Blog

I Disputed The Debt And Got Garnished Anyway: What Can I Do?

Being sued for debts is a stressful experience. No payment of debt is not an intentional act, but usually comes about due to unforeseen circumstances. For most people an unexpected life circumstance leads to debt quickly piling up, which is impossible to pay. All it takes is one catastrophic event, such as being diagnosed with cancer or being in a serious accident, for your finances to take a tumble. If you have received a demand for payment, the first step you should take is to dispute the debt and request the creditor provide what is due. This is the only way to ensure you are paying a legitimate debt and that the amount is accurate.

Even though it is your legal right to dispute a debt, some creditors proceed with legal process despite your dispute. When left unanswered, a demand for payment can escalate to a lawsuit. If you fail to defend the lawsuit a judgment can be entered against you and once that happens the next step is garnishment. To put an end to a garnishment on a disputed debt, take the following steps:

● Challenge the garnishment itself and seek to be exempt from being garnished.

● File a motion to vacate the judgment against you.

● Bring an independent action against the creditor for wrongful collection.

The options you have depend on how long it has been since the judgment was entered against you, and at what time the garnishment was issued. The rules of civil procedure will dictate your choices, and a skilled debt relief attorney can help figure out where in the stage your case is and advise your legal options. Call us for more information and for a review of your case.

Did The Lender Have The Right To Foreclose: The Standing Issue

All legal cases begin with an injured person and a responsible party. This is true whether you are talking about a car wreck, a breach of contract, or a criminal matter. In order to seek recovery for an alleged wrong, the person filing a lawsuit must have standing to do so. This legal term of art means that the person or entity suing has the right to do so, either by being the injured party or by holding a contract or other piece of paper that gives legal rights. When determining whether a lender has standing to file a foreclosure, several factors must be present.

This issue first came to forefront of the legal landscape right here in Florida. In 2007, when foreclosure rates were at an all-time high, important information about lenders’ foreclosure practices came under heavy scrutiny. To recap, the issue was as follows:

● Evidence was uncovered showing that lenders were having employees sign affidavits to start the foreclosure process without having any actual knowledge of the loan status. This was the so called “robo signing” scandal.

● Many lenders were not actually in possession of any obligatory documents that would give them the right to enforce payment. Without a right to enforce payment, there is no right to foreclose the mortgage.

● Most foreclosing plaintiffs were merely servicing loans, and not entitled to accept payments. This was problematic because only the entity entitled to payment has the right to file a lawsuit for nonpayment.

While many lenders have changed their practices, there are still untold numbers of instances where a foreclosure is initiated by a plaintiff without the right to do so. If you have questions about whether the entity suing you for foreclosure has standing to do so, you should challenge the entire procedure. Doing so requires requesting to be shown the original note and that the plaintiff was in possession of the note prior to suing you. This process requires careful legal analysis and the assistance of a skilled legal professional.

If you are being foreclosed on and believe the case is wrongful, call our office for help. We will review the facts of your unique circumstances and develop a strategy that fits the facts. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

Was The Foreclosure On My House Wrongful?

Losing your home deals a harsh blow to your family. With the massive increase in foreclosure filings in recent years, more and more courts are taking extra special care to make sure the foreclosure is done properly and without glitches. If you believe the foreclosure on your home is wrongful you can and should challenge its validity. Doing so will ensure the process proceeds as it should and that the result is correct.

Florida foreclosures, like every other state, should only be initiated by the lender that has the right to take back possession of the home. Common errors made by foreclosing lenders include:

● Foreclosing without the proper documentation.

● Foreclosing on an active duty military member.

● Failing to account for the amount due or being able to prove the note is in default.

● Starting a case with documents that were not signed by you (either a forgery, or simply not signed at all).

If you have any doubt as to whether the foreclosure on your house is proper, call our office. When things don’t seem right, they usually aren’t. You have the right to make sure the lender has the right to foreclose on you and that they provide proof of the debt as well as the amount they claim to be past due. You are entitled to an accurate pay history and to see the originals of the loan documents. When a lender fails to abide by the rules and regulations governing foreclosures, the process should go no further. This has been the general feeling across the country and the courts are not ignoring the severity of displacing people from their homes. This is your “day in Court” and you should take full advantage of the opportunity to challenge the possible loss of your home.

 

If you are being foreclosed on and believe the case is wrongful, call our office for help. We will review the facts of your unique circumstances and develop a strategy that fits the facts. We offer an individualized approach and work with you to reach satisfactory results. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

Fighting A Foreclosure

Your home is your most valuable asset. This is where you gather with family and friends and share many of life’s most important events. When faced with the possibility of losing your home you need to consider all of your options. A foreclosure takes away your home and your sense of a place to belong. We aggressively fight for your right to stay in your home and stop a foreclosure.

In Florida, foreclosures are termed judicial, which means a case gets filed in Court to foreclose your mortgage. Some popular ways to fight a foreclosure include:

 

● Challenging the lender’s right to initiate and maintain the foreclosure.

● Requesting a short sale of the property.

● Offering the lender a deed in lieu of the foreclosure.

When the case proceeds down the judicial path, you can file motions with the Court to have the case dismissed, and you can also issue written questions and requests for documentation from the lender (referred to as discovery). The lender is required to show they are the holder of the note, which is the document that gives them the right to foreclose. Absent proof of note ownership, the foreclosure should not be allowed to continue. The issue is complex and requires careful legal analysis. We can help make that analysis and offer guidance as to how it is best to proceed.

If you are being foreclosed on, call our office for help. We will review the facts of your unique circumstances and develop a strategy that fits the facts. We offer an individualized approach and work with you to reach satisfactory results. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

 

 

Debt Consolidation Versus Bankruptcy: Which Fit Is Best For You

Finding a way to manage burdensome debt is no easy task. Many people will tell you that you can handle the matter on your own, by calling your creditors and asking for a reduced interest rate or lower payments. In some instances there might even be talk of skipping payments in order to let you get through a rough financial patch, or repaying only a portion of what is owed. Still yet there is the possibility of consolidating your debt into one loan so only one payment is made every month, or filing for bankruptcy which would eliminate some of your debt and free up your disposable income.

The choice is yours, but should only be made after thoroughly reviewing all of your options. Some key components of each type of debt relief include:

 

● Debt consolidation is not the same as filing bankruptcy, and will keep the notation of bankruptcy off of your credit history. But, keep in mind not all of your creditors will participate in a consolidation program so the benefits may be minimial.

● Bankruptcy will eliminate worrisome debt, but will impact your credit.

 

Perhaps the most significant element to keep in mind when deciding whether to file for bankruptcy or to consolidate debt is that many debt consolidation companies make promises they are unable to keep. As stated, not all creditors participate in debt consolidation, and a company may “sell” this option to you by promising to coordinate lower payments on your behalf. What is often times left out of the information provided is that creditors are not required to accept the offers made. This can put you in the position of making payments to the company, anticipating the company will pay your debts, but the payment being rejected by your creditor. If that happens you will find yourself making payments to the debt consolidator and still being required to pay some of your bills outside of that arrangements. This can actually lead to paying more per month than you are able to do, and expose you to possible collection lawsuits. Bankruptcy is Court sanctioned and approved, and even contains a provision very similar to consolidation. For more information, call our office.

If you have overwhelming debt, call our office for help. We will review the facts of your unique circumstances and develop a strategy that works best for you, your family, and your budget. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

How Do I Sue A Debt Collector?

Most collection lawsuits involve a creditor suing a consumer for a past due debt. There are certain procedures that the creditor is required to follow, and when the creditor fails to play by the rules you can and should take action against them. Possible results from a lawsuit against a debt collector include monetary damages for the amount you are out of pocket for having to bring the action as well as possible punitive damages. Punitive damages are designed to “punish” the offender, and prevent repeat of the offensive behavior in the future.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act governs the way in which a debt collector is allowed to collect debts. The Act also provides for remedies to consumers who have been the subject of an abusive or harassing collection practice. Remedies include:

● Actual damages incurred.

● Payment of attorney fees for having to sue the collector.

● A mandatory $1,000.00 fine per violation of the Act.

You can sue a debt collector in state court, in federal court, or within a bankruptcy proceeding. Where you bring suit will depend on the specific facts of your case, and a trained attorney will know which option fits your case. We have experience bringing actions against debt collectors and place an emphasis on this type of case within our legal practice. For help, call one of our trained legal professionals.

If you are being harassed or threatened from a debt collector, call our office for help. We will fight for a full and fair compensation for your damages while holding the creditor’s fee to the fire for accountability. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

What Is The Automatic Stay?

Filing bankruptcy provides many benefits. The most important benefit is that you are able to have most of your debt eliminated, and no longer considered due by the creditor. Another important benefit is that of the automatic stay. This legal mechanism is put in place automatically, upon the filing of the case. What this means is that all creditors are automatically prevented (stayed) from contacting you to collect a debt. The purpose of bankruptcy is to give the honest but unfortunate debt a fresh start, which begins with being given a chance to breathe and get a break from the calls and letters from collectors.

The bankruptcy law is where the provision of the automatic stay can be found. It stops the following actions by creditors and debt collectors:

 

● Collection calls must immediately cease.

● Any wage garnishment must be released and no further wages withheld from your paycheck.

● Foreclosures must stop, giving you the opportunity to stay in your home without fear of it being auctioned off or sold out from under you.

If a creditor fails to abide by the automatic stay and persists in calls or other collection activities you do have recourse. You can file a case against the offending creditor within your bankruptcy and depending on the severity of the violation, are entitled to monetary damages. We have experience going after creditors that break the law, and are happy to help you if this has happened to you.

If you are receiving collection calls or letters after having filed 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.

Is Bankruptcy The Answer?

The decision to file for the protection of bankruptcy is on that should be made only after careful consideration. While the stigma that was once associated with bankruptcy is all but gone in today’s society, there are still consequences to filing a case. When you are armed with the knowledge of possible outcomes and how a bankruptcy filing impacts things like your credit score, an informed decision is more easily made.

The decision to take bankruptcy is personal and will depend on the particular circumstances of your financial condition, but there are some tips that apply to all cases. These tips include:

 

● Analyze your finances to see which chapter of bankruptcy you qualify for, a Chapter 7 liquidation or a Chapter 13 debt reorganization. This important distinction may dictate whether you file or try to streamline your budget outside of bankruptcy court.

● Be honest about future possibilities to repay your debt.

● Make a list of the type of debts you have, which requires you to identify which loans are secured by collateral and which are not. The difference between secured and unsecured debt is important during a bankruptcy case because unless you wish to continue making payments on debts secured by things, you will have to surrender the property that secures the debt. With unsecured debt, like a credit card or signature loan, there is no collateral to give back and so it is beneficial to have this debt eliminated (discharged) in bankruptcy.

● Accept the consequences of filing, such as how long the information stays on your credit.

If your options are limited and bankruptcy will give you a fresh financial start, filing is a viable option for you. For some, walking away from debt is emotionally difficult because they feel a sense of obligation to repay what was borrowed. If you are able to reconcile this fact with your circumstances, filing might be right for you. Keep in mind many celebrates and professional athletes have sought the protection of bankruptcy, and doing so is not frowned upon as it once was. Call our office today to learn more.

If you are having difficulty meeting your monthly obligations, 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 Stop Collection Calls

Being saddled with overwhelming debt can create undue stress and anxiety on you and your family. This is especially true if you are receiving collection calls and/or letters. For some, it can get to the point where you don’t answer your phone or check your mail. When collection letters start stacking up and the calls are never ending, it is important to know your options. Getting the calls and letters to stop will give you some much needed peace and can even give you a chance to catch your breath so you can come up with a plan to handle the debt.

Debt collectors are required to follow certain laws when attempting to collect a debt. If you are being called by a collection agency, here are some ways you can put an end to those calls:

 

● Advise the caller you are requesting a cease and desist, then follow up this verbal command with written correspondence.

● Request the agency prove the debt, in writing, to you.

● Ask for confirmation of the name of the original creditor and to be provided a copy of the documents the collection agency claims created the debt.

These are effective techniques that will put a stop to collection calls and letters. However, these remedies offer only temporary relief. For a permanent stop to the calls you should turn the matter over to a skilled attorney. We will review your case and provide you options to alleviate the debt you have, and will also field all the collections calls you are receiving. Whether by bankruptcy, negotiation for repayment of a lesser amount, or other work out options, we can help you get back on your financial feet. Getting your finances in order helps to give you a positive outlook for the future, let us help you get back on track.

If you are receiving debt collection calls or letters, let an experienced attorney help you. We fight to protect your rights and stop the collection calls. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

 

 

Phantom Debt or Zombie Debt

These names may be foreign to some, but the companies that operate within their confines are not. If you (or someone you know) have ever been subjected to debt collectors, then you probably are well aware of who phantom or zombie debt collectors are. According to a report issued by CNN in July 29, 2014 one in three Americans are now dealing with debt collectors.

Types of Debt Collectors

Debt collection practices fall into three major categories – house accounts, collection agencies or debt purchasers. With house accounts, employees of the company (their representatives) are tasked with collecting past due debt. Their goal is to resolve and collect outstanding balances before a debt becomes too old (typically six-months) and is written-off as uncollectible. Once the debt is written-off, it is usually sent to an outside collection company that is tasked with collecting the outstanding balance. In most cases (but not all), the collection agency gets a percentage of any monies they collect, some get upwards of 50% of all the money they collect. The last category of debt collectors are debt purchasers. These collection companies buy old debt that is no longer being worked by the original creditor or an external collection company. In most cases, the debt has aged substantially (often three or more years since the debtor defaulted).

How the Phantom/Zombie Debt Works

The reason it is called phantom or zombie debt is that these old debts tend to arise from the dead or are not owed or belongs to someone else – like someone with the same name or a deceased child or parent. After years of not hearing about an old debt, suddenly and out of nowhere, a letter or phone call comes from ABC, XYZ, (or whatever) Asset Management Fund (Company, LLC, etc.). The letter will state that they are attempting to collect on the debt owed to “such and such” company. They will lead you to believe that they are a debt collector working for the original creditor. However, this is not true.

The truth is they have purchased the debt from the original creditor or a collection agency (one that has given up on collecting the debt) for mere pennies on the dollar. They might have purchased your old debt that was originally $1,000 for as little as .50 cents. In the extreme, they may have spent several dollars for the debt. The asset purchase companies relish buying this debt for two reasons – it is a fraction of the original cost and with cumulative interest added it is now worth many times more than the original amount you owed the creditor.

Why the Misrepresentation?

Most (if not all) of these asset purchase buyers want you to think that they are representing the original creditor and that they are going to make you an exceptional, but limited time offer. They try to convince you that you can finally settle this debt and put it behind you. They hope that you, the debtor, is ignorant of zombie debt collectors and will easily fold to their demands and antics.

If they were honest and forthright and explained that they purchased the debt for pennies on the dollar, they would lose their ability to extort monies from you using deception. The asset purchase model is so lucrative that if only a small percentage of accounts paid up, the profits become staggering. One of the leaders in “debt asset purchasing” claims the retail value of their portfolio is over a billion dollars – are you starting to see the picture.

Consumer Rights and Protection

As with all debt collection, there are laws, regulations, and practices, which govern and provide protection for debtors. Unfortunately, overzealous collectors sometimes (all too frequently) go beyond what the law allows in attempting to collect a debt. In some cases, a collector may have violated federal law and could be subject to fines/penalties or both. It is important for a consumer to understand their rights and to seek the help of legal counsel when these rights are violated.

The next blog will detail the rights of consumers, and the standards that creditors and collection agencies are expected to adhere as defined in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

If you are having problems with debt or debt collectors, Dzousa Legal is here to help you. We will gladly meet with you to discuss your options. The initial review of your matters is without obligation or fees.