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Last Build Date: Mon, 14 Jun 2010 22:50:48 GMT

 



Business Article Threatens Violence On Debt Collectors

Mon, 14 Jun 2010 22:50:48 GMT

In a business column dated January 20, Baltimore Sun writer Jay Hancock seems to bask in the fact that a prominent accounts receivable management firm filed bankruptcy in the midst of an unemployment-driven recession. Speculation suggests he may have threatened violence against collectors.

Hancock proposes that debt collectors are working inadequately to recover money because in a recession people owe more money. However, this argument runs in circles, many collection agencies protest. Yes, debt collectors will get much more work when credit defaults are on the rise. But the collections industry, like any other, depends on the financial stability of consumers. If debtors do not have the money to pay back the debt, collection starts to seem like a moot point.

While many of his economic theories and beliefs are erroneous, later in the article Hancock discusses the bankruptcy of debt collection law firm Mann Bracken, suggesting that violence against debt collectors might be an acceptable path to justice. Because Mann Bracken had an order to stop debt collection activities, thousands of cases filed by the firm against consumers will be tossed out.

Hancock's reaction is a little bit shocking. "A firebomb tossed into the company's offices could not have been as effective." Really? You want to firebomb the office?

Obviously, people take their interactions with collectors very personally. Some handle it well, some do not. It is hard to believe that there are hundreds of consumers out there wishing physical harm to debt collectors and their offices. On the other side, unfortunately, debt collectors are people with emotions as well. Your debt is their commission. While most collectors follow protocol, there is that one occasional jerk that gets you really angry. Founded or unfounded as these feelings are, it seems as though things have taken a turn for the worst when violent threats pass as a business column.

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Filing For Bankruptcy A List Of DONTS Part Two

Mon, 14 Jun 2010 22:50:37 GMT

Don't repay family members. The thing is that they can't be treated different than other creditors. Under the law, relatives have the same exact legal status as every other creditor that you owe. Thus, relatives can't be treated differently than all of the other places. I know that stinks, however it's the law.

Do NOT liquidate your retirement account! They are typically exempt property in a bankruptcy regardless of what chapter you file, so it is not necessary to do this. Some people liquidate and still owe huge amounts of money, and if you withdraw these funds early that makes you fully liable for penalties and taxes which might not be discharged in the bankruptcy.

Don't transfer property out of your name before you file bankruptcy. This action can be undone if a fair price isn't received, or if it were made with intent to defraud, delay, or hinder a creditor. Friends and relatives fall into this category too.

Don't use your equity line of credit to pay off your debt. Under most federal and state law, you do have the option to claim exemption for the equity in your home. So you can go through bankruptcy and still be able to have this equity.

So basically, if you use your equity line to pay off money you owe or to take out a second mortgage, you will for the most part be converting debt that would have been discharged in bankruptcy into debt which you will still need to pay so you can hold on to your home.

One Do: Always tell your lawyer the truth and let them fully know all of your concerns. Naturally, courts take their rules seriously and they have the ability to file criminal charges if you commit intentional fraud. And even if they don't go that far, they can refuse to discharge a particular debt, or simply dismiss the entire case.

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What You Should Know About The CARD Act

Mon, 14 Jun 2010 22:50:25 GMT

Recently the CARD act went into effect, which means that consumers will be able to enjoy relief from double cycle billing and arbitrary rate increases. The CARD act also promises that credit card bills will be much easier to read. However, with the new act comes a new series of rules and regulations that savvy consumers should know about.

First,there is a possibility that consumers may find that they are being slapped with a variety of charges and new fees. This is because creditors have already been implementing new fees aggressively or raising ones that already did exist to try to make up for any revenue that could be potential lost as a result of the CARD Act.

Some types of these fees are Discover's new 2% fee on all purchases made outside of the United States of America, and an increase from 3% to 5% fee for rolling over a balance from one credit card to another.Because there are no restrictions on the types of fees creditors can implement, cardholders should pay extra close attention to the "Terms and Conditions" section of their statement so they know what exactly they are being charged for.

In addition, credit will be harder to come by. The amount of credit that was available to consumers by card companies went down about 7% between March and September of last year. And it will only tighten further. According to the CARD Act, credit card companies are going to be extremely restricted in their marketing techniques that target college students, which can potentially cut down on an important part of their business.

Thus, consumers with a mediocre or bad credit history will determine that it is way more difficult to get a card or have their credit limit extended.

Fewer rewards are also expected. Issuers are becoming more cheap with their rewards in an attempt to save money. For example, American Express told its consumers recently that they would not be able to accumulate reward points on their purchases if they were late with a payment. To avoid missing out, analysts caution that consumers should carefully read any notices they get from their credit card company about changes to their rewards or loyalty program.

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What Is Bankruptcy And What Do The Chapters Mean

Mon, 14 Jun 2010 22:50:13 GMT

Bankruptcy in the United States is a constitutionally (Article 1 Section 8, Clause 4 to be exact) approved way for individuals and business entities to settle large amounts of debt. Congress is in charge of making the bankruptcy laws, the most recent change being an amendment to existing laws through the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005. For other laws relevant to bankruptcy, turn to the United States Code.

Bankruptcy cases are filed in United States Bankruptcy Court, so federal law will govern the procedure in bankruptcy cases. But state laws are also applied when property rights are being determined. Example: rules that protect property from creditors (the people you owe money to) will come from state law.

Bankruptcy comes in a couple of forms, or Chapters. Title 11 of the United States code has nine chapters. Six of these will need you to file a petition. The remaining three come with rules to govern these petitions.

Chapter Seven is the most common form of bankruptcy. This involves a trustee who is appointed to collect the property of the debtor that is not exempt. Then they'll go ahead and sell it, and distribute the proceeds to the creditors. Every state lets debtors keep essential property, so most Chapter 7 cases will let the debtor keep all of their property.

A Chapter Nine bankruptcy is only available to municipalities. It's a form of reorganization, not liquidation. One notorious example of this was when Orange County, California filed. Bankruptcy under Chapter 11, Chapter 12, or Chapter 13 is more complicated. It involves letting the debtor keep some, or all of their property, and reorganization. They will use future earnings to pay off creditors. People generally file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Sometimes an individual will file for Chapter 11, but this is rare. Chapter 12 is similar to Chapter 13, but is only available to "family farmers" and "family fisherman" in some situations. Generally, chapter 12 has is more generous for debtors than a similar Chapter 13 case.

In 2005, another chapter, Chapter 15 was added to deal with foreign companies with U.S. Debts.

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Unfair Collection Letters Bother Musicians Parents

Mon, 14 Jun 2010 22:50:02 GMT

A few parents in Central Texas are being mailed collection letters for instruments that were rented. The only thing is, they attempted to return the musical instruments, but could not.

One mother is like many of the other parents who rented from a now bankrupt local music store in 2008. Her son completed the work with his rented clarinet in May 2008, and she attempted to bring it back to the store.

When she got to the store, there was a note on the door informing customers that they were out of business and no one was in there. On numerous instances, she attempted to go by the store, and even called other locations. As an extra slap in the face, her bank couldn't stop the automatic monthly payments that were being extracted from her account.

Around two years later, when the payments had come to an end, the boy's mother sold the clarinet for ninety dollars to someone else. All in all, she was charged three hundred dollars after the point she tried to return it. The young mother thought that that would be the end of the clarinet situation. But soon after she received a five hundred dollar collection notice from a collections agency on behalf of the instrument maker Conn-Selmer. The instrument makers had received her information as part of the bankruptcy process.

The young mother was taken aback. She couldn't fathom that she had been charged for the year when she couldn't return it, and now that she is expected to pay money, she felt as though the store owed her money, not the other way around.

Shortly after a local news channel got in touch with a spokeswoman for Conn Selmer to find answers for the parents who had received collection notices, the representative claimed that the business will be sending letters to all parents who received collection letters. The letter will supposedly detail how parents who feel as though they are being unfairly treated can challenge the debt.

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Mortgage Delinquencies Jumped Up From Last Year

Mon, 14 Jun 2010 22:49:51 GMT

A financial institution Trans Unions gave us their quarterly analysis of the new trends in the mortgage industry. They discovered that mortgage loan delinquency increased for the twelfth straight quarter and hit 6.89 percent, which is an all time national average high. This is the only time in American history where delinquency rates increased and did not decelerate after three consecutive periods.

This statistic is normally considered a forerunner to foreclosure and it increased by 10.24 percent from the previous quarter's 6.25 percent average. The rate at which mortgage borrowers went delinquent is up by about 50 percent, up from 4.58 percent.

Mortgage borrower delinquency rates in the fourth quarter of 2009 were highest in Nevada and Florida while the lowest mortgage delinquency rates were North Dakota, South Dakota and Alaska. Areas that showed the biggest amount of growth in delinquency from the quarter before were the District of Columbia, Delaware and Louisiana. Each state in the United States saw an increase in mortgage delinquency rates.

The information that was revealed was not all bad for the mortgage sector in the fourth quarter. Thirty eight Metropolitan Statistical Areas actually showed that their mortgage loan delinquency rates were decreasing since the third quarter. Areas in Oregon, Indiana and Pennsylvania exhibited the most improved credit conditions.

These changes in delinquency allude to the fact that the recession and eventual recovery are both dependent on house price conditions and the rate of unemployment. A bit of good news is that in the third and fourth quarters of 2008, the median price of existing single family homes dropped almost seven percent between 2008's third and fourth quarters, but in 2009 it only dropped -0.4 percent between the third and fourth quarters of 2008.

What does this mean for the future? TransUnion predicts that 60 day mortgage delinquencies will peak between 7.5 and 8 percent over the course of 2010. Additionally, it is believed that Nevada will experience the highest mortgage delinquency rate by the middle of 2010, and North Dakota is expected to continue to show the lowest mortgage delinquency rate by the summer.

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Spanish Debt Collection Agency Humiliates Debtors Into Paying Up

Mon, 14 Jun 2010 22:49:40 GMT

Would you be embarrassed if someone in atop hat and tuxedo followed you into a restaurant and silently joined your lunch date? How about a trio of men with more to love dressed like superheroes asking your neighbors for donations to assist you in your financial situation?

In Madrid, make sure your bills are paid or you might be visited by one of these colorful characters. The recession has slammed Spain. Official figures show that the unemployment rate has sky rocketed, reaching 19.3 percent. That's one of the highest rates in Europe. Around four million people are not working. That's the same number of jobless people as France and Italy put together. One business is flourishing however, that business is debt collection.

Spanish law is pretty relaxed when it comes to paying debts. They permit 95 days to settle bills unlike the 30 in other parts of Europe. This, coupled with the fact that Spanish courts give the matter low priority put collection companies in high demand.

One company, El Cobrador del Frac - which translates as "The Debt Collector in Top Hat and Tails" - has more than 250 collectors, and an equal number of investigators and secretaries.Their goal is to work out some deal and retrieve money, not to run after people without the means to pay.

For them, new business is coming from constructive trade which is suffering from a huge slowdown. Homeowners owe money to contractors, contractors owe money to construction companies, construction companies owe equipment makers, and so on and so forth.

Last year, the company had a wedding company contact them about a couple who didn't pay the $83,000 bill for their huge over the top wedding. The company obtained a wedding guest list and began calling up guests one by one on the phone and asking them if they had the chicken or the lobster, and then asked them where to send the bill. Eventually the shamed couple paid up.

These ideas are quirky, (I guess that is one way to describe it) but they will not be this effective in times to come. In this time of economic crisis, too many people have debts and they honestly can't pay. And to these people, it doesn't matter how much you humiliate them.

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Medical Debt Relief Act Evens Things Out Slightly

Mon, 14 Jun 2010 22:49:29 GMT

From 1999 to 2009, premium costs for family insurance have risen by one hundred and thirty one percent. Easily, that's over three times the rate at which working wages rose during this time. In this time of economic hardship, millions of jobs have been lost, putting workers who just lost their jobs at risk of also living without health insurance. For those who remain employed, employers are pushing more of the costs of health insurance onto their workers as they struggle with economic uncertainty. Then there are blue collar and retail workers, waitresses and the like who are paid less, work harder and are not offered health insurance plans at their jobs. No wonder that Americans are struggling to pay their medical bills.

In 2007, about seventy two million Americans struggled with medical bills. A large portion of these people made paying off their medical bills a priority, while they had to struggle to pay for basic necessities like food, rent or heat. More than THIRTY MILLION American adults used up ALL of their savings or BORROWED AGAINST THEIR HOMES in order to pay off medical bills. Unfortunately, in this time of economic hardship, many Americans could not stop the bill collector from knocking on their door.

Thirty million Americans are contacted every year by collection agencies for delinquent medical bills; many struggle to pay these. Many people are not sure as to why their insurance has refused to pay a claim, others are simply confused about the amount they owe. Over half of people who were surveyed said that they were dumbfounded by the medical jargon on their bills, and one in four said confusion led them to let bills go past the due date or to be sent to a collection agency.

A medical bill that gets sent to collections will usually be reported to credit bureaus. This results in a lower credit score. Medical accounts, even those that have been paid off in full will remain on a credit report for up to seven years. This will result in lower credit scores and increases the costs of mortgages, car loans, or credit card interest.

Fortunately, Ohio Congresswoman Kilroy acknowledged the long term effects of outstanding medical bills. She decided to address the situation because she saw medical debt as something that was unique. She introduced The Medical Debt Relief Act, which states that medical debt that is fully paid off or settled must be removed from a consumer's credit report within thirty days.

Even though this will not fix our chaotic healthcare system, it will provide relief for those who have paid off medical debt, while the rest of us wait for better health care reform.

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FTC Declares Further Extension On Red Flags Rule To November 1st

Mon, 14 Jun 2010 22:49:20 GMT

To support small businesses and other entities, the Federal Trade Commission faculty will intensify its efforts to educate them about compliance with the "Red Flags" Rule and ease compliance by provisioning additional resources and guidance to clarify whether businesses are covered by the Rule and what they must do to comply. To give creditors and financial institutions additional time to review this guidance and develop and implement written Identity Theft Prevention Programs, the FTC will further delay enforcement of the Rule until November 1, 2009.

The Red Flags Rule is an anti-fraud regulation, pressing creditors and financial institutions with covered accounts to implement programs to identify, detect, and respond to the warning signs, or red flags, that could reveal identity theft. FACTAs definition of creditor includes any person that regularly extends or renews credit " or arranges for others to do so " and includes all entities that repeatedly permit deferred payments for goods or services.

The FTCs Red Flags Web site, www.ftc.gov/redflagsrule, offers resources to help entities determine if they are covered and, if they are, how to conform with the Rule. It includes an online compliance template that enables companies to design their own Identity Theft Prevention Program through an easy-to-do form, as well as articles directed to specific businesses and industries, guidance manuals, and Frequently Asked Questions to help companies navigate the Rule.

Although many covered entities have already matured and implemented appropriate, risk-based programs, some " particularly small businesses and entities with a low risk of identity theft " remain uncertain about their obligations. Among other things, Commission staff will create a special link for small and low-risk entities on the Red Flags Rule Web site with materials that provide guidance and direction regarding the Rule.

The Commission has already placed FAQs that address how the FTC intends to enforce the Rule and other topics " The enforcement FAQ states that Commission staff would be unlikely to recommend bringing a law enforcement action if entities know their customers or clients individually, or if they perform services in or around their customers homes, or if they operate in sectors where identity theft is rare and they have not themselves been the target of identity theft.

Todays announcement that the Commission will delay enforcement of the Rule until November 1, 2009, does not affect other federal agencies enforcement of the original November 1, 2008, compliance deadline for institutions subject to their oversight.

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Two Powerful Prosecutors Go After Debt Collection Agencies

Mon, 14 Jun 2010 22:49:09 GMT

In recent news it was revealed that top legal prosecutors in Louisiana and Washington made announcements of actions they had taken against accounts receivable management firms and their owners and managers.

Louisianian attorney general James Caldwell made the announcement on Friday that his office had obtained injunctions against two collection companies and their managers. On the same day, Rob McKenna, Washington's Attorney General stated that his office had settled charges with a collection company that had promised to stay on the straightened arrow. In a press release, Caldwell's office said that in late December they had obtained an injunction against Bush and Kennedy, Inc, a Baton Rouge based collection agency. The order he won placed restrictions on the business, banning them from operating further, and specifically, ordered that two of the firm's principals, Quay W. Pattott Jr, and William S. Fesguson were banned from conducting business together.

Late last week, a judge hit Ferguson and Parrott with additional injunctions as was requested by Caldwell's office. Ferguson is barred from using deceptive and unfair acts and practices at his current place of business, Franklin, Grant and Associates Incorporated, a collection agency based out of Metairie Louisiana. Parrott is completely restricted against conducting any new business at his new place of work, Metairie based Halsey and Associates, LLC.

McKenna's Washington office said that Topco Financial Services Inc, a Washington based collection agency agreed not to threaten, harass or curse out debtors as part of a settlement. The collection agency has been ordered to pay around $38,000 in legal fees and penalties. An additional $82,000 in fees and penalties were suspended provided that the company agrees with the settlement terms.

In accordance with their agreement, Topco is prohibited from harassing, intimidating, threatening and embarrassing debtors, including using profanity. They are restricted from implying that failure to pay a delinquent bill will result in suspension, a revocation, or impairment of the debtor's driver's license. They are banned from threatening debtors with impairment of their credit rating. However, the company is allowed to legally report debts to credit reporting agencies.

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Making The Best Of A Stressful Situation Divorce And Bankruptcy

Mon, 14 Jun 2010 22:48:55 GMT

Divorce, coupled with bankruptcy can pose serious problems for those involved. When a married couple who no longer wants to stay together have debts piling up and are heading for divorce, bankruptcy may be one way to sort out the financial problems. Bankruptcy has the capacity to be filed by just one spouse, or jointly. The effects of bankruptcy on divorce proceedings? Abrupt at best. An automatic stay will put a stop to all activities on divorce proceedings.

Even though one lawyer might seem difficult to deal with in a time of stress, two lawyers might be needed to sort the matters out, a bankruptcy attorney and a divorce lawyer to hash things out between the unhappy couple. Some good advice to take would be to immediately seek out a bankruptcy lawyer to guide you through your finance, in addition to the attorney who is assisting you through your divorce. The expert guidance with alimony, child support, property settlements, and other financial issues is key when you are suffering from the stress of bankruptcy and divorce simultaneously.

If the spouses together have a lot of debt, filing for bankruptcy jointly is a good idea. This can even simplify the divorce settlement, and filing bankruptcy jointly is more cost efficient. If you are a spiteful ex, filing individually for bankruptcy is a good way to send the creditors after your spouse.

Then there is the issue of property that you have accrued during marriage. That's marital or community property. If you are filing jointly for bankruptcy, and your former spouse has marked some of your separate property as marital property, you should take these actions. First, you should prove what is yours is not community property. The bankruptcy court will release the exempt property, and the remaining property that you share will be part of the bankruptcy estate and therefore will be utilized for paying off debts.

After the bankruptcy court has figured out which property is exempt from bankruptcy, the divorce court can split the property between the spouses equally. The non exempt property will be sold by bankruptcy trustees (representatives) to pay off debts.

One other way to steer clear of financial loss on account of your former spouse's debt is to attach a property of your spouse as a security lien. This lien will permit you to seize the property and utilize it to pay off your spouse's loan if he or she is thinking of ditching and having you pay. The property with a lien might obtain less than the market price, but this is still a good way to protect yourself from a spiteful ex partner.

Finally, you can work an indemnity clause into your divorce decree. This will help guard you from creditors who are coming after you to pay for your ex spouse's debts after the divorce. If your husband or wife files for bankruptcy, don't worry. The judge will enforce it to protect you.

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Avoid Getting Burned By Debit Cards Part One

Mon, 14 Jun 2010 22:46:45 GMT

The majority of people do not think anything of it when they hand over a debit card to purchase something, but not those that have been burned by debit card theft, debit cards that can be used like credit cards to be exact. Last summer, a native of San Jose, California used his debit card to book a rental car that he planned to drive from Memphis Tennessee to Saint Louis while he took a vacation over there.

Supposedly, the car would have cost him about two hundred and forty dollars. When he went to purchase an item in Memphis, he discovered that his bank account had been put on freeze. What had happened was that the rental car agency had put a five hundred dollar hold on his account, an amount that was high enough to trigger a fraud alert at his bank. The man got his account reactivated immediately, but the five hundred dollar hold remained. Not even until he turned in the car, but for two days afterward.

This victim may have gotten off a lot easier than others. Three years ago, an identity thief got a hold of a woman's debit card number and made six hundred dollars worth of fraudulent buys with the card. Going back and forth between her bank and the merchants took up a lot of time and caused a lot of emotional pain and distress.

She eventually got some of the charges taken back, but wasn't able to recover almost one hundred and sixty dollars worth of the charges. The victim believes that because her loss was so small, it really did not receive any attention from the police. Unluckily, what is not a big deal for law enforcement obviously has a big impact on someone that is struggling to pay their bills.

Another Michigan resident had an experience that was similar a few years ago. To Be Continued In Parts Two And Three.

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