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Is Bankruptcy the Best Option for You?

Kelly D. Jones, Portland Bankruptcy & Consumer Rights Attorney

Kelly D. Jones, Portland Bankruptcy & Consumer Rights Attorney

Times may be tough, but there are solutions. You may just need a helping hand and a fresh start.

All across the country, and here in Oregon, people have lost their jobs or homes, or just can’t make ends meet. High-interest credit cards or loans may have been a last resort to get by. Maybe a medical condition or an emergency resulted in uninsured hospital bills. Whatever the case, people expected they would get back on track and be able to pay the debts back. Unfortunately, for many people their situation hasn’t improved, or it hasn’t improved enough. The debts just keep growing and  many Oregonians are drowning in debt and need help – now. I’m a consumer rights and bankruptcy lawyer located in SE Portland, and I may be able to help.

Many people think that bankruptcy is some kind of financial death sentence. It’s not. In truth, it’s probably the most powerful of all our consumer protection laws, and it has given millions of people the fresh start they so desperately needed. But your creditors and debt collectors don’t want you to know that. Many of these companies have filed for bankruptcy themselves. They just don’t like bankruptcy when it helps everyday people who really need help, because they want to maximize their huge profits. Although banks, debt collectors, and other creditors have lobbied to make it more difficult to file, bankruptcy is still available to stop collections, garnishment, and lawsuits; to wipe out debt; and to get a fresh start.

Creditors aren’t just trying to collect the amount you borrowed, but an alarming amount of interest/penalty fees on top. They won’t even accept a practical payment plan. Worse yet, original creditors sell accounts to debt-buying companies you’ve never heard of until you’re harassed or sued by them. Once these aggressive debt collectors get a judgment against you, they’ll likely garnish your bank accounts and/or paycheck, and attach a lien on your home. Trying to hide from the situation is not a solution and can often make things much worse. If any of this sounds familiar, or you’re struggling to stay afloat, ask yourself – is bankruptcy the best option for me?

Read More…or call Kelly at 503-847-4329 to talk in person.

What Are My Options if I am Being Sued for Credit Card Debt, Medical Debt, or Other Debts?

Just because you allegedly owe a debt does not mean that you have no options or no rights. But you need to exercise them. As a Portland bankruptcy and consumer rights attorney, I may be able to help.

Getting sued is scary. You likely got a knock on the door and were served with some documents by a stranger. As I discussed in my previous post, oftentimes you may have never even heard of the company suing you until you are served with a summons naming the company as the Plaintiff.

Debts are sold by the original creditor to one of thousands of third-party debt-buying companies, often for pennies on the dollar. These debt-buying companies range from somewhat legitimate to downright shady. Debt selling is known as an “assignment” or a “transfer” of the debt because often the contract you signed with the original creditor permits the creditor to transfer its interest (to collect, sue, etc.) to third parties. Of course, the contract doesn’t allow you to sign over your liability to anyone else (because the creditors wrote the contract).

Eventually, the debt buyers may hire a local debt collection law firm to represent them by filing a lawsuit against you in your local district (Multnomah County Circuit Court for example). Now you find yourself being sued. The lawsuit claims you owe a debt to some company you may have never heard of and demands a really high amount, which you have no idea is correct or not. Sometimes the debt isn’t even legitimately owed because the debt buyer has sued the wrong person. The language in the documents (summons) says you must respond within 30 days or else. Scary? Yes. Confusing? Definitely. Fair? Not really. But, you do have options…

Read More…or call Kelly at 503-847-4329 to talk in person.

Has a Debt Collector Violated Your Rights?

If you owe a debt that is in default or delinquency status, chances are you’ve been contacted by a debt collector. Often the debt collector is just attempting to collect the debt on behalf of the original creditor. Sometimes the debt collector is also a “debt buyer” because it has purchased your account (and the right to collect/sue upon the account) from the original creditor. Most of the lawyers and law firms that represent these debt collectors are themselves debt collectors according to federal law.

This debt-buying business has exploded over the past decade. Debt buyers buy debts in huge portfolios along with hundreds or thousands of other defaulted accounts, probably for pennies on the dollar. Because of longstanding bad practices, like harassment, false threats, intimidation, and even worse, Congress passed a much-needed federal statute regulating the debt collection industry, called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), to protect consumers from unfair and abusive debt collection practices by debt collection companies. The FDCPA demands that the debt collector provide certain notices, such as a notice of your right to dispute a debt and to request more verification of the debt within five days of initial communication (usually it’s in the first letter the debt collector sends). The FDCPA also prohibits debt collectors from contacting you before 8 am and after 9 pm, telling others that you owe a debt, contacting you at work after you tell them not to, lying to you, collecting on amounts that you don’t owe, or harassing you by using profane language or making improper threats.

If you’ve received a letter from a debt collector with a notice stating that you have 30 days to dispute the debt and request verification of the debt, you should do so by sending the collector a letter saying you dispute and require verification/validation of the alleged debt, especially if you don’t believe you owe the debt or the amount requested (make a copy of the letter and send via certified mail). Once the debt collector receives your dispute/verification letter it must cease collection until it gathers and sends you verification. You can also demand (in writing) that a debt collector cease all communication with you; then all it can do is sue you if it’s a legitimate debt.

Debt collectors often violate a consumer’s rights and fail to abide by the FDCPA. Sometimes they even sue the wrong person. If you feel that a debt collector has violated rights provided to you by the FDCPA, you should at least consult with a local consumer protection attorney to see if a lawsuit against the debt collector may be warranted. It takes people willing to stand up and enforce their rights, and attorneys willing to take on such cases, to ensure that debt collectors take these important laws seriously, because in addition to helping people file for bankruptcy relief, lawyers like me also represent people who have suffered damages as a result of a debt collector’s unlawful collection practices.

 For more info about the FDCPA I suggest checking out the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Info website or my Unlawful Debt Collection page, and if you think your rights may have been violated and want to discuss potential representation please call me at 503-847-4329 to talk in person.

 

Affordable & Compassionate Local Portland Bankruptcy and Consumer Protection Lawyer