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You Are Being Sued for a Credit Card Debt… Now What?

You get an advertisement in the mail from a law firm saying a case was filed against you recently and they would like to represent you.  At first, you think it is a mistake and then you keep reading.  It turns out the credit card debt you have been meaning to start paying down has been sold to a debt collections agency and they are suing you for the balance.   If your first instinct is to hide, DO NOT!

Read the initial correspondence very carefully and note any deadlines.  In most cases, you should expect to be served a court summons which will include a court date.  At this point, you have to decide if you want to try to pay off the full balance before the court date, negotiate with the collections agency yourself, or choose an experienced credit card debt negotiation attorney in Broward County.

Paying off the full balance

If you can afford to pay off the balance before the court date, that may be the way to go.  You should keep in mind that a quality credit card debt attorney can often get the debt reduced or even eliminated completely and at a very reasonable rate.

Negotiating with the Collections Agency Yourself

There is a time for negotiating directly with the agency that controls your debt, but more often than not, when the papers are filed and a summons is dispersed, it is too late.  The collections agency lawyers have already invested time and effort into the case and they need to get paid to justify those costs.  You can try to get the amount decreased, but it may be difficult.  Also, you may find that the collections agency is reluctant to accept a payment plan at this point as the debt has already gone unpaid for some time.

Choosing an Experienced Credit Card Debt Attorney

You decide that you cannot afford to pay off the balance before your court date and negotiating with collections agency has gotten you nowhere.  It is time to find the right attorney for you.

Things to look for in a debt collection attorney are:

  • Experience battling debt collectors.
  • Authority within their firm to get things done on time.
  • Fair fees and collection expectations

Dsouza and Strachan Lawgroup Group of Plantation, Florida meets these criteria.  Elias Dsouza has been protecting people from debt collectors for over 15 years.  He is a Senior Attorney at the firm and specializes in credit card debt settlement.  Clients can pay easily and have access to customer service via www.dsouzalegalgroup.com.

Are You a Victim of Predatory Debt Collection Practices?

Most people who have unresolved debt have received mail, phone calls or even at-home visits from debt collectors.  While it always feels intrusive, did you know that these debt collections practices may actually be illegal?  The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was enacted in 1978 to protect consumers from abusive and/or deceptive actions taken by debt collectors.  According to the National Association of Consumer Advocates some of these practices include:

  • Calling you before 8:00 am or after 9:00 pm.
  • Giving other parties such as employers or family members information regarding your debt.
  • Calling you at work without your permission.
  • Cursing at you or threatening to garnish your social security payments.

In 2018, the average amount of credit card debt per person in Florida is $8,444.  Some of this money lands in collections.  It is important to understand that it is legal for a debt collector to try to collect a debt and often times they are perfectly reasonable, but they cannot attempt collection by any means they deem necessary.  If a debt collector is threatening to have you arrested, calling you repeatedly in an attempt to annoy you into paying the debt, threatening physical harm, or if they have notified you in writing that they are suing you, know that you have options.


What are your options?

If you believe a debt collector is using illegal methods to collect your debt, you can:

  • Contact the Federal Trade Commission and file a complaint.
  • File a lawsuit against the debt collector.

If you are considering filing a lawsuit against the debt collector, you may want to consider legal representation that specializes in debt negotiation and abusive debt collection practices.  Dsouza and Strachan Lawgroup Group of Plantation, Florida does just that.  Guiding citizens of Broward County through credit card debt negotiation, bankruptcy, foreclosure (and more) is what they have been doing for over 15 years.

Three Thing To Know About Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Cases

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a form of bankruptcy that requires the debtor to enter into a plan of debt repayment. It is similar to debt consolidation, but has the backing of Court approval, so your lenders do not have a choice about whether to participate in your proposal. When a Chapter 13 case is filed, a repayment plan is proposed and eventually approved by the Court. The debtor then makes a monthly payment to the bankruptcy trustee and the trustee disburses payments to the lenders.

In order to better prepare yourself for what lies ahead when you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy it is a good idea to go into it with some background about how Chapter 13 cases work. Three things to know about Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases that will help you understand your case more include:

  • A percentage of your unsecured debt will be repaid over the life of your Chapter 13 Plan. The percent you have to repay will depend on how much disposable income you have after paying monthly secured debts.
  • You are permitted to pay the value of some pieces of collateral instead of the balance due, most notably your car. You can also pay your car note at a lower interest rate than what the purchase contract provides. This combination results in a lower overall car payment, paid through your bankruptcy.
  • A Chapter 13 Plan takes between three and five years to complete, meaning you making monthly payments to the trustee for that time period, and once all plan payments are made you receive a discharge of debts.

It might sound undesirable to remain in a bankruptcy for a few years, but during that time your lenders are not allowed to call you. This gives you the freedom you need to get back to your life and takes the stress of not being able to pay monthly bills off of you. The relief that comes with being able to pay bills without fielding collection calls is enormous. When Chapter 7 is not an option, you can get this relief by filing a Chapter 13. The same rules regarding the automatic stay and discharge of debts apply, so you still get all the benefits of the bankruptcy laws.

For help with your questions about Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases, contact us at www.DsouzaLegalGroup.com. We will help by coming up with solutions that help get you back on your feet.

A Step By Step Guide To Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy comes in two forms for most debtors, Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 is the preferred type of case to file because it allows a debtor to get rid of all of their unsecured debt. And, in most cases, it is having too much unsecured debt that puts people in the position to need the relief bankruptcy can provide. But before you decide to file a case and count on being able to file a Chapter 7, there are some points of interest to learn.

In order to qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy you have to submit your income and debt information for review. The amount of secured debts you have will be compared to the amount of income you bring in, and if your income shows no ability to repay any of your unsecured debts after making secured debt payments each month, you will be allowed to file a Chapter 7. Here are some of the key components of Chapter 7 cases:

  • All unsecured debt is eliminated, in full. That means you no longer have to pay credit cards, signature loans, and medical bills.
  • Debts for things you want to keep, like your house and car, have to be repaid if you do not want the lender to ask for permission to repossess the item. In most instances the continued payments are made pursuant to a reaffirmation agreement, and that means the debt will still be due after your case is over. If you miss a payment, you can be sued for the debt.
  • The timeline to complete a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is around 3 to 6 months. This relatively short timeframe is an incentive for most people, as they prefer not to be involved in a bankruptcy proceeding for too long.

Getting out of debt, at least unsecured debt, by filing a Chapter 7 helps thousands of people each year. If you have more debts than you have income, come in and talk to us about your bankruptcy options. We will take a look at the numbers and let you know what type of case you can file and how it will help you become more financially secure.

For answers to your questions about debt, contact us at  www.DsouzaLegalGroup.com.

Understanding Bankruptcy In Four Simple Steps

The first step to understanding the benefits of taking certain actions is to understand the action itself. When you are looking for ways to cut down on expenses and get out of debt it is beneficial to have a grasp of how different debt repayment plans can eliminate your debt load. There are several schools of thought on how to get out of debt, from the snowball method to the APR and quick elimination methods; there is bound to be a strategy that works for you. The snowball method of debt elimination provides for focusing on one debt at a time and once it is paid off using the monthly payment for that debt to add to the monthly payment for the next debt. In this way, the payment snowballs and gains momentum as debts are paid. The APR method dictates repayment of the highest rate debt first, and then moving to the next highest rate loan. With the quick elimination method, debtors pay off what they can quickly and then concentrate on the next fastest debt. This gives people a sense of accomplishment and helps them stay on track.

Another popular way to get out of debt is to file for bankruptcy. But the idea scares a lot of people off and too many people are failing to take advantage of all bankruptcy has to offer. To help combat this problem, it is helpful to understand how bankruptcy works before dismissing it as a debt relief option. Here are four simple steps to understanding bankruptcy:

  • Filing a case: filing a case starts with getting your debts gathered and talking to an attorney about what you owe, and what you make. An attorney will go over the numbers with you and prepare your case for filing. All you have to do is provide the data and review the case for accuracy before it is filed.
  • The automatic stay: the automatic stay is in place the instant you file, and it prohibits lenders from contacting you about their debt. This is the single biggest benefit reported by most people who file for bankruptcy, because it gets creditors off their back and relieves the stress that goes along with being harassed by lenders.
  • The 341 hearing: this is the only hearing most people have to go to when they file a bankruptcy case and it is very informal. There is no judge present, and your attorney will be there to make sure you understand any questions you are asked.
  • The discharge: this is the goal of every case, and it is the official entry by the Court that your debts are no longer due. A discharged debt cannot be collected on later, and you will not be asked to make payments on debts that have been discharged.

Bankruptcy also provides a chance to start over, without overwhelming debt.  Let us help you today.

For more information about how bankruptcy can help you, contact us today at www.DsouzaLegalGroup.com. We will go over the facts of your case and let you you’re your next step.

How To Get Out Of Debt When You Don’t Make A Large Salary

Getting out of debt sounds easier if you make enough money to pay your bills each month and have plenty left over for paying down account balances and loans. But if you are stretched too thin already, getting out of debt can sound like an insurmountable task and you might be tempted to ignore warning signs of financial distress. It might not be easy, but even people who make less are able to pay off debt and stay out of debt. The key is to have a good plan, and stick to that plan.

Getting out of debt when your budget is tight takes not only planning, but also a bit of sacrifice. The good news is that the sacrifice is short term, but the effects of living debt free last a lifetime. Some tips for getting out of debt when you don’t make a large salary are:

  • Refinance your debt by taking out one loan to pay off all of your debts, with an overall lower interest rate and repayment term.
  • Eliminate unnecessary spending and put that money towards debt, or to an account reserved for emergencies.
  • Take a part time job, temporarily, to make some extra cash to pay on your obligations.
  • Shop around for lower insurance rates, lower interest rates, and lower cell and utility services.

Another option is to modify your mortgage, which will give you a lower interest rate and lower house payment. The money you save can be used to pay off low balance credit cards or signature loans, and then to tackle larger debts. If your circumstances do not allow you to do any of these things, you can also talk to an attorney about filing for bankruptcy to ease your financial burden. Bankruptcy will help get your finances in order and give you a clean slate to start fresh. Eliminating debts relieves the pressure that goes along with owing more than you make, and gives you a fresh perspective on how to budget for the future. When you no longer have to worry about making ends meet you can start planning for long term financial goals and put a plan in place to reach those goals.

For help eliminating debt and information about how bankruptcy can help you get out of debt, contact us at www.DsouzaLegalGroup.com.

Does Shopping Around For Mortgage Rates Really Lower My Payment?

When it comes to making a major purchase it is always a good idea to shop around. Whether you are looking at getting a new car, taking a vacation, or buying a house the amount of money you pay is probably a major part of your decision making process. This is where negotiation and shopping around helps save you money. Car dealers often compete for buyers’ dollars by offering financing incentives and other sales, and travel sites can be a good place to compare hotel and flight packages. When it comes to a house, you already know it is common to go back and forth with the seller on a reasonable price, but did you also know you might be able to get a lower payment simply by how you pick your lender?

Shopping around for an interest rate for your mortgage can get you a lower payment, if you are able to find a lender who offers a low rate. Most times rates are lower if:

  • You have a good credit score, with minimal debt and a record of on time payments.
  • Agree to set up automatic electronic payments.
  • Get a loan from a local bank or credit union rather than a large lending institution. Locally owned banks and credit unions typically have more flexibility than larger banks and if you are member you may enjoy perks not offered by traditional lenders.

Once you have checked your options, go with a lender that offers the best rate for your loan. Other factors that might play into your decision include the repayment term length, whether you can prepay the loan without penalty, and the date on which your payments are due each month. Getting the best rate and repayment schedule will allow you to make your house payments on time, but even with the best planning it is possible to fall behind. If you have taken a financial hit and need help getting your finances back in order, consider filing for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy will eliminate some of your debts, or at least reduce them so you can pay what remains. There are two types of bankruptcies, and the type of case you are eligible to file depends on your personal financial situation. Your secured debt to income ratio will be examined, and depending on how much disposable income you have each month you will be placed in either a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13.

For more information about bankruptcy, contact us at www.DsouzaLegalGroup.com. We will help you make choices about your money that are right for you, and that will give you the financial freedom you deserve.

 

 

Four Things To Know About Mortgage Modifications

A mortgage modification is a way for homeowners to lower their house payment, and free up disposable income each month. The way it works is that the current home loan lender rewrites the loan, lowering the interest rate and giving you a lower payment. But the process can be complicated, and many homeowners become frustrated along the way and allow their lender to delay or stop the process short of doing a full modification. These possibilities make it critical to seek help when trying to modify your mortgage, so you are not taken advantage of and so that you can get to the end result you envisioned when starting to go through the procedure.

Four things to know about how mortgage modifications work and what you can expect when filling out an application are:

  • Your lender will ask for proof of income, and proof of financial hardship. Be prepared to provide these documents and also be prepared to keep copies and track delivery of what you have sent to your lender. It is always a good idea to send things by certified or overnight mail so you have proof of delivery.
  • Tracking delivery of documents you send your lender becomes necessary because many lenders ask for resubmission of things that have been previously provided. When you are able to prove delivery, you will be able to avoid spinning your wheels.
  • Temporary modifications are common, which require you to make a set number of payments under the proposed modification before the lender will make a final modification. The reasoning behind a trial modification period is so the lender is provided assurances you are capable of making the new payment.
  • Having an attorney present your application and negotiate on your behalf may get you faster results, and allow you to avoid the run around.

If a mortgage modification does not offer you the relief you need, you should also give filing bankruptcy a thought. Bankruptcy will either eliminate or reduce your debts, including both secured and unsecured obligations. So, if you need more relief than can be obtained by lowering our house payment, bankruptcy will give you that relief.

For more information about how to get out of debt by modifying your mortgage, filing bankruptcy, or a combination, contact us at www.DsouzaLegalGroup.com. We will help by coming up with solutions that work for you.

 

 

Three Ways To Stay Out Of Debt

Getting into debt is pretty easy, and once you get out of debt it is important to stay out of debt if you want to have any form of financial freedom. But staying out of debt can also present significant obstacles, and most people fall in and out of varying degrees of debt throughout their lifetimes. Knowing what to look for and how to avoid pitfalls will help you remain debt free once you obtain that status, and following a few golden rules will also help your bottom line stay healthy.

Three ways to stay out of debt are:

  • Stick to a budget: it is not enough to make a budget, you also have to stick to it and track your spending. Those that are successful with budgeting report that keeping track of the expenses in the budget is the best way to avoid overspending. There are many ways to track what you spend, and check it against your budget. You can download a free program, use a spreadsheet, or even do it the old fashioned way by writing down all of your purchases.
  • Research large purchases: we all have times in life where a new car or house need to be bought, but before heading to the dealership or calling a realtor, do a little homework to research certain products. When you have a good idea what a car or home is valued at, you will be able to negotiate on price so you do not overpay for an item.
  • Pay cash for things: avoiding using credit is one of the best ways to stay out of debt. If you have worked hard to pay off debt, wait a day or two before making a purchase with a credit card. Doing this often times results in avoiding the purchase all together because once people leave a store without buying, the chances of going back to spend money decrease.

Another way to get out of debt is to file bankruptcy. The key with this option is to abide by some or all of the above rules or others that work for you because once you file a bankruptcy case to eliminate debt; the last thing you may want is to diver right back in to taking on financial obligations you are unable to pay. But if you do, you should know that you can refile a case under certain circumstances to help with debt that arises after a case is over. There are specific rules on subsequent filings, and if you have filed before and need to file again, we can help.

For more information about bankruptcy, contact us at www.DsouzaLegalGroup.com.

Four Tips For Getting Out Of Debt

Becoming debt free is usually the first resolution made at the start of a new year, right after resolving to lose weight and exercise more. But even with a month or so of the New Year gone, the time is still right to make a plan to become debt free. Getting out of debt creates a positive cash flow and also gives families an emotional lift from the pressure burdensome debt places on their shoulders. Living debt free sounds good to nearly everyone, but is something that can be hard to accomplish unless a solid plan is put in place.

Four tips for getting out of debt that most people find relatively easy to implement are:

  • Cut back on luxury expenses: in order to do this it is important to make a list of things that are necessary, and identify which expenses are true luxury items. Common luxuries that can be cut from a monthly budget with little fanfare include things like making a morning coffee run and swapping eating lunch out for brown bagging it over the noon hour. It might seem hard to give up a specialty coffee in favor of an at home brew at first, but when bank balances grow from making this minor adjustment, the change is hardly noticeable.
  • Coming up with a budget: this might not be the easiest debt management tool to stick to, but once a budget is developed and put on paper it is more likely to be followed. And most people are surprised at where their money goes each month, seeing it in writing helps keep expenses in check.
  • Cutting up credit cards: unless credit card balances are paid in full each month the balances balloon quickly. If you are not able to pay your cards off each billing cycle, stop using them and focus on getting to a zero balance. Once one card is paid off, use the money from the payment to put towards another debt. Pretty soon this snowball effect will get you out of debt.
  • Starting an emergency fund: when you do need to make an emergency purchase or have an unexpected expense, it is best to do so with emergency funds; that way credit card balances do not have a chance to spiral out of control. Start your emergency fund by putting aside $10 or $20 per paycheck, after a short time you will have accumulated enough to cover a car repair without using credit or taking out a loan.

We understand that even with these tips debt is still going to happen. If you have tried to get out of debt by implementing the above, or other, methods but still find yourself in over your head, bankruptcy could be the solution you need. Call us to find out if bankruptcy is your best bet, or if you have other options that will help you keep your head above water.

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