Consumer Bankruptcy

Fear Holds Many People Back from Ever Filing Bankruptcy

There are many people who can benefit from bankruptcy, but put off filing due to fear and the myths surrounding bankruptcy. Bankruptcy offers consumers a fresh financial start and relief from the burden of debt, but for many, it is the fear of the unknown that holds them back from ever taking the first step. Every year, only a small portion of consumers who could benefit from bankruptcy actually move forward with starting a case.

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, approximately 14 percent (14%) of U.S. households or nearly 17 million consumers owe more than they own. While most of these individuals could benefit from bankruptcy, less than one percent (1%) of them file for bankruptcy annually. In 2020, there were only 752,160 personal bankruptcies filed. 

Bankruptcy experts refer to this gap in filings as “missing bankruptcies” or otherwise known as bankruptcy filings that should theoretically be happening, but are not. However, an even wider gap has been made in the past few months with bankruptcy filings dropping significantly in the second quarter of 2021. Figures are at about 60 percent (60%) of what they were for the previous five years.  

During the COVID-19 pandemic, courthouses were forced to close, making it hard for creditors to pursue legal collection actions against consumers, including foreclosures and wage garnishments. For the most part, foreclosures and wage garnishments are the biggest driving forces behind bankruptcy filings. Without these moving forward in the court system, bankruptcies have also been affected.  

This decrease in bankruptcy filings is only temporary, as courts begin to reopen and business getting back to normal. One fear many have is that people will wait too long to file, relying on the temporary benefits they have received during the pandemic to get by.

Many times, consumers delay filing due to the fear of losing everything they own, including cars, homes, or personal property. This fear is rooted in misconceptions regarding the protections that bankruptcy exemptions offer consumers.  In fact, the great majority of people who file for bankruptcy never have to give up any of their possessions. 

Other individuals hold off on filing for bankruptcy for fear of what the filing will do to his or her credit. While, yes, a bankruptcy filing leads to a drop in the person’s credit score, this credit can be rebuilt as soon as the filing is complete.  It is possible to be approved for financing in the future with proper financial habits and good spending behavior. A bankruptcy case does not mean the person is forever barred from ever taking out a loan or mortgage in the future.  

Whatever the reasons may be for the delay in filing for bankruptcy, a consultation with a bankruptcy attorney can quickly clear up many of the fears and misconceptions that may be holding a person back in taking that first step towards a fresh financial start.  

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

Post-COVID Debt Continues to Grow as Bankruptcy Filings Fall in 2021

Financial analysts had predicted a bankruptcy surge following the COVID-19 pandemic. Courts were closed for the majority of 2020, but as they began to reopen, it was believed that a massive wave of bankruptcy filings would follow. Oddly enough, that surge never came, and the number of consumer bankruptcy filings continue to drop.

According to figures from the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI), 181,000 bankruptcy cases were filed in the U.S. by May 2021, which is 29 percent lower than the number of cases filed by that time in 2020. As many people were forced out of jobs or laid off with businesses temporarily or even permanently closing, consumers are continuing to rely on credit cards to cover expenses.

It is reported that consumers wait an average of 22 months after their first 90-days past-due notice before filing for bankruptcy, accumulating what is called ‘shadow debt.’   

Shadow debt is debt that has not shown up yet on the consumer’s credit report, such as unpaid rent, accruing medical bills, and bounced checks. This shadow debt causes a great deal of stress for consumers as they work through the decision to file for bankruptcy. Many consumers report that they seriously struggle with debt for up to two years before making the decision to file.  

Most of this shadow debt is unsecured debt or debt that is not otherwise secured by collateral. Common forms of unsecured shadow debt are past-due credit card bills and medical bills. An ABI study reports that shadow debt can increase on average by $7,200 for each month the consumer delays filing for bankruptcy.  

According to a National Bureau of Economic Research study, consumers owe an average of $240,000 in total debt by the time they actually file for bankruptcy. Therefore, delaying filing for bankruptcy is not always the best decision. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can help determine if bankruptcy is the right option for that individual.

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, Consumer Bankruptcy

The Three Most Common Fears People Have When Filing for Bankruptcy

The fear of losing everything is a very real concern for those contemplating bankruptcy. However, this is one of the most common bankruptcy myths, and can keep individuals who are drowning in debt from obtaining a fresh financial start.

To make the bankruptcy process a little easier to understand, we have dispelled the top three fears people have when filing for bankruptcy.

student loan debt, Student Loans

Biden Administration Cancels Additional $55.6 Million in Student Loan Debt

The Biden Administration canceled an additional $55.6 million in student loans for 1,800 students who were found to be victims of fraud. This additional amount brings the total amount of student loan debt cancelled by the Biden administration to $1.5 trillion. 

Since entering office, President Biden has made it his mission to stand up for the thousands of students who were taken advantage of by for-profit colleges. This most recent effort was focused on students who attended Westwood College, Marinello Schools of Beauty, and the Court Reporting Institute. Previously, the administration had approved loan forgiveness for students who attended ITT Technical Institute, the American Career Institute and Corinthian College. This is the first time the Department of Education has approved loan forgiveness for students attending for-profit schools not including these three.  

Debt Collection

How Federal Laws Protect You When Dealing with Debt Collectors

Dealing with debt collectors can be stressful. Their job is to get the consumer to pay on a debt at any means necessary, which can often mean through coercion, harassment, and fear. Many debt collectors have been known to use aggressive or illegal tactics to collect on a debt, leaving many consumers to feel like they have no choice but to make payment to get them to go away. However, federal law offers certain protections when it comes to debt collectors. It is important that consumers understand what these protections are so that they are aware of what rights they do have when dealing with debt collectors.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), nearly one in every four people have a debt in collections. Illegal debt collection practice is a common complaint made to the CFPB.  

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.

Consumer Bankruptcy, Legal Awards

Miami Bankruptcy Attorney Timothy S. Kingcade Named a Florida Super Lawyer 8 Consecutive Years

Managing Shareholder, Timothy S. Kingcade of the Miami-based bankruptcy and foreclosure defense law firm of Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been selected for inclusion in Florida Super Lawyers 2021, in the practice area of consumer bankruptcy. This is the eighth consecutive year Kingcade has been selected to the Florida Super Lawyers list (2014-2021). The prestigious honor is awarded to only five percent of lawyers in the state.

After receiving one of the highest point totals, Kingcade was also selected to be on the Florida Super Lawyers Blue Ribbon Panel. Only those in each practice area with the highest point totals are asked to be part of the panel to evaluate the candidacy of fellow lawyers to enter the prestigious Super Lawyer rankings.

Debt Collection

Can Debt Collectors Contact You on Social Media?

Debt collectors will attempt to contact a consumer through any means necessary to collect on a debt. As more consumers communicate with each other via social media, debt collectors are utilizing these platforms as another means to contact consumers.

A federal agency issued a new rule that would allow debt collectors to contact people by email, text message, and social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

The new rule limits how many times the collection agency can contact the consumer via telephone. Collectors will be limited to seven debt-collection phone calls weekly, but they are allowed to send an unlimited number of text messages, email messages, and social media private posts.

student loan debt, Student Loans

Former ITT Tech Students Receive Debt Relief from Biden Administration

The U.S. Department of Education announced Wednesday that 18,000 former ITT Technical Institute students who were found to be defrauded by the shuttered for-profit university will have their federal student loans cancelled in full. This move is a step in the right direction. The for-profit school closed permanently in 2016, leaving tens of thousands of students with massive student loan debt, and no degree.  

More than 30,000 former students petitioned the Department of Education to cancel their debt under the “borrower defense to repayment law.” However, even after being defrauded by ITT Tech, their claims were denied by officials under the Trump administration.  

Credit Card Debt

Negotiating a Lower Interest Rate on Credit Cards

Paying down a credit card balance can be difficult, especially if the card carries a high interest rate. According to CreditCards.com, the average credit card interest rate in the U.S. is 16.15 percent (16.15%), and for many consumers, their interest rate is significantly higher, which can make paying off large balances very difficult. The good news is credit card interest rates can be negotiated, so long as the consumer knows how to do it.   

It helps to do some preparation before contacting the credit card company. The consumer should first be aware of what his or her credit score is before making contact. The credit card company will closely examine the consumer’s credit score, as well as his or her payment history. Every consumer is entitled to a free annual credit report, which should be closely reviewed before calling the credit card company. Be aware of all missed payments or late payments in case these are brought up in conversation.