Consumer Bankruptcy, Debt Collection

Should I Hire a Debt Relief Agency to Avoid Bankruptcy?

Consumers often resort to seeking the assistance of a debt relief company in an effort to avoid filing bankruptcy. However, hiring a third-party debt relief company is not always a wise decision for the consumer if bankruptcy is inevitable.

Some consumers decide to retain the services of a debt settlement company to negotiate payments on their outstanding debts. However, often the better option ends up being either having the consumer directly settle his or her debts without hiring another company or having the consumer move forward with filing for bankruptcy.

Debt settlement companies say they can work directly with the consumer’s creditors to settle their outstanding unsecured debts. In order to accomplish this, most debt settlement companies tell their clients to stop making payments on their debts, thereby pushing the debts into collections. The debt settlement company will then tell the consumer to pay them a monthly fee, which will be set aside into a savings account for future settlement of the person’s debts.

Unfortunately, there are many things a debt settlement company fails to tell the consumer when they are hired to negotiate the consumer’s debts. Ultimately, debt settlement is a business, and the company is looking out for their bottom line, not the consumer’s best interest, which is why so many debt relief scams exist.

First, while the debt settlement company is working on the consumer’s behalf, the total amount of debt will continue to grow thanks to interest accruing and fees being assessed when the consumer stops making payments. The consumer will also find his or her credit score taking a significant hit during this time since defaulting on a financial obligation is reflected poorly on someone’s credit report. Additionally, the creditor is under no obligation to work with the debt settlement company. They may be successful in settling a debt, the creditor is not obligated to take a settlement offer just because one is made. The creditor is always within their rights to pursue the full amount owed.

The consumer’s credit score will definitely be impacted by debt settlement. Essentially, entering debt settlement is an admission of the consumer not paying his or her debts as originally agreed. Additionally, the debt settlement will stay on the consumer’s credit report for seven years.

Ironically, debt settlement can also leave the consumer in an even worse situation than when he or she started, especially if the efforts to negotiate the debts are unsuccessful. For many consumers, going through debt settlement is essentially delaying the inevitable filing for bankruptcy. It is usually best for the consumer to first sit down with a bankruptcy attorney and analyze his or her situation to see which route is the best one to take.

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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.

Debt Relief

What is Debt Relief and When Should I Seek It?

Debt can seem like an insurmountable burden, impossible to escape once a consumer has gotten too far in. Different options are available for dealing with credit card debt, student loan debt, and other consumer debts.  

Many times, consumers find themselves overwhelmed with several different types of debt in differing amounts.

Bankruptcy Law, Credit Card Debt, Debt Collection

Important Tips to Know about Credit Card Debt Forgiveness

Credit card debt plagues so many today. Even with the economic stimulus relief, some consumers are having to utilize credit cards to make ends meet. Escaping the load of credit card debt can seem like an impossible feat. Whenever someone offers a way out or credit card debt forgiveness, it can be easy to jump to accept the offer. The problem is credit card debt forgiveness can be more complicated than simply having the debt forgiven.   

Not All Debt Forgiveness Strategies Are Equal  

Credit card debt is forgiven usually from two strategies, namely debt settlement or bankruptcy. Many consumers try a third strategy, which involves ignoring the amount owed until the statute of limitations has passed for collecting on the debt.  However, the damage that can result to the consumer’s credit score as a result of this failed strategy make it often not worth the wait.  

Kingcade Garcia McMaken, Timothy Kingcade Posts

Kristina Gonzalez Named Partner at Kingcade Garcia McMaken, P.A.

The Miami-based bankruptcy and foreclosure defense law firm of Kingcade Garcia McMaken is pleased to announce the promotion of Kristina Gonzalez to the position of Partner with the firm.

“We are delighted to have Kristina become a Partner with the firm. Kristina is an exceptional bankruptcy lawyer and is the perfect fit to support our firm’s growth and positioning as the leading consumer bankruptcy law firm in Miami,” said Timothy S. Kingcade, the firm’s Managing Partner.

Ms. Gonzalez focuses her practice on Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies, foreclosure defense, and debt settlement. Kristina represents debtors throughout the bankruptcy process – initiating petitions, guiding debtors through meetings, depositions, and litigation with the trustee and advocating for debtors before the bankruptcy court.

Credit Card Debt, Debt Relief

Average American Consumer Carries over $90,000 in Debt

Most American consumers carry some form of debt. In fact, debt has become a way of life for many Americans. Whenever a big purchase needs to be made, consumers will often apply for financing to pay for this purchase. This can include items like a home, car, furniture, or even for basic purchases.  

According to data from the credit agency, Experian, as of 2019, the average American consumer has $90,460 in debt from various sources, including mortgages, student loan debt, personal loans and credit cards. Escaping this debt load can be tricky, and Experian’s data shows that certain generations struggle more than others when handling consumer debt. 

Credit Card Debt

How to Negotiate Your Credit Card Debt

When someone owes a large amount of money on credit cards, the possibility of ever paying down that balance can seem impossible. Simply making the minimum monthly payments can be a struggle, as well, especially during the current pandemic. However, credit card companies would rather work with the consumer directly in lieu of the account going into default, forcing them to pursue a collection on the amount owed. It is possible to negotiate directly with the credit card company on the amount owed in certain circumstances.  

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, certain credit card companies are working with consumers who are behind on payment. This assistance is temporary in nature but can include pausing payments, reducing interest rates, waving late fees, and putting a pause on interest charges.  

Debt Collection, Debt Relief

How to Work with Debt Collectors When You Are Not Able to Pay

Dealing with debt collectors is stressful, especially when the person owing the debt simply does not have the financial resources to pay. It can be easy to fall behind on bills, and before too long, the consumer will find himself or herself juggling countless collection calls. These calls are not always pleasant. After all, the debt collectors have one job to do and that job is to receive payment on the debt. What is the best way to deal with debt collectors when an individual is not able to come up with the payment?

Stay Calm and Attempt to Work with the Collector

Debt collectors have a reputation of being aggressive when performing their jobs. However, it is important to stay as calm as possible when communicating with a debt collector. If a consumer agrees that he or she owes the debt and does not have the resources to do so, it may still be beneficial to at least attempt to work with the debt collector on paying on the debt. If the person does not have the money but still wants to pay, the collector may mark the consumer down as “refused to pay.” However, do not fear this label. It is essentially meaningless in the collection process. It does not make the collection case against consumer any worse or any better.

Debt Relief

The Downsides of Using a For-Profit Debt Settlement Company

Carrying large amounts of debt is stressful, which is why many people turn to debt settlement companies to fix the problem. However, it pays to use caution when seeking solutions with consumer debt. Countless for-profit debt settlement companies exist, offering deals that seem too good to be true, hoping that they will be able to entice a consumer to use their service. Consumers who hire a for-profit debt settlement company often find there is more risk than reward.

Debt settlement companies are easy to find, whether on the internet or on TV commercials. We have all seen them.  These companies use lines such as– “Settle your debt for less than you owe”, “We work with your creditors to reduce your monthly payments,” etc.

Credit Card Debt, Debt Relief, Medical Debt

How to Handle Debt in Retirement

For many Americans, including those entering retirement, being in debt is a way of life. According to numbers published by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, four in every 10 retirees report getting out of debt as a top priority. Many of them are struggling to the point where bankruptcy is their only way out. In fact, the Consumer Bankruptcy Project reports that one in every seven bankruptcy filers is over the age of 65.

One of the reasons why seniors are struggling financially has to do with living on a fixed income. All it takes is for one medical crisis to strike to set them back significantly in their financial goals. The hopes of entering retirement debt free can be difficult for those carrying large amounts of credit card debt and student loan debt. It also does not help that larger companies cut back or even took away pensions for American workers who pinned their hopes of retirement on these plans.

Credit Card Debt, Debt Relief

How to Protect Your Wages from Credit Card Companies

A credit card company can garnish a person’s wages following a successful judgment, which is why it is important to not ignore collection attempts. While it can be hard to fight wage garnishment after it is entered, consumers do have options to protect themselves in the event this does occur.

Settling the Debt

One of the best ways to avoid a wage garnishment is to work directly with the credit card company or debt collector. Many times, the company may be willing to work with the consumer rather than go through the effort and spend the legal fees to take them to court.

They may require the consumer provide some type of proof that his or her financial situation is solid enough to handle the settlement amount. If the debt is large, they may require some type of security to ensure payment will occur.