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Category: Bankruptcy
Rights of debtors facing lawsuits from debt collectors

On Behalf of O’Brien Law Firm, LLC

Posted on: July 8, 2019

All types of people in Mississippi might experience financial hardship and fall behind on paying their debts. When debt collectors start to contact these people, they might use harsh tactics that inspire fear. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reports that 25% of debtors have felt intimidated by collection agencies. Although debt is a serious matter, people have legal rights that potentially give them the ability to limit aggressive collection practices.

Being served with papers for a lawsuit from a debt collector ranks high on debtors’ fears. Even when people feel helpless when confronted by lawsuits, they should never ignore them. They should supply their official answer to the court within the deadline stated in the lawsuit. When people fail to tell the court their side of the story, judges side with debt collectors. They issue judgments against debtors that could enable drastic actions like wage garnishment or asset seizure.

Debtors can demand that the parties suing them prove their right to collect the debt. Creditors often sell unpaid debts to collection agencies. Debts might pass through multiple hands before a collector files a lawsuit. Legally, the burden of proof falls on the collector. Collectors do not necessarily possess the documentation to support their demands for payment. If that party cannot provide documentation showing that the person signed a credit agreement, then the court could side with the debtor.

Before responding to a lawsuit, a conversation with an attorney might be informative. A lawyer could check on issues like the debt’s statute of limitations. A person experiencing financial difficulties could also learn about bankruptcy. A bankruptcy filing could temporarily halt collection actions or a foreclosure. A successful filing might discharge or restructure debts and give a person a fresh start on life.

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The role of student loan debt in bankruptcy filings

On Behalf of O’Brien Law Firm, LLC

Posted on: June 19, 2019

People in Mississippi who are struggling with debt may be among the nearly one-third of people who filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy with student loan debt. This was one finding in a study by LendEDU. The same study also found that among that group, on average, almost half of their total debt constitutes student loans. These figures do not include people who filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which involves creating a payment plan.

The cost of going to college, along with student loan debt, has skyrocketed in the past several years. While it would take baby boomers just over 300 hours at minimum wage to pay off a four-year college education, millennials would need to work more than 4,400 hours. Since student loans generally cannot be discharged in a bankruptcy, even after filing, people may be facing a significant debt burden. However, discharging credit card and other debt may allow them to free up income to pay off their loans.

All the same, the student loan debt situation is considered to be a growing crisis. Many millennials are unable to purchase homes or spend in any other significant way because of this. The national total has reached a record high of $1.5 trillion, and in 2018, the average debt for each person graduating with loans was $29,800.

People who are struggling with debt might want to talk to an attorney and discuss whether filing for bankruptcy is the best option. The two primary types for consumers are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13, and each has its own eligibility and other requirements that an attorney can outline.

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Credit card delinquencies on the rise among younger borrowers

On Behalf of O’Brien Law Firm, LLC

Posted on: June 10, 2019

Young people in Mississippi and around the country are finding it increasingly difficult to manage their revolving debt according to the New York Federal Reserve’s most recent Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit. The report reveals that more than 8% of the credit card balances owed by Americans between 18 and 29 years of age are 90 days or longer past due. This is the highest rate of delinquency since 2011 when the economy was still recovering from the Great Recession.

Financial experts say that rising interest rates are likely responsible. The Federal Reserve raised the cost of borrowing several times in 2018, and the average credit card interest rate for consumers with good credit is now 18%. Those with troubled credit histories often pay as much as 25% interest on their revolving debt. Higher interest rates also make it more difficult to escape the credit card debt trap. Six out of 10 Americans with credit cards carry a balance, and more than half of them have done so for a year or longer.

The figures also reveal that more Gen Z and millennial Americans are applying for credit cards. Between 2008 and 2012, only about four out of 10 Americans in their 20s had one or more credit cards. That figure has now risen to more than 50%. Younger borrowers also tend to sign up for credit cards that offer reward points or travel perks rather than low introductory interest rates.

Young borrowers are sometimes reluctant to seek bankruptcy relief because they are worried about ruining their credit. Attorneys with debt relief experience could explain that a discharged bankruptcy often increases the credit scores of individuals with a history of late payments. This is because bankruptcy reduces the amount of debt they owe and improves their debt-to-income ratios.

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Understanding the consequences of Chapter 7 bankruptcy

On Behalf of O’Brien Law Firm, LLC

Posted on: May 29, 2019

Lots of Mississippi residents are facing an ever-growing amount of debt. As credit card bills, auto loans, personal loans and medical bills start to mount, it can be difficult to find a way to pay everything back. This is especially true for those who have had a significant change in financial circumstances due to job loss, divorce or other factors. Personal bankruptcy can be an important method for eliminating debts and moving forward toward a new financial future.

There are both advantages and disadvantages to pursuing Chapter 7 bankruptcy. On the one hand, many people hesitate before filing because they are concerned that they will see their credit rating destroyed. After all, the bankruptcy remains on a credit report for 10 years. However, some individuals who file for bankruptcy already have severely damaged credit. When one is unable to pay their bills, waiting to declare bankruptcy may actually lead to a longer period of bad credit.

Similarly, debtors will need to give up their credit cards. They can continue to use debit and prepaid cards for online purchases, however, and they will begin to be eligible for regular credit cards within three years of their initial filing.

Others are concerned about losing property that will be put up for sale by the bankruptcy trustee. While people with luxury items, second properties or inheritances may find that Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a bad fit, many key personal assets are exempted under state law. In addition, it’s possible to keep wages and new properties obtained after filing for bankruptcy.

There are many other considerations to be taken into account before filing for personal bankruptcy. An attorney can provide advice and guidance on the proper steps to take when seeking debt relief.

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Medical issues most common reason for bankruptcy filings

On Behalf of O’Brien Law Firm, LLC

Posted on: May 23, 2019

Readers in Mississippi who are struggling to pay down debts might turn to bankruptcy protection for help. Increasingly, people are filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy due to medical debts. According to a study by academic researchers, 66.5% of bankruptcy filings occurred for medical reasons. The filers either could not afford to pay high medical bills, or they missed work for medical issues. Approximately 530,000 families file for bankruptcy annually because of medical expenses, illness or injury, according to the research.

There were several other common reasons for bankruptcy filings cited by the study. Foreclosures and unaffordable mortgages were factors in 45% of filings. Living beyond one’s means or spending excessively were factors in 44.4% of filings. Helping relatives or friends contributed to bankruptcy in 28.4% of the instances, student loan debt was a factor in 25.4% of the cases and separation or divorce contributed to 24.4% of the filings.

The percentage of filers who said medical issues contributed to their bankruptcy actually increased following the passage of the Affordable Care Act from 65.5% to 67.5%. One of the co-authors of the research said the reason for the lack of improvement was insufficient health care insurance coverage.

There are as many reasons for filing for bankruptcy as there are those who file for it. People in Mississippi who have debts they cannot repay might want to schedule a consultation with an attorney. A lawyer with experience practicing bankruptcy law might be able to help by examining a client’s financial situation and suggesting options to reduce or eliminate outstanding debts. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing may get rid of the person’s debts and still allow him or her to keep important assets. A Chapter 13 filing may result in the restructuring of debts, so a person can pay them down over time.

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