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Consolidate A Credit Card To Reduce Your Debt

Posted by | Posted in Debt Management | Posted on 26-04-2010

Strange though it may sound a credit card can be a useful tool in controlling debt. The properly chosen credit card can, in fact, be used to consolidate debt. There are several features to look for though if you plan to use a credit card in this manner. As is always the case before you scrutinize any credit card option, you should first have a clear understanding of your credit situation.

Whenever you are approaching a decision about your credit it is of primary importance to pull your credit report. The government has mandated that all individuals be allowed an annual free credit report. When accessing this report make sure that you have gone to a truly free credit report site. Some companies lure people into their sites by advertising a free credit report and then ask for credit card information. Free credit reports are available from such sites but if you have supplied them with credit card information you may find that your card will be billed thirty days later for a credit report update. The charges will continue ever thirty days or so after the initial billing until you have cancelled the service. The best idea is not to give out any billing information in order to receive your free report.

Get a report from each of the three credit reporting agencies (Experian, Trans Union and Equifax). When you ask for your report the site will also offer to send a credit score (FICO score) for a small additional fee; knowing your FICO is also beneficial and generally worth the nominal cost. Again, read the fine print and be careful not to set up any ongoing transactions.

After receiving the three reports analyze them carefully. You are unique but your name may not be. Make sure all the credit card bills are actually yours. Also check to make sure your social security number is listed correctly. Social security numbers are keyed in by hand and thus subject to error. One digit misplaced can give you someone else’s derogatory credit. Report any errors to the agencies. Make the report to all three agencies as they do not share information.

Now you have a list of all the revolving credit card debt that you owe, the balances and contact information. This is the money owed that may be ripe to consolidate on one credit card. Contact the creditors and find out what the current interest rate is on each card and if there are any programs which would allow you to reduce that rate. Let the companies know you are actively shopping for alternatives to your current rates. Customers in good standing with their credit card companies, customers with high FICO scores and customers who regularly charge and make their payments are valued by credit card companies. It may be that you will be offered incentives to retain their cards. Also, inquire about any balance transfer opportunities or other programs such as frequent flier miles.

Now you are going to design your own program to consolidate credit card debt. Compile a list of all the companies with columns comparing the like features: Interest rates, penalties, incentives, credit limits. When choosing which company to use to consolidate your credit cards, look at all the features not just the interest rates. Narrow down the options to two or three cards. Speak with company representatives. It may be possible to negotiate even better terms.

Once you have chosen an institution with which to consolidate credit card debt, follow through and transfer as many of your outstanding balances as possible to that one card. Adjust your credit card behavior and be disciplined about your use of credit. Cut up all the other cards. You may even wish to close all accounts other than one for emergencies. Don’t carry the two remaining cards in your wallet. Remember, charge cards are nice as long as you, not the card, are in charge.

Collection Harassment & Resolving Debt

Posted by | Posted in Debt Management | Posted on 19-04-2010

So you are getting collection calls? You’re desk is full of unpaid bills. You dread answering the phone. You are having trouble sleeping at night because you are worrying about a bunch of bills. You feel depressed.

Does any of this sound familiar? If it does then, maybe this article can help you. First of all you need to realize that you are not the only one. You are not alone. Then you need to know that there can be light at the end of the tunnel.

This article is not meant to be legal advice. It is to let you know your rights under the law. Perhaps it will steer you in the right direction. As this site is targeted for residents of Jacksonville, I will only deal with Florida statutes. I will explain your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). This is legislation that was enacted in 1977 to stop abusive collection practices. I quote the Florida State Attorney General How to Protect Yourself: Debt CollectionsConsumer Source: The Florida Attorney General’s Office

You may have questions relating to debt collections if you are contacted by a “debt collector,” someone who regularly tries to collect debts owed to others. A debt collector may contact you if you are behind in your payments to a creditor on a personal, family or household debt, or if an error has been made in your account. A debt collector may contact you in person, by mail, telephone, telegram, or fax. However, a collector may not communicate with you or your family with such frequency as can reasonably be expected to be harassing. A debt collector may not contact you at work if the collector knows your employer disapproves. A collector may not contact you at unreasonable times or places, such as before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., unless you agree.

A debt collector is required to send you a written notice within five days after you are first contacted, telling you the amount of money you owe. The notice must also specify the name of the creditor to whom you owe the money, and what action to take if you believe you do not owe the money. You may stop a collector from contacting you by writing a letter to the agency telling them to stop. Once the agency receives your letter, they may not contact you again except to say there will be no further contact, or to notify you if the debt collector or the creditor intends to take some specific action. If you do not believe you owe the debt, you may write to the collection agency within 30 days after you are first contacted saying you don’t owe the money. The agency may not contact you after that unless you are sent proof of the debt, such as a copy of the bill.

A debt collector may not harass or abuse any person. For instance, a collector may not use threats of violence against the person, property or reputation, use obscene or profane language, advertise the debt, or A debt collector may not use false statements, such as: falsely implying that they are attorneys, that you have committed a crime, or that they operate or work for a credit bureau or misrepresenting the amount of your debt, the involvement of an attorney in collecting a debt, or indicating that papers sent to you are legal forms when they are not. Debt collectors may not tell you that you will be arrested if you do not pay, that they will seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or wages, unless the collection agency or creditor intends to do so and has a legal right to do so, or that a lawsuit will be filed against you, when they have no legal right to file or do not intend to file such a suit.

If you have a question about whether the collection agency which has contacted you is properly registered, you may file a complaint either with the Attorney General’s office or the Federal Trade Commission, Correspondence Branch, Washington, D.C. 20580. You may file suit against the collection agency for violating state andor federal law. If you prevail, you may be awarded your actual damages, attorney’s fees and costs. The protection he mentions is from the FDCPA. The FDCPA is not a Florida law. It is a federal law. The law provides for stiff penalties for debt collectors (i.e. the actual collector or the company or agency for which heshe works). This means that you do not have to put up with collection harassment or being insulted or threatened with such things as going to jail, criminal charges, seizing you wages, calling your employer or friends and family to tell them about the debt. You do not deserve this type of treatment and should not stand for it. They may not misrepresent themselves. They can’t tell you they are from the Sheriff’s Office, “warrants processing”, or an attorney’s office (unless they do work for an attorney). Most of the abusive practices are done over the phone. Letters and correspondence will usually comply with the law.

If you feel that a collector(s) are being abusive you have several options : 1) contact the supervisor or owner of the agency. The one on the phone is usually an hourly employee. Higher ups normally want their people to comply with the law as to prevent costly lawsuits against them.

2) You may also notify them that they are not to call you again. This should be done in writing by certified mail with return receipt so that you have proof that you did advise them not to call you. This is a no call request. You should only do this after repeated incidents. Why do I say this? You may get one call where the collector is rude. The next one you get may not be.

Having done collections for many years, I often had calls where the person was angry from the last person they had spoken to. But by working with them I was able to come to a mutually agreeable solution. So because you had one bad experience doesn’t mean they are all like that.
Many collectors strive to stay within the law. But you do have the right to do this under the law.

3) Contact the Federal Trade Commission (http:www.ftc.gov).

4) Consult an attorney. The bottom line is that you don’t have to take abusive practices. Bear in mind also that they can’t harass you. Calling you one time every 3-7 days isn’t harassment. Calling you repeatedly on the same day after they have done spoke to you may be considered collection harassment. Calling before 8 am and after 9pm is against the FDCPA. An attorney can best determine if it is.

Perhaps the problem isn’t that you are being harassed or abused. You are behind and don’t know what to do. You know you owe the debt but don’t have the money to resolve it right now. Lets look at your options. Debt is either of 2 kinds. Secured or unsecured. A secured debt means that there is an asset that secures it, such as a house or a car. Unsecured is normally a credit card or similar account.

With a secured debt the creditor has the right to take possession of the secured asset if you do not pay. You may also be liable for the balance of what was owed less what the creditor sold it for. With an unsecured debt the debt continues going past due until it “charges off”. This means the creditor has to remove it from the books as an asset. This doesn’t mean they just “write it off” and the debt goes away. Typically they will either send it to a collection agency to try to recover or they may send it to a collection attorney to take action. This is up to the creditor to decide which action they will take.

Now less review your options.

1)Keep the lines of communication open between you and your creditor. They want to work with you to resolve it. It does neither you nor them any good if they have to repot your car or charge off your account. If you have run into problems, let them know.

2) Don’t promise something that you can’t do. If you can’t commit to an amount then don’t say you will. Creditors normally keep track of the number of times you break your promises and it some case it may influence their actions later on.

3) Most secured creditors will allow you to skip one or two payments and put it on the back of the loan. Each one has different rules for this.

4) Most unsecured creditors have programs to work with debtors. The most prevalent one is a “reage” or “cure” program. For instance, your monthly payment is £50. You are 4 months behind. You don’t have the money to catch it up. But you could make that £50 a month payment now. I have seen this scenario many times in my years as a collector. The statement is wanting £200 and they can only do £50. With a “reage” or “cure” program they would just have to resume making the £50 a month and after 3 months the account is current. Which means it will report to the credit bureau as current and it will not be getting late fees since it isn’t considered late any more. Call your creditor and ask about a “reage” program. They may call it something else.

5) Credit Card companies have a minimum payment, which is usually something like 2.5% of the balance plus any overlimit amount. I have seen many people get behind and have their credit affected by it because of this. View the example Credit limit balance Payment % Minimum MIN+ ovrlmt 1000 1100 3.0 £33 £133 In this example the payment being requested by the credit card company is £133. The person may get this and be unable to pay the £133. Instead they pay nothing. Hence their account goes past due.

The next statement the the amount is even greater since there was no payment the month before and it is even more overlimit because of finance charges, late fees and overlimit fees. However if the person had paid the £33(3% of balance) the account wouldn’t have went past due. It would still have gotten an overlimit fee but no late fees since it is still current on the payments. Check your cardholder agreement to determine the minimum payment percentage.

I realize this has been lengthy. I hope it has been of some help. Check back again for the next article in this series. If you know someone this can help, please refer them to the site.

Can You Get Out From Debt?

Posted by | Posted in Debt Management | Posted on 10-04-2010

The first principle towards settling your debt and moving towards a debt-free existence is in prioritizing your debt. What you must hold on for now to and what you must clear immediately is the first step towards debt management. A good debt management and prioritization of you loans settlement will get you out of debt. This article will give you some information guide on your debt management.

Which loans to prioritize?

Logically, the one with the highest rate of interest is the one that should be cleared quickly.

Two types of loans that should be cleared as soon as possible are personal loans and credit card loans.

The interest rate on these loans is the highest. On credit cards, it amounts to around 24% per annum (at 2% per month). A personal loan should be around 18% onwards. Even if you get the personal loan at a discount, it would be around 14% per annum.

Which loans can be serviced over time?

In your debt management process, there are loans which you need to prioritize to pay them off first, but there are loans which you could service them over time to reduce your loan repayment burdens. These loans can be serviced over time:

1. Loans with low or no interest rate
2. Loans with tax benefits

Home loans and education loan offer tax benefits and can be settled over time. Same for loans to family or friends, which are either interest-free or carry a low rate of interest.
The loans which you can close now

If you are in the bad debt situation, it is critical for you to close as much of loans as possible in the short period of time. Look at your asset list and see whether you have loan on these assets. For instance, you take a car loan for an asset - which is the car. In such a case, you can sell the car and close the loan.

If you are really struggling to pay your home loan, shifting to a smaller home or more economic location is solution for it.

Switch to Other Loans

As you know credit card interest rate is high and you might not able to clear it in short period of time; then, look for an alternative and switch it to a financier who will charge you a lower rate of interest.

For credit card, there is service call balance transfer. Say you are paying 2% or 2.25% per month on your card. You can go in for another credit card. They will pay back the bank and transfer your loan onto the new card. For the first six months, they will give you a lower interest rate. Say 1.5% or 1.75% per month. This lower rate of interest will help you pay back more.

For home loan, there are home loan packages which offer a very loan interest rate in the first 3 to 5 years; some even offer 0% interest rates in first 1-2 years. Take up these benefits by refinancing your home loan.


Almost all people have debt in somehow or rather and debt is the worst poverty. Being in debt is bad enough and not managing it well is worse. Know your debt and manage it property and you will get out from debt one day.

Key words: bankruptcy laws

Posted by | Posted in Debt Management | Posted on 02-04-2010

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Knowing the Fundamentals – Bankruptcy Laws

Bankruptcy laws generally protect distressed people and businesses that can no longer pay their creditors. In the United States, bankruptcy laws are placed under federal jurisdiction as stated in the United States Constitution (in Article1, Section8), allowing the Congress to enact “uniform laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout [all] the United States [districts].” Its implementation, however, is realized depending on the different district state laws. Nevertheless, much of the relevant statutes are already incorporated within the Bankruptcy Code, located at Title11 of the United States Code. Other statutory bankruptcy laws are found in Titles18 (crimes), 26 (internal revenue code) and 28 (judicial procedure) of the US Code.

Features of the US Bankruptcy Laws:

An estate consists of all property interests of the debtor at the time of the filing, and which are subject to certain exclusions and exemptions. This may also include other items, including (but not limited to) property acquired by will or inheritance within 180 days after case commencement. In the case of a married person in a community property state, the estate may include some community property interests of the spouse even if the spouse has not filed bankruptcy.

Under the revised bankruptcy laws (1984) the bankruptcy judges in each judicial district function as a US bankruptcy court, a ‘unit’ of the US district court. Formally, each district court ‘refers’ practically all bankruptcy matters to the Bankruptcy Court. Yet in rare circumstances, a district court may in a particular case ‘withdraw the reference’ or take the bankruptcy case away from the Bankruptcy Court and decide the matter itself.

Decisions of the bankruptcy court could be generally appealed to the District Court, and then to the Court of Appeals. However in some jurisdictions, a separate court called a Bankruptcy Appellate Panel composed of bankruptcy judges hears particular appeals from bankruptcy courts.

Creditors might race to the courthouse to improve their positions against a debtor, yet a protective automatic stay is imposed at the moment a bankruptcy petition is filed. This generally prohibits the commencement of actions, judicial or administrative, against a debtor for the collection of a claim prior to the case. The stay also prohibits collection of property of the estate itself. A secured and court-permitted creditor, however, may be allowed to take the applicable collateral. Permission may be granted by filing a motion for relief from the automatic stay.

Stay-relieved secured creditors may look to the property that is the subject of their security interests. Security interests are considered liens on the property of a debtor. Yet, there still are unsecured creditors – the unsecured priority creditors and general unsecured creditors. In some cases, the debtor’s estate assets are insufficient to pay all priority unsecured creditors in full, and the general unsecured creditors receive nothing.

An individual debtor (not partnership/corporation) may claim certain items of property as exempt property and keep those items (subject, however, to any valid liens). The individual debtor is allowed to choose from a Federal list of exemptions. In states where the debtor is allowed to choose between the Federal and state exemptions, the debtor can choose the rules that most fully benefit him or her.

The debtor’s discharge is available in some but not all cases. For example, in a Chapter7 case only an individual debtor (not a corporation/partnership) can receive a discharge.

The discharge also does not eliminate certain rights of a creditor to setoff/offset certain mutual debts owed by the creditor to the debtor.
Not every debt may be discharged. Certain taxes owed to Federal, state or local government, government guaranteed student loans, and child support obligations are not dischargeable. (Guaranteed student loans are potentially dischargeable against the lender).

Bankruptcy laws relating to prosecutable bankruptcy fraud and other bankruptcy crimes are found in Sections151-158 of Title18 of the US Code.

The proceedings of these bankruptcy laws are covered under Title 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code and are adopted by each bankruptcy court.