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Ohio Bankruptcy Law Blog

Not all collectors of debt must abide by the FDCPA

The Federal Trade Commission is the United States' consumer protection agency. Its duties include enforcing the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act for Ohio consumers as well as consumers throughout the country. This law makes it illegal for debt collectors to use abusive or unfair methods to collect on debt owed by consumers.

It also prohibits such methods when collecting a debt that the collector alleges a consumer owes when that consumer does not. As such, a mistake as to who to collect from or who is the debtor does not excuse the behavior.

Will the state of student loans ever improve?

College students nationwide wonder about their futures regarding student loans, and how they will pay off those loans. Oftentimes, these students and graduates fall into an unfortunate pocket of student debt that lingers for years, and even decades, after graduation. Ohio is all too familiar with this type of debt, and recent news shows that the state even has the most student debt in the country. What causes this overwhelming amount of debt, and what are the possible solutions?

An article in Bloomberg echoes this preexisting worry across the country, stating that, as of 2015, student debt in America hit an all-time high of $1.4 trillion. 2015 was also the eighteenth consecutive year that American's education debt rose, and aside from mortgage debt, student debt stands at the foreground of financial obligations among young Americans. Many experts predict that this alarming debt could mean trouble down the road for U.S. economic growth. To improve collected data, and ultimately start reducing this debt, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently announced a proposal to collect more detailed information from the nation's biggest student loan companies.

Putting the brakes on auto repossession

You may not even realize how much you depend on your car. Certainly, you complain about the gas you put into it, the cost of insurance and the ongoing maintenance, but your vehicle is responsible for getting you to your job and allowing you to fulfill many other obligations. Without your car, your situation may become dire.

Nevertheless, there is no question that the car payments are a burden. In fact, you may have fallen behind due to a variety of reasons. You feel certain you will be able to catch up, and you hope the lender will be patient while you figure out a financial solution. You may want to be aware of the consequences of falling into delinquency with your car payments.

Chapter 7’s road to a fresh start

Sometimes debts become so high that an Ohio person, despite great efforts, may never be able to pay them down barring winning the lottery. In such instance, one of the few ways certain to gain freedom from such a life-defeating burden is bankruptcy.

There are a few types of bankruptcy filings, and individuals generally look to Chapters 7 and 13. For Chapter 7, there are necessary steps a debtor must perform before he or she can successfully get applicable debts discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Understanding and stopping the respossession process

If you find yourself overwhelmed by debt, chances are that you are also dealing with phone calls from creditors and dealing with threats of certain collection actions, including repossession. You may be wondering if an Ohio creditor can actually take your vehicle, and the answer is yes, that is possible. This may seem like a violation, but you would be wise to know your options and your rights as a consumer, as well as how to make the repossession process stop.

Repossession is the process of reclaiming property when the person who financed that property defaults on the loan. While repossession most often involves vehicles, this can also happen to other types of financed property. If you are receiving threats of this type of action, bankruptcy could offer you a way to make this process stop, at least temporarily.

Balancing divorce and bankruptcy filings

Ohio spouses know that of the many things that may contribute to conflict and discord in a marriage, financial challenges is perhaps one of the most common. For many people, things can get so bleak that not only do they contemplate ending their marriages but they also pursue the option of filing for bankruptcy. When faced with both of these experiences at the same time, it is important that the right choice be made as to which process to file for first.

According to The Balance, there may be some clear advantages for people who are able to file for bankruptcy before they initiate their divorce proceedings. One benefit is that a married couple will have larger exemption amounts that may allow them to keep more of their assets than if they filed Chapter 7 bankruptcies separately after getting divorced. An exemption identifies the value of an item that a filer is allowed to keep versus have liquidated during a Chapter 7.

Utility disconnection and customers' rights

Home is where the heart is, but it is also where one can maintain health and comfort with basic utilities such as water, heating and cooling and electricity. When companies revoke such utilities without notice, an individual may go through a series of emotional and physical distress. In addition, the effects of having a utility service shut off likely stem from preexisting financial distress. Ohio has its own set of state disconnection regulations and laws, and such rules are made to assist those in need and who sometimes cannot pay monthly utility bills.

It is often illegal for utility companies to shut off its services, especially during months with extreme weather. Other circumstances come into play in regards to utility companies and the regulations they must adhere to for the protection of Ohio citizens.

Debt consolidation is not a silver bullet

While many in Ohio worry about finances from time to time, some people are really struggling with monthly bills and get behind. Maybe it is credit card payments sneaking up, or for others medical bills have made their financial situation unbearable. If this sounds familiar, debt consolidation may sound like a welcome solution.

As USA Today reports, debt consolidation companies, which promise to convince creditors to take less money than they are owed in an effort to help people settle their debts, can be predatory. Consolidation loans from reputable sources, on the other hand, can be very helpful for people who have found themselves in an unmanageable amount of debt but are able to stop spending and stick to a budget. However, for those who cannot commit to a budget or are unable to save, these loans may be difficult to repay. For people who are not able to repay their debts in a three to five-year range, a debt consolidation loan should look into debt counselling or consult with a bankruptcy lawyer. It is also important to note that all debt, such as student loans, is not typically eligible to be disposed of in bankruptcy.

Chapter 13 and mortgages

When Ohio residents struggling with unmanageable levels of debt need help, bankruptcy may well be one option that they pursue. However, before rushing into the decision to file for bankruptcy, it is important to assess the different types of plan available and map those to their assets to select the one right for their needs. 

People who own homes and who want to keep those homes may be better served by filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. While both types of bankruptcy plans offer relief to debt-laden consumers, they do it in very different ways according to Bankrate. These differences can be especially important to people who want to avoid losing their homes.

How Chapter 7 bankruptcy can save you from foreclosure

As an Ohio resident, filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy may offer you an opportunity to get a financial fresh start if you are in the unfortunate position of not being able to pay your bills. It can even forestall foreclosure of your home. Be aware, however, that a Chapter 7 bankruptcy does not cancel your mortgage. What it does is temporarily stop the foreclosure and give you the chance to catch up on your missed payments.

Bankruptcy is a legal right granted by federal law, and all bankruptcy proceedings are handled in federal court. As soon as you file for Chapter 7 and your creditors become aware of it, they must stop all debt collection activities, including harassment of you by telephone or mail. This is because of the automatic stay that the court issues immediately after you file your bankruptcy petition. The stay typically lasts for the length of your bankruptcy proceeding unless a creditor files a request to have the stay lifted and the judge grants such request.

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