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Miami Bankruptcy Law Blog

Homeowners duped into homelessness by foreclosure scam

In today's world, it is unfortunately common to hear about new scams being perpetrated. Many of these schemes are designed to take money, information or even an identity from the victim. One such swindle could dupe Florida residents, as well as residents in other states, right into homelessness. A recent foreclosure scam is leaving its victims with nothing.

One of those victims had seemingly already hit rock bottom. His wife had been killed and he had lost his job due to his own injuries. His disability check was barely enough for him to survive on, and he was about to lose his home. He managed to scrape together enough money to pay a company to help him avoid that loss, but ironically, that company took the home instead.

How to prepare for bankruptcy

Your financial situation is leaving you stressed and sleepless at night because you cannot seem to figure out how to pay your delinquent bills and debts. You have little money to pay for them without depriving your family of the financial support they need to live. After carefully considering your options, you decide that bankruptcy is the solution.

Once you have made the decision to file for bankruptcy in Florida, you should take some time to prepare for the process.

Family of teen with cerebral palsy facing foreclosure

Two parents and a teenager, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of 6 months, could face losing the  home the girl has lived in for most of her life. The Florida family is facing foreclosure because of a high-interest, short-term mortgage with a balloon payment that seems impossible for almost any family to pay.  According to the family, such a loan should never have been approved for them in the first place.

The home was purchased by a special needs trust that the couple had obtained for their now 14-year-old daughter from a settlement that she had received. The beautiful Florida weather, along with the swimming pool and other amenities, were beneficial to the teen for her therapy. Their attorney assured them that the benefits of the home were worth the risk of the high-pressure mortgage. They purchased the house for $248,000.

Bankruptcy exemptions, and what's non-exempt in Chapter 7

When a person files bankruptcy, it is basically a way to get protection from creditors. In Florida, as in all states, the proceedings are handled through the federal Bankruptcy Court, and the presiding judge will appoint a bankruptcy trustee. This trustee handles the selling of the bankruptcy estate property in a Chapter 7 proceeding, in order to pay off some or all of the filer's debts. Not all property has to be liquidated, however. Rather, there are some bankruptcy exemptions and some properties which are not exempt.

The property which is exempt under Chapter 7 bankruptcy can also be called "necessities of modern life." Some examples of exempt property are an automobile, clothing, furniture and household goods, appliances, pensions, jewelry, and tools of the debtor's trade. All or a portion of the home's equity, part of any unpaid but earned wages, any public benefits, and damages which were awarded in a personal injury case may also be exempt. Of course, the property such as cars, jewelry, clothing, and such must be reasonably priced and needed.

New bill helps Sandy victims avoid foreclosure

A new law in one northeastern state will help the victims of Hurricane Sandy and could be a stepping stone for aid to others in coastal areas. For those victims who are still having a hard time paying their mortgages, this law could keep them out of foreclosure. People whose homes were damaged by the storm can request a payment delay for as much as two years to give them time to get back on their feet and have their homes repaired. The new law could set a precedent for people in other coastal states that are prone to hurricane damage, such as Florida.

Applications for this mortgage forbearance program are accepted by the Department of Community Affairs in their state. It works by pausing loan payments on homes that were damaged by the storm. The payments can be delayed for up to two years, and then tacked back onto the end of the mortgage. It will help those who have been struggling since 2012 to repair the damages to their homes and catch up on their loans.

Credit One Bank accused of creditor harassment

The plaintiff in a pending federal lawsuit in Florida claims that Credit One Bank called him hundreds of times in an effort to collect a debt. He alleges that the bank engaged in creditor harassment by calling him at least 200 times. The Tampa man had previously given consent to receive calls, but revoked his consent before the bank's alleged harassment.

The complaint was filed on March 24, claiming that the bank violated the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. His claim states that the bank began trying to contact him about a credit card bill in Nov. 2016, using abusive tactics which invaded his privacy, took up too much of his time and intruded on his solitude. He says that he was forced to endure harassment and abuse, which caused him great anxiety and stress.

Bank of America fined $45M for improper foreclosure proceedings

A large bank has been given hefty fines for handling a foreclosure case improperly. The Bank of America, a popular bank in Florida and across the country, has been fined $45 million for its response to one couple who tried in vain to stop their home from being foreclosed on. The husband and wife attempted to get the bank to lower the mortgage payment that they had to pay each month. When the bank refused, the home ended up in foreclosure.

When the couple first asked the bank to lower the monthly rate, the bank told them that they were not eligible for a loan modification because they were not behind on their payments. They were encouraged to default on the loan so that they could qualify. Against their better judgment, the couple followed the advice and let their payments get behind.

When a tax refund means Chapter 7 bankruptcy

It is tax time again. For many people that means that it is time for a Florida vacation, a new car or some other luxury item that they have waited to splurge on. Others wait until tax time to pay off small debts which they couldn't catch up on during the year. For some, however, tax time means that they will be filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

After studying statistics over the last four years, researchers have discovered that there is a spike in the number of people filing for bankruptcy each year. This spike takes place during the spring, right at tax time. In fact, the percentage of people who filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in March 2017 was 26 to 34 percent higher than that of the monthly averages in past years. Bankruptcy court records show that filings in April were up from 15 to 25 percent.

Woman sues Macy's debt collector for harrassment

After allegedly attempting to collect money for a debt that had been discharged, a debt collector working on behalf of Macy's Department stores is being sued. According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, in Florida and all other states, once a debt has been discharged in bankruptcy, a debt collector can no longer attempt to collect on it. According to the suit that was filed on Feb. 17, the defendant did just that.

The claim is that Central Control, LLC continued to try and collect a Macy's debt from the plaintiff, even though the debt had been discharged in a bankruptcy case. The woman's petition for bankruptcy was filed on July 21, 2015, but she claims that she kept receiving collection letters from the defendant that demanded payment. The woman owed the defendant nearly $6,500, but the same amount was included in her bankruptcy discharge.

Debts not discharged in a bankruptcy

A bankruptcy is designed to help you get out from under your debts. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the trustee cancels many of the debts. You may have to liquidate some property to repay your creditors, which is why a Chapter 7 is often referred to as a liquidation bankruptcy. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your debts are "reorganized." You pay debts in a plan over three to five years. Which bankruptcy is right for your situation depends on a number of factors, such as the amount of debt you have and your income.

Cancelled or forgiven debts are usually referred to as discharged. Credit card debt, medical bills and personal loans are examples of the kind of debt which can be discharged under a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. What you need to know is that some debt cannot be discharged, whether you file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

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