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Last Build Date: Tue, 15 Jun 2010 19:36:40 GMT

 



If I Am In Debt What Can A Collection Agency Do

Tue, 15 Jun 2010 19:36:40 GMT

There are two useful tools that a collection company can actually do that a debtor should be worried about. These involve negative information being reported to the credit bureaus, and the unlikely probability of a lawsuit.

3rd party collection companies have the ability to report a debt to one or more of the credit bureaus, as a "Collection Account," including the amount, and whether it was paid or continues to be unpaid. Paying off a collection account won't result in the item being taken off of a consumer's credit reports - it will only be marked "Paid in full."

Collection agencies have the authority to report debts with money owed that they have bought as well as debts that they are working on contingency. Also, a collection company may request a debtor's credit report, in order to get an idea of his/her general financial situation, and to get an updated address and phone number.

Collection accounts will be restricted to the normal 7 year time span for showing up on a credit report. As specified in Section 605 of the FCRA this time limit is based on the date of the original delinquency. If the debt still belongs to the original creditor, a third-party collection company cannot file a lawsuit. But if the balance is large, the debtor is being resistant, and if there are indications that the debtor has vulnerable assets, the agency may send the account back to the creditor with a recommendation to sue. Each creditor has its own criteria for the decision; for example, the amount must be substantial (often $1500 or more, at the very least.)

Collection companies try not to send too many accounts back, because it suggests that they aren't very good at collecting debt. Letters and telephone calls are a lot less expensive than going to court. If an agency has bought a debt, then they have the ability to sue, but by that time, the debt is likely to be rather old, and the agency doesn't have much invested in it. Fear and intimidation are a collectors cheapest tools, since those things can work much more quickly, cheaply, and efficiently than filing suit.

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How To Successfully Collect Debt

Tue, 15 Jun 2010 19:36:27 GMT

10 Tips to help you collect debt:

PREPARE: Reviewing the paperwork prior to calling is important. If you know the history of the account, the promises kept/broken and payment history you sound better on the phone. Have all records in front of you, ready for reference.

ATTITUDE: Adopting a straight, professional, business-like attitude is important. You have a contract or you delivered the goods, money is now owed and you have the right to expect payment. Do not let it become personal. Don't yell or raise your voice; and NEVER curse. Don't make idol threats; legal action is your recourse.

CONTACT: It is important that you are talking to the decision maker. Do not let any individuals brush you off with "You'll have to talk to the bookkeeper." Identify the person who can cut you a check. If you can not get through after several calls, let the secretary know that you know your calls are being screened. Tell her the purpose of your call and if necessary give a deadline.

CONTROL: Always control the conversation. Keep it focused on the debt and on the repayment schedule. Do not let the debtor sidetrack you with personal history, excuses, etc. Remember, the objective of your call is to collect money, or get a commitment to pay not to become friends with the debtor or win arguments.

FLEXIBLE: Always be prepared to adjust to any situation. Think about the kind of customer you are dealing with and adapt to meet the circumstances. Be prepared to accept a reasonable payment schedule, and a willingness to deal with a customers circumstances.

NOTES: Try to Keep detailed, accurate notes of every single contact with the debtor. Always probe for additional information on the debtor. Notes of these contacts will help you in later phone calls, and may be invaluable if litigation is needed. Great notes will also help in credit decisions in the future or in cases where skip tracing may be needed.

PRODUCTIVE: Keep calls brief and to the point. This is a business call only, not a social one. Try to view your efforts on a ratio of time expended to results achieved. Long conversations usually mean the customer is stalling for time or trapping you in the buddy syndrome.

PRECISE: Never leave a call open ended, such as "Well talk next week," or "Ill send what I can." Every single call should result in a commitment to some kind of payment, You need a specific amount, by a specific date, even the check number the customer is using to pay the promise.

TIME: The longer an account is outstanding, the less likely it is that it will be paid. If payment is not arranged or a payment plan is not established within 90 days, place the claim with a collection agency or start legal proceedings.

PLACEMENT: Try to choose an agency that does not have to pay to get your information. Just type in "Collection Agency" to any search engine and pick a firm that ranks organically.

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The Facts About Debt Collection Agencies

Tue, 15 Jun 2010 19:36:15 GMT

What is a collection company?There are two possibilities.Some creditors will try to deceive a debtor by using a DBA'ed company name, address, and telephone number for their internal collection department. They want to give the impression of an "outside" agency hoping the debtor will take it more seriously. This strategy is generally only used when the debt is not older than six months old.However, most debt collection activity is performed by a third-party collection company, These are separate from the original creditors, and "work" bad debt on behalf of various lenders and 1st party credit granters. They occasionally purchase bad debts which have been designated as charge-offs or write-off's by the original creditor.This article will spotlight 3rd party collection companiesHow do they earn money?Third-party collection companies often work on commission, where they receive a percentage of the amount that they collect. Individual collectors are often paid a low base wage plus commissions based on their personal performance.Many collection companies purchase substantial debt portfolios of charged-off accounts for a fraction of the total face amount (total amount outstanding) After a portfolio is sold off, the debtors now owe the entire amount to the purchasing company. The probability of collecting money decreases substantially over time, an agency might only pay 1% - 5% of face value. The agencies' profits come from the difference between the purchase price and the amounts that are hopefully collected.How does the collection process work?The basic tools of a collection company are letters and phone calls.What are the dunning notices like?The dunning letters are computer-generated, and are often in a standardized series which starts with a non-threating, "reminder" tone, and may progress to ultimatums. The letters are pre-written and sent to many debtors; they are not personal.The initial demand letter must state that the recipient has the right to dispute the validity of the debt (in writing), and the agency must send some confirmation after verifying it with the original creditor. Demand letters must also contain the statement that they come from a debt collector, and that any information gathered will be used for the purpose of collecting the debt. Collectors are not legally allowed to print anything on the outside of the envelope which indicates or suggests the nature of the communication. The return address must also be discreet, so many companies will just use their company's initials, or some other nondescript name.The debtor's reaction to the notice will affect which additional notices the company will select from its library. Cooperation (e.g. making payment arrangements and/or partial payments) may result in letters with a gentler tone. Shifty or unfavorable reactions from the debtor may result in a more threatening tone.Collectors try to create a sense of urgency, in order to collect within the shortest amount of time, and to encourage the debtor to prioritize that particular obligation. Deadlines may be set, such as, Pay this amount within ten days. There may also be threats, such as, ...Or we will proceed to further collection action. But most of the time, if a debtor fails to meet the deadline, all that will happen is that yet another form letter will arrive, making the same basic demand. The & further collection action usually just means more form letters.Collection letters will always coax the debtor to call the collection company directly via the telephone. If the debtor doesn't call within thirty days, then a collector will usually attempt to contact the debtor again.What are the telephone calls like?Individual phone collectors may be assigned a portfolio of accounts, and spend the bulk of the workday, every day, working them. The collectors devotion is fueled by frequent performance evaluations and personal commission payments. The size of a collector's own paycheck is dependent upon how much money s/he extracts from debtors. Between that factor, an[...]



How To Collect On Medical Accounts

Tue, 15 Jun 2010 19:36:02 GMT

Do you know how many patients your medical debt collection agency collected from last year? If you don't, how can you evaluate their effectiveness or your return? How could you possibly be aware?

Although patient balances forwarded to a medical collection agency are often considered "lost causes," there would be little point in using such services if that were always the case. Logic dictates this much. Some of the reasons are as follows: Some patients simply do not respond to practice statements or internal collection letters. They will, however, respond when a collection agency states it will report their failure to pay to credit bureaus. Collection agencies have a number of resources on their hands. If reporting a debt to a credit bureau does not work, there are attorneys on hand that can assist you with problem consumers who refuse to pay.

It is common knowledge that most medical practices acknowledge the need for collection agency services but they should evaluate and manage this collection method just like any other. Practices should have a full understanding of the terms of the agreement with their collection agency and the results of such arrangements; they must also understand how their own internal processes affect the agency's success. And internal processes do have an enormous effect on the amount of money that you can collect.

Here are six questions you should ask when evaluating your current debt collection agency.

What is the total dollar value of accounts placed with the debt collection agency last year?

What are your companies rules and regulations for turning accounts to collection?

What is the average age of transferred accounts?

What percentage of transferred accounts had balances less that were less than fifty dollars?

How much money did the agency collect last year?

How much money does the debt collection agency charge?

What reports does the agency provide?

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The Three Best Ways To Collect On Delinquent Accounts

Tue, 15 Jun 2010 19:35:49 GMT

No matter what you do to try and weed out potential deadbeat customers, sooner or later one or more accounts will become past due. When you find yourself with a past due account on your hands, the worst thing you can do is ignore the problem. The more time that passes between the payment due date and the time that the customer is contacted, the less likely you are to receive the full payment. After 6 months, you statistically collect just 50% of the amount due and after a year that amount drops to only 25% of the original debt. If you are serious about turning a profit, there are three ways to handle the collection on past due accounts; in house efforts, hiring a collection agency, or taking legal action.

Collecting the debt yourself: If the debt is new or small, you'll probably start by trying to collect the debt yourself before hiring a collection agency or a lawyer. The most effective way to start the process of collecting an outstanding debt is by calling the debtor. Be firm, yet polite when you call. Make sure to keep records of the time, date, and resolution of the phone call. You'll want this information later should you decide to hire a collection agency or a lawyer.

Many deadbeat customers can talk a great talk on the phone, but then never deliver. If you get the "I have the check right here and will send it in the mail" line from a business customer more than once, tell them you'll send a courier service or someone from your office over to pick it up. If the business is local, try making an appointment with their finance manager to talk face to face.

Another effective way to motivate customers to make a payment is with a 10 day demand letter. Some debt collection agencies offer a free 10 day demand letter service that includes postage and mailing of a demand letter sent on official debt collection agency letterhead. Many times, this is enough to get your customer to part with their payment.

Hire a Collection Agency: Many small businesses don't initially think of hiring a collection agency to collect an unpaid debt, but of the outsourced solutions, a collection agency is usually the most cost effective and gets the best results. When you consider the in-house time spent trying to keep on top of delinquent customers, a collection agency is often more cost effective than trying to handle it with your own staff.

With a collection agency, you don't pay until they collect the debt, meaning that the collection agency is highly motivated to find a way to get the customer to pay. Because they don't get paid unless you do, a collection agency tends to work fast, They also "work at odd hours", and use all of it's professional resources to locate missing debtors.

Today's debt collection companies do not use scare tactics or bully customers. That type of behavior is outdated and crosses the lines of legality. Besides, not all customers who are behind on payments are deadbeats. It's never wise in business to make enemies and gain a reputation as a brute force knee breaker for any customer who has a tough month. When you choose a debt collection agency, make sure one of its goals is to maintain extreme professionalism.

Taking legal action: Another option to collecting a debt is to take legal action whether by taking the debtor to small claims court or by hiring a lawyer to pursue the debtor. Very expensive.

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If I Wanted To Hire A Debt Collection Company How Much Would It Cost

Tue, 15 Jun 2010 19:35:42 GMT

One of the key benefits to working with most collection agencies is that you only pay when they successfully collect on a past-due account. This means if the agency can't collect money on your behalf, you don't owe anything. Debt collection agents operate on a commission, usually collecting about one third of the commission.

However, this isn't always the case. If you have several small debts of just a few hundred dollars each, the collection agency might require a fixed fee to handle those accounts to make it worth their while. But most of the time, it will be based on commission.

A Collection agency earns its money by taking a small percentage of the money they successfully collect. This percentage can range from 10% to 50% with the most common percentage being between 25% and 40%.

The fee is typically based on age and dollar amount. The older the debt the more difficult it is to collect and the agent will require a much higher fee to go after that kind of account. Also, make sure you factor in how difficult it will be to collect. Certain debts are riskier to collect therefore require percentage kept to be greater.

You may also be responsible for several other charges related to their collection efforts including fee-based background checks, travel, filing fees, and long-distance phone calls.

Before a collection agent works on a single claim, they will write up a contract that details the terms of your working arrangement including their responsibilities, the fees, any additional expenses, and customer service policies.

As with any contract make sure you read it over carefully for any fine print or contract language that seems confusing. If you notice discrepancies in the contract, make sure the agency fixes the problems immediately, as soon as you can, before asking you to sign it.

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How To Deal With Debt Collection Agencies

Tue, 15 Jun 2010 19:35:28 GMT

The debt collection industry is a billion dollar industry. According to Rapid Recovery Solution, Inc. income from late fees and over-the-limit fees accounted for $14.8 billion dollars in the year 2004.

A collection account is defined as a delinquent account that has been forwarded to a debt collection agency, usually when it has become 90 to 120 days late. Creditors send accounts to collection agencies to remove them from their accounts receivables, then write-off the full debt owed as a loss. Creditors benefit in two ways: first, for writing off the debt as a loss on their taxes, and second, when the money is collected which can be recorded as a profit or accounts receivable. Many collection accounts are purchased from the original creditor for a fraction of the original amount owed but not always.

When you receive a letter from a debt collection agency, verify that the company contacting you has a legal right to collect money on your account. A debt collection agency may hold a collection account for just a few months, and if they are unsuccessful in collecting on the debt owed, the account is forwarded to another debt collection agency. This process will continue until you pay the account or legal action is taken against you.

Debt Collection Agencies obtain the following information to develop a strategy to collect money owed: name, address, credit report, credit application, correspondence with the consumer, amount owed by the consumer and date of last payment. Many debt collection agencies also use illegal tactics to scare consumers such as: pretending they are one of your creditors asking to verify information, pretending they are an old friend or neighbor to catch you off guard, sending persistent follow-up calls or letters, sending threatening letters or leaving threatening voice mail messages, preying on your emotions, canceling credit card privileges, making the threat of litigation or pursuing litigation, and continuing to charge late and over-the-limit fees. Many of these tactics violate the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

A collection agency's goal is to get the money owed paid as soon as possible. They will ask why you can't make payment arrangements today. Another tactic that may be used is to transfer you to their supervisor, which by this time you may be angry or frustrated and could possibly agree to anything just to get off the phone with them. Don't do it. Remain calm throughout the conversation. Don't let the collection agency change your mind about what you can afford or scare you into doing something you don't want to do. Be firm and stick to the terms agreed upon. Confirm your agreement in writing and send certified mail with a return receipt to ensure delivery and proof of delivery.

Debt Collection Agencies are slow to report that an account has been paid or transferred to another company, so it is critical that you obtain proof of payment. If you have missed one or two payments, contact the original creditor immediately to set up a payment plan. Stick to your payment arrangement to sustain your relationship with the creditor and retain your credit rating.

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Whats What When It Comes To Collection Agencies

Tue, 15 Jun 2010 19:35:14 GMT

Debt collection agencies act on behalf of creditors to collect debts when the creditors don't have the time or resources to chase down severely overdue debts for themselves. Collection agencies specialize in this kind of work which means they have staff that specializes in debt collection, which covers a broad range of legal and negotiating skills, and a streamlined process for pursuing accounts.

As a creditor, if you decide to hire an collection agency, you pass the obligation of collecting the debt to them. Normally, if the agency recovers the money they will only keep a percentage of the amount collected as payment.

Some agencies will buy the accounts but most will not. The debtor does not actually owe the collection agency any money but they still owe the debt to the original creditor. By law the collection agency must provide, if asked, proof of the debt (known as validation of debt) that they have been assigned the account for collections on behalf of the creditor.

From time to time collection agencies buy old accounts hoping that the debtor is in a better position today to pay the bill.

All collection agencies are governed by federal laws and no collection agency is, or wishes to be in, the business of collecting fraudulent debts. However, when acting on behalf of a legitimate creditor they will take all legal steps to enforce the collection of badly overdue accounts, if necessary going to court on behalf of the creditor.

You need a debt collection company when - The debtor has the ability to pay but ignores that the debt is past due there is not a valid dispute.

A debt collection company will approach the situation through a multi-stage letter writing campaign which can be effective, if occasionally slow, but it may not lead to recovery when the debtor thinks he has a valid excuse.

A debt collection company will attempt to collect via a letter writing campaign which can be effective, if occasionally slow, but it may not lead to recovery when - the debtor has or thinks he/she has a valid defense when the amount owed is disputed in full there is faulty product the debtor's solvency is in doubt or there is the possibility of bankruptcy

If any of these circumstances occur, the creditor should for their own legal protection retain control of critical decisions such as if and when to litigate, what attorney to retain and any other decisions made prior to or during litigation. This is particularly important where the creditor has a long term interest in retaining the customer as his client. Not retaining control of critical decisions and proceeding without the advice of an attorney could leave the creditor open to adverse legal liability.

The option exists where this is not the case and the creditor is not interested in the outcome of a debt collection, beyond getting his money, to sell the debt to a debt buyer.

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Business Article Threatens Violence On Debt Collectors

Tue, 15 Jun 2010 19:34:52 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

Tue, 15 Jun 2010 19:34:45 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

Tue, 15 Jun 2010 19:34:32 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

Tue, 15 Jun 2010 19:34:19 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

Tue, 15 Jun 2010 19:34:07 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

Tue, 15 Jun 2010 19:33:55 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

Tue, 15 Jun 2010 19:33:39 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

Tue, 15 Jun 2010 19:33:26 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

Tue, 15 Jun 2010 19:33:13 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

Tue, 15 Jun 2010 19:33:01 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

Tue, 15 Jun 2010 19:32:47 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

Tue, 15 Jun 2010 19:30:14 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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