Stop the Collection Calls

The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, a federal law that is meant to regulate the actions of debt collectors, can be found at 15 U.S.C. 1696.  In addition to setting the ground rules for lawful debt collection, who collectors may call, when they may call, and what they may say when they call, the law also gives consumers tools to help the federal government enforce this law for their own benefit.

Debt collection is a 40 billion dollar Industry, and consumer debts are bought and sold everyday across this country.  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau collects complaints on debt collectors filed by consumers, and will often taken action against the worst offenders in the marketplace.  If you have been the victim of unlawfully aggressive collection tactics, both the Kentucky Attorney General and the CFPB have complaint forms for consumers to use.

Kentucky Attorney General      ag.ky.gov

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau   consumerfinance.gov/complaint

But aside from lodging a complaint with the government about the tactics companies use to attempt to squeeze the last penny out of your budget, the FDCPA gives consumers the ability to stop the collectors from calling your home, your cell, and your office with just one letter.  Whether your debt is disputed or not, 15 U.S.C. 1696(c) sets forth how you stop those calls from coming under the law.  If you send a written request that the creditor cease all communications with you, and that letter contains your name, your address, and collection account identifying information, the debt collector can no longer lawfully contact you to attempt to collect that debt.  It does nothing to the underlying obligation, but will give you some peace of mind and stop the annoying calls from coming in.  I have supplied a sample cease communication letter here for your use.

Cease Communication Letter

If debt collectors are hounding you for payment all hours of the day, and it's affecting the quality of life for you and your family, send those debt collectors a cease communication letter, and stop those calls from even coming.  If the debt collectors continue to contact you after you have sent them a Cease Communication request, you should contact a lawyer to enforce that no contact letter.

Could Chapter 13 Bankruptcy protection be right for you?

Bankruptcy isn't just a legal solution to get rid of your oppressive medical debt.  A Chapter 13 Bankruptcy allows you the freedom to restructure your debts and keep most of your property as you pay back the amount that you have fallen behind over time.  For example, if you are $5,000 behind on your mortgage, and your lender has stopped accepting payments so that each and every month you just fall further and further behind.  This cycle can stop through a Chapter 13 Plan.  The bankruptcy can help you pay back that $5,000 over a five year plan, less if you can afford more, all the while your mortgage company accepts the regular monthly payment.   A Chapter 13 allows people the breathing room to pay back the debts they owe, on a schedule that fits their budget.

A Chapter 13 Bankruptcy provides the benefit of the automatic stay, the court order that stops your creditors in their tracks from repossessing your car, foreclosing on your home, or garnishing your wages.  But a Chapter 13 also puts you in the driver's seat for negotiating the terms of repayment on debts you have defaulted.  This type of bankruptcy can help homeowners who have multiple years of back property taxes, while preventing a tax sale of their home.    A Chapter 13 bankruptcy will provide relief from an otherwise insurmountable debts.

The court requires that Debtors in a Chapter 13 pay into the Bankruptcy court as a monthly Plan Payment even to cover the back due amounts owed that they want to cure, a fee to the trustee who monitors the plan, and a percentage payment to the unsecured creditors, like credit cards and medical debt.  While the Debtor and their attorney propose a Plan to the court for approval, both the creditors and the Trustee can object to how the Plan is structured, so it must be balanced.

A successful Chapter 13 will still discharge your unsecured debts that are otherwise eligible for discharge in a Chapter 7, but it allows you the flexibility to restructure your finances while you get the fresh start that the Bankruptcy Code intended.  Filing for Bankruptcy is a big step.  Financial problems tend to impact every area of your life, and bankruptcy can help you reclaim control over your finances.

If you want further information about whether bankruptcy is right for your family, call the office to schedule your free consultation today.  Or follow the link below to find further information about Chapter 13 Bankruptcy that the Courts have provided for educating the public about bankruptcy.

http://www.uscourts.gov/about-federal-courts/types-cases/bankruptcy-cases

What is consumer law?

That is a question I get fairly frequently from both lawyers and clients.  I have spent the last eleven years of my practice helping to ensure that my clients increase their negotiating power in the marketplace, by knowing what rights they have and what obligations a seller has I n every consumer purchase they make. 

Consumer law to me, is a set of tools that a lawyer can use to balance the power in a consumer purchase, so that the sellers and the finance companies don't hold all the cards.  A lawyer well versed in consumer protection laws can help clients navigate the financial pitfalls in every day purchases.  Consumer protection laws were enacted to encourage good business practices in the marketplace, and to provide a remedy for consumers to go after the businesses that don't play by the rules Congress and the Commonwealth of Kentucky have set out.

Both the Kentucky Office of the Attorney General, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau of the Federal government share enforcement power of most consumer protection laws.  But the job of consumer agencies is to watch for pattern and practice behavior in the market, and to go after the biggest and worst offenders.  But consumer attorneys act like a private attorney generals in cases where clients have a private right of action, and can take affirmative steps to ensure the laws are followed, consumers are protected, and the marketplace continues to be a fair and balanced place for all. 

There are many subsets of a well rounded consumer practice, and after a decade in legal aid, I am have been given the opportunity to attend training sessions given by the very best in those specific niche areas of law.  From Fair Credit Reporting, to Fair Debt Collection Practices, to Auto Fraud, to Student Loan Servicing, to Truth in Lending, to Bankruptcy protection, consumers can take steps to protect themselves and right wrongs that have been committed.