Articles Posted in Debt Settlement

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Phone-Police-150x150.jpgA three judge panel federal court ruled recently against Dell Computer when Dell continued to use an automated dialing system to make debt collection calls to a consumer. This consumer had written Dell asking it to stop calling her cell phone. Dell ignored the letter.

The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled that although the consumer had initially listed her cell phone number on her application for credit, she later revoked the consent to call her on that cell phone. This case is likely to have far reaching implications including as far away as Florida because it is a federal court and believed to be one of the first to consider this issue.

The debt collector unsuccessfully argued that the consumer did not have a right to revoke consent. Once given, it argued Dell could call and call, and then call some more. It couldn’t have been more wrong.

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lawsuit.jpgIn Florida, typically someone who is sued is served with the lawsuit and given 20 or sometimes 30 days to file a response. If the lawsuit was filed in small claims court, you are given a date to appear at a pretrial conference instead of filing a written response.

The most important thing is: Don’t ignore the deadline. It doesn’t matter that you think you might be able to work it out or that you called the attorney’s office who filed the lawsuit. If you don’t file a timely written response with the court, or attend the pretrial conference, a default will be entered against you. A default judgment can last up to 20 years in Florida and is very hard to challenge.

Before the deadline expires, please see an attorney. Many attorneys, including our office offer a free consultation for foreclosure defense or debt collection matters.

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house money.jpgHere’s an example in Tampa, Florida this month for one of our foreclosure clients who wanted to keep her house and avoid the possibility of a deficiency judgment:

New monthly payment: $933.45 with escrow Old monthly payment: $1,491.35

New interest rate: 4% fixed Old interest rate: 7.75 % fixed

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1099c.jpgCreditors are busily sending out more 1099C’s then ever before according to a story by Jeremy Campbell of Channel 13 in Tampa, Florida this week. The news story “How the IRS taxes debt” explains that debt settlements while good, come with a penalty. Consumers are taxed on the forgiven debt sometimes months or years after the settlement. More than 6 million consumers are expected to receive 1099C’s this year, double last year.

One important point that the story did not address. Cancelled debt is not taxed in a bankruptcy. Just saying.

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pros_cons.gifI often sit with my clients in Tampa, Florida and perform a simple test: I make two columns on a piece of paper and list the pros and cons of filing bankruptcy versus trying to settle their debt.

More often than not, the bankruptcy column has many more pros, while the debt settlement column has more cons. For instance, in a Chapter 13, the monthly payment is usually much less. In a Chapter 7, the monthly payment is zero if there is no disposable income.

Debt settlement on the other hand usually requires the client have lump sum amounts available to offer to get any kind of substantial reduction. So they have to save up. The client has to reach satisfactory agreements with each creditor, or they still have leftover debt. Finally, in debt settlements the cancelled debt is taxable by the IRS. Not so in bankruptcy.

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