How to Deal with Debt Collectors

Dealing with collection agencies can be an unpleasant experience with annoying tactics at best — and predatory, or even illegal, at worst.

The FTC enforces the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which makes it illegal for debt collectors to use abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices when they collect debts.

The most important thing for you is to know what debt collectors (and attorneys) cannot do:

  • Contact other people such as your neighbors, relatives, or employers about the debt except to get your address and phone number.
  • Contact you before 8:00 A.M. or after 9:00 P.M.
  • Contact you at work if you tell the collector your employer does not allow this.
  • Contact you directly if you have an attorney.
  • Continue to try to collect the debt if you dispute the debt in writing.
  • Lie to you about the debt or threaten or harass you.

If debt collectors are calling you, consider talking to them at least once, even if you don’t think you owe the debt or can’t repay it immediately. This will help you gather information about the debt and confirm whether it’s really yours.  

If you do talk to them, be sure they can provide  “validation information” as follows:

  • How much money you owe
  • How to get the name of the original creditor
  • How old is the debt and when was the last payment made in the account. It may be past the statute of limitations to be sued on this debt.

If a  debt collector is hounding you, seeking payment on a consumer debt you owe – whatever the situation is, we can help. 

THD Credit can help settle debt and stop all the harassing phone calls. Just call us at 800-822-7120 today.

-Erik Kaplan

Are you liable for your spouse’s debt?

Whether you are liable for your spouse’s debts depends on factors such as;  if you live in a common-law state or a community property state and what kind of debt it is. 

Common-Law State or a Community Property State

The IRS says most states operate under what is called common law. If a married couple opens a joint account or gets a shared credit card, they will both be responsible for paying back the debt.

In common law states, you’re usually only liable for credit card debt if the obligation is in your name. So, if the credit card is only in your spouse’s name, you’re typically not liable for that debt. Additionally, assets acquired by one member of a married couple are typically deemed to belong to that person, unless they were put in the names of both.

The laws are very different in America’s nine community property states, where the laws require that any property acquired, debt accumulated, and income earned during the marriage is the property or debt of each spouse.

What Kind of Debt is It?

In most states, you are not legally responsible for bills racked up before getting married. However, if you and your spouse open a joint account or get a shared credit card, you both will be responsible for paying back the debt.  Even if the spending was done solely by your spouse. 

Similarly, If you’re the cosigner on a loan for your spouse, your credit score will be hurt if your partner misses a payment. That’s because when you cosign for a loan, you’re signing on to be equally responsible for the debt. If they miss payments, the debtor could come after you for payments. The same situation applies if you and your spouse use a joint credit card.

In Common law states, property can be individually owned unless both names are on the contract. However, in community property states, assets and liabilities that either person acquires during the marriage become the joint property of both spouses. 

There are some exceptions for necessary joint household expenses. Debt that was racked up for things like child care, housing or food must be shared by both parties, even if a joint account was not created.

If you have any questions at all please call us at (800) 822-7120.

-Erik Kaplan

What is the difference between a loan modification and a forbearance?

If you are experiencing a financial hardship due to the coronavirus or having difficulty making on time mortgage payments, there are options for you to consider.

 

 

Loan Modification vs. Forbearance

 

Let’s review the differences…

 

 

Loan modifications changes the terms of your secured loans to lower your monthly payments with the end goal of relieving some of the financial pressure.  This option is great for those facing hardship because they’re not dependent on credit score or income and are designed to prevent foreclosure.

 

 

Such modifications can include:

  • Reducing your interest rate
  • Changing a variable interest rate to a fixed one
  • Extending the term length

The downside is that loan modifications can show up on your credit report with a comment code that says something like “paying by modified terms.” However, it’s better to have a loan modification on your report than a foreclosure or missed payments.

 

Mortgage forbearance allows homeowners to pause their mortgage payments while dealing with a short-term crisis. It basically means the lender agrees not to exercise its legal right to foreclose on a mortgage and the borrower agrees to a mortgage plan that will bring the borrower current on their payments within a certain period of time.

 

As part of the recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, mortgage accounts in forbearance as a result of COVID-19 cannot be reported negatively to the credit bureaus by lenders. It is also commonly reported that due to COVID-19 lenders are not requiring proof of hardship outside of verbal or written verification from the borrower.

 

 

Before you go into forbearance, make sure you understand what your repayment options are.

 

 

If you have questions about either of these options and/or what is best for you call us at 800- 822-7120. THD Credit is here to help!

-Erik Kaplan

How can divorce affect my credit?

For most people, divorce is a very difficult and emotionally challenging experience to go through.

Lawyers, mediators and counselors can be available to help navigate through making new living arrangements, custody issues and separating joint finances. However, in the midst of the chaos of the divorce people can overlook situations that ultimately have a negative effect on their credit standing. 

Let me start with the good news.  Divorce itself doesn’t automatically trash your credit scores.

Here are things you should be aware of so you can set yourself up for the best possible outcome:

Joint Credit Card Accounts:  Since these accounts are held by you and your spouse together, both of you are equally responsible for the debt, no matter how it is distributed in the divorce. Creditors will not honor a divorce decree so you both are still liable for that debt. This means if an account is left open, your ex can add more debt, make a late payment, miss a payment or default, and you will also be held responsible.

I recommend you close all joint credit cards and remove your ex as an authorized user from any credit cards which are open in your name only.

Mortgage Debt:  If you have a joint mortgage, and he/she is keeping the home and ultimately relieving you of any future personal financial obligations on the loan there are 3 ways to remove you from the loan:

  1. Co-owner refinances.
  2. You both agree to sell the property and pay off or settle mortgage debt.
  3. Quit claim house to co-owner and file bankruptcy.

Keep in mind that a quitclaim deed has no effect on the mortgage, so even if you are removed from the deed, all parties on the mortgage are still responsible for payments.  To avoid any future issues, hold off on signing the deed over until they have refinanced, and you are no longer on the loan. Also, talk with you lawyer about adding a stipulation to your divorce decree that ensures your ex is obligated to refinance within an agreed upon timeframe.

Auto Loan Debt: The best way to avoid sharing a car loan with an ex-spouse is to either sell the car or remove your or their name from the loan. Auto refinancing is a great way to remove someone from a car loan.  Be sure to retitle the car after the loan has been refinanced.

If you have any questions call us at 800- 822-7120.

Until next time,

THD Credit Consulting

Your Credit Score and Auto Loan Interest Rates

Auto loans are no exception to the rule that having a higher credit score makes borrowing less expensive.  In fact, an average borrower with a credit score below 500 will typically pay 10% more to borrow than those with the highest scores.

 

Auto loan interest rates, or APR, can vary on the term length of the loan, age of the car being financed and other considerations however the biggest factor is your credit score.  Before you start shopping for a car, you’ll want to check your credit score. If your credit score is low than waiting to buy while you work on improving your credit could save you a lot of money.

 

For example, here are the average interest rates for each credit score for the same (new car) $15,000, 48-month auto loan:
 

 

Credit Score Category
Average Loan APR
Monthly Payment 
Deep Subprime (300 to 500) 
14.25%
$412
Subprime (501 to 600)
11.51%
$391
Non-prime (601 to 660)
7.55%
$363
Prime (661 to 780)
4.75%
$344
Super Prime (781 to 850)
3.82%
$337
 

 

A person with a credit score above 781 would pay $337 per month while someone with a score between 300-500 would pay $412.

 

When shopping around for a car you also want to be shopping for a car loan. Get pre-approvals from several lenders and compare them to find the best offer for you.

 

 
If you currently have a low score and have time to delay your car purchase, work on improving your credit.  Which means:

 

  • Paying every bill on time, every time
  • Keeping credit card balances low relative to credit limits
  • Avoid applying for other credit within 6 months of applying for a car loan
  • Keeping old credit cards open unless there’s a compelling reason to close them
If you have any questions, reply to this email as we are here to help!

 

-Erik Kaplan