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April 2017 Archives

Is threat of foreclosure seeping into your divorce proceedings?

The challenges Florida spouses face in divorce are typically many. No two marital situations are exactly the same that lead couples to ultimately determine divorce as the most viable option for resolving their particular issues. The divorce process is seldom easy, and it's often necessary to compromise and cooperate in order to negotiate fair and agreeable terms regarding family-related matters, such as who will keep the marital home.

Some consumers harassed over medical debt

The second-largest number of complaints about collection agencies violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act comes from Florida, and in many cases, those debts are medical debts. Some collection agencies use prohibited practices like calling repeatedly, calling employers or threatening consumers. In other cases, the debts do not even belong to the people who are being contacted or were long since paid off. The issue goes beyond just headaches for consumers since bad credit can affect a person's ability to get a loan or even a job.

How a personal bankruptcy affects credit scores

Florida residents who are struggling to cope with overwhelming debt are often reluctant to file for bankruptcy for several reasons. Many fail to pursue this form of debt relief because they believe that filing under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 will irreparably damage their credit ratings, but a discharged personal bankruptcy can sometimes make borrowing easier after a period of time.

Debt collectors often resort to coercion

There are more than 6,000 debt collection companies around the country, and they contacted about 70 million consumers about allegedly unpaid bills in 2016, according to a survey conducted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Debt collectors most often contact consumers in Florida and elswewhere regarding credit card or medical debt, and an alarming number of these calls involve coercion or threats according to the CFPB data.

Bank argues that it is not subject to the FDCPA

In Florida and across the U.S., debt collectors and creditors are required to follow different procedures when they are attempting to collect debts that are owed. The practices of debt collectors are stringently regulated under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. By contrast, creditors who originate their own loans are able to collect on them without being regulated by the FDCPA.

About medical debt collection practices

Every year, millions of people in Florida and throughout the nation who have debt related to medical expenses get contacted by debt collectors. Aggressive collection tactics are routinely used by the debt collectors, many of whom try to collect payments from the wrong customers. Based on the 17,701 complaints that have been submitted to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, there are widespread issues with medical debt collection.

Don't dismiss the importance of a Chapter 13 discharge

Like other Florida residents, you might dismiss the value of filing for bankruptcy because you own property that would more than likely end up sold at auction to pay your creditors in a Chapter 7. However, another chapter of bankruptcy, Chapter 13, could allow you to keep your property and deal with your financial situation. At the end of the process, you could receive a discharge of many of your debts.

Credit use climbs in Florida

A report from the Federal Reserve indicates that the total amount of consumer credit reached $15.2 billion in February 2017. This represents a growth rate of 4.8 percent, and it pushed total use of credit cards over $1 trillion. Revolving credit, which includes credit cards, grew at an annual rate of 3.5 percent.

Medical debt and creditor harassment

When Florida residents are coping with high medical bills, they sometimes find themselves the target of aggressive bill collectors. This can be particularly exasperating for several reasons, including the fact that they may be recovering from an illness and that the information that the collection agency has about the debt may be inaccurate.

Getting real about bankruptcy

When Florida consumers are faced with significant debt, bankruptcy is often a consideration. Unfortunately, many people dismiss the idea of bankruptcy due to misconceptions about how it works and the effect it will have on their personal finances.

Filing fee reimbursement not allowed in Chapter 13 plan

Florida consumers who file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy may have their filing fee waived under some circumstances. However, there is no such waiver in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. In some cases, debtors may pay their filing fee in installments. One debtor had her filing fee paid by her attorney, who advanced her $310 with the expectation that it would be repaid.

Seniors, debt relief and bankruptcy

For the first time in 2012, households led by people over the age of 50 had on average more credit card debt than those headed by people under 50. Some Florida seniors may still be paying off their student loans, or they might be paying for their children's education. Those who do not have enough saved for retirement may be paying even basic expenses with a credit card. Some may find that what was a manageable credit card debt while they were employed is difficult to keep up with during retirement, and debt may present an impediment to entering an assisted-living facility.

Unemployment benefits in Chapter 13 bankruptcies

Filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition allows Florida residents to obtain debt relief while retaining their assets. Debtors who take this path must submit a plan detailing how their future income should be used to pay off at least a portion of their debts over a period of either three or five years, but these proposals do not go into effect until they have been reviewed and confirmed by a bankruptcy judge. Individuals or married couples are expected to reveal all of their current and future sources of income, but there are a few exceptions.

What comes first, divorce or bankruptcy?

One of the main reasons that Florida couples file for divorce is money problems. Divorce is not a fix-all for financial struggles, but can actually bring a host of money-related problems. For this reason, a person considering divorce may also consider the benefits of seeking bankruptcy protection. If you are already struggling with finances, filing for bankruptcy first can be helpful.

Personal bankruptcy filings soar during tax season

Many Florida residents use their income tax refunds to pay bills or fund a vacation, but others use the money to cover the costs of filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 personal bankruptcies. Taking advantage of the fresh start offered by the nation's bankruptcy laws involves paying filing and legal fees, and many Americans struggling with overwhelming debt are unable to meet these costs. Income tax refunds can solve this problem, and personal bankruptcy filings generally soar during tax season as a result.

Rising interest rates may result in more debt

As a result of growing confidence in the economy, the Federal Reserve increased the benchmark interest rate by a quarter of a point earlier in March. For many Florida credit card holders, this is going to result in a potentially substantial increase in what they owe. This is because many credit cards have variable interest rates, and the interest rates are generally tied to the benchmark interest rate.

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