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Giraffe-feedingOur associate attorney, Barbara Leon’s anniversary was today and she had the day off.  What did she choose to do:  Feed a giraffe.  Pretty cool.  A baby too.

I’m sure her husband Leo is around somewhere…

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robocallsRobocalling case law has been rapidly evolving over the past few months.  The latest case out of Tampa’s Middle District, is the case of MELANIE GLASSER, individually & on behalf of all others similarly situated Plaintiff, v. HILTON GRAND VACATIONS COMPANY, LLC. Defendant., No. 8:16-CV-952-JDW-AAS, 2018 WL 4565751, at *5 (M.D. Fla. Sept. 24, 2018) (Judge Whittemore) (holding at summary judgment that defendant’s dialer is not an ATDS and discussing a dialer that automatically enters the number but requires a clicker agents to push the “make call button” to control the pace of the calls doesn’t alter that the clicker agent’s actions were “integral to initiating outbound calls” …  “accordingly, it matters not that the computer actually dials the number forwarded to it by the clicking agent. Rather, the focus is on the agent’s human intervention in initiating the calling process.”).

Despite this case initially looking bad for consumers, there was some good language in the case – its just that the evidence wasn’t presented in this case for the telephone system to fall under the definition of an autodialer.

“Relevant here, ACA Int’l left intact earlier FCC rulings that “the ‘basic function’ of an autodialer is to dial numbers without human intervention:” For instance, the ruling states that the “basic function” of an autodialer is the ability to “dial numbers without human intervention.” 2015 Declaratory Ruling, 30 FCC Rcd. at 7973 ¶ 14; id. at 7975 ¶ 17. Prior orders had said the same. 2003 Order, 18 FCC Rcd. at 14,092 ¶ 132; 2008 Declaratory Ruling, 23 FCC Rcd. at 566 ¶ 13.”

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https://www.tampabankruptcylawyerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2015/07/christie_d._arkovich_p.a_1_small.jpgWhen you contact your private student loan company, you likely will be told the only options are: 1) a payment amount that is much higher than you can afford, or 2) to make an interest only payment which makes no dent whatsoever on the loan balance.  Stop that.  Read below.  Then call us.

Our latest Google review from Matthew:

My daughter and I contacted Christie last December regarding loans that I had cosigned for.  Navient was unwilling to offer an affordable payment.  They offered an interest only payment, and late payments were killing our credit. With Christies guidance we did exactly what she suggested and we were able to reach a settlement for around 30% with an affordable monthly payment.

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arbitration
Many consumers aren’t aware that when they sign up for a service, or buy a product, that they are agreeing that in the event of a dispute that the parties will be referred to arbitration.  These clauses often waive the consumer’s right to go to court, present their case before a jury or file a class action.  Most consumers have no idea that this is part of the contract.  To add insult to injury, often the creditor retained the right to file its own collection case in small claims or county court.  How is this legal you may ask?

Well that topic is for another day, most courts will uphold an arbitration clause.  However, there are ways around an arbitration clause by arguing that the clause doesn’t apply.  This would be in the event that the plaintiff bringing a lawsuit is not actually a signatory to the lease or contract.

  • Arbitration is party specific.
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https://www.tampabankruptcylawyerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2015/07/christie_d._arkovich_p.a_1_small.jpgWe’re looking to hire a full time legal assistant if any of my legal friends know of someone who is looking.  Helping people reduce their student loan debt is a very rewarding position for the right person who has great follow through and is a self starter who likes to work with little supervision (once trained of course :).  Competitive salary and 401k.

 

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We have a small office to rent in South Tampa – five minutes from downtown.  Beautiful Mediterranean building (I had to google to actually spell that – lol!).  Looking to rent to a solo attorney for around $450 -$500 depending upon services needed.  Full service office with conference room and receptionist.  Email me at christie@christiearkovich.com if interested.  Address is 1520 W. Cleveland St., Tampa, FL 33606.

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garnishmentIt’s more difficult for a creditor, including the government for federal student loans, to garnish income from someone who is self-employed — but it can be done.  Once the creditor is aware that someone is self-employed, they can have a second order entered to go after non-earnings paid to the debtor.  If a debtor runs his or her income through their own LLC, this can always be worked around with a second order directed toward the LLC, and then a regular wage garnishment if they are an employee, or a non-earnings order if they are an independent contractor.

The good news for someone faced with this, is that it will take time for the creditor to figure out how to reach this income – this is time that a settlement can be reached with a private creditor or a federal loan can be rehabbed to cure any default.  Bankruptcy should also be considered.  The bad news is if you continue to ignore it, the garnishment once it finally goes through is not limited to 15-25% of your wages, but now they can take 100%.  So like many things legal, ignore a garnishment order at your own peril – even if you are self-employed.

Non-Earnings Garnishment Orders

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Dollar-StretcherCredit card debt is on the rise – not surprisingly considering that incomes have remained stagnant while daily expenses have increased over the past few years.  With inflation on the rise, consumers need to be vigilant about creeping emotional expenses that make a mess of a well planned budget.

The Dollar Stretcher.com pointed out recently that emotions can make someone poor – i.e. spending money when unnecessary.  They offer some really good advice:

  1. Put good financial behaviors on “auto pilot”.  I’ve always been a fan of this.  Saving $50 a week can amount to a million dollars by retirement age alone.
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national-mort-settlement
During the financial crisis, many banks, especially Bank of America, N.A., received credit under the National Mortgage Settlement Act when they wrote off an underwater second mortgage.  This was very common in Florida because many 80/20 mortgages were written around 2004-2007 and values crashed in 2008.

However, now years later, homeowners are finding out that the banks never filed the appropriate document in official records to wipe out the second mortgage:  this would be called a Satisfaction.  Some homeowners are unable to sell their home without now paying or otherwise resolving this released debt, or are even being sued for the debt.

It is likely that this is a violation of our consumer protection laws, specifically the FDCPA and FCCPA.  These laws allow for statutory and actual damages as well as attorney’s fees.  It is unknown how widespread this may become.

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https://www.tampabankruptcylawyerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2015/07/christie_d._arkovich_p.a_1_small.jpg
Part II:  What can people do when they have private student loan debt?

Private loans don’t have any government programs like federal loans do – payments are not based upon income, there is no debt forgiveness and no protections for someone who becomes disabled and cannot work.  However, they will settle.  They key is to put them in the position of wanting or having to settle.  How we do this is we help our client track consumer collection law violations.

How many times do they call you a day?  Do they call your cell phone after you’ve told them not to?  Do they call you at work after you’ve told them not to?  Do they call before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m.?  Do they discuss your debt with third parties?  All of that is potentially illegal under the FDCPA, FCCPA and the TCPA and provides us with leverage to settle a debt and ways to escalate the conversation to a decision maker with higher authority to negotiate a settlement.

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