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David S. Osterman, Esquire

Appointments are available Tuesday and Thursday evenings and on Saturday mornings.

40 Bay Street
Manchester, New Hampshire 03104

Tel: 603-626-5450
Toll Free: 866-855-2999
Fax: 603-626-5453

Creative Debt Solutions

April 24th, 2012 | By admin | Filed under: Uncategorized   
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REBUILD YOUR CREDIT AFTER BANKRUPTCY

Rebuilding your credit after bankruptcy takes some time and perseverance, but it will greatly improve the quality of your financial future and is worth the effort. In 2012, 1.2 million Americans filed for bankruptcy, and nearly 15% of Americans were considered underemployed. If you are one of the millions of Americans who have filed or who will file for bankruptcy and are worried about rebuilding your credit, do not despair.

If you can, keep a $0 balance credit card through bankruptcy that you can use after your other debts have been discharged. You can use this card to help rebuild your damaged credit. If you are not able to keep such a card, consider obtaining a secured credit card. Once your debts have been discharged, save as much money as you can—ideally at least $500—and put it toward a secured credit card. Be sure that the secured credit card you choose reports to all three major credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. When you open a secured credit card, it works much like a debit card. If you give the lending institution $500, you are only able to spend up to that amount, but never more. It helps to keep you in financial balance so that you are not making the same mistakes twice and spending more than you can afford. Be sure to avoid pre-paid credit cards, which are similar to secured credit cards except that they typically do not report to any major credit bureaus. The point of a secured credit card is that it will report to the credit bureaus each month and show that you are being responsible with your money. After 12-24 months of good spending habits with your secured credit card, inquire about switching to an unsecured card with that same lender.

Once you’ve had a secured credit card for 6-12 months, consider applying for a gas or retail credit card that you can pay in full each and every month. A gas card is a great financial tool to help rebuild your credit because you aren’t likely to splurge at a gas station and spend more than you can afford. Be sure to pay the balance in full each month, as gas and retail cards tend to have very high interest rates. Also be sure that the credit card you choose reports to all three credit bureaus so that your smart financial decisions are being documented.

Avoid the urge to apply for many credit cards. Too many inquiries into your credit report can hurt your score. Instead, pay for essentials with cash or debit, and resist overspending on non-essential items. Use a checking or savings account to save as much money as you can each month. In the event of an emergency, you can use cash savings as means of payment rather than credit. Additionally, establishing a good relationship with a local bank or credit union can help you in the future should you require financing. And remember, once you do get credit after bankruptcy, be sure to use it wisely. Those who do not use the credit they are eligible for will never rebuild your credit. You need to use credit to rebuild credit.

Be sure to pay all of your bills on time. Making late payments on utilities and so forth can hurt your credit score and show future lenders that you are unreliable. If you are unable to pay your bills on time, you are likely spending too much money elsewhere and need to sit down and re-examine your budget and focus on spending less money on non-essential items.

Repairing your credit takes time and determination, but getting your score above the very important 700 mark is worth the effort. Don’t be discouraged by your financial past. Instead, focus on your financial future and make good decisions today that will benefit you tomorrow.

Rebuilding your credit after bankruptcy takes work, but it’s definitely worth any difficulties involved. With proper knowledge and determination it won’t be as difficult as you think it will be.

If you do not start to rebuild your credit soon after you are discharged in bankruptcy, you may find yourself with no way to pay if your car breaks down or your furnace fails down the road. Anticipate life’s emergencies. Rebuild your credit as soon as you can.

May 2nd, 2013 | By admin | Filed under: Uncategorized   
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YOUR RIGHTS UNDER THE FEDERAL LAW

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a United States statute added in 1978 to the Consumer Credit Protection Act. Its purposes are to eliminate abusive practices in the collection of consumer debts, to promote fair debt collection, and to provide consumers with an avenue for disputing and obtaining validation of debt information in order to ensure the information’s accuracy.  The Act creates guidelines under which debt collectors may conduct business, defines rights of consumers involved with debt collectors, and prescribes penalties and remedies for violations of the Act.

Mistreated consumers may file a private lawsuit in a state or federal court to collect damages (actual, statutory, attorney’s fees, and court costs) from third-party debt collectors. The FDCPA is a strict liability law which means that a consumer need not prove actual damages in order to claim statutory damages of up to $1,000 plus reasonable attorney fees if a debt collector is proven to have violated the FDCPA. The collector may, however, escape penalty if it shows that the violation (or violations) was unintentional and the result of a bona fide error that occurred despite procedures designed to avoid the error at issue.

Our next two posts will tell you about some of the requirements Federal law impose on debt collectors.  The law is very specific about conduct that is required of debt collectors and it prohibits certain behavior by them.  In some instances, New Hampshire law is even stricter that the Federal law.

July 18th, 2012 | By admin | Filed under: FDCPA   
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DEBT COLLECTORS ARE NOT ALLOWED TO:

Contact consumers by telephone outside of the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. local time;

Continue to communicate with you after you ask them to stop doing so.  Communicating with consumers in any way (other than litigation) after receiving written notice that said consumer wishes no further communication or refuses to pay the alleged debt, with certain exceptions, including advising that collection efforts are being terminated or that the collector intends to file a lawsuit or pursue other remedies where permitted;

Cause a telephone to ring or engaging any person in telephone conversation repeatedly or continuously: with intent to annoy, abuse, or harass any person at the called number;

Communicate with consumers at their place of employment after having been advised that this is unacceptable or prohibited by the employer.  (In New Hampshire a debt collector cannot contact you at work more than once a month, and must stop doing so upon request.);

Contact a consumer known to be represented by an attorney;

Communicate with a consumer after request for validation has been made: communicating with the consumer or the pursuing collection efforts by the debt collector after receipt of a consumer’s written request for verification of a debt made within the 30 day validation period (or for the name and address of the original creditor on a debt) and before the debt collector mails the consumer the requested verification or original creditor’s name and address;

Misrepresent the debt or use deception to collect the debt, including a debt collector’s misrepresentation that he or she is an attorney or law enforcement officer;

Publish the consumer’s name or address on a “bad debt” list;

Seek unjustified amounts, which would include demanding any amounts not permitted under an applicable contract or as provided under applicable law.  Usually this applies to attempts to collect interest or collection fees that the creditor or agency is not entitled to;

Threaten arrest or legal action that is either not permitted or not actually contemplated;

Use abusive or profane language in the course of communication related to the debt;

Communicate with third parties: revealing or discussing the nature of debts with third parties other than the consumer’s spouse or attorney.  There are exceptions to this rule, but they do not include discussing the specifics of your debt with persons other than you, your spouse, or your attorney;

Contact a consumer by embarrassing media, such as communicating with a consumer regarding a debt by post card, or using any language or symbol, other than the debt collector’s address, on any envelope when communicating with a consumer by use of the mails or by telegram, except that a debt collector may use his business name if such name does not indicate that he is in the debt collection business;

Report false information on a consumer’s credit report or threatening to do so in the process of collection.

July 18th, 2012 | By admin | Filed under: FDCPA   
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Debt COLLECTORS ARE REQUIRED TO:

Identify themselves and notify the consumer, in every communication, that the communication is from a debt collector, and in the initial communication that any information obtained will be used to effect collection of the debt;

Give the name and address of the original creditor (company to which the debt was originally payable) upon the consumer’s written request made within 30 days of receipt of the collection letter;

Notify the consumer of their right to dispute the debt, in part or in full, with the debt collector. The 30-day notice is required to be sent by debt collectors within five days of the initial communication with the consumer, though in 2006 the definition of “initial communication” was amended to exclude “a formal pleading in a civil action” for purposes of triggering the §1692g notice, complicating the matter where the debt collector is an attorney or law firm. The consumer’s receipt of this notice starts the clock running on the 30-day right to demand verification of the debt from the debt collector;

Provide verification of the debt if a consumer sends a written dispute or request for verification within 30 days of receiving the §1692g notice, then the debt collector must either mail the consumer the requested verification information or cease collection efforts altogether. Such asserted disputes must also be reported by the creditor to any credit bureau that reports the debt. Consumers may still dispute a debt verbally or after the thirty-day period has elapsed, but doing so waives the right to compel the debt collector to produce verification of the debt. Verification should include at a minimum the amount owed and the name and address of the original creditor.

File a lawsuit in a proper venue.  If a debt collector chooses to file a lawsuit, it may only be in a place where the consumer lives or signed the contract.  Note, however, that this does not prevent the debt collector from being sued in other venues for violating the Act, such as when the consumer moves outside the venue and a letter demanding payment is forwarded to the new address, even if the debt collector is unaware of such a change in residence.

Please note that there are specific time requirements within the law.  If you receive a collection demand, do not risk losing your rights by waiting.  We are available for consultations now.

 

July 18th, 2012 | By admin | Filed under: FDCPA   
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HOW NOT TO COLLECT A DEBT

FDCPA VIOLATION IN THE NEWS

A Texas woman has filed a lawsuit against Capital Management Services, a national collection agency.  Capital Management Services is alleged to have contacted the Plaintiff after she sent them a cease and desist letter.  This singe violation, if proved, is enough to trigger the Plaintiff’s rights under the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act).  The FDCPA is the Federal law governing debt collectors. If she wins her lawsuit, this Plaintiff should be awarded at least $1,000.00 plus her attorney’s fees and court costs. http://www.setexasrecord.com/news/243625-collection-agency-sued-for-contacting-debtor-after-cease-and-desist-letter

Debt collectors violate the law at their own risk.  In New Hampshire both the FDCPA and New Hampshire Revised Statute 358: C protect you from unfair debt collection actions.  A properly drafted cease and desist letter can protect you from annoying or threatening telephone calls.  If the contacts continue after a cease and desist letter is sent, we can make the collection agency pay you for ignoring State or Federal law.

May 2nd, 2012 | By admin | Filed under: FDCPA,Horror Story   
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Welcome To Our New Blog

Our website has been around for a while.  And our law practice was started in 1984.  But our blog is new!  We hope to provide you with information that will help you to control your debt situation, and ultimately to get out of debt completely.  We will start by telling you some of the basics of debt collection law. We will also be posting some true debt collection horror stories.  Some of these are simply unbelievable, but we promise not to make anything up.

You will find us to be accessible.   You will find that we are patient with our clients – we want you to have a full understanding of your situation and options.   We will answer all of your questions to the best of our ability.  And we will support your decisions and advance your goals as we work together.    We always return telephone calls from our clients.  Appointments are available in Allenstown, Concord and Manchester.   We can meet with you in Allenstown on Saturday and during the evening.

Okay, working with a lawyer is nothing like winning the lottery.  But with us it is much more fun than a root canal.   Really.

 

 

 

April 24th, 2012 | By admin | Filed under: Uncategorized   
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