Written by Canterbury Law Group

Keep Your Credit – Avoid Bankruptcy

Debt is scary. When you open up your account and see that you owe more money than you can spare, it can quickly become overwhelming. Sometimes, the stress leads one to believe that the only remaining option is to file for bankruptcy.

Although bankruptcy doesn’t have to be the end of the world, it is best to leave it as a last resort option. If you can no longer pay any of your debt and have done all that you can to try and get afloat, bankruptcy may be your only option and ironically, the best option.

Before you make your decision, see if there are any other things you can do before calling for bankruptcy help in Scottsdale.

Sell, Sell, and Sell Some More

When the word bankruptcy comes to mind when you look at your finances, that is when you know you need to take immediate legal action. See what you have that you can afford to live without and sell it. The more quick cash you can bring it, the more debt you can pay off and avoid filing for bankruptcy.  But do not do anything until you seek counseled advice from licensed bankruptcy lawyers.

Bring in More Money

See if there are ways that you can bring in more money each month. That additional income could go straight to your debt to pay it off quicker. There are many side-gig jobs available that will pay a decent wage. Whether it be a skill you have that you can teach to children, or are crafty and can sell items, there are lots of little things you can do for extra cash.

Crack Down on Your Spending

If you still have a bit of time before you have no choice but to file for bankruptcy, sit down and go through your spending habits. See where you can make cuts and by how much. Set up a budget based on your monthly income, and try to get as much money going into your debt as possible.  But do not do any of this until speaking to a licensed bankruptcy lawyer who can and will help you map it all out in advance—do not guess on the right steps, let your lawyer show you the actual steps to make as you go.  This feels better, a lot better, as you go.

Ask for Help

There is no shame in bankruptcy.  The President of the United States has done it. It is so easy to get ourselves into debt, and so hard to get out of it. Maybe all you need is a small loan from a family member to get your payments back on schedule. Asking for help from family, friends, and professional financial people can help keep you on track to avoid bankruptcy.  Your lawyers too will show a way out.

If you’ve done all you can and bankruptcy is your only hope, do not fret. Bankruptcy does not mean the end. Although it will affect your credit score, you can then get yourself back on your feet and start over.  Your bankruptcy attorneys will show you through the tunnel to the next and hopeful life phase beyond discharge.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

What to Do When You are Being Sued for Arizona Credit Card Debt

If a credit card owner has incurred considerable amounts of unpaid bills, the bank or the card agency has the right to sue the cardholder also known as the ‘debtor’. If you are being sued for credit card debt in Arizona, you will first be served a “summons” for a state or federal court case. When you receive the initial notification for summons, the important thing is not to panic. Credit card debt lawsuits go through several phases and there are plenty of ways you can defend yourself effectively with the right attorney. Breathe deeply and relax.

Immediate Action Following Summons

When you have received a summons to court over a credit card debt lawsuit, don’t delay taking action. Most of all, do not ignore the summons. If you do, the suing party (the bank most likely) can obtain a judgment against you in your absence. By ignoring the case, you will not be able to argue your case in front of a judge. The judgment against you could allow the creditor to infiltrate your wages or savings to use as payment towards the credit card debt. Therefore, don’t wait to respond to the summons.  Even if you owe all of the money, you should respond in writing to the court.

If you were served the summons within the state of Arizona, you will be given 20 days to respond. If the summons were served when you were out of state, then you get 30 days to respond. Hire a bankruptcy attorney in Scottsdale during this time to file your case without missing the deadline.

How to Respond to Summons

Once you have an attorney, he or she will guide you through the process of responding to the summons appropriately. There’s a misunderstanding that responding to the summons means showing up in court on the given date. In fact, Arizona law requires defendants in debt cases to file a written response. You must write to the court before the deadline to avoid a default judgment as described above.

How Long will the Case Go On?

This depends on where the lawsuit is filed. In Arizona, there are two types of courts that handle debt-related lawsuits: the Justice Court and the Superior Court. Lawsuits for disputed amounts less than $10,000 go to the Justice Court while anything more than this will be taken to the Superior Court.

Justice Court is a small claims court where the lawsuits tend to move faster. Due to this reason, some creditors file lawsuits stating a limit of $10,000 but without including the interest and other costs. Lawsuits filed in the Superior Court can be complex so trials take longer to conclude. It’s worthwhile to check whether the creditor has filed the case in the right court as part of your defense strategy.

Formulating the Defense Strategy

There are several ways an experienced defense attorney can approach a debt collection lawsuit. Even if the case goes to trial, your lawyer can negotiate with the creditor for a debt settlement. The settlement may involve trying to reduce the total amount owed. If the debt is overwhelming, you might have to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, in which case a court may discharge credit card debt. This is not the ideal scenario for a creditor, so the settlement is always an option.

A skilled attorney would also consider more technical aspects of the lawsuit that may offer you relief. For example, an attorney may check whether the summons for the trial was properly served. Other aspects, such as double-checking documentation the creditor provides, will be part of the defense strategy aimed at getting you the best outcome.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

How to Handle Debt and Other Financial Problems in 2018

A brand new year is here, bringing with it exciting new possibilities. Some possibilities in 2018, however, will not be exciting for some Arizona households. According to a recent study published by TransUnion, a credit reporting agency, consumer credit card debt will increase this year for the fifth consecutive time. Earlier this year, the amount of credit card debt American households owned reached a whopping $1 trillion. By next year, market research shows that many households would significantly struggle to pay off that debt.

Despite a strong economy, American households continue to amass debt. Credit cards are not the only culprit. A significant number of households are indebted due to unsecured loans like payday loans. This is in addition to typical loans like a home mortgage and student loans. While 2018 may be a good year in economic terms, it will also be a year many Arizonian households and individuals grapple with debt. Here are several debt management tips to keep in mind:

Avoid Taking on New Debt

Remember that any money you borrowed for the holidays will have to be paid off this year. If you are already in debt, it’s not a good idea to take on even more debt. Use your income or savings for holiday activities like parties and vacations and avoid borrowing more money overall. Control your spending habits right now to start reducing your debt gradually this year.

Talk to a Lawyer Regarding a Debt Relief Strategy

If the debts have piled up high already, the creditor may start suing you next year. Therefore, consult with a bankruptcy lawyer in Scottsdale to formulate a strategy to get rid of at least some of that debt. You can consider filing for bankruptcy if you find yourself literally unable to make payments. Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows judges to discharge certain forms of unsecured debt, like credit card debt and payday loans. Ask a lawyer whether filing for bankruptcy would make financial sense in the coming year.

Negotiate with Creditors

If there are creditors calling, demanding that you pay back a loan, there are several options you can consider here. First, if the creditor is abusive and is subjecting you to harassment, you could consider taking legal action against creditor harassment. If the creditor’s communication tactics are legitimate, you can try negotiating. Creditors prefer to have their loans paid back at least partially than to have a bankruptcy court discharge the debt. Therefore, if you are unable to meet due payments, try to negotiate the interest rate or request an extension. Your lawyer may be able to assist.

Last but not least, save for emergencies. The start of the year is a great time to open a new savings account. When you have money saved for tough times, it will eliminate the need to take on personal loans or use expensive credit cards.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

How to Deal with Debt Collection Companies

Most Arizonians don’t know what to do when a debt collection company calls. The law does allow creditors or collection companies to call debtors and attempt to retrieve money owned. However, there are state and federal laws regarding which practices are allowed and which are explicitly prohibited. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act both stipulate what some attorney’s call “debtor’s rights.” When a collection company calls you, it’s important to know what rights you have against creditor abuse and malpractice.

When a Collector Calls

When a collection company calls you, they cannot demand that you pay the debt without informing you of several fundamental things. After the first call, the collection company has five days to inform you of the amount of debt that you owe and the name of the creditor to whom you owe the debt. If a collection company calls you demanding “payment” without specifying either of these, you have a fair case you can make against the collection company. You should contact a bankruptcy lawyer in Scottsdale if a collection company keeps calling without specifying the debt.

You can Contest the Debt

Most debtors are unaware that they can call into question the validity of a debt. Once a collection company calls you notifying you of a debt, you have 30 days to dispute the debt. If you doubt the validity of the debt, you can make a statement disputing the collection company’s claim. Once you have written to the creditor or the collection company, the parties should issue a statement in return verifying the debt in another 30 days. If you don’t get this verification statement after you issue a dispute, then the debt is very likely invalid.

When Creditors Don’t Match

Sometimes creditors sell debt. So some of your debt could be owned by a different creditor than the original person or entity you borrowed from. If the current creditor is different, then the collection agency must issue a statement with the name and address of the original creditor. If you don’t recognize the creditor of a debt, you must issue a statement and have the collecting agency specify the creditor’s identity. It’s important to note that the collection company cannot call you or try to retrieve a debt before notifying you who the original creditor is. You must get the verification as a written statement too.

Don’t Let Them Verbally Advise You

Some collection agencies may try to verbally tell you who the original creditor is, what amount of debt is owed, and other such factors. This is an attempt by collection companies to avoid issuing written statements. Documents can be upheld in court. If you get a verbal statement, the collection company can always change the story if the case goes to trial. Therefore, you must have physical statements mailed to you. Debtors have the legal right to such.

Collection companies that don’t adhere to the rules can be taken to court. In some cases, your debt may be waived and the court may demand the collection company to pay your attorney’s fees as well.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

How to Protect Yourself against Creditor Harassment in Arizona

If you are far behind on a loan payment, you can expect the collection calls to start. However, if the collection calls are very frequent and disrupt your life, or the calls are threatening in any manner, then it can be considered harassment. Many indebted Arizonians face harassing calls and other harmful collection efforts from creditors. Here are several steps you can take to stop the abuse.

Try to Negotiate with the Creditor

The easiest and cost-free solution you can take is to try to negotiate with the creditor to settle the debt. Instead of not picking up the phone, in which case the creditor will find other ways to reach you, or ignoring calls, talk to the creditor directly. If your finances are too tight to pay back your loans, discuss it with your creditor and you may be able to come to new terms. Depending on your negotiating skills, and the creditor’s willingness, you may be able to get a payment extension, a reduced interest rate or a waiver or both.

If the creditor is particularly abusive, it is probably best not to engage should the behavior gets worse on the part of the creditor.

Call a Lawyer Immediately

It’s highly recommended to call a bankruptcy lawyer in Scottsdale or your local area to put a legal stop to harmful third party collection efforts. There are attorneys who specialize in providing relief to those who suffer from abusive creditors. No matter how much you owe, creditors cannot harass you as a part of their collection efforts. There are both federal and Arizona state laws to protect debtors against harassing creditors.

Protection is granted to consumers under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The law outlines personal rights when it comes to debt collection practices. You can consult with a lawyer to find out whether any of your rights under FDCPA has been violated. The lawyer will be able to tell you if the behavior you have endured from the creditor can be considered a legitimate collection effort and what remedies you may have under the FDCPA.

You Can Sue if You are a Victim of Abusive Practices

If you know that you have been subjected to illegitimate collection efforts or practices that can be considered harassment, you can sue the creditor in question with the help of an attorney. The collection practices in question may be considered a violation of either state or federal law.

Harassment, in general,  that involves constant phone calls, multiple phone calls on the same day, auto dialing calls and calling without leaving messages can be considered unfair practices. If the debtor calls your friends, family, employer or another third party regarding your finances, then it is a violation of the law.  Other common creditor harassment practices include the use of threats, such as a threat to call the police on you, charging even more in addition to the debt such as late fees, not validating the debt or continuing to contact you after you have clearly stated your intent to refute the debt. If you have been subjected to any of these, you can take your case to court.

Additionally, filing for personal bankruptcy can relieve you of harassing debt collection efforts literally overnight.  Speak with a seasoned bankruptcy attorney to evaluate your many options. Call us at 480-240-0040 for more help on these issues.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Illegal Practices Commonly Associated with Debt Buying

“Debt buying” affects millions of Americans and takes place when large companies buy and sell billions of dollars of debt. Credit card companies, hospitals, personal loan companies, banks and other lenders regularly sell and resell debt – and this may include debt that you owe.

For example, if you open a Visa account with a local bank and eventually stop repaying on your loan, the credit card company terminates your account and starts sending collection letters. The credit card company may decide to sell your debt for cash. Depending on how delinquent the debt is, a debt buyer may pay only 4 or 5 cents on the dollar. Your debt will then be packaged along with other similar debt and sold in bulk to a debt buyer at this discounted rate. The debt buyer will then attempt to collect the debt by calling you or the buyer may retain a lawyer and sue you.

Debt buying is legitimate as long as the debt buyer follows the rules. Debt buyers also realize that most consumers do not know the rules so the debt buyers often take advantage of a consumer’s limited knowledge.

Some debt buyers practice illegal tactics including:

  • Repeated collection calls that violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ban on harassment and after hours calls
  • Misleading consumer into consenting to autodialed calls
  • Failure to respond to consumer disputes of debt
  • Farming debt to law firms for litigation without appropriate documentation
  • Threatening consumers with lawsuits for debts where the statute of limitations has run
  • Collecting on debt where the debt buyer has no documentation

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is starting to go after debt buyers who pursue illegal practices. For example, the CFPB recently imposed a $79 million penalty against to large debt buyers – Encore Capital Group and Portfolio Recovery Associates.

The bankruptcy attorneys at Canterbury Law Group are uniquely qualified to represent you in your debt related litigation. If you’re experiencing actions from debt buyers that may be illegal, call us today to schedule your consultation. 480-240-0040

Written by Canterbury Law Group

5 Steps to Becoming Debt Free

Canterbury Law Group is uniquely qualified to represent debtors, creditors, trustees and committees in both personal and commercial bankruptcies. The range of services we provide depends on an individual’s or a company’s unique situation but may include business bankruptcy, Chapter 7, adversary proceedings, restructuring, Chapter 11, creditor representation, Chapter 5 claims and Chapter 13.

If you’re debt is overwhelming your life, bankruptcy may be the right choice for you. However, if you’d prefer working towards eliminating some of your debt, we can also help. And, if you’ve already filed bankruptcy, the attorneys at Canterbury Law Group in Scottsdale want to make sure you stay on track and have a flourishing financial future.

The path to becoming debt-free can be a difficult and arduous one. But following these basic steps will help you and your finances.

  • Create a financial strategy. If one of your financial goals for the year is to get a better handle on debt, put together a debt payoff strategy that complements your budget and won’t overextend you financially. Keep track of future financial needs and contribute to a savings plan.
  • Pay off the most expensive debt first. Look at the interest rates of all of the credit cards you use to make purchases and sort them from highest to lowest. By paying off the balance with the highest interest first, you increase your payment on the credit card with the highest annual percentage rate while continuing to make the minimum payment on the rest of your credit cards.
  • Lower your interest rate. You can often lower your credit card interest rates by doing a balance transfer. Shop around and try to get the lowest interest rate for the longest duration (preferably until the debt is paid off completely).
  • Eliminate new debt. As you start to pay down your debt, stop using credit cards until you have your finances under control.
  • Pay more than the minimum. Break the habit of paying only the minimum required each month on your credit card statement. Paying the minimum – usually 2 to 3 percent of the outstanding balance – only prolongs a debt payoff strategy.

Our bankruptcy legal team is ready to represent you in your Scottsdale business bankruptcy case. Call us today to schedule your consultation. 480-240-0040.