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November 2012 Archives

Federal government tightens the leash on debt collectors in January

The larger and more aggressive debt collection agencies will have Uncle Sam looking over their shoulder in January. The new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau intends to rein in the abusive collectors and give harassed consumers somewhere else to go other than the overwhelmed Federal Trade Commission which previously had responsibility for keeping collectors at heel. Collection firms that follow the law will still be able to do their job; the C.F.P.B. is not a safe harbor for anyone with legitimate delinquent debts. Complaints about aggressive and illegal dunning practices have been the number-one consumer gripe to the FTC for years.

Banks slowly paying out mortgage relief funds

For at least 300,000 people who were at risk of foreclosure, relief has finally come. But tens of thousands more still waiting, some not very patiently, for their mortgage lenders to pay up. You may recall that five major U.S. banks agreed to settle federal charges of mishandling foreclosures by providing billions of dollars of debt relief and refinancing. A progress report from the official overseeing the payback shows that Bank of America has refinanced $890 million in loans so far. J.P. Morgan Chase has spent $903 million. In total, since August, customer relief payments have totaled at least $22 billion.

Holidays a good time to reflect on credit ratings

Credit cards get white-hot with use this time of year, and come January way too many people will be suffering a debt hangover from the spending spree. Long after the fun is forgotten a menacing presence will remain; the credit score. It lurks in records rarely seen, and its menacing whisper to banks, creditors, employers, and who-knows-who else can damage or destroy your reputation. The formulas used by credit agencies are secret and unfathomable, and no law requires them to justify the numbers despite the enormous weight they carry. It may not be too late to protect yourself, or possibly mitigate some of the damage already done.

Cruising Craigslist for co-signers

If "desperation" needs another definition, this would probably be it. The all-purpose sales-meetup-social connector known as Craigslist is hosting a new category; people seeking co-signers for loans. That's right. Folks who can't get loans on their own because of bad credit or lack of employment are seeking out strangers willing to endorse their loan application and pay it off if the borrower defaults. What could possibly go wrong with this plan?

Thrifty Thanksgiving Meal

Thanksgiving has the potential to be a very expensive holiday.  You can save on your Thanksgiving feast and still have it tasty and memorable.  One of the easiest ways to to make the meal more exonomical is to start preparing in advance.  Buy your turkey now to avoid the mark-up that happens closer to the holiday.  If you plan your meal in advance you will have the opportunity to buy the items that you need as you see them on sale.  Think how much better it will be splitting the cost of your meal between four or five cheaper purchases instead of one giant bank-breaker two days beforehand.   Another good idea is making the meal into a pot-luck style where you provide the main courses and your guests supply the side dishes and desserts. 

DEAL or no deal

Counting down the days till Black Friday? Can't wait to ripe apart the ads and plan your shopping trip? Here is some advice to prepare for Black Friday.

Bargain bankruptcy "lawyer" unmasked as phony

The first clue should have been the offer to handle a bankruptcy case from start to finish for only $400. But at least 55 bargain hunters were drawn in by Michael Mancini and his fictitious Baltimore, Maryland law firm Scalia & Seidel. For five months earlier this year he filed bankruptcy petitions, schedules and other legal documents even though he's not a licensed attorney, or even a law school graduate. Maryland authorities say Mancini's education ended when he got his high school diploma.

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Reach Miller & Miller Law, LLC, online or call us at 414-326-9231 to schedule a free initial consultation. Our law office also provides Spanish language services. Se habla español.

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