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Archive for the ‘Debt Collection’ Category

Strategies to Avoid Credit Card Debt

July 17th, 2015 at 10:13 am

Texas bankruptcy attorney, Texas chapter 7 lawyer, Texas chapter 13 attorney,Credit can be a helpful tool when a person faces unexpected financial hardship, but it is also a major contributor to many Americans’ debts. The convenience of credit and bonus offers from credit card companies motivate many consumers to spend out of their budget.

By understanding how to manage credit cards responsibly, it is possible to avoid the stress and uncertainty that come with insurmountable debt. Read on to learn three strategies to avoid credit card debt.

Keep Diligent Records of What You Spend

Online shopping has made it particularly easy to overindulge with credit cards. People can spend thousands with the click of a few buttons.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, one of the best ways to avoid serious debt from online spending with credit is to keep a record of purchases. This will help you understand how much credit spending is affecting your finances.

Do Not Spend More than Half of Your Credit Card Limit

As a general rule, you should never spend more than half of your credit limit. This will ensure that you have credit available in a financial emergency. It can also prevent compulsive spending.

When Dealing with Debt Collection Efforts, Always Keep a Record

Collection agencies love to harass debtors who have outstanding balances. They often call debtors several times each day to request payments.

Even if you are in collections, it is important to understand that you still have rights. There are laws that limit the strategies collection agencies can use to recover payments. Be sure to keeping a record of your communications with debt collectors to protect your rights.

If outstanding credit card debt has become too much for you to handle, call an experienced San Antonio bankruptcy attorney. At the Law Offices of Chance M. McGhee, we can evaluate your situation and create a debt-relief plan. This may involve chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, or a bankruptcy alternative. To get started, call our office today at 210-342-3400 for a free initial consultation.

Tips for Dealing with Debt Collectors

April 24th, 2015 at 9:53 am

Texas bankruptcy attorney, overdue bills, Texas chapter 7 lawyer, As anyone with experience can relate, debt collectors can make life stressful. The sound of a ringing phone is enough to cause anxiety, and although some collectors may be easier to work with, their persistent efforts can feel overwhelming.

Many debtors are surprised to find out that there may be several options available to help them climb out of debt. Some of these can stop the actions of collections agencies almost immediately. In the meantime, here are three tips for dealing with collector calls:

Answer the Phone

According to Creditcards.com, one of the most important steps when dealing with debt collectors is to be responsible and answer the phone. It is equally important to respond to any written notices. Even if the debt seems like it is not yours, do not let it stagnate. Ignoring calls and attempts to contact you can hurt your ability to work out a payment arrangement.

Note the Details of Each Call

There are several laws governing what collection agencies can and cannot do. It is important to take notes about each call just in case the collector is breaking the law. While on the phone, you should jot down:

  • The name of the collection agency;
  • The name of the agent you spoke with;
  • What time of day he or she called you;
  • The total balance owed;
  • Payment dates;
  • Any threatening or abusive language; and
  • Contact information.

If a collection agency has knowingly violated consumer laws, it may be required to pay you money. The only way to prove inexcusable activities, however, is to keep proper records of each conversation and transaction.

Do Not Agree to Payments You Cannot Make

The offer of scheduling a payment just to stop the calls seems tempting — even if you are not sure you can afford it. However, you should not make empty promises with debt collectors. Your credit report may show missed payments. It is better to ask the collector to call you another time when you have reviewed your finances fully and can schedule a realistic payment.

If you would like to end creditor harassment or inquire about other debt relief strategies including bankruptcy, contact an experienced San Antonio bankruptcy attorney. Call the Law Offices of Chance M. McGhee at 210-342-3400 for a free initial consultation.

Should I Use Savings to Pay Off Debt?

February 24th, 2015 at 12:22 pm

savings to pay off debt, San Antonio debt relief lawyerMaking ends meet when facing steep amounts of debt can be a struggle—especially if you have a family. The truth, however, is that most Americans are in some kind of debt, which often involves expensive mortgages, high-interest credit cards, or student loans.

Many Americans want to end the burden of debt as soon as possible, which is why some of them dip into their savings accounts to pay off lenders. This article will discuss whether or not this is a smart idea.

Weighing the Options

According to U.S. News, one way to reach a decision as to whether or not to pull money out of a savings account is to analyze the long-term effects of debt interest. If the overall interest rate will end up costing you more money in the future, making payments with savings may be a smart decision.

Making minimum payments can feel like an easy way to manage large debts, but it is a healthy practice to pay as much as reasonably possible. In addition to reducing the term of your debt repayment plan, this practice may improve your credit score. In this vein, using savings to make extra payments might wise.

However, some people’s lifestyles and financial goals do not allow them to use their savings. For example, young graduates who want to own a home must save for a down payment. With the average student loan debt exceeding $29,000, some graduates may wish to purchase a home before completing payments.

In other cases, parents have children who will graduate high school soon, and they want to save money to afford college tuition. In this instance, maintaining a healthy savings account may be a smart idea.

Bankruptcy Lawyer in San Antonio, Texas

If you are facing steep amounts of debt and would like to speak with an experienced San Antonio bankruptcy attorney about your options, contact the Law Offices of Chance M. McGhee for a free consultation at 210-342-3400.

How to Deal with the Debt of a Deceased Family Member in Texas

January 9th, 2015 at 9:22 am

debt of a deceased family member, San Antonio bankruptcy lawyerA death in the family is always a difficult time for loved ones. Add to that the financial costs of a funeral, and times of mourning can become even more challenging.

If the deceased has debt, it is important to know if relatives are responsible for paying creditors. When a person leaves behind debt from credit cards and other sources, it may be wise to contact a bankruptcy attorney for guidance.

No two debt cases are alike. If the debt was from an account that a living relative owned, the debt will be theirs to pay regardless of the situation. Debt from joint accounts and co-signed loans may also transfer to living relatives.

Selling Off Assets

When a person dies, it is common to sell assets to pay for debts. In some cases, though, the value of the deceased’s assets is not enough to cover the debt. In these cases, it may be wise to consult a bankruptcy attorney to discuss the options.

Talking with Creditors

In many cases, it makes sense to have an honest and open conversation with the deceased’s creditors about the situation. Some creditors may choose to reduce the amount owed—depending on the value of the debt—in the event that the debtor passes away.

Dealing with Debt in Texas

The process of paying off a deceased relative’s debt in Texas may seem complicated—and in many cases, it is. Community property law stipulates that relatives may have to pay the debt of a deceased family member.

It is important to remember that every situation is unique. For this reason, the guidance of a family attorney may prove invaluable.

If you are struggling to pay debt and would like to discuss your situation with a lawyer, contact the Law Offices of Chance M. McGhee at 210-342-3400. Mr. McGhee is an experienced San Antonio bankruptcy attorney, and he may be able to help you reach financial stability and end harassment from creditors. Call us today for a free initial consultation.

Federal Rules Debt Collectors Must Follow

November 27th, 2014 at 1:00 pm

debt collectors in San Antonio, Texas bankruptcy lawyerWhen a person owes a defaulted amount on an account, such as a credit card or prior utility bill, the company who the original debt is owed to will often “charge off” that debt after a certain period of time has gone by. Someone who is struggling with overwhelming debt may have multiple accounts which have been declared charge offs by the original creditor.

There are certain guidelines a creditor must follow before they can charge off an account. If the account is an installment loan (such as an auto loan or mortgage), then the delinquency must be at least 120 days past due. If the account is a revolving credit account (such as a credit card), then the delinquency must be at least 180 days past due.

At this point, the creditor has three options for debt collection for the account. The company can continue to pursue collection themselves; they can hire a third-party collection agency to continue collection activity; or they can sell the debt to a debt buying company. Debt buying companies purchase debt portfolio from creditors and any funds then collected on the debt belong to the debt buyer.

Regardless of what option a creditor decides on, there are federal rules that have been established that a debt collector must follow. These rules were established under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and include:

  • A debt collector must sent a written notice within five days of the first initial telephone contact which validates the amount of the debt owed;
  • Debt collection may only take place between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.;
  • A debt collector may not contact a person at their workplace if they have been told either orally or in writing not to do so;
  • A debt collector must stop contacting a person if the person sends a certified letter to the debt collection telling them to stop all contact. The only exception to that contact would be the debt collector acknowledging the no-contact letter and/or contacting the person to let them know they will be filing a lawsuit or other activity;
  • If a person is represented by an attorney, then the debt collector must contact the attorney and not the person who owes the debt; or
  • Debt collectors may not harass, make threats, or make false statements in order to intimidate or scare a person into paying the debt.

If bankruptcy seems like a viable option for your financial situation, contact the Law Offices of Chance M. McGhee. San Antonio, Texas bankruptcy lawyer, Mr. McGhee has helped clients over the past 20 years regain control of their financial lives. Call the law firm at 210-342-3400.

Can Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Lead to a More Financially Stable Life?

October 15th, 2014 at 7:40 am

Chapter 13 bankruptcy Texas, San Antonio bankruptcy lawyerMany individuals and business owners wrongly attach a negative connotation to the word “bankruptcy.” While it is true that those who choose to file bankruptcy may be facing dire financial situations, the process should not be viewed as an inherently bad decision. Instead, debtors should view bankruptcy as an opportunity to develop a financial plan that leads to financial stability.

Though large companies are required by law to hire a bankruptcy attorney, individuals have the choice of filing alone. While there are standard laws in place for the bankruptcy process, every case is different. For this reason, it is often wise to hire an experienced bankruptcy lawyer to review the case and identify the best approach to filing.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Provides a Path to Financial Freedom

Chapter 13 bankruptcy differs from other chapters as it allows the debtor to restructure the debt they owe rather than liquidating assets. After submitting the initial petition to file for bankruptcy, the debtor, court, and trustee will develop a practical and comprehensive payment plan.

An important part of the bankruptcy process is what is referred to as “debtor education.” This is a special program that all applicants must attend. It not only covers some financial basics, but it also explores alternatives to bankruptcy, which may be helpful if the plan does not work out for the debtor.

While there are several reasons a person can end up with high amounts of debt, some debt is purely accidental and the result of not understanding how debt and credit work. Credit counseling and debtor education aim to remedy this issue.

The benefits of filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy extend beyond education. For example, according to the U.S. Courts website, filers may not face foreclosure of their homes.

If bankruptcy seems like a viable option for your financial situation, contact the Law Offices of Chance M. McGhee. As an experienced San Antonio, Texas bankruptcy attorney, Mr. McGhee has helped clients over the past 20 years regain control of their finances. Call our law firm today at 210-342-3400.

 

Warning Signs of Financial Trouble

September 24th, 2014 at 7:30 am

Bankruptcy Financial TroubleAll of us struggle with finances at one time or another. However, for many people, that struggle may become overwhelming and feel as if it is never-ending. For those people, bankruptcy can often be the first step to gain control over their financial future.

There are certain signs that financial advisors point to as red flags that your debt has become unmanageable and bankruptcy should be considered. These signs include:

  • The balance of your credit card debt continues to increase, yet your monthly income is either staying the same or has decreased;
  • You pay only the minimum amount due on your credit cards. Some months, you pay even less than the minimum or completely miss the payment;
  • You have multiple credit cards and they all have balances on them;
  • When you receive an offer for a new credit card, you immediately apply;
  • You are using credit cards to pay credit card bills. If you have applied for a credit card, only to take cash advances in order to pay other credit card bills, that is a definite red flag to serious financial trouble;
  • You are close to or at the limit on most or all of your credit cards;
  • You are charging more each month on your cards than you are sending in for your monthly payment;
  • You are using your cards to purchase food, gas, utility bills and other life necessities;
  • Your credit cards are no longer used for ‘extras’ or for convenience sake. Instead, you are using them because you do not have any money;
  • The phone is ringing and letters piling up in your mailbox about your late bill payments;
  • You do not know the true amount of what your total credit card debt is, and you do not want to know.

If you recognize your situation in this list, then it may be time to consult with an experienced San Antonio bankruptcy attorney. Find out what your best options may be to help and get you back on the road to financial recovery.

Rules of 341 Meetings in Bankruptcy

September 10th, 2014 at 10:26 am

341 meetingAll Chapter 7 bankruptcy petitioners are required to attend a creditors meeting. This is typically the only “formal” meeting the petitioner will be required to attend. This meeting is also known as a 341 meeting, named after the section of the bankruptcy code that addresses it. A 341 meeting is most often held at the office of the trustee who is overseeing the bankruptcy.

Some of the documents that your bankruptcy attorney will have you prepare ahead of time to bring to the meeting include:

  • Paycheck stubs,
  • Federal and state tax returns for the past four years,
  • Any bank or other financial account statements, and
  • Property deeds and titles.

The petitioner is required to answer, under oath, questions that the trustee or any creditors may have.  One of the purposes of the meeting is to make sure the petitioner is not lying about or hiding any assets that could be used to pay off creditors. In most cases, the meeting itself does not last any longer than 15 minutes.

However, if a trustee is not happy with a petitioner’s answers, he or she can request the petitioner provide more documentation to support their answers. Often, this documentation can be mailed to the trustee. However, occasionally, the trustee will continue the meeting for another day. According to the 314 statute, if the trustee is requesting a continuance of the creditor’s meeting, then the trustee must immediately file a written notice of when the adjourned meeting will resume.

It is that rule that protected a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petitioner’s home when the trustee handling her case attempted to object to the homestead exception the woman had filed.

In her bankruptcy petition, the woman had filed a homestead exception for the home she owned. However, she and her husband had separated and the woman moved out of the home. At the creditor’s hearing, the trustee objected to the exemption and continued the meeting to a later, unspecified time.

The trustee then filed a written objection to the homestead exemption, but because he never filed a written continuance of the creditors meeting, the court allowed the homestead exemption in the bankruptcy.

If you are struggling with debt problems in the San Antonio, Texas area due to job loss, medical issues, or any other reason, seek help from an experienced San Antonio bankruptcy attorney today. Contact the Law Offices of Chance M. McGhee for all of your bankruptcy needs, and to start the process of financial relief and recovery.

What Are Debt Collectors Allowed to Do?

June 27th, 2014 at 7:00 am

bankruptcy attorney, certified letter, contact debtors, debt collection, debt collectors, San Antonio bankruptcy lawyer, Texas bankruptcy attDebt collectors are only allowed to do so much when trying to acquire money owed from their debtors. And while there are times when debt collectors will go beyond what they are legally permitted to do, having an understanding of what is permitted can help to be determine whether or not a collector has gone too far.

Method of Contact

According to the Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner (OCCC), various creditors use independent debt collection agencies to acquire money owed. With that said, debt collectors are permitted to contact debtors via phone, mail, in-person, telegram, or fax. But, they should not contact debtors prior to 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m., unless given consent from the debtor. Also, debt collectors should not contact debtors at work, especially if the collector knows the employer does not approve of these contacts.

If you are in debt, and are working with a bankruptcy attorney, a debt collector must contact the attorney about your debt and not you. Debt collectors can contact third parties, but only to find out where you live, what your phone number is, and where you work. They are not permitted to contact third parties more than once.

Within five days of contact, you must be provided with notice regarding how much money you owe, to whom you owe the money, and what you must do if you believe you do not owe any money.

How to Stop Contact

You can stop debt collectors from contacting you by sending in a certified letter to the creditor. The letter must tell the creditor to stop contacting you. This will not get rid of the debt that you owe, but it will end the contact from the creditor and their collectors. Also, make sure you keep a copy of the letter for your records. The only form of contact the creditor can make following the letter is to let the debtor know the letter was received.

If you or a loved one has been contacted by a debt collector, contact a Texas bankruptcy attorney who can help you deal with the situation.

Knowing Your Rights with Debt Collectors

January 6th, 2014 at 9:00 am

texas bankruptcy lawyerMaybe you are waiting to contact a bankruptcy attorney because you think that the collection calls will stop. Maybe you are feeling overwhelmed and embarrassed by the situation. Rest assured that bankruptcy can happen to anyone and that you should not be afraid to reach out for help. One financial setback like the loss of a job or a serious accident can affect your finances dramatically. Once those phone calls start coming in, however, it can raise some questions about what creditors are and aren’t allowed to do or say when they are contacting you about a debt.

In Texas, your rights are protected under the Texas Debt Collection Act. This law outlines how and when creditors can contact you, but it is also stipulates what is illegal. This law is attempting to cut down on the abusive, unfair, or fraudulent debt collection attempts that have made life frustrating for individuals throughout Texas.

A debt collector cannot try to collect more than the amount that was agreed on, even if the agreement was not in writing. The only way that a debt can be increased is through attorney fees, service fees, collection fees, or investigative fees if these are within a written contract. If you receive notice that a debt collector is coming after you and you dispute the debt, you must do so in writing.

If the debt is legitimate, sometimes debt collectors might engage in abusive behavior in an attempt to threaten you into paying. They are forbidden from threatening violence, making repeated calls anonymously, using obscene language, threatening arrest, or falsely accusing the debtor of fraud or any other crime.

You can make the collection calls stop if you are ready to move forward with your bankruptcy. Whether you have tried in good faith to keep up with the payments or you are just unable to make the payments, bankruptcy can stop your collection calls and get you back on the right financial track. Contact a Texas bankruptcy attorney today for more information.

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210-342-3400

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