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.

Debt Collection, Debt Relief

What Rights Do Consumers Have When it Comes to Debt?

When someone is in debt, he or she may feel trapped with nowhere to turn. According to Northwestern Mutual’s 2018 Planning & Progress Study, the average American consumer has $38,000 in debt, not including their mortgage.

As soon as creditors or debt collectors begin contacting the consumer regarding what he or she owes, the person may feel like he or she has no choice but to do whatever is being demanded of him or her. However, most consumers do not realize that they do, in fact, have rights when it comes to debt they owe. It helps to know what these rights are when debt collectors or creditors come calling.

Bankruptcy Law, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

How Debt Collectors Trick Consumers into Reviving Old Debts

Creditors can be extremely creative when attempting to collect on a debt. Many of them rely on the fact that most consumers do not truly understand the laws surrounding debt collection. The average consumer may not know creditors only have so long to collect on a debt under the state’s statute of limitations. After that time has passed, the creditor or debt collector is barred from taking legal action to collect on the debt.  But that does not mean they can’t stop trying to collect on it.

The problem is many debt collectors will still attempt to get payment on the debt, even after it is past the legal statute of limitations. This practice is often referred to as “zombie debt collection.” Their hope is that the consumer will pay on the bill, even just a partial amount, reviving the debt, and then giving the debt collector the legal right to sue to collect on the remaining debt.

It is important that consumers be aware of what the statute of limitations is for their given state. In Florida, debt collectors may not collect on a debt that is more than five years past due for written contracts, such as personal loans. For other debts, including those with revolving accounts, such as credit cards, the statute of limitations is four years.

Bankruptcy Law, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

How To Know If You Are Being Scammed By a Debt Collector

Scams are everywhere, especially when it comes to debt collection. Many times, a debt collection scam will even try to get you to pay on a debt you do not owe. It helps to know what red flags to look for to avoid becoming the next victim of a debt collection scam.

One of the reasons why debt collection scams are so dangerous is that they take advantage of someone when they are at their weakest. These scammers are aware that the person they are calling is already in a difficult financial situation, and can be easily taken advantage of.

For the most part, these types of scams play out in the same manner. The scammer contacts a person and tells him or her that they are calling on behalf of a collection agency, law firm or other government agency and that they are reaching out to collect on an overdue debt. If the caller refuses to comply, the scammer then makes threats of wage garnishment, telling their friends, family or employer of the outstanding debt, even threatening arrest and jail time.  If the person answering the phone is savvy enough to know that no company can legally do these things, the threats will have no effect. However, many times, the person answering the phone plays right into the scammer’s hands.

If you are on the receiving end of one of these calls, you need to know your rights. The first of these is the right to receive written confirmation of the debt. Under U.S. law, debt collectors are required to provide a written validation notice of any debt, when requested. In this notice, the collector must include the amount owed, the name of the original creditor, and a statement of the person’s rights. If a debt collector refuses to provide this information, this refusal is a red flag that the call is a scam.

If you have any suspicions that the caller is not legitimate, do your research. Make sure the caller is real by asking for the company’s name, telephone number and street address. Never provide credit card information or bank account information over the phone. If the collector is legitimate, the company will likely have all this information already. Also, if the collector asks for payment through PayPal or other electronic transfer, this is another red flag that the call involves a scam.

More recent scams have attempted to collect on debt that is past the statute of limitations. You may have owed this debt at one point in time, but after a certain length of time has passed, the debt is no longer legally collectible. However, scammers hope that the caller does not know this fact and will make payment, thereby ‘re-activating’ the debt. For personal loans, the statute of limitations in Florida is five years, while oral contracts and revolving accounts, such as credit cards, the statute of limitations is four years. The written verification provided for the debt should allow you to confirm whether the debt is past the statute of limitations.

If you see any of these red flags, hang up immediately. Do not give the person on the other end of the phone any information and report the call to the Federal Trade Commission or the Florida Attorney General’s Office. It also helps to know your rights under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA), which makes it illegal for debt collectors to use abusive, deceptive, unfair or threatening practices when collecting on a debt.

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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.

 

Additional source:

 

https://www.debt.org/faqs/americans-in-debt/consumer-florida/

Bankruptcy Law, Credit Card Debt, Debt Relief

Tips for Negotiating with Debt Collectors

Working with a debt collector is normally not a pleasant experience. Debt collectors are persistent when trying to reach a debtor, and many will stop at nothing until they are successful at getting payment. Any time someone is late on or has missed a payment, that person should expect some type of communication from a collector, whether it be in written form or through phone calls. Many times, it is a combination of both. It helps to know your rights when dealing with a debt collector and know how to work with them on negotiating your debt.

Get Verification of the Amount Owed

Never assume that the information the debt collector is providing is completely accurate. Believe it or not, many scams are out there where debt collectors attempt to collect on debt that belongs to another person or is entirely past the statute of limitations. As soon as the debt collector makes contact, ask them to provide written verification of the amount owed.

Also, verify the credibility of the debt collector. Ask for the person’s name, the name of the company, a business address and a phone number. It pays to do some research into the company to see if they are, in fact, a legitimate debt collector. Also, review the amount they say is owed against your own records to ensure that the amount is accurate. Collection agencies are bound by law to send a validation letter within five days of contacting a debtor, listing the debt amount, the original creditor, and what the debtor should do in the event an error is discovered. It could be possible that a debtor owes on a specific debt but in a smaller amount than the collector is arguing they owe. Always verify before making payment.

Debtor Rights

One big mistake many debtors make is assuming that they have no rights when speaking with a debt collector, which is very far from the truth. Because many times, a debt collector’s actions will border on the edge of harassment or threats, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA, was enacted, which prohibits a debt collector from deceiving, threatening or harassing a debtor while collecting on a debt. The FDCPA prohibits any type of communication that threatens the debtor, includes profane language, or makes the debtor feel harassed. The collector can also not lie to the debtor, threaten to arrest or deport him or her, or threaten to take the person to court without any intention of doing so. A debt collector is also prohibited in the times that he or she can contact a debtor. Calls cannot be made before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. If a debt collector is violating the FDCPA, inform them of the violation and demand that no more communication be made. The collector can be reported to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as well as the Better Business Bureau and the Florida Attorney General.

Look at the Type of Debt

It also helps to know what type of debt is involved when dealing with a collector. Many times, different options exist for payment plans based on the type of debt, whether it be credit card, medical debt, or something secured with collateral, like a car or home. Medical debt creditors tend to be more willing to work out a payment plan than credit card creditors. Also, if the debt involved is a medical debt, double check to make sure that the debt was processed by insurance first. Student loan service providers may also be more likely to work with a debtor on an income-based repayment plan or even may offer a deferment option to allow the debtor to get back on his or her feet first before continuing payment.

Some collectors will work with a debtor on a lump sum payment that is lower than the amount owed in exchange for releasing the debt. Ask if that is a possibility on the balance, and if it is, see if the collector will settle for a partial repayment over receiving nothing.

Be Aware of the Statute of Limitations

As mentioned previously, debt collectors will also try to get a person to pay on a debt that is past the state’s statute of limitations. It is highly possible that a phone call from a debt collector is on a debt that is past the time frame in which they have a legal right to pursue payment. The statute of limitations for Florida is five years for written contracts and four years for oral contracts or revolving accounts, such as credit cards.

Use the “Bankruptcy” Word

Sometimes it does benefit the debtor to mention that he or she is considering filing for bankruptcy. The collector wants to receive payment, and if the debt is something that is unsecured, such as a credit card or medical debt, it could easily be discharged through bankruptcy. If this happens, the creditor will end up receiving nothing. Tell the collector that bankruptcy is being considered not as a threat necessarily but more as a push to motivate them to negotiate. However, only do this if repayment in any form is an actual possibility. Otherwise you could be making empty threats.

Always Get It in Writing

When dealing with debt collectors, any time someone works out an agreement with the collector, it is imperative that he or she memorialize the agreement in writing. This rule of thumb applies for whatever type of agreement is reached, whether it be a debt repayment plan, a change in payment terms, or a lower interest rate. Request that the agreement be sent via mail, and always review the terms very carefully before signing on the dotted line. Make sure nothing has changed from what was originally discussed. Many times, a debt collector may add some additional language that was not agreed upon, and once the contract is signed, the debtor is bound by that agreement. Always review before signing.

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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 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.

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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

How Long Can a Debt Collector Pursue an Old Debt?

When it comes to debt collections, certain rules do exist as to how long a debt collector can attempt to collect on a debt. These rules apply to the actual lawsuits themselves, as well as credit reporting.

Statute of Limitations

Every state has what is referred to as a statute of limitations, laws which set a limit as to how long an individual has to bring a legal claim on a certain matter. States have limitations on how long a debt collector has to collect on a debt. In Florida, the statute of limitations varies for different types of debts. For 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 in order to collect owed money.

However, the problem is the debt collectors are not obligated to tell the consumer that they are past the statute of limitations. It is up to the consumer to do the research and know his or her rights if a debt collector is trying to communicate with a them regarding an old debt.  There are ways to deal with old debt. Most states have a statute of limitations for debt collections that restricts collections on debts that are four to six years after the date the debtor last made a payment.

One thing to keep in mind, if you think the debt is past the statute of limitations- do not pay on it, until you confirm. A single payment towards an old debt can revive that debt, restarting the statute of limitations.

Indefinite Attempts to Receive Payment

Technically, while there are laws that state how long a debt collector can take legal actions to collect on a debt, there is no law saying they cannot keep trying to contact the individual to pay on the amount.  For all purposes, the original creditor can try to get the individual to pay indefinitely, unless the debt has been settled or discharged in bankruptcy.

The law does restrict certain tactics taken by third-party debt collectors who are trying to collect on a past-due debt. The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) specifically prohibits any communication from third-party collectors that is abusive, harassing or threatening. If a third-party debt collector is continuing to call to the point where the communication is harassing, the individual can send a written letter ordering that debt collector to cease and desist.

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, Timothy Kingcade Posts

Steps to Take if Your Personal Debt Goes to Collections

When someone is facing serious amounts of debt, it can feel like there is no end in sight. Odds are the individual is fielding continuous calls from debt collectors, all of whom are threatening legal proceedings if the person does not pay the debt owed. However, certain steps can be taken to help handle personal debt issues and hopefully avoid a lawsuit.

1. Review the Debt in Question.
The first step is to review the debt amount. Do not automatically trust what the debt collector is telling you, the debt they are attempting to collect could be expired or past the statute of limitations. It is recommended that the person facing the debt collection action first examine the information provided, research the collection agency that is reporting the debt and see if any discrepancies exist. The debtor has 30 days to verify that the amount is correct after the collection agency has contacted him or her. Take advantage of this time and carefully review the debt before making any payments.

2. Dispute an Incorrect Debt.
If, during this 30-day period, the individual discovers any figure that is inaccurate or unusual, it is recommended that he or she report this and provide proof that it is inaccurate. It is possible that the debt collection agency will clear up any discrepancy and adjust it as necessary.

3. Be Aware of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Not many individuals are aware that they do, in fact, have rights when it comes to collections. Simply because someone has missed a payment and has fallen delinquent does not mean that he or she has no rights. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is a federal law that protects the rights of consumers against harassment and aggressive collection practices by third-party collection agencies. Take the time to review the law and to understand what these rights include.

4. Discuss Payment Options.
If the debt is valid, it can help to talk with the collection agency about payment options. At the end of the day, these companies would rather be paid than have the debt be discharged in bankruptcy. Talk with the company to see what payment options are available. The consumer should examine his or her household budget to see what can be done to make payments to repay this debt.

5. Negotiate the Debt.
Another option that many consumers do not realize they have is to negotiate the debt. Many debt collectors or creditors are quite open to discussing other options for payment. If the individual is facing extreme circumstances or hardships, the creditor or collector may be willing to at least reduce the amount of debt owed or extend the deadline for payment.

6. Know the Statute of Limitations.
Every legal matter comes with its own set deadline for when legal claims can be made. Every state has its own statute of limitation for how long debts can be pursued. It is important that the consumer research what his or her timeline is and know what actions affect this timeline.

7. Be Aware of the Timeline.
After the collection proceeding is over, the debt will stay on the person’s credit report for seven years. This seven-year timeline does not start from when the delinquent account was originally opened but rather seven years from the time it became delinquent. Being aware of this fact can help when negotiating a payment on the debt since a paid debt will be viewed more favorably than one that continues to remain unpaid.

8. Understand the Consequences.
It is equally as important that the individual know what the consequences are to leaving a debt unpaid for too long. It also helps to know what the consequences are of ignoring a legal action if one is eventually filed. If the person is sued, it is extremely important that he or she at least appear in court and respond. It can be tempting to just ignore the matter, but by not appearing in court, the individual is likely to lose by default judgment and could have their wages garnished.

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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

Supreme Court Supports Bids to Collect Expired Debts in Bankruptcy

Voting 5-3, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that debt collectors can use bankruptcy proceedings as a means to collect old debts, where the statute of limitations has expired. The court ruled that this was not a violation of the U.S. Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Consumer advocates accused debt collectors of violating the law by filing tens of thousands of outdated claims with bankruptcy courts in hopes that some debtors would not object.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion in which Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan joined. “Professional debt collectors have built a business out of buying stale debt, filing claims in bankruptcy proceedings to collect it, and hoping that no one notices that the debt is too old to be enforced by the courts.  Debt collectors do not file these claims in good faith; they file them hoping and expecting that the bankruptcy system will fail,” Sotomayor wrote.  This practice is both “unfair” and “unconscionable,” she added.

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If you are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, 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, 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.

 

Bankruptcy Law, Credit, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

U.S. Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Debt Collection Appeal

The U.S. Supreme Court has decided to hear an appeal filed by Midland Funding, a subsidiary of Encore Capital Group, which was sued by an Alabama debtor named Aleida Johnson. Johnson entered into bankruptcy in 2014 and claims Midland Funding has sought payment of $1,879 in debt that Johnson had incurred more than a decade earlier. Alabama has a six-year statute of limitations for debt to be collected.

Supreme Court Justices will decide whether or not people can sue companies who have attempted to collect debts that they are not legally required to pay back due to their state’s statute of limitations.

It is common practice for some debt collection companies to attempt to collect on an old debt that is not legally recoverable under state law. However, if a debtor does not object to the payment, claims can be made against them when they enter into bankruptcy.

Click here to read more on this story.

If you 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.