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Durham Bankruptcy Law Blog

How to recognize debt settlement scams

If you, like many people across North Carolina, are finding it hard to dig your way out of ever-growing debt, you may be considering different debt relief methods while trying to determine what option might be best for you. You may have heard about debt settlement companies, which typically lure you in with promises of paying off your debts while collecting only a portion of what you owe to your creditors.

If the offers these for-profit companies make to help you settle your debt sound too good to be true, however, they may well be, and regrettably, debt settlement scams are not at all uncommon. Sometimes, these companies prey on the fact that you may be feeling helpless when it comes to your finances, and they may utilize aggressive tactics to get you to sign on. They may, too, tell you to stop paying your credit card and other bills immediately, but this is not always a good idea and can end up coming back to bite you. Furthermore, just because a debt settlement company tells you they can settle your debt for a certain percentage of what you owe, your credit card company has no obligation to accept the proposed settlement amount. So, what are some signs of potential debt settlement scams?

3 steps to take if you are behind on your credit card payments

It is scary when you are unable to make even the minimum payments on your credit card bills. If you are a few months late on multiple payments, you may be panicking. You may not think you will ever be able to catch up.

However, you do not need to give into the fear. There are various actions you may be able to take to address your credit card debt. Here are some steps you may want to consider if you are falling behind on your credit card payments.

The zombie outbreak in North Carolina – zombie homes, that is

It has been several years since the worst of the foreclosure crisis affected North Carolina, but residents are still facing foreclosure. In some cases, banks that own vacated homes across the state have yet to finish the foreclosure process. When a homeowner abandons a house with an imminent foreclosure, yet the bank fails to repossess it, this is known as a zombie foreclosure. A zombie home might not only cause problems for you years down the road, but can threaten the property values of the surrounding neighborhood.

In years past, North Carolina was among the top 10 states for having zombie foreclosures. Things are looking better in the state now, although Property Wire notes that foreclosures went back up by 4 percent in the first few months of 2018. You may be interested to learn that currently, foreclosures in North Carolina reportedly hover above the average of the months preceding the recession.

Top bankruptcy mistakes to avoid

Filing for bankruptcy can alleviate a great deal of the financial stress you feel. However, if you want to fully reap the benefits, you may want to watch out for some common mistakes many people make in this process.

Both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 petitions have advantages as well as potential pitfalls. While this overview can help you understand some issues that often come up, speaking with an experienced attorney is the best way to get a full picture of your own situation.

What to do if you fall behind on your car loan

If you are like most people, having a reliable form of transportation is as crucial as shelter and food. You need your car to get to school or work or both. Without a vehicle, it would be hard for you to make a living and get around. When you get in trouble with your auto loan, you may fear losing your car.

Fortunately, you have options if you start falling behind on your car payments. Here are some tips for getting back on track and avoiding involuntary repossession.

5 ways to get rid of credit card debt

Many people in Durham struggle to pay their credit card debts. Some of them are not sure how they can afford the minimum payments and continue to use them. If you rely on your credit cards to help pay your monthly living expenses, you could end up digging a financial hole for yourself. Though credit cards can help you pay for things when you are low on cash, you should not rely on them if you cannot afford to pay them off within a few months. 

If your credit card debt is causing you to lose sleep at night, and you are having trouble paying it off, it might be time for you to change tactics and develop a better repayment strategy. Here are some ways to make your credit card bills more manageable. 

3 ways to delay student loan payments

Young people are often told that a college degree is the only way to get a good job, and getting a good job is the only way to succeed in life. With stakes this high, it is no surprise that many students take on massive loans without thinking twice. Unfortunately, the reality of such debt often becomes clear when it comes time to start making payments. The monthly bill is often simply too high to handle.

According to The Institute for College Access and Success, the average student debt amounts to $23,450. If you are dealing with student loans and struggling to pay the bills, you may be looking for ways to delay payments. There are several options available, and these are three of the most common. 

A creditor may be able to take your bank account funds

Imagine the scenario: You come upon tough financial times. Perhaps you or your spouse lost a job in North Carolina, and you are trying to hang in there on one income. You have had to miss a few car payments to the bank holding your car loan. Other debts are growing as well.

If the bank where you have your defaulting car loan is also the bank where you or your spouse’s paycheck goes to, there is great risk. The last thing you need to see is your checking account frozen or funds taken from it by your bank to pay that car loan debt. However, if you do not address the debt situation in a timely manner, you create this risk.

The Medical Insurance-Bankruptcy Pipeline

Open enrollment for medical insurance under the Affordable Care Act begins this week. The program has been, in many peoples’ view, a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it imposes financial penalties on most individuals who choose not to be insured. On the other, it has helped millions of people, who would otherwise have no access to adequate care, obtain the insurance they need.

More than 500,000 people in North Carolina are expected to sign up. As The News & Observer notes, most who do will benefit. The government offers subsidy programs to many who cannot afford ACA programs on their own, whereas uninsured individuals who incur unexpected medical expenses often find themselves in crippling debt. (Such debt, in fact, is the focus of this short article.) 

Chapter 7 does not leave North Carolina petitioners with nothing

Finding the best way to move on from considerable consumer debt can be challenging. For North Carolina residents struggling with this type of situation, they may fear taking the route of Chapter 7 bankruptcy because of negative misconceptions. However, this option could prove beneficial for many people trying to deal with substantial consumer debt.

Though Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves liquidation, this does not mean that a person who follows this route will lose all of his or her possessions. In fact, 95 percent of Chapter 7 cases leave individuals with all of their assets because the petitioners do not go over the legal threshold. As a result, parties often have the ability to move forward with discharging debt and keeping their property.

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