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Will The Oil And Gas Industry Wind Up Broke?

Gas prices at the pump in recent weeks have been some of the lowest our country has seen in years. For drivers who are overextended financially, these lower prices are a welcome break to the days when gas was inching up towards $5.00 a gallon. But lower gas prices are not good news for everyone, and for those that make their living in the oil and gas industry, the financial woes may be just beginning. Several companies have had to resort to massive companywide layoffs recently, and this does not bode well for the economy.

Corporate layoffs are not a new or novel way for companies to try and save money before things turn from bad to worse, but when these layoffs happen the effect is far reaching. One of the most recent layoffs was at Devon Energy in Oklahoma City. The work force at the oil and gas giant has nearly been cut in half, and the impact of this act could mean the following:

  • A rise in unemployment, which leads to a larger number of consumers being unable to pay their monthly bills.
  • A decrease in consumer spending, which impacts workers from all sectors. When goods and services are not being purchased because a large portion of the population is unemployed, retailers and other service providers eventually begin to feel the financial pinch as well.
  • The stock for these companies will continue to drop, which means the companies themselves may end up broke. If this happens, it makes any kind of meaningful rebound all the more difficult.

It is important to keep the overall economic picture in mind when thinking about how losses at big companies impact society as a whole. While it is no secret those at the top made astronomical sums of money, and sometimes at the expense of lower paid workers or the public, when large companies fold the ripple effect can touch nearly anyone. If you are experiencing financial difficulty, whatever the cause, consider bankruptcy as a solution to your financial pains. Contact our office today to speak with a knowledgeable bankruptcy and debt management attorney, and learn how bankruptcy or another debt management plan can help you.

 

For more information about bankruptcy, contact us at  www.DsouzaLegalGroup.com. Our approach is individually tailored to meet your needs, so you can reach your financial goals.

What Is The CFPB And How Can They Help Me?

The inner workings of the United States Government are a mystery to many American citizens. There are agencies that handle just about every kind of issue, but just how those agencies benefit you as a taxpayer can sometimes be hard to know. By and large, the one issue with which most people seek assistance is their finances. This is especially true when the economy is in bad shape, and having somewhere to turn for enforcement of the ideals of fair play and equality can be beneficial. Consumer protection agencies have existed for decades, and they offer a wide range of help to those that have been wronged in the marketplace. One of the more popular agencies is the Better Business Bureau and if you have ever been the victim of unscrupulous business practices you may be familiar with this non-profit organization. Or, if you are a savvy consumer, you may consult the BBB before patronizing a store or other merchant, to see if there are any complaints against the company.

In the world of finance there exists an agency that was created to help ensure fairness in lending and practices related to lending. The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) is this agency. Here are a few background facts about the CFPB:

  • The CFPB strives to make sure the lending practices in place at major banks and institutions are clear. This means when you take out a loan, you should be given clear and easily understood information about your loan terms. If there are hidden fees or exorbitant rates being charged, there is a lack of transparency in the lending process and the CFPB can take action to enforce fairness.
  • The CFPB provides financial education to those in need, so smart decisions can be made about your money.
  • Abusive and harassing practices are prohibited, and if a borrower believes they are a victim of this type of lending pattern a complaint can be made to the CFPB in this regard.

You do have options if you have been targeted for a predatory loan, or are being harassed by a collector. Call us to find out what those options are, and whether the CFPB will get involved in your case.

For more information about debt and debt management and collection, contact our office at www.DsouzaLegalGroup.com. We work with you to come up with solutions that work.

Three Tips For Suing Lenders

Banks and other lending institutions are a necessary part of everyday life, because unless you are one of the three lucky ticket holders of the largest Powerball jackpots in history, you need money to meet your daily needs. Most people are not able to pay cash for necessities, and thus take out loans to buy reliable transportation and put a roof over the family’s head. In most cases the loan officers and banks are helpful, and work with their customers to give them the best loan terms possible. But that is not the case in every instance. There are unfortunate situations where lenders take advantage of borrowers when writing loans, or even resort to harassment when trying to collect payments. These tactics are not only unwelcome, they are also against the law. If you have been harassed by a bank, or been the target of predatory lending, there are steps you can take to hold the bank accountable for its actions.

But, suing a lender can be a large undertaking. The banks are equipped with large legal teams, and in order to make the most of your case it is best to organize yourself before initiating a lawsuit so you are prepared for the battle. Three tips to suing lenders include:

  • Keep copies of all of your documents, and have an officer or director of the lending institution certify that the copies given to you are true and correct copies of the original loan or loan application.
  • Keep a diary of all communication with any bank representative, including the date and time of all phone calls and the name of the person providing assistance. You should also include a short narrative of the substance of your conversation, and follow up all verbal agreements with a written confirmation of what was discussed and any resolutions offered.
  • Keep a phone log of all calls you receive from any collector, and make an audio recording of any messages left for you.

Collection efforts are limited in time and scope, and a collector is not permitted to make threats or otherwise harass you in order to persuade you to make payments. As far as making a loan goes, there are certain rules and regulations that must be followed, and if they are not the bank can be liable for violating these laws. Once you have all of your evidence gathered, call our office and schedule an appointment. We will review your documents and other pieces of evidence, so an effective strategy can be developed for your case.

For more information about debt and debt management and collection, contact our office at www.DsouzaLegalGroup.com. We work with you to come up with solutions that work.

How To Handle Harassment From A Collector

When you are unable to pay your bills, it is made all the more difficult to have to field calls and letters from a collector. When debt collectors are breathing down your neck it can be hard to find the time to think long enough to come up with a workable plan. The situation is even worse when the collectors are engaging in harassing behavior. Examples of collector harassment include making threats to arrest you, claiming a lawsuit has been filed when it has not (or legally cannot be filed), calling repeatedly at inconvenient times or while you are at work (especially after you’ve made a written request for the calls cease and desist), and efforts that fail to advise you of your rights.

If you are being harassed by a debt collector, there are steps you can take to protect yourself. In fact the law on what a collector can and cannot do is pretty clear. If a violation occurs, the wronged consumer has the ability to hold the collector responsible for their wrongful actions. Tips on how to handle harassment from a collector include:

  • Keeping a diary of the dates and times of calls, the name of the person who called, and a brief synopsis of the content of the call will help by allowing you to pinpoint unlawful collection activity.
  • Asking the collector to provide the name of the original creditor, and a pay history is a good idea. You are entitled to have the debt being collected verified to you, so you can be certain the debt is valid.
  • Requesting all communication cease and desist is within your rights. Doing so should stop the calls and letters, but will not necessarily stop any legal action from being initiated against you.

Perhaps the most effective way to stop collector harassment is to enlist the help of a knowledgeable attorney. Once you are represented by counsel, all communication must go through your attorney and not to you directly. If you are being contacted by a debt collector and need help figuring out what to do, call us for help. We will review the facts of your case and let you know your options.

For more information about debt and debt management and collection, contact our office at www.DsouzaLegalGroup.com. We work with you to come up with solutions that work.

Will Debt Consolidation Help Me?

For those with more debt than they can handle on a monthly basis, there are several options for relief. You can contact your lenders and try to negotiate a lower interest rate, which will mean a lower payment; you can file for bankruptcy, or you can try to consolidate all of your debt into one loan. The benefit of a loan consolidation is that there is only one monthly payment to make, which makes organizing your finances an easier task. But there are also some down sides to debt consolidation, and before you apply for a consolidation loan you should know the fats.

Whether debt consolidation works for you depends on your financial goals and present financial condition. This is not the same for any two people, but there are some common threads to be found when thinking about consolidating debt. In order to figure out whether debt consolidation is beneficial to you, take a look at the following factors:

  • What are the chances you will take out new debt even after consolidating old debt? If all you do is take out one loan to consolidate others, and then continue charging on the paid off credit card or take out additional loans, the result is not pay off of your debt but an accumulation of more debt.
  • Consolidation companies rarely accomplish for you what you cannot do on your own. If you are being asked to pay a fee for a company to help consolidate your debt, make sure you do your homework first. Many times you can achieve the same results by making a few phone calls on your own, free of charge.
  • If you do decide to use a company, be sure your lenders participate in the program. Many debt consolidation companies fail to advise potential customers that lenders are not required to be bound by the terms proposed. What this means is that you will have spent money for a service the company cannot provide.

It is also smart to be wary of any plan that requires you to pledge your home as collateral, or that has an overall higher interest rate than what you currently pay. Sometimes the same results can be obtained by looking to the bankruptcy court. A chapter 13 bankruptcy is similar to debt consolidation, and your creditors are bound by the orders the bankruptcy court enters in your case. This means is that even a lender who was unwilling to work with you on your own or through a debt consolidation company, will be required to participate in a bankruptcy proceeding.

 

For more information about debt management, loan consolidation, and what you will still be required to pay after filing for bankruptcy, contact us at  www.DsouzaLegalGroup.com. We help by explaining your options and developing a plan that meets your needs.

Three Ways A Sluggish Economy Helps With Debt

When the economy takes a turn for the worse, panic can quickly set in for the public. News reports of the falling value of the dollar, houses sitting on the market for too long or going in to foreclosure, and a high unemployment rate tend to make people tighten their purse strings and ride out the storm. In a poor economy, many people find themselves without work and may have to resort to living off of credit. This can cause your overall debt load to dramatically increase, and unless steps are taken to service that debt, it is not long before it can spiral out of control. But a downturned economy does not have to mean the end of your financial world.

Three ways a sluggish economy can help you with your debt include the following circumstances:

  • The amount consumers spend have an impact on the economy far beyond just where the purchase is made. Financial experts say the number of people who are impacted by even a relatively small purchase is great. When consumers spend, the money infusion reaches all levels of workers from the store clerk to the manufacturer. When more people are spending, more people are needed for work, and this creates jobs. The creation of necessary employment positions means the unemployment rate goes down and more people are able to go to work and provide for their families. The key is to make purchases within your budget rather than to accumulate an overwhelming amount of debt.
  • When the need to take out credit arises, even in a sluggish economy, there are lenders who are willing to make loans. While the rates may be higher than you’d like, paying off the debt on time will help boost your credit score. This means that even though loans are required to help make ends meet, you are working towards a better credit report, and this can help you to get more favorable loan terms in the future.
  • When the debt taken out is for a home, the consumer ultimately benefits from the increased value in the property. In a sluggish economy home prices tend to be lower. The smart investor uses this information to take this chance to make a purchase, and hold on to the property until the values rebound. And, values always have a way of rising. The important thing to remember here is to only make the purchase if you are able to hold on to the property for several years.

It may seem like there is no end in sight when you are burdened with more debt than you can handle, but when creative ways to service that debt are formulated, even debt during a bad economy can be handled. Call our office to learn more, and to find out what type of debt management solutions meet your needs.

 

For more information about finances, contact us at  www.DsouzaLegalGroup.com. We will help by coming up with solutions that work for you.

Are Banks Rebounding And Making More Loans?

The banking industry has certainly taken a devastating blow in recent years. Many borrowers found themselves without work, which meant loans went unpaid and into default. This scary situation made banks take a closer look at their lending policies, and the result was that fewer loans were made. And of the loans that were made, often times the terms were less than desirable. For those that were “lucky” enough to have a loan application approved, many times the interest rate was high and this meant higher monthly payments. The end result was much the same as when under or unemployment were factors, and many extensions of credit went into default.

Now that the news reports a little more positive outlook for the economy, it is natural to wonder if this means the banks are on the rebound and will make more loans. With a new year here, the best place to look for this answer is to the prior year. In January 2015 the Financial Post had this to say:

  • Housing activity in the United States was mean to play a major factor in helping stocks rebound in 2015, which could mean a loosening up of lending practices.
  • As default rates have declined, the instance of approving more loans has increased.
  • Certain decisions by the Federal Reserve, including the decision to delay implementation of some practices, will lead to an increase in lending.

What all of this means for the U.S. consumer is that the chances of obtaining a loan are greater now than they have been in recent history. But, with new lending comes new risk. There is never a guarantee that you will not lose your job or be forced to take a position with a lower salary, which means the possibility of taking out a loan you cannot repay exists. Or, it may be that you have already found yourself unable to make certain payments and are wondering what you can do to avoid collection efforts. One option is to ask for a deferment of payments, and another choice some consumers make is to file for bankruptcy. We can help by analyzing your particular set of circumstances, and making recommendations as to which course of action works best for you.

 

If you have questions about finances, contact us at www.DsouzaLegalGroup.com. We will help by coming up with solutions that work for you.

 

 

Is Self-Employment The Answer To Your Money Problems?

It could be said that the American Dream is to run your own business, because being your own boss puts you in charge of your own destiny. If you’ve ever dreamed of setting your own hours, answering to no one but yourself, and having a taste of what it’s like to work for yourself, self-employment may be the answer. But, while there are perks to running your own shop, there are also drawbacks. In order to make the most of working for yourself, it is important to understand both. In particular, it is key to know how being your own boss will benefit you financially.
If you are considering starting up your own business, here are some things to know about how self-employment will impact your finances:

  • Your tax status will likely change, which can result in significant savings come April 15th. Some ways your taxes will be impacted include claiming part of your home as a deduction if you work from your house and meet certain criteria, and the ability to write off some expenses such as a cell phone or internet access.
  • The fear of not knowing when and the amount of your next paycheck will give you the motivation to market yourself, and build your business. When you have to run a business and a household, you quickly learn how to budget. This can have a positive impact on your finances and help you to keep your head above water.
  • When you hold the purse strings, you are less likely to make impulse purchases or rash decisions. For those that own their own businesses, every paperclip and box of copy paper becomes an asset. Knowing your inventory helps teach the value of the dollars you earn, and can help you to develop healthy savings and budgeting methods.

Self-employment is not for everyone, but if you are brave enough to take the leap, do so after first consulting with a knowledgeable financial professional. We can help you with business formation, and guide you towards choices that work. As your business grows, we can help by reviewing your business plan and making sure you are on track.

 

For more information about what it takes to be your own boss, contact us at  www.DsouzaLegalGroup.com. We will help by coming up with solutions that work for you.

Five Ways To Live On Less Than What You Make

Having enough money to pay the bills, with some left over, is an attainable goal. The key is to find ways to live on less than what you make, so you are able to put money aside for an emergency or a rainy day. It might seem like an impossible task, but cutting back on extras can be done, and in most instances it can be done without changing your lifestyle.

Five ways to live on less than what you make, which will free up some of your money for savings or a much needed home or auto repair include:

  • Clip coupons and search online sites for discounts on items you use on a regular basis. We have all seen or heard a story of someone that saves big by using coupons, but the key is to use them for things you normally buy. If you clip a coupon simply to see the savings, but it is for something you don’t use, there is no real savings. But, using coupons in conjunction with grocery store rewards cards or other savings methods will put extra money in your pocket.
  • Monitor the temperature in your home. The difference you feel from adjusting your thermostat a degree or two is insignificant, but can make a difference on your monthly bill. If you have the option to average your bill with your utility company, do so. Paying an average amount each month will not only save you money, but will also help you to prepare a budget by knowing in advance how much your bill runs on a regular basis.
  • Have movie night at home rather than going out every weekend. By staying in one weekend a month, you can save close to $100 per month.
  • Carpool to work or take public transportation if possible.
  • Shop at thrift stores or start up a “clothes swap” with your friends and neighbors.

When you are able to control the amount of money you spend in a way that saves each month, the anxiety of living paycheck to paycheck quickly disappears. Having a nest egg for an emergency gives you the kind of peace of mind money can’t buy, and puts you in the best position for financial success. However, we understand life happens and sometimes circumstances can get the best of you. You do have options if you are facing overwhelming debt, and we can help figure out which option best meets your needs. Loan modifications, workouts, or bankruptcy may be the answer you need. Call us today to learn more.

For more information about bankruptcy, contact us at  www.DsouzaLegalGroup.com. We will help by coming up with solutions that work for you.