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Does Foreclosure Mediation Work?

Receiving a notice of foreclosure can make your heart beat just a little faster, and cause you a significant amount of anxiety. After all, the possibility of losing your home means you and your family will be left looking for a new place to live. Moving is never fun, and it can take time and money that you may not have if you are in dire financial straits. There is some thought that working with the lender may prolong the case, giving you the time you need to find alternate housing that meets your needs, but not every lender is generous enough to give their customers this time. Another alternative that gained quite a bit of popularity a few years ago is that of foreclosure mediation. But, what does it require and does it really work?

Any mediation is a form of dispute resolution that takes place outside of the four walls of the Courthouse. Countless homeowners have tried to work with their mortgage lender by having a neutral third party (mediator) listen to their dispute and come up with a workable solution. Unfortunately, not many homeowners have been successful when using this forum. An article on the issue states that the idea of mediating a foreclosure case simply does not end with the good results for the borrower. Here are some reasons why:

  • Home values have decreased so drastically that the amount owed on most homes is far more than what the homes are worth. This means the lender cannot resell the property without taking a loss. It would seem logical that given these figures more lenders would be willing to work with their borrowers, but that has not been the case.
  • Much of the information needed to review the value of a home for purposes of modifications or short sales are being withheld from borrowers. This makes it hard to come to the mediation table with any kind of meaningful offer of resolution.

Because these programs have failed to help homeowners, other avenues of dispute resolution must be used. If you are facing foreclosure, you do have defenses. One thing you should do right away is to ask the lender for the note, because if the lender does not hold the note then they do not have the right to foreclose. Considering bankruptcy is also an option that works for many. When you are able to eliminate unsecured credit card debt, more of your monthly disposable income is available. In many instances the amount of money freed up from not having to make large credit card or other unsecured loan payments is enough to cover what is due on the home. Call us for information about how to save your home today.

 

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

Five Hidden Fees Your Lenders Charge, And How To Avoid Them

We all know that certain fees and charges go along with taking out a loan, or applying for a credit card. This is how lenders make their money, but it can be hard to figure out what all you are paying and just how your monthly payment is allocated. Knowing where your money goes is the first step on the road to financial recovery. So, when your monthly bills come in, take a closer look to see just what all you are being charged for the benefit of doing business with your creditors.

Five hidden fees your lenders charge, with tips on how to avoid these fees, include:

  • The cost of having a bad credit score will significantly increase what you pay in interest every month. In order to avoid paying a higher rate, take steps to repair your credit before taking out a loan.
  • The length of your loan may also be costing you more money than you need to spend. The longer you take to pay off a loan, the more you will pay in interest. If you are able to increase your payment a bit, think about shortening the loan term or paying extra to the principal balance. This will reduce the amount you owe much faster.
  • Costs for add-on’s or required insurance should be taken into consideration when applying for a loan. Shop around for the lowest rates beforehand so your total monthly obligation fits within your budget.
  • Origination and other fees are often tacked on to a loan. Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you know the amount of these fees, and ask for them to be eliminated or reduced if possible.
  • Accumulated interest fees, most often associated with a deferred loan. While you do have the option on some types of loans (such as a student loan) to defer payment for a period of time, the interest will continue to accumulate when you are not paying. In order to avoid being shocked at the amount of accumulated interest, opt to make an interest only payment rather than defer the payment all together.

Knowing what to expect from your loan, and where you money goes when you make a payment will help you to budget your finances. If you find yourself in over your head financially even after exploring these fees and other options for repayment, you do have options. Call our office to learn more.

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

How To Make The Most Out Of A Raise

Being called into the boss’s office is no one’s idea of a fun day at work, unless it is to learn of a promotion or a boost in salary. Getting a raise can really help keep your finances on track, and can even give you the means with which to start a savings or emergency fund. While it may be tempting to put that extra money towards a new car or bigger house, there are other things you can do with your raise that will help you make the most out of the extra dollars on your paycheck.

Some things you can to do make sure your dollars aren’t stretched too far after you get a raise include:

  • Budget, budget, budget! When you have extra money in your pocket it is critical to know where it will be spent. Identifying where your money goes gives you the chance to find ways to cut back, and start putting something aside for a rainy day.
  • Designate a portion of your newfound wealth to a savings or retirement account every paycheck. You can even set this up to happen automatically, by a recurring transfer from your checking to your savings account or by increasing the amount you contribute to your 401(k). If you never see the money hit your account, you will be less likely to overspend.
  • Put the extra cash towards debt. Whichever debt repayment method works best for you, take the extra boost in your income and put it towards those goals. You will pay off your debt faster this way, and once the balances are eliminated you will have the extra income from your raise as well as the extra money from not making monthly payments on recurring loan balances.

The key is to behave rationally. If you need to sit down with pencil and paper to figure out how to best use the money from a raise, do so! Financial planners can help you make the right choice, and we can help if you need to negotiate with lenders or take other action regarding your debt. Call us today to learn more.

 

If you have questions about budgets and how to save for a onetime expense, call our office for answers. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

 

 

What Is Your “Debt Personality”?

Have you ever noticed how some people are more cheerful than others, or how there always seems to be that one person at work who keeps to themselves? Your personality type depends on what interests you, what activities you enjoy in your spare time, what type of people you feel most comfortable around, and a host of other characteristics that make you unique. People come in all shapes and sizes, as well as with all types of personalities. And, most people exhibit personality traits depending on the issue. For instance, your views on romance will vary from your views on what type of vacation to take. The same can be said for how you feel about debt, and your “debt personality” can determine the choices you make in not only incurring debt but also in how you become debt free.

An interesting article from Business Insider hints that the way you pay off your debt depends on your personality. The article highlights include:

  • People who tend to be savers will feel more comfortable with the avalanche method of debt repayment. This method requires paying off the highest interest rate debt first, and then taking the money that would normally be applied to that debt to the next highest rate debt. The avalanche method also allows the debtor to save, by making only the minimum payment on the lower rate debts while focusing on the debt with the highest rate.
  • People who like to track their results, and get a sense of personal satisfaction by seeing results quickly tend to use the snowball method of debt repayment. This method calls for paying off the smallest balance first, regardless of the interest rate. For some, seeing a balance of zero gives them the psychological and emotional boost needed to stay on track of their debt repayment plans.
  • Using a combination of repayment methods is used by people who tend to have personalities that value both saving, and fast results.

Who knew your personality might play a role in how you decide to pay off debt? A quick read of the above shows that who you can touch nearly every aspect of your life. If you are experiencing financial difficulty and need help determining what works best for you, we can help.

 

If you have questions about debt and debt management, 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.

 

 

How To Dispute Debt

Have you ever received a pay history from one of your lenders and been unable to determine how your payments are being applied? If so, you are not alone. In fact, the majority of consumers that are contacted about past due balances and request a printout of their payments is unable to decipher what the lender sends. A typical pay history from a credit card company, mortgage holder, or auto lender seems to be written in “code” that only the employees of the company know how to crack. If you find yourself in this position, and believe the debt is either not valid or that payments have not been properly applied, you do have the right to dispute the debt.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) gives consumers 30 days to dispute the validity of any debt trying to be collected by a third party. What this means is:

  • If someone other than the lender has contacted you to collect a debt, that entity is defined as a debt collector. All debt collectors are required to follow the rules set forth in the FDCPA.
  • One of the most basic rules in place is that the collector give you a notice that specifically and clearly tells you that you have the right to dispute the debt, or even just a portion of the debt being collected.
  • In order to dispute that the debt is owed, you must send a written letter to the collector telling them that you dispute the debt and are asking for proof that it is owed.
  • The collector is not permitted to take further action until they are able verify the debt, and provide you with that verification.

Unfortunately, many debt collectors fail to reply to a dispute, or fail to give a satisfactory verification. This failure exposes the collector to liability under the FDCPA and the consumer has the right to bring an action against the collector for any damages that resulted from the collector’s oversight. We have experience fighting collectors, so you don’t have to shoulder that burden. Call us today to find out more.

 

If you need help disputing a debt, call our office. We can offer solutions, legal and practical, that meet your needs. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

 

How To Lower Student Loan Payments

One of the fastest growing types of debt is student loans. The cost of college has risen astronomically over the years, and in order to get ahead in life many students are resorting to taking out loans to pay tuition and other expenses. While this type of loan is generally better than most in that the interest rate is typically lower than what a bank would offer, the amounts being accumulated are far more than what an average starting salary right out of college is being reported. The disparity between what you owe and what you make is causing many college graduates to move back home after graduation, just to be able to make their student loan payments. This type of living arrangement is not ideal, for both the parents and the student, so looking for alternatives is a must.

One thing you can do is to take steps to lower your student loan payments. A lower payment can free up part of your salary, so you can provide for yourself and/or your family. Some ways to obtain a lower payment are:

  • Request an income sensitive repayment plan, rather than going with the monthly payment amount calculated at the end of your deferment period. An income sensitive payment takes into account what you make, and your household size. If you have dependents at home and make very little, you are likely to be given a reduced payment that is more in line with your budget.
  • Consolidate your loans, which gives you a longer repayment period and lowers the monthly amount due.
  • Request an interest only payment for a period of time, until you can make a higher payment.
  • Opt for a payment plan that starts off with smaller payments, and ends up with higher payments towards the end of the life of the loan. This allows you to pay less when you are just starting out, and then increase your payments as your salary increases.

Any of these methods can work for you, but the key is to find the type that works best. We can help by analyzing your income and debt, and working with your lender for a solution that makes sense. Call us for more information.

If you need help making your student loan payments, contact our office. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today.

 

 

What To Do When Lenders Discriminate

Unfortunately discrimination in today’s world is not limited to the school yard, your job, or even a public event. For years some consumers have been the victim of lender discrimination, which means they were either denied a loan or given less than favorable terms based on their race, religion, or gender. This type of lending practice is not only frowned upon, but it is against the law. As a borrower, you do have a remedy, and should take action to send a message to the lender that these practices are not tolerated.

One of the biggest purchases most people make is their home, and to do this a mortgage loan is required. A mortgage lender has the following obligations when considering your application for a loan:

  • If you are receiving income from a social program, that income must be taken into consideration just the same as income from your job. A lender is not allowed to leave this income out of the calculation, or make a determination based on the fact that you receive public assistance to make ends meet.
  • If you decide to disclose that part of the income you will rely upon for repayment of the mortgage loan is spousal or child support, that income must also be given the same weight as your salary.
  • If you have a co-signer who is willing to obligate themselves on the loan, the lender owes the same responsibilities to that person as they do to you as the primary applicant.

If you have been denied a loan, or were offered a loan at terms higher than the norm, you should complain to the lender and tell them you believe you have been discriminated against. We can help you make this complaint, and follow it up with legal action if needed. A thorough examination of things like your pay stubs and credit report will be needed, as well as a review of the loan documents. When discrimination is identified, you are entitled to an award of damages for this action and that could include punitive damages for your suffering. Consult with one of our qualified debt relief attorneys today to learn more about lender discrimination and what you can do if you are a victim.

Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today if you believe you are the victim of lender discrimination. Schedule an appointment to learn more.

What Is A Debt Settlement?

There is always more than one way to get to the same result. For money problems you might consider calling your lenders and asking for a lower monthly payment, taking out a consolidation loan, calling a debt counselor, or filing for bankruptcy. Another popular method to resolving past due financial obligations is through debt settlement. There are programs that offer to undertake this effort on your behalf, but many of the companies that run these programs have been found to be of little assistance. You could opt to try and work out something on your own, but this leaves you with the burden of fielding numerous calls and engaging in lengthy negotiations. The best choice is to partner with a debt relief attorney with experience settling debt on behalf of others.

Debt settlement is similar to a legal proceeding, in that the party asking for relief must provide evidence to the lender that a settlement is the best option. Some things to keep in mind about your case include:

  • Your credit will reflect the settlement, so be sure that this option is best for your budget and future plans. If you are underwater on most of your obligations, chances are your credit is already less than perfect. Also, it does not take near as long to repair credit as most people believe, so if a big purchase is in your future the likelihood your credit will be in good shape by the time you need a new loan is good.
  • Act sooner rather than later, the earlier on in your financial struggle you reach out to your creditors, the higher the chance of receiving a favorable response to your settlement offer.
  • Don’t be afraid to be honest about your finances with your lenders, if you are near the brink of bankruptcy and will go that route if settlement doesn’t work, make sure your creditors are aware of this fact. Many lenders will agree to take a smaller amount than the full balance due instead of having the entire debt eliminated through a bankruptcy.

For some types of debt, there are tax and other financial consequences for settling with the lender for less than what is due. For instance, if you agree to pay a lump sum of $20,000.00 less than you owe on your mortgage to avoid a foreclosure, you can expect to receive a 1099 for $20,000.00 from the lender. This “loan forgiveness” can be considered income for taxation purposes, so you want to be sure the agreement you make does not cause more harm than good. Call us today for a review of these, and other important issues.

 

If you have questions about settling debt, call our office for answers. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

Three Ways To Make Smart Money Choices

Have you ever stopped and wondered why some people seem to have all the luck in the world? Is it that they truly are lucky, or do they just make smart choices? Life is full of choices, and knowing which path to take can be hard. But, when you are faced with decisions that will impact your future, it is wise to look at all the options and make the best choice. This is especially true in the area of personal finances. Having enough money to make ends meet every month is good, but it would be better to make choices that allow you to save for an emergency or for the day when you can call it quits at work. Making smart money choices doesn’t have to be hard, and once you get the hang of it you will wonder why you were ever hesitant to implement a plan.

Making smart money choices is a way of life, and starts the minute your feet hit the floor out of bed every morning. Here are three things you can do on a daily basis to make smart money moves:

  • Make a list of your financial goals, and review it periodically. Being able to see, on paper, what you are working towards is big motivator for many people. But it does not good to write your goals down if you don’t review them every now and again to see if you are on track, or need to make an adjustment.
  • When faced with a big money decision, make a choice before becoming distracted by the pressures of everyday life such as work and kids.
  • Make changes to your daily schedule so you can avoid expensive habit forming stops, like that daily gourmet coffee or overpriced lunch.

The smallest changes to the way you manage your money can add up to big rewards. When you know what you want to achieve and start to see results, saving money and making good choices can become like a game. Be sure to get your family involved, and celebrate when you reach milestones along the way. Just be sure that the celebration does not get out of hand, and still allows you to stay on track financially.

 

If you have questions about budgets and how to make smart money moves, call our office for answers. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

The Difference Between Emergency Funds And Sinking Funds

Setting up accounts to cover certain expenses is always a good idea. When you have money set aside for the expenses of life, you can rest easy knowing that you won’t have to go into debt for necessities. There are two very important types of accounts you will want to establish to cover these things; an emergency fund and a sinking fund. Knowing the difference will help ensure you use the money as intended, and help to keep you out of debt.

The difference between an emergency fund and a sinking fund can best be described as follows:

  • An emergency fund is a fund you set up for use in an emergency. True to definition, an emergency is something that comes up that you did not expect. Examples include a car wreck, a catastrophic illness, or the neighborhood children playing baseball in the street and a ball going through your front window. All of these instances require money to repair or deal with daily, and having an emergency fund is a good place to turn when these expenses arise.
  • A sinking fund is a fund you set up that is intended for a specific use. For example, you know that you will need to replace your tires at a certain time. Start saving now for that time, and when it arrives you will have the money you need to cover the cost.

Both types of accounts are vital to your financial well-being. Without the money needed for unexpected repairs, or for an expected purchase, you can be left with undesirable options. Be sure to keep track of the amount you are putting aside, and that your monthly budget accounts for these expenses. It is a good idea to open a separate account for these monies, and the sooner you start the faster you will reach your financial goals. For answers to your questions about money, call our office. We have experience helping people get out of financial distress, even when the answer is bankruptcy or other debt management methods. Once you have a plan in place, you are freed up to focus on the things in your life that matter the most. We can help you reach your goals, and stay on track.

If you need help figuring out how to set up an emergency fund or a sinking fund, contact our office. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today.