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White House Pushes to Make it Easier to Discharge Student Loans in Bankruptcy

White House

White House proposes new student loan bankruptcy measures

Image Source: Flickr user Phil Roeder

President Obama is leading the charge to make student loan debt more manageable for borrowers. With the passage of Pay As You Earn, repayments dropped to as low as 10% of disposable income for many borrowers. And by handing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau oversight on student loan servicers, many unethical and strong-arm debt collection tactics have now ceased. Now the administration is pushing to make it easier for cash-strapped debtors to get student loan relief in bankruptcy. This is a move applauded by the President of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA), Ed Boltz.

5 Emotional Effects of Extreme Debt, Bankruptcy and Recovery

Sadness

Excess debt brings intense emotions

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Being stuck in a circumstance of overwhelming debt can cause you to go through some seriously negative emotional repercussions. Money stress is one of the major sources of marital discord and can be a factor leading to divorce. This can make everything much worse. When you're living paycheck to paycheck and stuck in a financial mess, it can be hard to think clearly, make plans or have any peace of mind because you're focused on staying afloat. Here's a look at some of the emotions you're likely dealing with and how finding a debt solution can help you feel better.

New Credit Bureau Changes Could Improve Your FICO Score ASAP

Credit score

New rules can raise your credit score

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Earlier this month, the three major credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion – announced a change to their credit scoring methodologies that will benefit a great many consumers. The agreement also promises to make credit file errors easier to fix. These are some of the biggest changes that have hit the credit report world in a long, long time. Today we'll take a look at how these changes could impact you and how to take advantage of them to improve your credit score.

Consumer Alert: Beware a New Twist on the Old Overpayment Scam

Fraud alert

Fraud alerts protect consumers

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In today's fraud alert, we revisit a classic scam that has been brought back to life by fraudsters intent on stealing from decent, hardworking consumers. It's the overpayment scam. This one has come in a variety of forms. Most recently, it's been used on Craiglist or a classified ad that you have placed to sell something. It can be as something relatively small like a table or antique item or something as large as a boat or a car. We'll show you how the classic version of this scam works and how the latest iteration is being perpetrated so you can protect yourself from all forms of the overpayment scam.

Infographic Reveals Shocking Famous Bankruptcies from the 1600s Thru 2015

Famous bankruptcies

Famous bankruptcies through history are fascinating

Image Source: Flickr user Tim Evanson

We often write here about celebrity bankruptcies, but not because we want to sensationalize the financial problems of famous people. Instead, we look for the lessons that everyone can learn from these high profile devastating debt profiles. While these once rich and still famous faces may have gone from rags to riches and back to rags, they often have more in common with most of us than you would imagine. It's often the same type of factors that lead to bankruptcy no matter the income or number of Twitter followers of the consumers. Divorce, unemployment, and other major life events are the most common drivers of bankruptcy for the average consumer and the celebrity consumer alike.

Yes, You Can Keep Your Home In Bankruptcy

Protect your home

Get bankruptcy protection for debt but keep your home

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Many people struggling with their debts and living paycheck to paycheck may have considered bankruptcy but fear they'll lose their home if the file. This leaves them mired in untenable debt with little for an improvement in circumstances. But fear not – in most cases, you can enjoy the benefits of bankruptcy and keep your home. In fact, your finances may be greatly improved by filing bankruptcy. Here's what you need to know about getting debt-free while protecting your home.

It's Tax Time! Should You Go With Married Filing Separate? Here's What You Need to Know

Tax time

It's tax time - rethink your filing status

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Married couples have the option to file their annual tax returns on a Married Filing Jointly (MFJ) or Married Filing Separately (MFS) basis. Most couples auto-opt for MFJ without giving it a second thought. Today we'll take a look at why you may want to pause and weigh MFJ versus MFS and when it benefits you to file a return apart from your spouse.

Can You Rent a House or Apartment After Filing Bankruptcy?

Apartment for rent

You can rent a home after bankruptcy

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Sometimes allowing a foreclosure to go through without a fight is smart. For instance, if you have no equity in your home and are upside down to the extent that you have negative equity, it may be wise. Also, if you're behind on your mortgage payments and even when you catch these up, won't have any equity, it may be best to let it go. That being said, the idea of giving up your home is frightening. You may see losing your house as a sign of failure and worry that you will be left with nowhere to live.

It's Nearly Tax Time – Why You Should File Your Return Even if You Can't Pay

Tax time

It's tax time - don't skip filing for any reason

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There is a month left until the April 15th tax filing deadline, and if you're avoiding preparing your Form 1040, it's time to get busy. Dig out your W2s, 1099s, mortgage interest and student loan interest statements and charitable donation receipts – then sit down and do your taxes. If your taxes are complex (or you're clueless), investing in well-reviewed tax preparation software may be a better route. Or, contact an experienced tax expert like a CPA. The tax prep providers you see at WalMart and other retail locations are not usually accountants. They are just regular Joes trained to do simple taxes and are likely not experienced or knowledgeable enough to deal with anything but the most basic of returns.

Senior Money Problems – Bankruptcy Before Death Can Protect Assets

Married older couple

If you're a senior facing the loss of your spouse, consider your debts now

Image Source: Pixabay.com

If you're a senior and you or your spouse are dealing with a terminal illness, this can be costly now and can leave the surviving spouse with insurmountable debts. It can be stressful to think about money while you're also taking care of your spouse's declining health. If you have significant joint debts that you're falling behind on now, it can be even worse after you lose your loved one. You may be counting on life insurance money to help get things straightened out. But your creditors may try to seize the payout to pay the bills, and it won't leave a lot left over for you.

What Happens If I Miss My Bankruptcy Hearing?

Are you missing

What if you miss a court date in your bankruptcy case?

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For those struggling to pay their bills and dealing with the stress of debt collections and living paycheck to paycheck, bankruptcy can be life-changing. However, you risk obtaining the fresh start you deserve if you don't follow all the rules associated with a bankruptcy filing – including showing up for required hearings in the case. Going to your attorney's office to discuss your bankruptcy or file papers isn't stressful, but for many people the idea of going to the courthouse to face a hearing is scary. Here's a look at what to expect, what excuses are acceptable for missing a court date and what to do if you do miss one.

Ways to Deal with Medical Bills You Can't Afford to Pay

Medical bills

Medical bills can be devastating to your finances

Image source: Flickr user The All-Nite Images

Even if you have medical insurance whether it's through your employer, an Affordable Care Act plan or Medicare, that doesn't mean you'll never have any problems with medical bills. And if you don't have insurance, even a minor illness can cause an insurmountable debt crisis. When you're dealing with the after-effects of an injury causing accident or significant illness, that's already stressful enough. Add medical bills and aggressive debt collectors to the mix, and you've got a crisis brewing. But there are steps you can take to get these bills under control. Check out these five tips to deal with medical bills you can't afford.

Fraud Alert: Don't Fall for the Bureau of Defaulters Scam

Thieves at work

Watch out for thieves preying on you in this latest scam

Image source: Flickr user Tristan Schmurr

When you're stressed because you're behind on your bills, the last thing you need is a scammer scaring you into thinking you're about to be arrested for your unpaid debt. What can make this kind of fraud difficult to spot is that many bill collectors threaten arrest or jail when trying to get you to pay up. So it can be hard to differentiate between illegal debt collection tactics and this outright fraud. In today's consumer alert, we'll tell you what to watch for and what to do if someone tries this tactic on you.

What is the Timeline for a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

Timeline

How long does a Chapter 13 take and what's involved?
Image source: Flickr user Janos Balazs

When the average consumer files for bankruptcy, they typically choose between Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Consumers with more than a million dollars of debts may also pursue Chapter 11. Today we'll look at Chapter 13, the more complex of the two common consumer bankruptcy chapters. Start to finish, Chapter 13 can take anywhere from three years to five years. The upside to Chapter 13 is that you should be current on all your obligations by the end of the plan while still retaining all your assets. The downside to Chapter 13 is that it can be arduous because it requires you devote all your disposable income to paying down your debts for three to five years. Here's a look at the timeline for this type of bankruptcy.

What To Do If a Debt Collector is Calling Your Relatives About Your Bills

Debt collection calls

Debt collectors can only call your contacts under certain circumstances

Image source: Flickr user Fe Ilya

When you're behind on your bills and debt collectors are calling you at work, home and on your cell phone it can be embarrassing and stressful. But when they start calling your friends or family it goes to a whole new level of humiliation. According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), debt collectors and creditors are only allowed to contact your references listed on credit applications and family members under very limited circumstances. Many times, they are violating federal law when they call anyone other than you about your debt. Here's what you need to know and how to protect yourself from aggressive debt collectors.

5 Warnings Signs Your Credit Cards Are Out of Control

Credit card problems

Credit card problems? Here are some warning signs

Image source: Flickr user garycycles

Employment opportunities are on the rise, and the economy is rebounding nicely these days. Even the real estate market is bouncing back. One of the most significant signs of improved consumer confidence is the increase in credit card debt, particularly reflected in December holiday spending. US consumer credit card balances rose by nearly 6% on average year over year. But that's just on average. In fact, many people have run up their balances much more, and this can cause serious financial problems. Here are five warning signs that your credit card spending is out of control:

Married, in Debt and Considering Bankruptcy? How the Marital Adjustment Can Help You Get a Better Deal

Married and in debt

Married and in debt? Individual bankruptcy may be the answer

Image source: Flickr user Christopher

For married couples that are struggling with debt, bankruptcy may be a viable option but if you both work, it may be a challenge to qualify for Chapter 7. While Chapter 13 is a better option if you need time to catch up on back mortgage or car payments to block a foreclosure or repossession, Chapter 7 bankruptcy offers faster and more complete debt relief. Married consumers can opt to file bankruptcy jointly, or one spouse can file individually without the other. Today we'll take a look at when you might want to file individually instead and how your spouse's income can impact your ability to access Chapter 7 debt relief.

Fraud Alert: Skimming Scams on the Rise in North Carolina – Protect Yourself

ATM skimmer

Beware skimmers at ATM, the gas pump and Redbox

Image source: ThisIsntExeter

If you've never heard of skimming, it's one of the sneakiest scams ever to steal your credit card information and then empty your bank account or max out your credit card. The US Secret Service investigates cyber crimes that include skimming. Recently, they've found that skimming is spreading across North Carolina in Greensboro, Asheville, Charlotte and more areas every day. In this fraud alert, we'll take a look at skimming, where to look out for it and how to protect yourself.

5 Ways Not Filing Bankruptcy Can Hurt You if You're Deep in Debt You Can't Pay

Debt hurts

Staying deep in debt causes too many problems

Image source: Flickr user Helga Weber

We wrote yesterday about a recent study that showed that bankruptcy reform has harmed many consumers. For those that worry that filing bankruptcy can bring negative consequences, you should know that not filing can hurt you more. Many who are deep in debt will soldier on and let things continue to get worse because they don't know that bankruptcy can help. Or, they believe that the fallout from bankruptcy is just as bad as being in debt. Nothing could be further from the truth. Here are five ways that lingering in debt and not filing bankruptcy can make your life worse.

New Bankruptcy Study Shows that 2005 Reform Hurt Consumers

Bankruptcy study

New study shows that bankruptcy reform hurt consumers

Image source: Flickr user Justin Ruckman

A new study by the Federal Reserve and Columbia University shows that the 2005 bankruptcy “reform” intended to curb perceived, but not necessarily verifiable, abuse of the bankruptcy system has drastically harmed lower income consumers. The law, formally titled the 2005 Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, made it more difficult for consumers to file bankruptcy and increased the costs of both filing and attorney fees by complicating the process. The study lays out the impact of the legislation on consumers and shows that while bankruptcy filings have decreased, many consumers are far worse off as a result.

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