Articles Posted in Unfair Debt Collection

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Capital One Bogus Claims Bankruptcy DebtsWhen someone files for bankruptcy protection they don’t expect to have their discharged bills come back to haunt them. Zombie debts are not unheard of, but are rarely seen in the multitude that has been alleged against Capital One by a court-appointed monitor. Some of these debts, including one sought fourteen years after it was discharged, are for thousands of dollars.

Unlike most lenders, Capital One handles most of it’s debt collection internally, rather than outsourcing to collection firms. This may be part of their problem as collection firms are usually well versed in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Out of the 15,500 bogus claims made by Capital One only about 800 of those borrowers filed lawsuits against the creditor. 130 of these cases were settled without Capital One admitting fault. Not all attorneys will file suit against a creditor for attempting to collect a discharged debt, but it’s important that debtors know that they can. Without the remedy of suing the creditor, there would be little to no use of the bankruptcy court at all.

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Automatic Stay, BankruptcyUpon filing for bankruptcy protection, an automatic stay is put in place. This means that creditors can not try and collect from you. So a creditor cannot call you to request payment, send bills to you, garnish your wages anymore, or repossess your car without court permission. If there is a foreclosure suit against you, that suit must also stop immediately. If your home is sold and you filed prior to the sale, that sale can be vacated. Obviously, this is a powerful tool bankruptcy. Many people file to stop creditors from taking actions against them or their property.

The automatic stay will remain in effect until one of the following things occurs:

1. A creditor petitions the court for relief from automatic stay and the court enters an order granting it;

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The U.S. House of Representatives introduced a new bill, the Mobile Informational Call Act of 2011, that would allow businesses to dial consumers’ cell phones using an automatic dialing system. This practice is oftentimes called “robo-calling”. This means that the operator does not have to manually dial each number. Rather, the computer system can dial the numbers and play a prerecorded message on many phones at once. The current law is that operators have to manually dial the numbers (unless the customer consents to robo-calling), which is not very profitable for many collection agencies.

The down side to this bill would obviously be that creditors would be able to start robo-calling your cellphone. This does not sit well with many consumers. But some creditors say that the current regulations have not kept up with the technology of today, and that a lot of people do not have home phone lines anymore. Creditors are wanting robo-calling access to cell phones.

The upside to the bill, however, is that an airline company could robo-call passengers if a flight was cancelled or is running late. Or your credit card company could set up a system to automatically call you if they think someone is fraudulently using your card. Or your bank could robo-call with a message that someone changed the address or PIN number on your account.

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Debtor's Prison, Bankruptcy, Collection PracticesThere’s not much that inspires us to act (or not act) than the threat of imprisonment. Collection agencies are using a new angle on collections that can lead to the arrest of unwitting debtors.

The Fourteenth Amendment states that “[n]o state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”. Despite the protections of this amendment, collectors are satisfying the requirements of due process by filing suit, unilaterally scheduling hearings, and when the debtors fail to appear for court, they have they ask the judge sign an order for them to appear. If they don’t show up for the second hearing, the judge will issue a warrant for the debtor’s “willful” non-appearance before the court. The next time the debtor is pulled over for a route traffic stop, they can be arrested.

The problem with this satisfaction of the due process requirement is two-fold. First is the fact that most collection agencies have bad or outdated addresses for debtors. People move all the time, especially those with financial troubles. If the address is incorrect, then the debtor never gets notice of the hearing. This makes the “willful non-compliance with a court order” no longer willful. If the debtor didn’t know, how could they willingly not comply?

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Jeffrey Summers, of Taft, California, and Stafan Miller, of Santa Clara, California, perpetrated a scam upon multiple creditors. They formed Maxwell, Turner & Associates, a collection services company who employed around 20 people. From February 2009 until May 2010, their company did not deliver on their promises to clients. Summer and Miller would provide false information about legal proceedings and tell their creditor clients wrong contact information for debtors. Also, if the company did collect any money from debtors, it would not pass this money along to the appropriate creditor. Instead, the two would pocket the money. The scheme took in more than $2.7 million.

Summers was convicted for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and sentenced to 8 years in federal prison. Miller was ordered to serve 6 years and 9 months for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering. The two have also been ordered to repay $1,311,700 in restitution to the victims of their fraudulent scheme.

If you feel that you have been defrauded in any financial situation, you should speak with a Jacksonville Consumer Law Attorney to see if a remedy this available for you.

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Filing for bankruptcy can be very confusing for those trying to go it alone. As an in-depth legal process, it is greatly beneficial to have a Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorney to help you navigate your way through a successful bankruptcy. Here are some reasons why:

1. There are many calculations that must be done correctly. To file for bankruptcy, you must first know which Chapter you qualify for, a Chapter 7, 13, 11 or 12. One step to figuring it out is by completing a Means Test. This is complex thing to do. You must know things which deductions you can use for food, clothing, personal care, health care, housing, and many more. You’ll need to how the allowances for vehicles work and what involuntary deductions you can take. You must know how to list future debt payments correctly. And the list goes on and on. Without the proper knowledge and skill, this can be very difficult to do right the first time. If you do not do this correctly, the court could dismiss your case without a discharge, penalize you with fines or in rare cases, even send you to jail. Hiring a Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorney would be beneficial because someone with knowledge and experience would be handling these issues, taking the stress off of you.

2. Another daunting task is drafting a Chapter 13 Plan. This Plan is very important, as it outlines your responsibilities over a three to five year period. You must know which creditors get paid, how much is required to go to unsecured creditors, and how to allocate the Trustee’s portion. You want to make sure that you get all the benefits you can through your Plan. It is not the job of the Court or Trustee to watch out for your interest, it is there job to be sure that the code is being applied properly.

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Is your credit card company driving you crazy? Think they are trying to rip you off or aren’t taking your complaints seriously? The Dodd-Frank Act created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), an agency to whom you can voice concerns regarding your credit card companies. Since their opening in July 2011, the office has fielded more than 5,000 consumer complaints. Some of the most common complaints dealt with collection practices, debt protection services, account closures, identification theft, fraud, and fees.

After a complaint is filed, the CFPB acts as a go-between in order to resolve the issue between you and your credit card company. So far, approximately three quarters of the complaints have been either partially or fully resolved by the credit card company. The rest are either still under review or there was no relief found.

Consumers can submit their complaints either online with Consumer Finance’s Government Site or by calling 855-411-CFPB (855-411-2372). In the near future, CFPB will be fielding complaints for all kinds of consumer financial products, including mortgages and other loans.

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Payday Loans, Bankruptcy, InterestJacksonville has plenty of options when it comes to payday loans, be it “Check ‘n Go” or “Advance America”, you know they’re all over town. A relatively new study out of Vanderbilt University and the University of Pennsylvania suggests that payday loans may actually cause bankruptcies.

Paige Marta Skiba and Jeremy Tobacman both have doctorates from esteemed establishments (UC Berkeley and Harvard respectively) and a 57 page collaborative work titled, “Do Payday Loans Cause Bankruptcy?” attempts to prove that these loans, despite only being for amounts around $300, do in fact cause an increased probability of filing bankruptcy.

The statistics they give are quite telling, for instance, the interest rates given on payday loans are often quoted as being small because they’re based on a few days or weeks, however when you amortize a 18% loan over two weeks out to a per annum (yearly) basis, the total interest percentage is actually 468%. It’s these high interest loans that Skiba and Tobacman say force some people to file for bankruptcy.

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Imagine that you’re a single woman who has some unpaid debt but like everyone else you’re just trying to live your life and get by. Perhaps one lonely evening you create a personals ad on an online dating service. Soon you are happy to get a response from a young man who asks you to meet him. You prepare for the date, show up on time and he shows up too. You order drinks, then food and then he declares that he is in fact a debt collector for the company you owe. He tells you that you need to pay your debts, gets up and leaves.

Does this sound impossible? Well it isn’t. In fact, someone seeking help with creditor harassment described a very similar situation to me just yesterday. This behavior comes out of left field for creditors as it requires more time and resources than we’d expect from a creditor. It also appears to violate the Fair Debt Collect Practices Act (FDCPA) as creditors cannot use deceptive means in an attempt to collect or enforce a debt.

If you think that a creditor is doing something unethical in an attempt to collect a debt, it may be illegal. Contact a Jacksonville Bankruptcy Lawyer for a free consultation.

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zed.jpgSometimes debts that are supposed to be ‘dead and gone’ don’t stay buried. These debts are nicknamed, “Zombie Debts”. With the difficulties in the economy, debt collectors are being more creative with their collection attempts.

A Zombie debt is one that shouldn’t be collectible. It’s been paid, discharged in bankruptcy or was never valid to begin with. The debtor thinks the debt has been disposed of but some day, often years later, a collector sends a notice. Then it begins again.

Sometimes creditors sell the rights to collect on a note that has already been paid, other times creditors simply make mistakes. Either way, average people shouldn’t have to deal with it. If a creditor starts calling about a debt that you don’t think you owe, contact a Creditor Harassment Attorney or call us at (904) 685-1200 for a free consultation.

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