Category Archives: Debt Relief

How to Handle Mistakes on Your Credit Reports

Handling Credit Mistakes and Billing and Electronic Errors    

A recent government study reflects that there are approximately 40 million Americans with mistakes on their credit reports. Just about every time you use your credit cards, take out a home mortgage, car loan, or student loan or obtain other financing, your payment history is reported by your creditor to one or more of the three major credit reporting bureaus in the United States- Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. These credit agencies compile files about your credit history and the amount of due you owe and provide that information to new or existing creditors. Your creditors make decisions about your credit worthiness and whether to give or deny your credit depending on your credit score.

Having mistakes and errors on your credit report, can result in you having to pay higher interest rates or being denying credit altogether.  Even if you know that you have a perfect or near perfect credit history of paying your bills on time, it can be a long and frustrating process to get the credit bureaus to correct or remove the mistakes.

 

What You Can Do to Protect Yourself?

As a consumer, you have certain rights regarding the reporting of your credit. For instance, if you are denied credit, the creditor must advise you in writing the reason for the denial. You can obtain a copy of your credit report for free if you have been denied credit within the last 90 days by writing to the credit reporting agency listed in the creditor’s denial letter or by obtaining your annual free report from annualcreditreport.com (https://www.annualcreditreport.com).

Upon reviewing your credit report, if you discover any errors or mistakes, then under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you have the right to dispute the information by making a written request to the major credit bureaus or going to their websites and completing an online dispute request. The credit reporting agencies must contact the creditor. If your creditor fails to respond in 30 days, then the reporting agency by law must remove the information forever from your report.  Consumers frequently complain about the frustrations of getting the information corrected or removed and sometimes require the assistance of an Indiana credit counseling attorney to help them in their efforts.

Credit Card Billing Error Protections

On the other hand, if you find credit card billing errors on your monthly statement, under the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) and Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA), you also have the right to resolve those mistakes and request that your bank, credit card company or finance company correct the problem. This includes crediting funds to your account for billing errors or funds taken out electronically without your permission, overdraft fees, finance charges, installment loan fees or ATM withdrawals or deposits. However, the law excludes transactions relating to home or car loans.

 

Assistance from an Indiana Bankruptcy and Debt Counseling Attorney

If you are still having trouble getting the credit reporting agency or your creditor to remove a mistake or error or credit your account for billing, electronic funds transfers or ATM errors, then you may want to contact an Indiana Bankruptcy or debt counseling attorney to assist you with getting the items corrected or removed. If for some extreme or unusual circumstances, you find it necessary to file a lawsuit against a consumer credit reporting agency for violating the FCRA laws or your creditor for violating other credit, billing and electronic funds laws, the Bankruptcy Lawyer can handle the lawsuit and represent you in connection with any settlement negotiations regarding the matter.

Source:

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57567957/40-million-mistakes-is-your-credit-report-accurate/

 

What You Need to Know About Indiana Bankruptcy Judgments and Credit Reports

The Indiana statute of limitations governs the maximum amount of time that a party has in order to sue someone for a debt. The statute of limitations for oral contracts and written contracts concerning the payment of money and promissory notes is 6 years from the time the debt incurred and 10 years for all other contracts which are not related to money matters. If the debtor makes a promise to pay or makes a payment, then the statute can start running all over again.
A debt collection company or debt collector also has the right to extend the time in which it can collect a debt from a debtor/consumer by filing a lawsuit and obtaining a judgment. The statute of limitations in Indiana for a judgment is 10 years, unless otherwise renewed by the debt collector. This means that the judgment stays on your credit history for 10 years and the creditor has 10 years in which to collection that judgment against you. The creditor can go to court after the 10 year period and ask for a request to renew the judgment against you for an additional 10 years.

 

Creditor’s Rights
Under the Fair Debt Collections Practice Act, you have the right to dispute the debt. The debtor must give you 30 days time in which to dispute a debt before filing a lawsuit. If they fail to do so, you can ask the court to dismiss the lawsuit. You can also dispute the debt with the three major creditor bureaus, and ask them to remove it from your credit history. They must automatically do so if your creditor fails to respond within 30 days from receipt of the dispute notice and your creditor cannot report the debt again. However, this does not relieve you from paying the debt unless it has expired under the statute of limitations.
If the debt has expired, you can also ask the court to dismiss the lawsuit. There is no reason for you to pay an expired debt. However, if you fail to show up in court, the creditor can obtain a judgment against you. A creditor can enforce a judgment against you by garnishing your wages or bank account or filing a lien against property you own. Once a judgment has been entered against you, it is much more difficult to have it removed. It can also damage your credit by lowering your credit score. So it is best not to ignore the lawsuit and to try and fight it with the help of an Indiana debt counseling attorney.
Hiring an Indiana Bankruptcy Attorney  
Our Indianapolis Indiana Bankruptcy Lawyers at Walton Legal Services will guide you safely through Bankruptcy proceedings.  We have over 30 years of experience and know exactly how to get you relief from the burden of too much debt.  Call our Bankruptcy Attorneys at 317-897-3262 today.

Does Debt Settlement Work? 9.13

How Effective is Debt Settlement?

If you have debts that you are unable to pay, you have choices that you can make to reduce your debts. One such option is debt settlement. Debt settlement consists of negotiating reduced debt with your creditors such as your credit card company. You may be able to reduce your debts between 20% and 80% by using debt settlement.  Debt settlement may also be able to save you from having to file bankruptcy.

 

However, most consumers are intimidated with the thought of having to call their creditors and negotiate a settlement with them. Using an Indiana debt counseling lawyer to help you settle your debts with your creditors is an effective way to get your creditors to reduce your debt because they know that if you are working with an attorney, you are serious about resolving your debts with them.

 

How Debt Settlement Works

 

Your Indiana debt counseling attorney can help you negotiate reduced debt with your creditors. However, in most instances, you will need to pay the reduced debt off in full. So if you do not have the full amount to pay off your creditor, debt settlement may not be the best option for you. Also, keep in mind that debt settlement may have a negative impact on your credit score. However, paying your debts late or not at all, impacts your score even more.   Also, the amount of forgiveness exceeding $600.00 is subject to federal income taxes so it is a good idea to talk that over with your Indiana debt counseling attorney first or your tax adviser before deciding to negotiate debt settlement with your creditor.

 

Debt Settlement vs. Bankruptcy

 

Another option to ridding yourself of debt is to file for bankruptcy protection. The difference between debt settlement and filing bankruptcy is that debt settlement allows you to keep your assets, does not have as much impact on your credit score and does not involve filing a proceeding with the court. However, filing for bankruptcy protection means your creditors can no longer try and collect a debt against you, sue you or obtain a judgment.

 

If you file for a complete liquidation under Chapter 7, you can eliminate your unsecured debts and start fresh again. If you have substantial assets, you may want to consider filing under Chapter 13, which is a reorganization plan that you enter into with your creditors reducing your debt. The debt is paid over a 3 to 5 year period. After you complete the court-approved repayment plan, your unsecured debts are discharged.

 

Seek Advice from an Indiana Debt Counseling/Bankruptcy Attorney

 

Making the choice to file for bankruptcy or use debt settlement is a complex one and should be discussed with an Indiana debt counseling/bankruptcy attorney.   Also, working with an Indiana debt counseling/bankruptcy attorney gives you the peace of mind that you are making the right financial choices and that someone is looking out for your best interests.

 

 

How to Stop Debt Collectors from Calling and Harassing You 6.13

Many Indiana consumers are unaware of their rights when it comes to stopping debt collection practices against them. Your creditors will typically send your account for collection to a collection agency or a collection lawyer after about 90 days if you have not paid your account. However, debt collectors are refrained by law and cannot harass or threaten you. Many debt collection agencies violate federal and state consumer laws because they know that most consumers are not knowledgeable about the laws.

 

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) protects consumers and enforces The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which regulates what debt collectors can and cannot do to collect a debt against you. If a debt collector violates the FDCPA, they are subject to receiving fines and penalties. However, the act does not apply to your original creditor. The State of Indiana also has consumer protection laws against illegal debt collecting practices.

 

If you are being harassed by a debt collection agency or debt collection attorney, you should contact an Indiana debt counseling and bankruptcy attorney or debt settlement agency to help you. The Indiana debt counseling and bankruptcy attorney is the only person who can legally represent you. The attorney will be able to explain the Indiana state and federal laws and advise you of your legal options and obligations.

 

Practices that Debt Collectors May and May Not Engage in:

• Cannot make phone calls to you before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m.
• They must clearly identify themselves and that they are attempting to collect a debt.
• They can only speak to the person they are attempting to collect a debt from
• They cannot disclose any information about your account to any third parties
• They may not engage in threatening or harassing behavior
• They cannot engage in unfair practices such as trying to collect interest, a fee or other charges on your debt unless your contract with the original creditor allows such fees or it is legal under Indiana state law
• They cannot accept and deposit a post-dated check from you
• They cannot threaten to take your property unless they have obtained a legal judgment against you for the amount owed
• A car repossession company cannot repossess your vehicle if it is parked in your home garage because that is private property. They would be trespassing, and you could call the police

 

Measures You Can Take to Stop Debt Collection Practices

Under the FDCPA, by sending a certified letter to the debt collection company advising them not to contact you, you can prevent them from calling you at home or work. However, debt collection attorneys are exempt from this rule and may still continue to contact you. There are a few other exceptions to the law. The debt collection agency or attorney can call you if the status of your account changes, to tell you that they are no longer attempting to collect the debt or they are going to sue you. However, there is a good chance that the debt collection company will stop contacting you after you make the request to them in writing. You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission or your local Indiana Attorney General’s office if you believe that your creditor has violated the FDCPA.

 

Filing for Bankruptcy Protection and Other Options

Once you file for bankruptcy protection, your creditors are barred from contacting and trying to collect a debt against you while your bankruptcy case is pending and after it has been discharged. Bankruptcy stays all collection practices by creditors against you. If your creditors do contact you, they are in violation of the law and subject to fine and penalties. Since filing for bankruptcy is serious and usually used as a last resort when debts are no longer manageable, you should speak with an Indiana bankruptcy attorney. The Indiana bankruptcy law attorney can advise you of your legal options.

 

Other options besides filing for bankruptcy may include debt consolidation by consolidating your debts and using one lower interest credit card to pay them off or obtaining a line of credit from your bank secured by your home. Or another option is to have your Indiana debt counseling and bankruptcy attorney negotiate debt settlement with your creditors. Your bankruptcy lawyer may also be able to negotiate a mortgage modification with your lender if you are behind on your mortgage or owe more than your home is worth in the current market.

 

Contact an Indiana Bankruptcy and Debt Counseling Attorney

When you are being faced with debt collectors calling and harassing you, there are ways you can protect yourself against debt collection and get your life back. By contacting an Indiana bankruptcy and debt counseling attorney, you can find out what your legal options are and make an intelligent decision as what course of action is the best for you to take.

Indiana residents: Think long and hard about debt relief solutions

Many Indiana residents are struggling with debts and trying to figure out how to not lose things like their cars and homes to repossession or foreclosure. This had led many to make bad financial decisions that end up doing more harm than good.

For example, many Indiana residents have no doubt heard of zero-balance credit card transfer offers. These zero-balance cards typically allow a person to transfer over a debt and not have to pay any interest on that debt for, in some cases, up to 18 months.

Some hear of a deal like this and decide to pay off their car with their zero-balance credit card. The idea being that as long as the car is paid off before the introductory zero interest rate periods is up, they will actually be saving money on interest charges.

The issue though is that while this may sound like a good idea in theory, in practice there are a number of red flags. The first being that if the car is not 100 percent paid off by the time the introductory zero interest periods is over, the interest charges will actually cost more than if the balance was never transferred.

On the flip side of this, if a person has enough money to be able to pay off the car on the credit card before the introductory rate is up, this person is most likely able to just write a check to pay off the car and never have to deal with transferring the balance and trading installment debt to revolving debt. Besides, changing debt from installment to revolving tends to negatively affect a person’s credit score.

In the end, the take home message is that while there are a lot of great theories floating around on how to take care of financial situations, it is important to talk with an experienced debt relief attorney before making any rash decisions.

Baby boomers struggling with credit card debt too

In our last post we focused on the fact that younger Americans are really starting to rack up credit card debt. And while this is certainly true, Demos, a policy research organization, found that Americans over the age of 50 are also really financially struggling with credit card debt.

One 62-year-old woman recently shared her story. After helping her daughters with college, some unexpected medical bills and getting a divorce herself, and also deciding to go back to school, she finds herself paying hundreds of dollars per month in credit card debt. However, these payments are mainly going to interest and she isn’t really seeing the overall balance of what she owes going down.

The study conducted by Demos shows she is not alone. Of those over the age of 50 who are considered low-to-middle class, those with credit card debt owed an average of $8,278. When looking at where this debt is coming from, half rely on credit cards for medical expenses and half use their cards for every day expenses, like groceries and utility bills.

In terms of paying down this debt, many have found it even harder in recent years. Due to the recession, after being laid off, many hard workers were not able to find jobs.

Fortunately, just like anyone else who is struggling with credit card there, there are often debt relief options that are available. These options can result in peace of mind, especially for those who are getting closer and closer to the retirement age.

Young Americans really racking up the credit card debt

Many Indiana residents know how credit card debt is. Either accrued over time due to poor budgeting, or relying on a credit card for necessary purchases, having credit card debt can be frustrating and frightening as many borrowers simply do not have the finances to pay back all that is owed.

Having credit card debt is certainly not limited to a specific demographic either. Rather, men and women and people of all ages are finding themselves in baffling financial situations.

According to one recent study, credit card debt among the younger generation seems to only be increasing. In fact, according to the university study, those born between the years 1980 and 1984 have, on average, $5,689 more in credit card debt than their parents did. Compared to their grandparents, younger Americans today have on average $8,156 more in credit card debt.

When looking at what is happening to rack up this debt, there are several factors all playing a role.

One is temptation. Many college students are inundated with credit card offers. For some, the temptation becomes too great. They cave-in and sign up for a credit card. A purchase here and a purchase there suddenly starts to add up, and before even realizing what is happening, these students end up racking up several thousands of dollars worth of debt.

Of course, with the current economy, one also has to wonder if recently graduated college students are finding themselves in the tough position of not being able to find a job after graduation. In those cases, there is no doubt that many start to rely on their credit card. This reliance can rapidly spiral out of control too.

When it comes to accrued debt, regardless of a person’s age, those with credit card debt should know that there are often debt relief solutions available. An attorney with experience handling debt relief can walk a person through those options.

I’m broke. Should I consider a reverse mortgage?

You are over 62 years old, own a home and are struggling to pay the bills. An advertisement comes on TV that tells you that you can turn your home’s equity into “tax-free cash.” You learn that by signing up for a reverse mortgage, you will be able to stay in your home until you pass away — as long as you qualify.

It sounds like a promising option, but like anything promising, there are drawbacks.

Why would mortgage companies offer reverse mortgages? First, they bring in money. By only offering reverse mortgages to individuals over 62 years of age, they can expect a good return on many of their investments. Furthermore, they allow banks to immediately foreclose on a home after a death.
Yet, even though consumers must go through counseling before receiving a reverse mortgage, many do not understand the full implications. “It is not free money,” the government is now warning consumers.

Instead, the assistant director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Office of Older Americans, Hubert H. Humphrey III states, “[Your home] is your nest egg. This is what you use when you don’t have any resources.” Unfortunately, people often decide to take the money out at age 62 and find that, years later, they need it and it is no longer there.

Take, for example, the story of a woman who was younger than 62 when she and her husband (who was over 62) applied for a reverse mortgage. Since she was under the required age limit, she was unable to sign the mortgage. When her husband passed away, the bank immediately foreclosed on the home, leaving her with very little, the money from the reverse mortgage already spent.

So, if not a reverse mortgage, then what? If you suffer from overwhelming debt, filing for bankruptcy may be an option for you. Most homeowners are afraid to file for bankruptcy because they believe they will lose their home and other possessions. Yet, in most cases, debtors are able to keep their homes during and after bankruptcy. This is because certain property is exempt from liquidation under state and federal bankruptcy laws.

If you are a senior facing significant debt, consider all of your options before deciding on a reverse mortgage. As Humphrey points out, a reverse mortgage should be considered as a last, and certainly not a first, option.

Learn more about debt relief options by visiting our pages on debt relief in Indianapolis.

Indiana sees high percentage of ‘zombie’ foreclosures

The Great Recession and housing market crash brought with it unprecedented numbers in terms of foreclosures. Not only did the housing crash effect homeowners who really wanted to continue living in their homes, but it also had an impact on neighborhoods as homes now sit vacant.

Part of the issue with these now vacant homes, is not only are these homes susceptible to crime and property damage, but there are plenty of cases where the homeowner still technically owns the property and now owes back property taxes and other fees.

These types of homes have been labeled as “zombie” foreclosures. This is when a homeowner received notice of the foreclosure and moved out, only to find out years later that they still legally owned the home.

According to RealtyTrac, in the past three months there have been roughly 302,000 homes in the U.S. that fall under the category of “zombie” foreclosure. Indiana is one of the states with a high number of these types of properties.

In looking at how this even became a problem, one must look back to 2008 when the housing market crashed and banks were having a hard time re-selling properties. In order to save money on costs associated with foreclosures, the banks would just not officially foreclose on the home. While good for the banks, for the homeowners it has become disastrous. Not only is their credit score now affected by the foreclosure, but the unpaid property tax debt only further drives down their credit score.

For those in Indiana who are either facing foreclosure now, or who are living in fear of a foreclosure, as the “zombie” foreclosure issues goes to show, it is important to talk with an attorney when figuring out what next steps need to be taken. Maybe filing for bankruptcy is the best option in order to just avoid the foreclosure process altogether? Or, maybe getting rid of a second mortgage is the best choice? Either way, an attorney can walk through these scenarios with a struggling Indiana homeowner.

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