Articles Posted in Credit Cards

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Marriage, Matrimony and Bankruptcy, Credit, Credit Score“What happens when I marry someone whose filed bankruptcy?” Is a common question. People want to know what affect a spouses’ prior bankruptcy may have on their own credit or borrowing power. The classic attorney answer is, “It depends.”

Generally speaking, the fact that your fiance filed a bankruptcy in the past is irrelevant to your current or future credit score. Marriage does not merge scores or credit histories, what it does do is require you both to sign some kinds of contracts when a lender extends you more credit.

One of the few ways having a spouse who has a bankruptcy in their past can effect you is when it comes to borrowing. You can only borrow as much as your credit allows. Married couples are allowed to borrow as much as their combined credit allows. So, if your spouse has a low credit score, your combined credit score will be lower, thereby limiting your combined borrowing power. There are ways around this. A co-signer with a strong credit score can help you qualify for a larger loan amount. Some banks, such as Bank of England even have programs by which you start a mortgage with a cosigner and then after one year of proper payments they may offer you a refinance to remove that cosigner’s name. Another way to deal with your spouses’ credit problems is to take time and work on increasing their credit score. By taking out a secured credit card, you can help build your spouse’s credit score but you must be sure that the card actually reports your history of good payments to the credit bureaus. Capital One offers a Visa that is supposed to report to the three bureaus. Some of these cards have annual fees, so shop around to find the best rates. After a year of good payment history, you should then have your spouse apply for a unsecured credit card with the same company -this time in only their name. They are more likely to get approved this way and once the card is in their name only, their credit should be able to build faster.

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Whose Credit does my bankruptcy effect?People contemplating bankruptcy often fear the effect it will have on their loved ones. Debtors often think that their credit is somehow merged with their spouse or that their children will be liable for their debts if they’re still outstanding at time of death. I would like to dispel these rumors because they at worst are untrue and at best are misleading.

First and foremost, from a credit perspective married couples might as well be strangers on the street. One spouse may have a stellar credit score while the other may not. Sometimes all the unsecured debts are all in the name of one spouse, while the home mortgage liability is in the name of the other and so on. Oftentimes, home mortgage liabilities are so great that they require the commitment of income from both spouses to justify the bank’s risk in permitting the loan. This is likely the reason people mistakenly believe that marriage results in the “merge” of credit. If there is any truth to this, it is like so: Once two spouses sign a mortgage note on a house, they are now in the same boat as to that debt. If that boat sinks, whose fault it is ceases to matter and they will both drown equally. This is why so many people file for bankruptcy soon after their divorce is completed.

The idea of inheriting debt is archaic. It’s true that there are account of our own Thomas Jefferson having inherited debt from his late father-in-law, but any such law transferring liability on debts by inheritance is a thing of the past. Still, there are some ways in which a son or daughter may ‘feel’ they have inherited a debt. For instance, when someone dies and leaves an estate, the personal representative of the estate must make an accounting of the decedent’s (dead person’s) property and pay their creditors off before allowing the property to be distributed to the heirs. This may make those who inherit feel as though they’re being forced to pay the decedent’s debts. The distinction here being that it is the decedent’s funds that are used to pay the debts and not those of the living heir.

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Debt Collection, Secured Debt, Unsecured Debt, Procedure, Debt DefenseThese days, debts are bought and sold like stocks. By the time a debt collector files suit against you, they may be the third or fourth agency to hold your debt. Generally, this is a good thing because Debt collectors assume that they will be able to win by default in nearly all of their cases. As a result, these collectors rarely keep proper documentation (or don’t even get it in the first place).

Adopted by nearly every state, the Uniform Commercial Code sets forth requirements that must be met by a secured creditor before they can assess a deficiency against a debtor. There are varieties of other provisions that can be used to protect consumers: the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Federal Truth in Lending Act, etc. One of the most powerful protections a consumer has is the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. When one knows how to get evidence and how to present pleadings properly, the strength of a case is greatly amplified.

When a collector files a complaint with the court, they must have the debtor served at their last known address. There are a variety of defenses that can be used: Perhaps the collector hasn’t properly shown that they are owed the debt, perhaps the debt amount has been improperly calculated, perhaps the debtor isn’t even the right person -the list goes on and on. What is important to keep in mind is that a lack of action on the part of the defense means that they consent to the facts alleged. This is called a default judgment. Default judgments are difficult, though not always impossible to “re-open” and work out properly. It’s far easier to defend such a case if counsel is sought prior to a judgment being obtained, preferably before the initial twenty days after service of process has occurred. By getting into a case early, a lawyer will almost invariably have a better chance at defeating the complaint and may be able to get attorneys fees or file a counter-claim for damages (suing the person who is suing you).

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If you want to reaffirm a debt after filing for bankruptcy, your must executed a new agreement with your creditor. This reaffirmation agreement must be written and must be signed by both you and the creditor. Should you sign this reaffirmation agreement? Here are some pros and cons.

Pros

First, if you want to keep the property, you must sign the reaffirmation agreement. Also, if you do sign, you will be certain what your payments will be, what your interest rate is, etc. Signing a reaffirmation agreement may also help rebuild your credit, since you are taking responsibility for a pre-filing debt and are making regular payments on a debt.

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As is most legal processes, bankruptcy can be a difficult thing to maneuver. There is a lot of misinformation out there, you need to be careful to get your information from a trusted source. Here are some myths regarding bankruptcy:

Myth 1: If I file for bankruptcy, everyone will know.

Like most legal proceedings, most bankruptcy documents are public record. Since I work at a law firm in the bankruptcy department, I search these records all the time. I even have a special username and password that allows me access online. However, how many times do you think your friends, family, or co-workers search through federal court records? The truth is that while your bankruptcy documents will be public information, it is unlikely that those you know would search to find them.

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The U.S. House of Representatives introduced a new bill, the Mobile Informational Call Act of 2011, that would allow businesses to dial consumers’ cell phones using an automatic dialing system. This practice is oftentimes called “robo-calling”. This means that the operator does not have to manually dial each number. Rather, the computer system can dial the numbers and play a prerecorded message on many phones at once. The current law is that operators have to manually dial the numbers (unless the customer consents to robo-calling), which is not very profitable for many collection agencies.

The down side to this bill would obviously be that creditors would be able to start robo-calling your cellphone. This does not sit well with many consumers. But some creditors say that the current regulations have not kept up with the technology of today, and that a lot of people do not have home phone lines anymore. Creditors are wanting robo-calling access to cell phones.

The upside to the bill, however, is that an airline company could robo-call passengers if a flight was cancelled or is running late. Or your credit card company could set up a system to automatically call you if they think someone is fraudulently using your card. Or your bank could robo-call with a message that someone changed the address or PIN number on your account.

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Bankruptcy, Honesty, Oath, PerjuryWhen filing for bankruptcy, it is very important to be very honest and disclose everything. If you do not, you risk having your bankruptcy denied, discharge revoked or even prison time in the worst case scenario. When you sign your bankruptcy documents, you are doing so swearing that they are true under penalty of perjury. If the trustee finds out that something you have in your schedules is incomplete or untrue, this will raise a red flag and the trustee will scrutinize your bankruptcy schedules even more.

A common way that people fail to disclose everything in bankruptcy is trying to hide assets. Debtors might leave off a gold watch or a private bank account. This is a big mistake. When filing for bankruptcy, you must list all of your assets. Even if you think an asset is inconsequential or minute, you should list it. It is better to have overkill than to raise a red flag.

Another thing debtors sometimes fail to list is creditors that happen to be friends or relatives. Or maybe the debtor does not want a specific creditor to know that they have filed for bankruptcy, so they do not want to list that creditor. You should not do this. You need to list all creditors to whom you currently owe any kind of debt on your bankruptcy papers. The trustee wants to make sure that all of your creditors get their fair share of your estate. No matter your intentions, make sure to list every creditor. If you do not and the trustee finds out, this will raise a red flag.

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Jeffrey Summers, of Taft, California, and Stafan Miller, of Santa Clara, California, perpetrated a scam upon multiple creditors. They formed Maxwell, Turner & Associates, a collection services company who employed around 20 people. From February 2009 until May 2010, their company did not deliver on their promises to clients. Summer and Miller would provide false information about legal proceedings and tell their creditor clients wrong contact information for debtors. Also, if the company did collect any money from debtors, it would not pass this money along to the appropriate creditor. Instead, the two would pocket the money. The scheme took in more than $2.7 million.

Summers was convicted for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and sentenced to 8 years in federal prison. Miller was ordered to serve 6 years and 9 months for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering. The two have also been ordered to repay $1,311,700 in restitution to the victims of their fraudulent scheme.

If you feel that you have been defrauded in any financial situation, you should speak with a Jacksonville Consumer Law Attorney to see if a remedy this available for you.

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Filing for bankruptcy can be very confusing for those trying to go it alone. As an in-depth legal process, it is greatly beneficial to have a Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorney to help you navigate your way through a successful bankruptcy. Here are some reasons why:

1. There are many calculations that must be done correctly. To file for bankruptcy, you must first know which Chapter you qualify for, a Chapter 7, 13, 11 or 12. One step to figuring it out is by completing a Means Test. This is complex thing to do. You must know things which deductions you can use for food, clothing, personal care, health care, housing, and many more. You’ll need to how the allowances for vehicles work and what involuntary deductions you can take. You must know how to list future debt payments correctly. And the list goes on and on. Without the proper knowledge and skill, this can be very difficult to do right the first time. If you do not do this correctly, the court could dismiss your case without a discharge, penalize you with fines or in rare cases, even send you to jail. Hiring a Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorney would be beneficial because someone with knowledge and experience would be handling these issues, taking the stress off of you.

2. Another daunting task is drafting a Chapter 13 Plan. This Plan is very important, as it outlines your responsibilities over a three to five year period. You must know which creditors get paid, how much is required to go to unsecured creditors, and how to allocate the Trustee’s portion. You want to make sure that you get all the benefits you can through your Plan. It is not the job of the Court or Trustee to watch out for your interest, it is there job to be sure that the code is being applied properly.

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Is your credit card company driving you crazy? Think they are trying to rip you off or aren’t taking your complaints seriously? The Dodd-Frank Act created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), an agency to whom you can voice concerns regarding your credit card companies. Since their opening in July 2011, the office has fielded more than 5,000 consumer complaints. Some of the most common complaints dealt with collection practices, debt protection services, account closures, identification theft, fraud, and fees.

After a complaint is filed, the CFPB acts as a go-between in order to resolve the issue between you and your credit card company. So far, approximately three quarters of the complaints have been either partially or fully resolved by the credit card company. The rest are either still under review or there was no relief found.

Consumers can submit their complaints either online with Consumer Finance’s Government Site or by calling 855-411-CFPB (855-411-2372). In the near future, CFPB will be fielding complaints for all kinds of consumer financial products, including mortgages and other loans.

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