When you are struggling with debt, it is important you know your rights and the legal options available to you. At The Law Office of Larry P. Karandreas, one of my goals as a Glendale debtors’ rights lawyer is to help my clients understand and exercise their rights in a wide array of debt-related scenarios. Whether you are being bombarded with collections calls or are facing multiple debt-related lawsuits, my firm has the knowledge, resources, and experience to get you back on track.
When you fall behind on your bills and are unable to catch up, you will inevitably start receiving phone calls and letters from debt collectors. These collection agencies make it their mission to do whatever it takes to compel you to pay. Many of these agencies hope you do not understand your rights as a debtor and will resort to unscrupulous, bad faith tactics.
Collection agencies are regulated by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), a federal law that governs how and when debt collectors can contact you. You have the ability to sue collection agents who violate the FDCPA and can potentially recover statutory fees and certain expenses, including attorney fees. I can assess what types of creditor harassment you have been subjected to and determine whether your rights have been violated.
Many debt collectors will be cautious and technically not violate the FDCPA’s rules. However, they will still contact you as much as possible without breaking the law. In these situations, you have the right to send a formal letter requesting they cease all contact with you regarding the debt. While debt collectors are legally obligated to honor these requests, they will generally choose to file a lawsuit after receiving such notices.
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Lawsuits and Wage Garnishments
If creditors choose to file a lawsuit against you due to nonpayment, you will be formally served a legal notice at your permanent address. You will have 20 days (plus 3 days for mailing) from the date of your receiving this notice to file a response disputing your ownership of the debt or the amount that is allegedly owed.
If you do not respond within 23 days of receiving the complaint, the creditors involved can ask the court for a default judgment. When this request is made, you will get an additional 10 days to file a dispute. If you legitimately owe the debt, there is not much you can do at this stage. However, paying the debt will stop the lawsuit.
If the court agrees to a default judgment, the creditor can collect against your assets. This means they can potentially seize nonexempt assets and bank accounts. Creditors with judgments can also garnish your wages, which allows them to take a percentage of your paycheck.
While wage garnishments are never ideal, there are limits on how much any creditor can take. A debt collector can only garnish up to 25% of your disposable income or the portion of your weekly income that exceeds 30 times the federal minimum wage, whichever amount is less. You also have the right to ask the court to reduce your garnishment maximum to 15% of your disposable income if you can demonstrate that taking 25% would impact your ability to manage basic living expenses.
Schedule a free initial consultation to learn more about how I can assist you with exercising your rights as a debtor.
Call (623) 254-5505 or contact us online today!
Electronic Fund Transfers (EFTs)
If you have any point allowed a creditor to electronically deduct funds directly from one of your bank accounts – something you should avoid doing – you have the legal right to stop the arrangement at any time and for any reason under the Electronic Fund Transfers Act. To stop an ongoing automatic payment withdrawal, you will need to send a formal request in writing to both your bank and the creditor at least 10 days before the next scheduled withdrawal.
You have the right to pursue legal action if your bank ignores the request and nevertheless continues with a scheduled withdrawal. It is often wise to transfer funds and close any accounts with banks that refuse to honor your rights under the EFT Act.
If you have minimal assets and little to no means of repaying debts, you may be legally considered “judgment proof,” meaning you are protected from collection activities for most debts. In other words, creditors cannot successfully file lawsuits against debtors that are judgment proof under state law, effectively making them immune from further legal action.
Most collection agencies will stop calling if you inform them you are judgment proof. Note that tax liabilities, student loans, and child support debts are exempt from judgment proof designations.
Debtors’ Rights in Bankruptcy
If you face a seemingly insurmountable level of debt you cannot reasonably hope to repay, bankruptcy may be the best path forward. Depending on your circumstances, filing for bankruptcy can help you reestablish yourself financially obtain the fresh start you need.
Many do not realize you have bankruptcy rights in the state of Arizona. While you can choose to file for bankruptcy on your own, it is important you consider hiring an experienced lawyer that is familiar with the state’s bankruptcy code and exemptions. As a Glendale debtors’ rights attorney, I have more than 25 years of experience assisting clients with every stage of the bankruptcy filing process. I can determine whether bankruptcy makes sense for your situation and give you the tools you need to get the most out of your filing.
In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will go through a liquidation process that involves selling nonexempt assets to pay creditors. While this can sound intimidating, proper utilization of bankruptcy exemptions allows many to avoid losing much or anything at all. Upon completing the process, Chapter 7 filers can discharge most unsecured debts, including credit card debt, medical debt, and unpaid utility bills. You will not be able to discharge secured debts, tax liabilities, student loans (except in certain situations I can assist you with), and missed child support payments.
You may need to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy if you have too much income to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This type of bankruptcy skips the liquidation process and instead reorganizes your debt into a single monthly payment made to your bankruptcy trustee. The amount of this payment is rooted in your current ability to pay, not the total size of your debt. I can help you understand what you should expect to pay in a Chapter 13 filing. After making the monthly payment over a period of 3 to 5 years, you will be permitted to discharge remaining unsecured debts.
A Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing can also:
- Cure a default in your mortgage and stop a foreclosure
- Reduce interest rates on secured loans
- Stop levies
- Stop wage garnishments
- Pay off the priority amount of tax debt with no interest
- Protect assets that may have otherwise been lost to liquidation in a Chapter 7 filing
- Force the return of a repossessed vehicle
The Law Office of Larry P. Karandreas has helped countless clients throughout the state of Arizona overcome debt through bankruptcy. As a Glendale debtors’ rights lawyer, I can assist you with determining the most effective and efficient means of addressing your financial difficulties. In your free consultation, we can work together to review whether filing for bankruptcy can provide the relief you need. I can also help you navigate issues of creditor harassment, wage garnishment, and other consequences of debt.
Get the capable guidance you need when facing overwhelming debt. Contact my firm online or
call (623) 254-5505 to start exploring your options today.
A Bankruptcy Lawyer Who Cares
With an over 90% success rate, Attorney Larry Karandreas takes your case seriously. He personally handles all client correspondence, never overbooks his schedule, and makes sure every client receives his full attention.
Limited Caseload to Ensure Personalized Attention
Attorney Karandreas ensures that his caseload is not overloaded in order to provide top-quality care and attention to each of his clients.
Little to No Money Down on Bankruptcy Filings
We offer as low as $0 down on Ch. 13 filings and as low as $700 on Ch. 7 filings for qualifying cases.