Articles Tagged with Debt Collection

FTC logo      If you are getting debt collection calls you are not alone. About one in seven people in Mississippi is being hounded by a debt collector. Buying debt and debt collection is a billion dollar business and becoming a larger, more complex industry. The original creditor sells their debt to a debt collector, and often they sell the same debt multiple times meaning that multiple debt collection companies are attempting to collect the same debt! Debt collectors often attempt to collect from the wrong person, overstate or inflate the amount owed by adding collection fees, and even attempt to collect debts that are not real (may have been paid in the past or was never a debt to begin with).
Along with these abuses, details of the original debt are lost or outdated. Creditors selling debt are basically selling lists that have contact information and amounts owed – and little more than that in way of details.  Collectors then may have a mixture of valid debts, debts that have been since settled, or debts that are past the statute of limitations and can no longer be collected. It’s not clear exactly how many consumers are wrongly harassed for accounts that are not their debt. Debts purchased by the large debt-buying firms have no documents, contracts or other proof of the debt. Your debt will be sold to a debt collector for pennies on the dollar. It’s not just the original credit that sells debt.  Debt collection companies then may sell the lists they have purchased to other debt collectors, who may then sell it to another, then another, and another. It’s not uncommon for people to all of a sudden be receiving debt collection calls and letters about something that happened years ago but now, the debt has shown up on a list that has been sold to another company, and here we go again. Continue reading

stop calls      First realize that you do not have to talk with the debt collectors when they call. They are not calling because they care about your situation or want to discuss your financial problems in order to help you find a solution. They want a payment, or a promise to pay, and unless you are able to give one of these things to them, there is no reason to talk. If you had the money, you would have already paid them, and if you had the money coming in, you would have already made arrangements (a promise) to pay.  They know this so they call, and call, and call, and call – thinking that the more they harass you, belittle you, etc – the more likely you are to figure out a way to pay them – they don’t care about you being able to figure out an overall solution, just that you meet their immediate demand regardless of the cost to you.  Who gets fed? Usually it’s the loudest chirping bird.  Debt collectors don’t care if all you have is the money to pay your house note – they want to be paid and the house note not getting the money is your problem. You don’t have to talk to people like this.
Keep in mind that a debt collector is required to mail you what’s called a “validation” notice within five days of first contacting you. This notice must include and lay out the amount they claim owe, the name of the creditor that they claim you owe, and what to do if you think you don’t owe this money. You then have 30 days to dispute this debt and it’s claims. You also have the right to notify them that you do not want them to call or contact you anymore. It is best that you do this in writing and send it by certified mail so you have proof of your notification to them to stop contacting you, should they continue to call.  Click here to read more about stopping debt collectors from calling.

Did you co-sign for your child’s car loan? Are you a co-signer on a loan for your friend? Have you co-signed for a loan for another family member? If so then you owe the loan the same as the primary borrower does.  It does not matter who has their name listed first or second on the papers.  If you signed the contract or the note then you are a co-signer and owe the full amount of the loan.  The primary borrower may be paying right now, but if something were to happen to stop payments, debt collectors will be hot on your trail for the balance.

Finance companies and banks do not release co-signers from loans.  They demand a co-signer so they will have someone to go after if the first borrower stops paying. They knew up front that the first borrower was at high risk to stop paying and they wanted you to be there so they could go after you for part of the debt, half of the debt, or all the debt. They will go after whomever is the easiest to collect from.  So think long and hard before you become the co-signer of a debt for someone – and if you do – make sure you are willing and able to pay the whole debt if something happens.

Yes, you can stop debt collectors from calling you. Federal law, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, (“FDCPA”) requires debt collectors to stop calling if you send them a written request. Once your written notice for telephone calls to stop has been received by a debt collector, financial penalties of $500 to $1,500 can be awarded per violation.

What You Need To Do To Stop Debt Collection Calls:

    1. Write a letter setting out your name and address.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits abusive and deceptive collection tactics. This means that the debt collectors cannot insult you, threaten you, trick you, lie to you, or harass you with phone calls at all hours. This law applies only to third-party debt collectors and does not apply to a creditor collecting their own debt.
If you feel you a debt collector is being abusive, you can sue them under the FDCPA. Mississippi has zero consumer protection laws and there is no regulation of debt collectors. Creditors collecting their own debts are free to abuse you in Mississippi. You can complain to the state attorney general’s office if it makes you feel better, but don’t expect anything to come out of it.  But you can stop the calls – click here to find out how. And you have options on how to deal with your debt overall – I can help.

credit cardsCan you pay your credit cards after filing bankruptcy?  Of course. You can pay anyone you want to pay. But should you? Let’s explore whether first of all you can keep them, and second if you have anything to gain by paying debts that were wiped out by the bankruptcy court…

Can you keep your credit cards after filing bankruptcy?  You should know that your credit cards will be canceled by the creditor once you file bankruptcy.  Even if you want to keep them and continue to pay, they will be canceled.  Credit card companies are constantly checking your credit reports and the moment they see the bankruptcy they will cancel the card.  This is a surprise to many people who thought that by not listing one or two cards in their bankruptcy, they could keep using them.  No company is going to let you keep a credit card. They all want you to reaffirm the debt and pay it off, but they will not extend the current credit privileges, even if you agree to pay what is owed. Now after filing bankruptcy, you may get flooded with new offers for credit cards (some offers may even be from the same companies!) but they will not allow the current account to remain open.

Why? Once a debt is discharged in bankruptcy, the creditor can’t have any contact with you. No letters, no phone calls, no law suits, no efforts to collect, and no reports to the credit bureau. You can sue them if they violate these rules. So if you repay the debt, the creditor can’t and won’t report it on your credit record. They will take the money, but you won’t any recognition or credit for paying it.

I have been a member of NACBA (National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys) for quite some time and was able to attend the 20th annual convention this year which was held in beautiful San Antonio, TX. I would strongly suggest that you bookmark the NACBA site as a resource for consumer bankruptcy matters.  Congress, their staff, the media, and the Judicial Branch all recognize NACBA as the lead voice in America regarding consumer bankruptcy law. The Association & it’s member attorneys put their expertise to work by frequently testifying before judicial and legislative bodies against any anti-debtor legislation introduced by an aggressive consumer credit industry. NACBA continues to play a significant role in forming the outcome of policy-related discussion and debates regarding consumer bankruptcy practices.  It truly lives up to it’s goal

To ensure that the voices of consumer debtors and their attorneys are heard in the halls of Congress, the Judiciary and other arenas affecting consumer debtors; and to help consumer bankruptcy attorneys represent their clients more effectively.

Bottom line, attending NACBA conventions provide a wealth of education and keep attorneys up to date on the latest in bankruptcy law – which is a must if you are going to provide the best protection for your clients. Multiple vendors also attend the conference, educating us on the latest available debt counseling programs and a host of other items designed to help consumers before, during, and after bankruptcy.  I’ll be blogging about some of the gems pulled from this conference a little later, so stay tuned! In the meantime, here are some pictures from the convention this past weekend…and yes – I’m the one in the toe shoes speaking with a good friend of mine, Mississippi NACBA State Chair, attorney Pat Sheehan.

The end of the year is a time when we start thinking about how the past year has gone, what went wrong, what went right, and what changes we need to make to ensure things are better in the new year.  When you are looking at your financial situation, it’s good to pull a credit report to double check what’s being reported to ensure it is accurate information.  As a part of the Federal Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions (FACT) Act, every US resident is eligible to receive one FREE credit report every 12 months from each of the nationwide credit reporting companies.

To learn more about this visit the FACT Act Central Site located at annualcreditreport.com.  Any other site offering you a free credit report is a scam or a selling tool to get you hooked into monthly fees.  Do not contact the three nationwide credit reporting agencies for your free reports. They are only providing them through the following three methods:

  1. Order online at annualcreditreport.com

To review the various clips of attorney Frank Coxwell’s appearances on the Fox 40 AM Show, click here to go to our Media page.  Mr. Coxwell discusses multiple topics on the show – the garnishment process, how to stop foreclosures in Mississippi,  how to deal with student loans, the pitfalls of the new “business” credit card offers, and more.

Frank on Fox Set 2Frank on Fox SetFrank on Fox Set 3

NO!!!  The lender cannot threaten or use criminal prosecution to collect.  However, the lender may file an action against you in civil court.  If you cannot repay the loan, you may request that the lender place you on a payment plan.  However, the lender is not legally required to grant your request.  If you wish to file a complaint regarding a payday loan vendor in Mississippi, please call either or both of the following offices:

Department of Banking & Consumer Finance – 1.800.844.2499

Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Attorney General – 1.800.281.4418