You know the drill – the constant phone calls, letters. Bothering family members, even calling your job. Debt collectors act as if they are a law unto themselves, but I am here to tell you that it’s not true. There are laws that govern what collection agencies can and can’t do to collect a debt, and if they violate the laws, they can get some hefty fines, or even get arrested. They can even be banned from the debt collection business. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is to protect debtors from a variety of sleazy practices and even outright fraud that some collectors were using to harass and intimidate people who – in some cases didn’t owe any money, had paid the debt, or were trying to collect on a time barred debt.
A lot of people aren’t sure what it means when credit card debt is “charged off.” First, this only happens when you are seriously behind on your payments. By federal law this is 180 days after your last minimum payment – that is almost half of a year. When this happens, it means that the credit card company is writing off the debt as uncollectible, but this doesn’t get you off the hook unless the Florida statute of limitations has expired. Until that time, even though the bank has declared the debt uncollectible, that may not stop them from turning it over to a collections agency. Typically, the bank will sell the debt to the agency who will then own the debt and have the legal authority to collect.
Last Week Tonight host John Oliver took the credit reporting agencies to task on his April 10 show, and from the first minute of his monologue opened fire on how credit now controls more aspects of our lives than just bringing home that big screen or getting a car loan. Your credit score effects whether a landlord will rent you an apartment, how much you pay for insurance, and even whether or not you get a job, with nearly half of employers back in 2013 using your credit to determine whether or not you’d be a good employee. In fact, all three credit-reporting companies have engaged in marketing your credit report for many different purposes – including the three uses cited above and more.
Getting your credit back on track and moving yourself out of debt can seem impossible, especially after a major crash. Whatever the reason, many people find themselves in deep without ever intending to get there. In some cases, you can rebuild fairly quickly. However, in the case of a bankruptcy, you can have a shadow over your credit report for a very long time. Don’t despair, there are some things that you can do to repair your credit!
If you’re having a hard time figuring out where your Christmas money’s coming from, or trying to juggle maxed out credit cards, you might need to stop with the merrymaking and take a look at your overall financial situation. No, it can’t wait until after New Year’s, and it shouldn’t. Between now and that New Year’s resolution could be a few thousand more in debt piling up interest charges. If you’re reluctant to face financial reality during the holidays, you’re not alone.
Topics: Credit Restoration
Getting into debt with your credit cards is simple. Lately it seems that there’s always a new pre-approved offer showing up in the mail, either from a major bank, card company like Discover, or from stores who want you to spend, spend, spend. It can make you feel like you’re pretty much a fiscally responsible person. After all, they wouldn’t be sending these cards to you if you weren’t, right? So, off you go, and when the paycheck doesn’t quite cover things, you put little things like gas and groceries on the cards, too. Before you know it, you’re running four and five figure balances on every piece of plastic you own and that check’s going mostly on servicing that debt.
While the economy improves, wages are still stagnant, and Americans are relying on their credit cards more than ever. They’re not just used to finance things like big screens and other luxury items, but basic budget items like groceries and clothing. American households accrued $51.7 billion in new debt, with Pew Charitable Trust finding in a recent survey that 56 percent of households worried about their financial security in the last year.
Topics: Credit Restoration
In the United States, almost 10 out of 1000 Americans have filed for bankruptcy. The worse part of bankruptcy is that it affects your credit rating in a negative way. It prevents you from getting the best interest rates, prevents you from getting lease, and just generally makes life more miserable.
About Chad Van Horn
Chad T. Van Horn, Esq. is a South Florida business leader and founding partner attorney of Van Horn Law Group, P.A. Through a combination of dedicated philanthropy, spirited entrepreneurship and legal expertise, he applies his resources and network to helping people. Learn more about Chad Van Horn.