Q?Should I just decalire bankruptcy?

Recent changes to U.S. bankruptcy law have made it  not only more difficult for consumers to file for bankruptcy, but these changes  have also made bankruptcy less attractive.   The new bankruptcy law is the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005,which became effective on October 17, 2005.

Difficulty obtaining credit following bankruptcy

People who file for bankruptcy may encounter  significant obstacles obtaining credit after they have been discharged from  bankruptcy.  Typically, a bankruptcy appears on an individual’s credit report for at least six years following a discharge from bankruptcy.

Personal bankruptcy as a last resort

Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy may involve the loss of  most of a consumer’s assets.  Filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy may require a bankrupt to repay certain debts over a period of many years.  Because consumer bankruptcy is harder to obtain today and less attractive than it was a few years ago, it should be viewed as a last resort.

Before you consider filing for bankruptcy, you may want  to speak to FDCPA Compliance to discuss how to avoid bankruptcy.

Q?How can FDCPA Compliance help stop collection calls?

Debt collectors do not have an unrestricted right to  telephone you at home or at work.   Federal law places a number of restrictions on a debt collector’s right to call you.  In addition, you or your lawyer can take a number of steps to stop debt collectors from calling you.

Where permitted by state law, FDCPA Compliance can  provide you with practical non-legal advice about dealing with unwanted  collection calls:

  • by taking advantage of technology and features offered by your telephone company to avoid these calls
  • by acting as your attorney-in-fact or your agent in connection with a particular debt.

Where FDCPA Compliance is providing practical  non-legal advice to persons living outside Texas, no attorney-client  relationship exists, but any information you provide will be treated as  confidential in accordance with the firm’s Privacy Policy.

If you are a Texas resident, FDCPA Compliance can assist you  in stopping unwanted collection calls:

  • by using various provisions in the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) to stop debt collectors contacting you by telephone;
  • by advising you how to frustrate a collector who gets you or a family member on the phone;
  • by making life unpleasant for a debt collector if the calls do not stop.

You may want to call FDCPA Compliance and speak with us about how to stop collectors from calling or how to handle collection calls.

This is not legal advice; your rights and obligations are determined by your own individual circumstances

Q?To whom may a debt collector disclose the existence of a consumer’s account?

As a general rule, under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act(FDCPA), a debt collector is only permitted to disclose the existence of a debt to a consumer and the consumer’s spouse.

A debt collector is also permitted to discuss a consumer’s account with the following:

  • the debt collector’s client
  • the consumer’s attorney
  • the attorney for the creditor or the debt collector
  • a credit reporting agency

If a debt collector discloses the existence of a  debt to anyone else, he is said to have made a third party disclosure, which is  a violation of the FDCPA.  Third party disclosures often take place when the debt collector communicates with a consumer using e-mail, fax or voicemail, particularly if these contacts are made at the consumer’s workplace.

The FDCPA permits a debt collector to communicate  with anyone once for the limited purpose of skip tracing, that is, obtaining the  consumer’s contact information, and information about his assets, bank  accounts, and employment.  Therefore, subject to certain restrictions, a debt collector is permitted to telephone a consumer’s employer, co-workers, neighbors, friends, and family members for the limited purpose of obtaining contact information.  However, when an employee of a debt collector is engaged in skip tracing, he is not permitted to disclose the existence of a debt

Q?When can a debt collector leave a phone message requesting a return call?

Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), a debt collector is permitted to leave a telephone message requesting a return call, but he is permitted to leave only his name and telephone number.

When leaving a phone message requesting a return call, a debt collector is not permitted to disclose the existence of a debt.  Disclosure of the existence of a debt to anyone other than the consumer or the consumer’s spouse constitutes third party disclosure, and is a violation of the FDCPA.

A third party disclosure may also occur if a debt collector leaves a voicemail message at the consumer’s workplace, where someone other than the consumer or the consumer’s spouse could potentially listen to this message Any debt collector who leaves a voicemail message disclosing the existence of a debt may be inviting a lawsuit for third party disclosure under the FDCPA.

In some circumstances, a debt collector might repeatedly call the same person and leave messages.  This could be construed as harassment, and the FDCPA prohibits a debt collector from engaging in any conduct that constitutes harassment or abuse of any person.  Therefore, if a debt collector makes repeated phone calls to an individual, regardless of who the individual is, the debt collector has violated the FDCPA.

Q?What can I do if I want to fight back and make things unpleasant for a debt collector?

You may be the victim of unprofessional conduct by a debt collector, and fed up with collection calls.  You want this collection agency harassment to stop. Many consumers who are on the receiving end of unprofessional conduct by collection agencies do not take any action to rectify the situation.  It is possible to take action to discourage a collection agency from making unwanted collection calls in the future.

You can call FDCPA Compliance and, where permitted by state law, we can help you develop a customized strategy for dealing with a collection agency.  If you want to fight back against a collection agency it is extremely helpful to have the advice of someone with intimate knowledge of the collection industry, debt collectors and individual collectors.   FDCPA Compliance has many insights gained from years of experience working as a former consumer advocates.

FDCPA Compliance knows how to take advantage of both a debt collector’s weaknesses and strengths.  He is well aware of those actions that can be taken to encourage a debt collector to suspend all collection activity on a consumer’s file.

If you are a resident of Texas, FDCPA Compliance will likely be able to represent you as your attorney.  If you are not from Texas, FDCPA Compliance may be able to serve as your attorney, but can assist you with practical non-legal advice where permitted by state law.  If FDCPA Compliance is not acting as your attorney, any information you provide to us will be kept confidential in accordance with FDCPA Compliance’s Privacy Policy.

Q?What is the difference between secured and unsecured debt?

If you owe money, your debt will be either secured  or unsecured.  There are important differences between these two types of debt:   secured debt provides the creditor with collateral in the event of default; unsecured debt does not. Therefore, certain types of loans made to consumers may be secured or unsecured, depending on whether the creditor obtains collateral.  Personal loans, lines of credit and bank overdrafts may be secured or unsecured debt.  A few credit cards currently in circulation provide the creditor with collateral, and are therefore secured debt.  In the event of non-payment, unsecured creditors face a much more difficult time recovering their money than secured creditors.  In addition, a discharge from bankruptcy does not affect a bankrupt’s secured debts, only the bankrupt’s unsecured debts.

Secured debts

The most common secured debt is a mortgage on a house or other real estate, and loans to purchase a car.  Homeowners who mortgage their property provide the lender with a security interest in their property.  Similarly, where a person borrows money to purchase a car, the lender will usually register a lien against the car.  In the event of non-payment, the lender can recover his money by foreclosing on the mortgage, or repossessing a car.

Unsecured debts

Unsecured debts, however, provide no collateral to the creditor in the event of non-payment.   Almost all credit card debt is unsecured debt.  In addition, a significant percentage of personal loans and lines of credit, particularly for smaller amounts, are unsecured debt, as are student loans, income taxes and monies owed to utility companies for services such telephone, water, internet and cable.

Q?For which type of debt can FDCPA Compliance provide the most assistance?

Some consumers experience debt problems with secured debts, unsecured debts or a combination of both.  Given our background working for various consumer advocacy groups, we are in a better position to assist consumers with unsecured consumer debt.

Unsecured consumer debts include the following:

    • credit cards (but not secured credit cards)
    • personal loans (but not secured lines of credit)
    • lines of credit (but not secured lines of credit)
    • accounts involving goods received or services provided
    • utility bills
Q?What is a judgment and can you help if I have one?

A civil court may award a judgment in a specific dollar amount in favor of an unsecured creditor against a debtor.  This may come about in one of two different ways.  A creditor may obtain a default judgment against a debtor if a creditor sues a debtor and the debtor fails to defend the lawsuit in a timely manner.  If a debtor defends the creditor’s lawsuit, the matter will generally go to trial if the parties cannot settle the lawsuit.   If the creditor is successful at trial, the court will award a judgment in favor of the creditor against the debtor.

It is prudent to immediately obtain legal advice if a creditor has sued you.   Consumers who fail to defend a creditor’s lawsuit in a timely manner are at risk of having the court award a default judgment against them.  Your creditor may have sufficient documentation to obtain a default judgment, but may not be able to introduce sufficient evidence at trial to be successful.

Importance of a judgment

The fact that your creditor has obtained a  judgment against you is no guarantee that the creditor will be able to recover  any monies from you.  But once your creditor has a judgment, it will be able to take advantage of enforcement remedies that are available to judgment creditors in your state.

Enforcement remedies available to judgment creditors vary from state to state.  Some states are more sympathetic to judgment debtors and have more generous exemptions limiting the scope of enforcement remedies.   The most common enforcement remedies involve garnisheeing a portion of the judgment debtor’s wages, seizing monies in a judgment debtor’s bank account, and placing a lien on real property if the judgment debtor is the legal owner of the property.

Q?Is my situation that bad?

You may be experiencing some money problems and may  be looking for debt relief.  You may be receiving collection calls from debt collectors in connection with debts they claim you owe.  You may want to avoid paying these debts, but without filing for bankruptcy.  You may be considering or doing one or more of the following:

  • requesting loans from family members
  • destroying your credit cards
  • researching a debt consolidation loan
  • investigating a second mortgage
  • taking out payday loans
  • obtaining credit counseling
  • contemplating personal bankruptcy

You may be very anxious about the problems you are facing with your finances.  However, your situation may not be as bad at it seems.  This may be especially true where

  • your debt or a significant percentage of your debt is unsecured consumer debt
  • you may be effectively judgment proof, because you have no assets or you are unemployed or underemployed.
  • you may live in a state where enforcement remedies available to judgment creditors are limited

People usually have options when it comes to dealing  with their debt situation.  However, you can’t take advantage of these alternatives unless you learn more about them.

You can call FDCPA Compliance to obtain practical  non-legal advice about dealing with collection agencies, where permitted by  state law, and discuss your financial situation and your need for debt relief  help. This phone call may help you understand why your financial circumstances  may not be nearly as bleak as you previously thought.  Speaking to FDCPA Compliance may enable you to develop a plan for dealing with your financial situation.