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Stopping The Creditors
Helping families, individuals and businesses find relief from overwhelming debt under.
Debt can be both a powerful tool and a horrible demon. While having some debt can be good – it allows you to live la vida loca – having too much debt can be disastrous. The following tips can help you maintain some sanity when the bill collectors come calling. While you will have to deal with the bills, these tips can help you avoid being harassed.
The first step is to try to address the issue before it becomes a problem. While paying the bill is the ideal, we know it is not always possible. It is important, though, that you don’t ignore the issue and hope it goes away – it won’t. In order to avoid having the debt turned over to a collection agency, you should call your creditor and explain that you are unable to pay the bill (and hiring a collection agency won’t help you pay sooner) and tell them when you expect to be able to pay. Hopefully, you will be able to come to a compromise or produce a repayment plan.
If you are unable to work a deal with your creditor, and the debt ends up with a harassing collection agency, write a letter requesting that the collector stop contacting you. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), debt collection agencies and attorneys must stop contacting you after receiving a letter requesting that they quit. You should also indicate any illegal actions committed by the collector in this letter. Keep a copy of the letter for your records and also send a copy of the letter to the following address
Federal Trade Commission
6th & Pennsylvania Ave.,
NW, Washington, DC 20850
After you send this letter, collectors may only contact you to acknowledge receipt of the request, to tell you their efforts have ended or to tell you that they are suing you. However, you should note that the FDCPA only applies to collection agencies and attorneys – it does not apply to in-house collection departments. Having said that, though, many creditors will honor the request.
If your letter fails to end the harassment, a letter from a lawyer usually will. Additionally, once you have hired a lawyer, the collection agency or creditor’s attorney must only communicate to you through your lawyer. The other benefit of retaining an attorney is that they can help you raise legal claims under the FDCPA. The downside to hiring a lawyer is that it can be expensive and a lot of times you really only need to send a letter requesting that they stop contacting you.
The final solution is to file for bankruptcy. Once you file the initial papers for bankruptcy, you are automatically protected from collection activity. The collector must first obtain permission from the bankruptcy court before it can continue its collection efforts; and the court will not grant permission to those seeking to collect unsecured debts (such as credit card debt). Filing for bankruptcy is a very effective way to stop creditor’s from harassing you.
However, bankruptcy should not be entered into lightly and should not be used when your only concern is simply debt harassment. Bankruptcy filings will stay on your credit report for 7 to 9 years. It should only be used when you have grave financial problems. Simple debt harassment can usually be stopped with less drastic measures than bankruptcy.
Your wages may be garnished if you owe child support, student loans, or back taxes, or a court judgment has been entered against you. A wage garnishment is when a court issues an order requiring your employer to withhold a certain amount of your paycheck and send it directly to the person or institution to whom you owe money, until your debt is paid off. Different garnishment rules apply to different types of debt – and there are legal limits on how much of your paycheck can be garnished.
Wage Garnishments for Court Judgments
They run their businesses. There is no trustee tasked to sell assets. If an asset is worth more than the amount allowed to protect it, then the consumer has to pay for the value through a
If you lose a lawsuit and a money judgment is entered against you, the person or entity that won the lawsuit can garnish your wages by providing a copy of the court order to the local sheriff or marshal, who will send it along to your employer. Your employer must then notify you of the garnishment, begin withholding part of your wages, send the garnished money to your creditor, and give you information on how you can protest the garnishment.
Most Creditors Need a Court Order to Garnish Your Wages
Unless you owe child support, back taxes, or student loans, your creditors — those to whom you owe money — cannot garnish your wages unless they first get a court order. For example, if you have defaulted on a loan, stopped paying your credit card bill, or have run up huge medical bills, your creditors can’t just start garnishing your wages. They must first sue you, win, and get a court order requiring you to pay what you owe.
Federal law places limits on how much judgment creditors can take from your paycheck. The amount that can be garnished is limited to 25% of your disposable earnings (what’s left after mandatory deductions) or the amount by which your weekly wages exceed 30 times the minimum wage, whichever is lower. Some states set a lower percentage limit for how much of your wages can be garnished.
You may not be fired or otherwise retaliated against because your wages have been garnished to pay one debt. Once you have one or more garnishments, however, less protection is available. Under federal law, you are not protected from retaliation if more than one creditor has garnished your wages — or the same creditor has garnished your wages for two or more debts. Some states offer more protection.
If you want to protest a wage garnishment, you must file papers with the court to get a hearing date. At the hearing, you can present evidence showing that you need more of your paycheck to pay your expenses or that qualify for an exemption. The judge can terminate the garnishment or leave it in place.
Wage Garnishments for Child Support and Alimony
Since 1988, all new or modified child support orders include an automatic wage withholding order. (If child support and alimony are combined into one family support payment, the wage withholding order applies to the whole amount owed; however, orders involving only alimony don’t result in automatic wage withholding.)
Once the court orders you to pay child support, the court or the child’s other parent sends a copy of the order to your employer, who will withhold the ordered amount from your paycheck and send it to the other parent. If you are required to maintain health insurance coverage for your child, the payment for that will be deducted from your paycheck as well.
More of your paycheck can be taken to pay child support. Up to 50% of your disposable earnings may be garnished to pay child support if you are currently supporting a spouse or a child who isn’t the subject of the order. If you aren’t supporting a spouse or child, up to 60% of your earnings may be taken. An additional 5% may be taken if you are more than 12 weeks in arrears. To learn more, see Enforcement of Child Support Obligations.
You may not be fired, disciplined, or otherwise retaliated against because your pay is subject to a wage withholding order to pay child support.
Wage Garnishments for Student Loans
The U.S. Department of Education (or any agency trying to collect a student loan on its behalf) can garnish up to 15% of your pay if you are in default on a student loan. No lawsuit or court order is required for this type of garnishment; if you are in default, your wages can be garnished.
At least 30 days before the garnishment is set to begin, you must be notified in writing of:
- how much you owe
- how to get a copy of records relating to the loan
- how to enter into a voluntary repayment schedule, and
- how to request a hearing on the proposed garnishment.
Wage Garnishments for Back Taxes
If you owe money to the IRS, watch out: The agency can take a big chunk of your wages, and it doesn’t have to get a court order first. The amount you get to keep depends on how many dependents you have and your standard deduction amount. Your employer will pay you a fairly low minimum amount each week and give the rest to the IRS.
The IRS must send a wage levy notice to your employer, who is required to give you a copy. The notice includes an exemption claim form, which you should complete and return.
State and local tax agencies also have the right to take some of your wages. In many states, however, the law limits how much the taxing authority can take. Contact your state labor department for information on your state’s law.
No one wants to hear the “F” word, but in today’s market, everyone is talking about it. What exactly is foreclosure and how does it affect you? We break down what you need to know about the process.
For the latest information on Covid-19 related halts on foreclosures and evictions in the state of Indiana, please click here.
Foreclosure is a process, not a thing
People often misuse the term “foreclosure.” Foreclosure is a series of events, not a state of being. Lenders don’t foreclose on homeowners; they foreclosure on property.
People often misuse the term "foreclosure."
Foreclosure is a series of events, not a state of being. Lenders don’t foreclose on homeowners; they foreclosure on property. Foreclosure defined
The foreclosure process has four phases
The terms and length of each phase vary by state.
Homeowners: Your rights and options vary depending on the stage your home is in and the state you live in. Know what laws apply to you.
Buyers: The stage and state will determine the strategy you use. Stages of foreclosure process
A difficult financial situation doesn't have to lead to foreclosure
There are several steps you can take to avoid foreclosure if your loan is about to adjust, you lose your job, or otherwise anticipate that you might miss mortgage payments
The mortgage lender is not eager to take your house away
Lenders are not in the business of managing real estate, so they would rather work with homeowners to keep them in the house. And with the growing number of defaults across the country, your lender may be more open to cutting a deal. How to deal with your lender when facing foreclosure
You can sell your home immediately when foreclosure is looming
Even if you live in a tough market, being aggressive and keeping your home in good condition can help you get a speedy sale. Selling your house fast when foreclosure looms.
All is not lost once you get a notice of default
If you’ve missed more than three mortgage payments, you still have some alternatives for stopping the foreclosure process.
A short sale is better than going through foreclosure
Lenders don’t typically forgive mortgages, but in a market with lots of inventory, they would rather see the house sold for less than the mortgage, than deal with trying to sell it themselves.
Foreclosure has major legal, tax and credit consequences
Foreclosure will heavily impact your ability to borrow money in the future, so make sure you’ve exhausted all other options first.
Buying a foreclosure property doesn't always mean you'll get a bargain
Finding a turnkey property in the foreclosure market is rare. Oftentimes, the home will need some renovation. Crunch the numbers first to make sure you really are getting a deal.
Understanding your mortgage can help you avoid foreclosure
Many homeowners who end up in foreclosure say they were unaware of some crucial pieces of information about their mortgage. Read all the loan documents, ask questions, and consult with an attorney if you can.
If you fail to make your car payments or otherwise default on your loan, you risk having your car repossessed by your lender. Read on to learn more about how car repossessions work, how to avoid them, and what your options are if your car gets repossessed.
Why Is the Lender Allowed to Repossess Your Car?
When you finance or lease a car you normally give the lender a security interest in the vehicle. Every state has its own rules regarding repossession but having a security interest generally means your lender can repossess the car without notice if you default on the loan. Many things can constitute a default but the most common reasons are not making timely loan payments or not having car insurance.
How Do Car Repossessions Work?
In most states, car lenders can seize your vehicle without prior notice if you are in default. However, they cannot breach the peace while they do it. Breaching the peace usually means using or threatening to use physical force against you to take the car back. But it can also simply involve repossessing the car from your closed garage. If your lender commits a breach of the peace, you may be entitled to damages or use it to defend against a deficiency lawsuit (discussed in more detail below).
What Will the Lender Do After Repossessing Your Car?
The lender can keep the car or sell it to satisfy your loan obligation. Each state has its own rules regarding sale procedures and notice requirements. However, you usually have a right to know when and where the sale will take place. Also, your lender must sell the car in a commercially reasonable manner. This generally means the lender has to follow standard sales practices but it is not required to obtain the highest possible price. You may have a claim for damages or a defense against a deficiency if the sale was not commercially reasonable.
What Is a Deficiency Balance?
Repossession is only one of the remedies available to your lender if you default on your loan. Having your car repossessed doesn’t get you off the hook for your obligation to pay the entire balance of the loan. If the proceeds from the sale of the vehicle are not enough to cover the balance of your loan, the remaining portion is called the deficiency balance. In most states, your lender can sue you to collect this deficiency.
However, as discussed above, there are defenses to a deficiency action. The most common defenses are:
- the lender breached the peace when repossessing the car
- the lender did not sell the car in a commercially reasonable manner, or
- the lender lost the right to sue by waiting too long and letting the “statute of limitations” run.
How Can You Get Your Car Back?
You may still be able to get your car back if the lender has not sold it yet. Below, we discuss some of the options available to you for getting your car back.
Redeem the Car
Redeeming essentially means buying back the vehicle. You can generally redeem your car if you pay the lender your entire loan balance including all arrears and repossession costs. However, most people usually don’t have the money required to redeem a car.
Reinstate the Loan
Some states allow you to reinstate your loan and get the car back if you can cure all of your arrears and pay for the repossession costs. After you reinstate, you must continue to make regular payments on the loan.
Buy It Back at the Auction
If your lender sells the car at an auction, you can bid on the vehicle to try to buy it back. However, even if you buy back the car, you will still remain liable for any resulting deficiency balance.
File for Bankruptcy
If you file for bankruptcy prior to the sale, the automatic stay will prohibit the lender from selling the car without obtaining court permission. Depending on the type of bankruptcy you file, this can buy you more time to gather the necessary money to get your car back or allow you to cure your arrears through the bankruptcy.
How Can You Avoid Getting Your Car Repossessed?
If you are behind on your loan payments, the best thing to do is to communicate with your lender. Your lender may be able to offer you a solution such as a reduction in payment amount or interest rate that can help you catch up on your payments and avoid repossession.
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