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Debt Relief Scams--Beware!!!
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has SHUT DOWN A LAW FIRM that "allegedly" ran a debt-relief scheme that cheated consumers out of $67 million. Before providing ANY work, this firm collected $199 in an initial fee; $84.95 monthly fee for "legal services" and a "bundled legal fee" which ranged from 10 to 15% of the outstanding debt balance. THESE FEES WERE CHARGED FOR DOING NOTHING!!! Can you believe it??? Ironically, these payments into this firm were supposed to be used to pay to creditors but, instead, the customers still suffered creditor calls, lawsuits, late fees and the like. Regarding poor credit scores which are all the rage right now with advertising, keep in mind that debt repayment plans where debts are negotiated down may still result in lower credit scores.
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Collection company advertising "threats"
Whether you have unpaid debts or not, we are seeing more advertising by alleged collectors designed to look like legitimate collections and/or threats. For instance, one solicitation sent out to a person with sterling credit was designed to look like a collection letter indicating a specific debt amount and offering a repayment plan to a special website just for this person (to start paying immediately) to avoid a damaging credit report. Ironically, this debt did NOT exist-THERE WAS ABSOLUTELY NO UNDERLYING DEBT. BUT, the advertiser had the person's name and address with this specific debt amount which would lead a more trusting recipient to believe making payments was in his/her best interest. Imagine, if these solicitations work on just a handful of recipients, this company could start receiving monthly payments FOR NOTHING.
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Chapter 7 Filing Fee Increase
Bankruptcy Chapter 7 Petition filing fee for the Middle District of Pennsylvania has increased from $306.00 to $335.00. For debtors, this means that the cost of filing for bankruptcy has gone up by $29.00. This is just one more increase in a world of rising prices.
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Beware...
As we all know, nothing is private, consequently, many entrepreneurs have found ways to take advantage of people with debt issues, before, during, or after bankruptcy. This is a very brief list of solicitations of which we have been made aware by clients:

1. Credit card companies issuing 1099 tax forms to debtors for charging off unpaid balances as a "forgiveness" of debt--which is true UNLESS the debt has been DISCHARGED in bankruptcy;

2. Blanket mailings for debt negotiation services mailed to consumers and made to appear as collection notices. If you have sterling credit, receipt of a mailing stamped for "bad debt negotiation" alerts your mail carrier and all who see it to debt issues that you do not have.

3. Debt counseling services offered to newly filed bankruptcy debtors, again, made to appear as the court required counseling for the bankruptcy. The bankruptcy attorney will provide clients with a lengthy list of approved counseling services.

4. Debt negotiations and work out plans where the first year or more of payments goes to the work out company, not the debts.

If you have more to share or have questions, please e-mail us or give us a call.
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NEW COURT DECISION ON CREDIT CARD LAWSUITS
On Valentine's Day, 2011, the Pennsylvania Superior Court gave credit card debtors a little gift.
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WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DON'T PAY CREDIT CARD DEBT
These are difficult financial times for many people. What happens if you can't pay your credit card payments?
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USA TODAY: MORE PEOPLE SHOULD FILE BANKRUPTCY
On June 9, 2010 USA Today reported that only a fraction of those in financial trouble are filing bankruptcy.
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PRESIDENT ANNOUNCES PLAN TO HELP HOMEOWNERS
On March 26, 2010 the Obama administration unveiled a plan to help homeowner's in danger of foreclosure. The major features of the plan are as follows:
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RUMORS THAT FORECLOSURES MAY BE DELAYED
Bloomberg.com reports that the Obama administration is considering requiring mortgage lenders to screen and reject borrowers from the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) before foreclosure.
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MORE DEBT SETTLEMENT HORROR STORIES!!
As more and more people are laid off and get behind on their mortgage, rent an/or credit card bills more and more scammers come out to take advantage of them.
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CREDIT CARD SETTLEMENT IS EXPENSIVE!!
The television ads can't be avoided. Settle your credit card debts for pennies on the dollar. Call today to save big bucks. Peterson and Peterson advises you to be careful. Read the fine print. It could cost you more than you think.
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ARE YOU LATE ON YOUR MORTGAGE PAYMENTS?
Recent news reports document the record number of mortgage foreclosures. If you find yourself late on your mortgage payment you need to act quickly to avoid being part of that statistic.
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HOUSE REJECTS FIRST MORTGAGE CRAMDOWN
On December 11, 2009 the U.S. House of Representatives defeated a proposal to allow bankruptcy courts to modify the terms of first mortgages for distressed homeowners. This is the second time this year such a proposal was turned down.
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BEWARE DEBT SETTLEMENT SCAMS
DO NOT SIGN UP WITH A DEBT SETTLEMENT COMPANY BEFORE CONSULTING WITH AN EXPERIENCED BANKRUPTCY ATTORNEY!!!
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STOP HARASSING CREDITOR CALLS
If you are behind on credit card bills and are tired of the harassing calls you can do something. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act allows you to send a letter to the creditor. The letter should be sent Certified mail - Return Receipt Requested and should state:
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EVER WONDER WHO HOLDS YOUR MORTGAGE?
CONGRESS HAS PROVIDED A NEW TOOL THAT HELPS YOU DETERMINE YOUR CURRENT MORTGAGE HOLDER
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PROPOSED LAW COULD HELP PEOPLE IN FORECLOSURE
THIS LAW HAS NOT YET PASSED THE CONGRESS. IT IS STILL BEING CONSIDERED BY WASHINGTON LAWMAKERS

The President has proposed that Bankruptcy Judges should have the authority to modify the terms of mortgages in Chapter 13 cases to help people avoid foreclosure. At this time there are three critical provisions:
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DON'T SPEND MONEY FOR DEBT NEGOTIATORS UNTIL YOU HAVE ALL OF THE FACTS!
You've heard the advertisements. They say your credit card debt can be negotiated and it can save you from bankruptcy. Get all of the facts before you sign up and send money. Ask about fees. Ask about the length of the program. Ask about your credit score while the negotiations take place. Ask about the IRS considering the reduction in the debt as income on which you must pay taxes. Beware of businesses that tell you you're not eligible to file bankruptcy. Get all of the information before deciding what to do.

At Peterson & Peterson we offer our clients a free initial consultation with an experienced debt relief attorney. You can get answers to your questions and decide what works best for you. Please call or e-mail today to schedule an appointment.
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NEW MEDIAN INCOME FIGURES
You can pass the Means Test for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy if you live in Pennsylvania and your annual gross income is less than $44,688 (one earner), $53,011 (family of 2), $67,262 (family of 3) or $78,780 (family of 4).

If you want to speak with an experienced debt relief attorney about your situation and whether you can pass the means test, please call or e-mail Peterson and Peterson today. Remember, initial consultations are still free of charge.
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DID YOU KNOW?
Did you know that Peterson and Peterson is a proud member of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA)? As a member of the NACBA we can provide our debt relief clients with the most up-to-date information about their cases. You may link to the NACBA website at www.nacba.org.

We are also members of the Middle District Bankruptcy Bar Association for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
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DEBT SETTLEMENT
You can't watch TV these days without seeing a commercial for a Debt Settlement Company. They promise that you can reduce your debts by 40-60% and that you can be debt free in months. There are some problems you need to know before you sign up for Debt Settlement.

1. The Debt Settlement Company sets up a monthly payment plan.

2. The Company collects its' fee first. This could take many months of payments.

3. While you pay the Company's fees the debt gets ignored. This increases late fees, interest, creditor phone calls and collection efforts.

4. Once the Company's fees are paid, the monthly payments are collected until there is a lump-sum available to settle with a creditor. This could take more months. The debt is still ignored and collection efforts continue.

5. If you have more than one credit card, each one is settled separately as the payments are made and they accrue into the needed lump-sum for each credit card. The ones that aren't settled are still ignored.

6. By the time you make the final settlement, your credit score is in the trash and it takes years to recover.

7. Most important - the reduced amount of the debt from each creditor is taxable income for the year. For example, if you owe $10,000 and settle for $5,000 you will owe federal income tax on $5,000.

The best thing to do if you find yourself in a financial pinch is schedule a free, confidential initial consultation with PETERSON and PETERSON, a debt relief agency. We help people file for Bankruptcy under the Bankruptcy Code.
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PERSONAL BAILOUT?
Income Reduced?
Bills Increased?
Late Notices?
Creditor Calls?
Debt Settlement?
Debt Consolidation?
Foreclosure?
Repossession?
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

As a debt relief agency, Peterson and Peterson helps people file for Bankruptcy under the Bankruptcy Code. We can assist you through the complicated and confusing process of dealing with creditors and debt.

We understand the choices that are available for your consideration and can discuss the good and bad points of all such options for your particular situation.

If you find yourself in need of a Personal Bailout, please call or e-mail Peterson and Peterson to schedule a free and confidential initial consultation.
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