“Meaningful Review” by Collections Attorneys

U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty, in the District of New Jersey, ruled last week in Bock v. Pressler & Pressler that a debt collection law firm violated the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act). The law firm apparently did not conduct a “meaningful review” of a collection claim filed against a consumer.

Bock had filed a federal court action against Pressler, alleging that Pressler had filed their State complaint against Bock without meaningful review by an attorney. His case work (Pressler employees working on behalf of the debt holder – Midland Funding LLC) was carried out by non-attorneys (a non-issue), but when it came time for the attorney review prior to filing the case with the State, the firm’s computer system shows a file accessed for review for only four seconds.

The standards set forth in the case Lesher v. The Law Offices Of Mitchell N. Kay in 2011 played a role in Judge McNulty’s decision. McNulty wrote that Lesher “establishes that it is false and misleading, within the meaning of FDCPA, for an attorney to send a debt collection letter without having meaningfully reviewed the case.”

Credit Card Debt HELP When You Need it Most

Regular, hard-working people get in over their heads with credit card debt and collections for many reasons. No matter how you got into deep credit card debt, there is a way out. In this country we do not put people in debtor’s prisons. Rather, our Constitution, as originally written in 1797, provides people the opportunity for a fresh financial start. Eliminating credit card debt can seem next to impossible when you don’t know your options. Our debt-relief attorneys can help you understand your options so you can make an informed decision about filing for bankruptcy and eliminating credit card debt.

Contact John Hargrave and Associates

The law firm of John Hargrave and Associates in Barrington, New Jersey, can help you regain your financial footing. Contact us online or call 856-547-6500 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney who has been helping people resolve difficult financial issues since 1977.

Questions to Ask Your Lawyer About Bankruptcy

Considering Filing for Bankruptcy? Here Are the Questions to Ask Your Bankruptcy Lawyer

You’ve been working hard to get your financial life back in order, but still can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. You’re thinking maybe it’s time to consider filing for bankruptcy, but you are uncertain what that means, now and in the future. Here are the key questions to ask a bankruptcy attorney.

  • What are your qualifications? Before you hire a bankruptcy lawyer, find out how much experience they have, what types of bankruptcy proceedings they have handled and how well they have worked with others.
  • What are my options in bankruptcy? There are different approaches to bankruptcy. Chapter 7 allows you to permanently discharge most debts. In a Chapter 13 proceeding you have to make monthly payments to a Chapter 13 trustee who will distribute that money to your creditors over a three to five year period. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy case can also be used to catch up on missed mortgage payments, stop a foreclosure, or get back a car that has been recently repossessed.
  • Do I qualify for Chapter 7 protection? Under the 2005 revisions to the bankruptcy laws, to qualify for Chapter 7, you must demonstrate to the bankruptcy court that you lack the means to pay off your debts over a three-to-five year period. Your attorney should be able to walk you through the means test, provided you supply accurate financial information. Most people who are considering filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy are eligible for Chapter 7.
  • If I file Chapter 7, can I keep any assets? The federal bankruptcy laws allow certain exemptions when you file for protection under Chapter 7. Each state has its own set of exemptions. You can choose one or the other. As a practical matter, nearly 98% of all people who file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy are able to keep everything that they own, including their houses and their cars.
  • What debts can I discharge? Most debts can be discharged in bankruptcy. However, not all debts may be discharged in a Chapter 7; certain tax obligations, child support arrearages and student loans are typically not dischargeable.
  • What information do I need to provide? You will be required to make an accurate and complete disclosure of your assets and liabilities as well as your monthly income and expenses. Your lawyer can work with you to collect all the documents necessary for a bankruptcy filing.
  • What is the cost? The cost for filing a bankruptcy case varies based on the complexity of the case. Between court costs and attorney’s fees, a standard Chapter 7 case can cost between $1,500 and $2,000. This amount is usually only equal to a small fraction of the debt owed.

Contact John Hargrave and Associates

We have provided comprehensive counsel to individuals in and around Barrington, New Jersey, since 1977. To schedule a free initial consultation, contact our office by e-mail or call us at 856-547-6500.

Unsecured Debts and Personal Loans

The most common form of an unsecured consumer loan is the credit card. The ability to get a credit card is going to be determined by your credit score. The lower your credit score the more difficult it will be to get a card. People with low credit scores can get credit cards but they typically have high interest rates and low credit limits (the amount you can charge on the card). Other kinds of unsecured loans are offered by finance companies and pay day loan companies. These lenders charge much higher rates of interest. Because the interest rates on these kind of loans they are the most expensive kind of legal loans. In many states the maximum legal amount of interest that can be charged for credit cards and other personal loans is 30% interest per year. However, payday loan companies are allowed to charge more than 400% interest per year!

Payday lenders will make loans based more upon your current income than your credit score. However, credit card companies and loan consolidation companies will make their decision about lending money based more on your credit score. Paying loans on time is the most important of all the factors in determining your credit score.

Knowing your credit score is important and checking your credit score from time to time for errors is very important. Almost every decision by a lender to make a loan/approve a credit card application is e based upon your credit score. Errors are made on credit reports that make your score lower than it should be, so you need to make sure the information is correct.

Tip #1 Fix errors on your credit report. You can get a free copy of your credit report once a year from each of the three credit reporting agencies. If you find an error you have rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Write a letter to the credit agency telling them about the error and ask them to investigate your complaint. They must do this within 30 days. If the party reporting the wrong information does not verify the accuracy of the report to the credit agency they must remove the item from your credit report.

Tip#2 Rebuild your credit score. Start small. If you have bad credit, follow a plan to rebuild your credit score. Get a credit card even if it has a high interest rate and a low borrowing limit. A department store card might be a good place to consider. Charge something and then pay the balance off in full when the statement arrives. Repeat this over and over. Eventually the creditor will see your responsible use of the card and increase the amount you can charge on the card and lower your interest rate. Other companies will begin to send you credit card applications. If your credit score is poor and nobody will issue an unsecured credit card, you can work to rebuild your credit card with a secured credit card.

Tip #3 Consider a bankruptcy filing. If you are overwhelmed with debts, a bankruptcy filing might be the only way that you will address your current debts. A bankruptcy is the most negative type of information that can go on a credit report. However you can rebuild your credit after a bankruptcy and having shed your debts, you will be able to borrow again in the future. Even if you are being crushed by debt now, you can go on to finance a car or even buy a house within as quickly as two years after your bankruptcy is concluded.

John Hargrave was recently quoted in an article about personal loans. That article can be found at http://www.clicknloan.com/how-to-boost-your-chances-at-an-unsecured-personal-loan-with-bad-credit/.

Debt Settlement: Lowdown on Debt Settlement in New Jersey

Is debt settlement a good idea, possibly too good to be true?

Let’s take a look at what happened to divorced fulltime working New York mother of four Judy Orlando when she signed on for debt settlement to help her get $30,000 in credit card debt under control.

Offers to Resolve Debt Problems

Judy had received a notice from Nationwide Asset Services, a Phoenix-based company. Nationwide said it would be able to get Judy out of debt in 18 to 24 months. They also promised that her credit would actually be better than it was before she got into debt.

Judy paid the debt settlement company’s $1,300 initial fee and then began paying $350 a month, as Nationwide requested per the agreement. She followed all other instructions, too: change her phone number, stop paying creditors, and cut off all contact with creditors.

Pays out $10,000 But Credited for Only $3000!

After paying Nationwide more than $10,000, Judy reduced her credit card balances by less than $3,000 and paid Nationwide nearly $7,000 in fees. Nationwide never told herher that her interest rates and penalties would continue to rise.

A Bad Situation Made Worse

In the end, Judy’s creditors sued her and then they placed liens on her home.. Ultimately Judy filed for bankruptcy protection and only then was able to resolve her debt problems.

Nationwide Debt Company Sued

Meantime, the state’s attorney general sued Nationwide for false advertising and fraudulent business practices. According to the lawsuit filed by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, just one third of one percent of those who signed on and paid Nationwide actually got the agreed-upon 25 to 40 percent debt reduction.

Debt Settlement a Bad Idea?

Stories like these are commonplace. The debt settlement company asks you to withhold payment to creditors. You do this, because you do not know any better and you trust that they will do what they say they are going to do.

You go ahead and pay the settlement company a large sum. Meantime, interest rates and penalties are skyrocketing on your credit card bills. And creditors are now beginning to call you and harass you. Their job is to collect money from you, and they are not very nice about it.

Debt settlement companies cannot legally guarantee that they will be able to negotiate a reduced debt for you. Even if they do negotiate a reduced debt, your credit still takes a significant hit, because you did not pay on your bills for all that time and also because your report will say that your debt was charged off, rather than paid in full.

You Can Negotiate Reduced Debt With Creditors on Your Own

Not all debt settlement companies are rip-offs, but why pay someone something that you can potentially do for yourself? Many creditors are increasingly willing to negotiate with individual debtors.

Bankruptcy Provides Protection and Fresh Start

You may want to consider is filing for bankruptcy protection if you cannot seem to get out from under your debt burden. By law, bankruptcy puts an immediate stop to creditor harassment, efforts to collect and debts you owe, repossession, and foreclosure actions.

If you qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you may be able to eliminate all of your unsecured debt. Alternatively, Chapter 13 will allow you to reorganize your debt into a reasonable, affordable repayment plan paid over the course of three to five years’ time. In a Chapter 13 you do not need to pay 100% of your debts.

Contact an Experienced Debt-Relief Attorney in New Jersey

The law firm of John Hargrave and Associates, in Barrington, New Jersey, can help you make an informed decision about debt consolidation, bankruptcy, or another bankruptcy alternative. To schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced debt-relief attorney, please call (856)-759-6022 or (866)-662-3191. You may also contact us online to schedule your appointment.

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.

Located in Barrington, New Jersey John Hargrave & Associates have helped people towards a fresh financial future through bankruptcy for over thirty years. We serve South Jersey, Burlington County, Camden County, and Gloucester County along with Camden, Cherry Hill, Pennsauken, Maple Shade, Lindenwold, Cinnaminson, Collingswood, Haddonfield, Bellmawr, Gloucester City, Marlton, Pine Hill, Audubon, NJ and also Philadelphia, PA. Contact us today to learn more about your options under the current bankruptcy laws. We’re here to help.