit card debt for more than a year.

The Federal Reserve also reported that the average interest rates on credit cards are approximately 14.99 percent, which makes it much more difficult for Americans to pay off their debt.

Carrying a consistent credit card balance is detrimental to your financial well-being. One option that is often overlooked by cardholders is getting a credit card consolidation loan. According to Student Loan Hero, only 52 percent of cardholders that have more than $6,000 in credit card debt have consolidated.

Below are three ways credit card consolidation loans may help you.

  1. They typically come with lower interest rates than credit cards do, meaning you are paying less in the long run.
  2. Installment loans set firm repayment plans, unlike credit card companies. This means you are more likely to pay off your debt when making your minimum payment each month.
  3. They combine your payments. This comes in handy if you have debts across multiple credit cards.

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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.

Credit, Student Loans, Timothy Kingcade Posts

How To File For Bankruptcy with Student Loan Debt

For consumers struggling with significant debt, filing for bankruptcy may be your best option to provide you with a fresh start. If your debts consist of federal student loans, it is not an easy process to get these discharged in bankruptcy; however, it is possible.

The first thing you must do is to decide whether you will file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the goal is to get unsecured debt wiped out. This means, you have little disposable income available to pay off your debts. If you choose to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your plan is to get your debts restructured in order to repay some of it. This also means you likely have some disposable income to repay part of your debt.

The most important part of your case when you have student loan debt is that you must prove “undue hardship” to the court. This means that you must prove that you cannot pay back your federal student loans. In order to prove undue hardship, you and your bankruptcy attorney must file a petition called an adversary proceeding, which is unique to bankruptcy involving student loan debt.

In most courts, The Brunner Test is used to evaluate hardship. Below are 3 factors of The Brunner test outlined by the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid office:

  • The filer cannot maintain a basic standard of living if paying back federal student loans
  • The filer can prove the hardship will last for a large percentage of the repayment period
  • The filer honestly tried to repay the loans before filing

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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. 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.

Bankruptcy Law, Credit, Debt Relief

Steps to Take if a Creditor Has Seized Your Bank Account

If you owe a debt to a creditor or a collection agency, they can legally seize your bank account and take back what is owed. However, agencies are supposed to notify debtors about the lawsuit beforehand. Unfortunately, creditors can take everything in your bank account and leave you with nothing if it is the same amount or less than what is owed.

Although your options are limited, here are three of your best options at this point.

  1. File Bankruptcy. If a creditor seizes your account and you immediately file for bankruptcy, you may be able to recover some or all of the money that was in your account. In some states, you can “exempt” those funds that were seized from your bank and the creditor would be forced to return it.
  2. Contest the Lawsuit. You may be successful in contesting the lawsuit if you were not properly served.
  3. Stop using your Account. If the first two options fail, it may be in your best interest to avoid keeping funds in your bank account. Creditors may continue to seize your funds until the balance is paid in full.

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If you have any questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorneywho 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

Things Not To Do Before Filing Bankruptcy

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, the list of actions to avoid is just as important as the list of things to do before filing. If you do not avoid these simple decisions, it may prevent you from getting debt relief.

  • Do not transfer assets out of your name. Doing so raises huge red flags in bankruptcy court, particularly if the transferal of assets occurs right before bankruptcy filing. In some cases, hasty asset transfers may be illegal.
  • Do not use a credit card for large cash advances. Many filers choose to max out their credit cards before filing for bankruptcy because they fear losing credit later or they assume the debt will be discharged. However, if someone has no intention of paying money back, it is considered fraud.
  • Do not pay off a preferred creditor. Oftentimes, bankruptcy filers try to pay off debts with friends and family members before filing. However, bankruptcy court may make them give the money back so other creditors can get their share.
  • Do not make large purchases. It may seem like a good time to make large, expensive purchases since your debts are about to be discharged, however; the bankruptcy court may consider these purchases fraudulent.

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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.

Credit, Debt Relief

3 Tips for Dealing with Credit Card Debt with Rising Rates

The Federal Reserve announced earlier this year that it would begin withdrawing some of the trillions of dollars it has invested since the Recession began in 2008. Although the decision is a sign that the bank is confident in the continuation of economic growth, it also means that interest rates will continue to hike. At the recent policy meeting, central bank members decided to push the target range to 1.25 percent to 1.5 percent, raising the benchmark interest rate a quarter point. This means consumers’ credit card debt is becoming more and more expensive.

Below are three tips to help you reduce or eliminate your credit card interest before the Fed increases the rate again.

  1. Try a balance transfer from one credit card company to another. Typically, credit card companies will offer you competitive rates if you inquire about transferring a credit card balance. Companies often allow you to pay a low introductory rate for a specified number of months. Before completing a transfer, ask if there is a transfer fee, and make sure the transfer makes sense.
  2. Opt for a personal loan. In recent years, many consumers are taking out personal loans as an alternative to credit cards. Although the payments are typically higher, the loans have fixed terms of five years or less and force you to get out of debt much quicker. Another selling point of personal loans is that they have fixed interest rates, which means if the Federal Reserve raises interest rates, personal loan rates will not be affected.
  3. If all else fails, another alternative is calling your credit card company and simply asking for a lower rate. Your credit card company may not reduce your rate a significant amount, but every little bit helps in the long run.

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://www.forbes.com/sites/nickclements/2017/12/04/3-strategies-to-deal-with-credit-card-debt-in-a-rising-rate-environment/2/#3e811eed1b19

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/12/13/fed-hikes-rates-by-a-quarter-point.html 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/20/business/economy/fed-bond-buying.html