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Do I Have To Go To Mediation To Save My Home?

With a large part of the American public facing foreclosure, a question that frequently arises is how the case gets resolved. Some cases go to trial, with the homeowner challenging the foreclosure as wrongful. Still yet, some cases are settled out of court through arbitration or mediation. There is always more than one way to get something done, and saving your home from foreclosure is no exception.

In Florida, a program has been put in place for mediation of foreclosures. The process is aimed at keeping the owner in their home, and does so by:

● Seeking modification of the mortgage loan.

● Getting the lender to agree to place deferred payments at the end of the loan, and allow the borrower to resume payments without a delinquency.

● Working towards a reduced interest rate, which results in lower payments that are more manageable for the homeowner.

Being ordered to participate in mediation does not necessarily mean the parties have to reach a resolution at the meeting. If the process does not yield results, the parties can ask the Court to make a decision. It is also possible to revisit the process at a later stage in the litigation. Sometimes what seemed like an unsatisfactory result can being to look more doable after more facts are revealed throughout the case. If you have exhausted your efforts in Court and at mediation and are still unable to formulate a plan with your lender that keeps a roof over your head, you can also consider restructuring your mortgage debt through a bankruptcy proceeding. Call our office for more information. We will explain your options so you can make an informed decision.

If you need help with saving your home, call our office. We explain the different processes, and help you reach results that fit the facts of your case. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

Is Bankruptcy The Answer To The Foreclosure Crisis?

Is it a buyer’s market, or a seller’s market? This is an important question if you are in the market for a house, or are trying to sell your home. But, it may not matter, and the foreclosure upswing the country saw a few years ago may be getting ready to hit again. When the economy slowed, thousands of homeowners lost their homes to foreclosure, or opted to file bankruptcy to avoid a foreclosure. In recent years, the market seems to have stabilized somewhat, but financial experts warn another round of foreclosures may be just around the corner.

A PBS report outlines the issues as follows:

● Many families are working multiple jobs, just to maintain mortgage payments.

● Most lenders are failing to work with struggling homeowners to lower interest rates, re-write loans, or reduce payments to a manageable level.

● When mortgage holders do seem helpful, the process is long and confusing, leaving many borrows uncertain as to the result.

The problem is the same now as it was then, most homes are valued at less than what is owed. This leaves owners unable to sell their property to get out from under the loan, and many lenders unwilling to help. One possible answer is to seek the protection of bankruptcy. When filing bankruptcy, a consumer can opt for a Chapter 13, which will allow the borrower to keep their home and pay only its value rather that what is due. This will ensure the lender receives at least a portion of what is owed, and will give the debtor a chance to regain financial footing.

If you are unable to meet your monthly obligations as they become due, call our office for help. We can help you stay in your home, and develop a budget that fits your financial situation. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

Can An Auto Lender Bait And Switch?

Predatory lending isn’t just for home loans, it is also typical when consumers visit the car lot. A common lending tactic among auto lenders is the “bait and switch”. What happens is that the lender lures in a potential buyer with a deal on a certain auto, then claims not to have finalized the financing and requires you to return to sign more papers. Most times this happens after you’ve driven off the lot!

The result of bait and switch financing is that you can be stuck with agreeing to a loan with less favorable terms, because you are left with no other choice. In most instances any trade in vehicle you had has been resold, and due to your need for transportation you agree to sign a contract for more money, or a higher interest rate. Other deceitful auto lending practices to watch for include:

● Multiple window stickers, with a manufacturer’s price as well as a sticker for dealer additions.

● Limited time offers.

● Undervaluing a trade in.

If you are asked to return to a dealership for any of these reasons, be sure to arrive prepared. Take a friend along with you, so you will have a witness who can corroborate your story at a later date. Also ask for the dealer to put their reasons for the need for a new loan in writing. This will give you the proof and evidence you need to hold the dealer accountable for unsavory lending practices if the transaction goes south. If you are informed the contract is no longer valid, be sure and request return of your down payment. If you do not receive your money back, and the dealer is unable to articulate a reason, you should seek the assistance of a qualified attorney immediately.

For assistance with auto lending bait and switch, or other bad lending tactics, call our office. We will review the facts of your case and develop a strategy that meets your needs. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

What To Do About A Privacy Breach?

With identify theft on the rise, and even recent breaches in security on the IRS’ website, it is important now more than ever to safeguard your financial data. Lenders are required to provide their privacy policies, and give you an opportunity to opt out of certain practices. One area you can advise your creditors to leave you out of is in the selling of your data to other entities. While the practice is common, and is used for things like marketing new products or services, it can leave you exposed and vulnerable to ID theft. You might also be a victim of stolen identity when there is a privacy breach of mass proportions. We’ve all heard the stories about certain credit card companies experiencing breaches, and warning their customers of possible leaks in information. The best thing to do in these circumstances is to close your account, or request a new card with a different number.

Other things you can do to protect your financial data include:

● Check your mail daily, so offers for credit don’t sit in your mailbox for an extended period of time.

● Stop your mail from delivery when you go on long vacations, or ask a trusted friend or family member to retrieve your mail regularly.

● Shred documents that contain your personal information before throwing them in the trash.

● Don’t carry your social security card in your purse or wallet.

● Never provide personal information over the phone, unless you initiated the call.

A regular checkup of your credit report can be helpful in identifying possible privacy breaches, and help you to catch a problem early. The sooner you take action, the sooner you can avoid damage to your credit and finances. If you believe you’ve been the victim of a privacy breach, call us to find out what to do next.

We will review the facts of your case and develop a strategy specifically tailored for your needs. We offer an individualized approach and work with you to reach satisfactory results. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

What Is Predatory Lending, And What Can I Do About It?

Everyone is out to make a profit, and this includes banks and other lenders. The way a lending institution makes money is by making loans. The interest received on loans that are not paid in full monthly adds up quickly, and is a major revenue source for creditors. This is why you receive “offers” in the mail for everything from car and home loans, to loans that will pay for your vacation. If you are able to make the payments, and the terms are favorable, this type of advertising is harmless. But, when the terms are unreasonable, or the lender deceives you into making the loan that problems arise.

The practice is referred to as predatory lending, and some of the signs include:

● Fees in excess of the standard fees for the type of loan, a loan made to someone with a credit score similar to yours, and a loan made in your geographic area.

● Penalties if you pay off the loan before its maturity date.

● Loans by companies that advertise things like “bad credit OK”.

When talking about a mortgage loan, if you are not given the chance to escrow your taxes and insurance you should also question whether the loan in question is the right one for you. It also a good idea to be wary of loan structures that pay off higher rate debts by repeated refinance attempts. The more often you rely on the equity in your home for income, the more likely you are to end up without any equity at all. This can make resale difficult, and leave you with few financial choices. Lenders that gloss over these concerns may be engaging in predatory lending, and you should get a second opinion. There are laws against these practices, and if you have been the target of a predatory lender, you can take action to recovery any damages you’ve suffered.

Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information on your legal options against a predatory lender. We help you understand the process and work towards results that make sense. Schedule an appointment to learn more.

 

 

Can Older Debtors Avoid Collection?

Having debt is not limited to a certain age group. This is especially true in today’s economy, where it is becoming more likely that people work well beyond retirement age in order to continue paying their bills. The law does not discriminate between who is sued for a delinquent debt, and who is not, just because of their age. The unfortunate result is that a good number of the elderly are being made to answer collection lawsuits, and they are doing so without fully arming themselves with the knowledge needed to obtain satisfactory results.

While the options to avoid collections may be limited, depending on your circumstances, there are some important things senior citizens should know about the process. Not only is social security not subject to attachment by a wage or bank garnishment, but there are other forms of income that are exempt. SSI is also not subject to being garnished, and it is also a form of supplemental income that should be explored in order to boost an elderly person’s bank account. SSI is available for:

● Blind, aged, or disabled persons with little to no income.

● Provides funds to meet basic needs.

Federal disability payments are also yours to keep, and cannot be garnished or taken from you. If you are being asked to make payments from any of these sources of income, or are being garnished and your only income are these sources, you can seek to have the monies returned to you. One way to avoid these consequences in the first place is to keep the lines of communication open with your creditors. Providing the information about the source of your income before legal action is taken may prevent a creditor from proceeding further. Before deciding how to respond to collection efforts, consult with a qualified debt relief attorney to learn your options.

If you have questions about how to avoid collections and what income sources are off limits, call our office for help. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

Can I Cram Down My Mortgage In Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is a popular way to avoid foreclosure, and allow you to get back on your feet and able to make your mortgage payments. There are two main types of consumer bankruptcy, a Chapter 7 and a Chapter 13. A Chapter 7 is like a liquidation, which means most of your debt (usually unsecured debt, like a credit card) is eliminated. For things you want to hang on to, in a Chapter 7 you will have to keep making the payments. This can be problematic if your budget is too tight to make the payments without filing bankruptcy. So, what is the answer? A Chapter 13 might be more appropriate for you, because it is more like a debt consolidation. What this means is that you have the ability to pay less for certain debts. This is referred to as “cramming down” the value, and it can significantly reduce the amount of your monthly payments.

A Chapter 13 Plan provides the blueprint for repayment of your debt, over a period of up to five years. In a Chapter 13, repayment is based off of the value of property rather than the amount due. Repaying the value is how the cram down of the loan is achieved. For a mortgage, the following factors come into play:

● The property must be investment property rather than your primary residence.

● The value of the property is less than what is owed.

● Second mortgages can also be crammed down.

The benefits of a cram down are that your payments are reduced. The reduction in payment is achieved by paying a lower balance, and might also include making payments at a lower rate. When you file bankruptcy and are successful in paying less than what is owed, you also benefit because any deficiency remaining is no longer due. For more information on how you can pay less for a mortgage through bankruptcy, call our office.

If you are underwater on a loan for real property, let an experienced attorney help you. We fight save you money in interest payments, and also by paying the value of your property rather than an inflated amount due. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

What To Do When Collection Efforts Persist After Bankruptcy

The purpose of filing bankruptcy is to give the honest, but unfortunate debtor a fresh financial start. The goal is discharge of debt, which means debts that were once due are no longer required to be paid after the bankruptcy case is over. When you file bankruptcy, your creditors are given notice and they are prohibited from contacting you to collect what is owed. This is also true after the bankruptcy is over. Upon receiving a discharge of debt, the creditor can no longer seek recover the balance of the loan. However, there are instances where a creditor continues to call or send letters, and if you are in this situation you should take action against the creditor.

Because the bankruptcy discharge acts as an injunction against future collection of the debt, if  a creditor persists in doing so, you can file a case against that particular creditor. Some common causes of collection efforts after the discharge include:

● The debt being sold to a party that is unaware of the bankruptcy.

● Poor record keeping by the creditor.

● The debt was not listed in your bankruptcy, even though it was owed when you filed.

Sometimes simply advising the creditor of the bankruptcy information will stop the calls. This can be the case for a creditor that bought the debt from the original lender, but was not advised of the bankruptcy filing. In that instance, providing the case number and discharged date may do the trick. For debts that were inadvertently left off your bankruptcy, the Court still considers them discharged and advising the creditor as such should stop the collection efforts. However, there are cases where educating the creditor about the filing and discharge don’t work, and collection tactics continue longer after your bankruptcy case has ended. When that happens, you have the right to sue the creditor for violating the discharge order, and you can recover monetary damages for the violation. A trained consumer bankruptcy attorney can help in this endeavor, and will fight for the compensation you deserve.

If you are being contacted for payment of a debt discharged in bankruptcy, call a knowledgeable attorney to discuss your options. We can help you understand your choices and make a decision that works for you. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

Avoiding Student Loan Collection Harassment

The cost of college or post graduate programs is quickly skyrocketing. Many graduates are finding it difficult to make their student loan payments, and are even resorting to working multiple jobs just to make ends meet. A student loan is just like any other debt, and if it goes unpaid the lender will call to collect. If you are significantly behind on your student loan payments, collection calls and letters will start, and can rise to the level of harassment if left unanswered.

 

The options available to keep student loan lenders off your back vary. Some of the more popular programs and options include:

● Consolidation: this option allows you to wrap all of your education loans into one, giving you a longer repayment term, which will lower your payments.

● Income sensitive payments: this repayment plan bases your monthly payment on your income, and can greatly reduce the payment amount depending on your salary.

● Forbearance: most student loans automatically go into a forbearance status upon graduation, and remain in this status for 6 months. Upon expiration of the first 6 months, repayment begins. However, you can seek extension of this period, and hold off on making payments until you find a job that pays enough to cover the payments.

The possibilities are all valid and legal, and will stop the calls. When you enter a forbearance status, the lender is not permitted to contact you for payment. Likewise, if you qualify for an income sensitive payment, the lender cannot ask you to pay a higher amount. There are options for you if you are having a hard time making your student loan payments. A skilled debt management attorney can help explain the options, and give you the information needed to decide which choice works best for you.

If you are looking for ways to take the sting out of high student loan payments and stop the collection calls, contact our office for help. We will explain your options, so you understand your choices and can make a decision that meets your needs. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

What Is The Difference Between Consumer And Commercial Debt?

Not all debt is taken out for personal use, businesses also incur debt in their daily operations. And, just like in the case of personal (or consumer) debt, when a business does not pay its debts, the lender will seek to collect. Commercial debt collections are similar to consumer actions, but there are some differences. For instance, the law presumes a business owner to be more savvy than the average consumer, and so the laws regarding collection practices typically do not apply to commercial collections.

The most important law regarding consumer collections is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The Act prohibits certain actions by creditors when collection debts incurred for personal, consumer purposes. The following are among these prohibitions:

● Abusive or harassing collection tactics, including threats.

● A notice regarding the consumer’s right to dispute the debt must be provided.

● The consumer must be given the opportunity to request the balance, and the name of the original creditor if it is different than the entity undertaking collection activity.

These protections are not afforded businesses, for commercial collections. This means, if you are a small business owner and are experiencing financial difficulty, you must act quickly to protect yourself from collection efforts. The amount of time for a consumer to dispute a debt is longer than that for a commercial debt, which means if you are sued you have a shorter amount of time to answer. Failure to answer will result in a default judgment being entered against your company, which could result in garnishment of your banking accounts. Call a knowledgeable attorney today to protect your business.

 

If you have questions about the difference between consumer and commercial debt, call our office for answers. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.