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Pittsburgh Legal Issues Blog

Know the red flags of debt negotiation programs

If you are saddled with burdensome debt, the promises of a debt negotiation program may sound all too appealing. Don't be fooled, though: Debt negotiation programs are usually risky ventures that can significantly harm your credit. In some cases, they can even increase your debt.

A debt negotiation program, or a DNP, is an organization that claims to help its clients get rid of debt. They often market themselves as fast, easy ways to completely get rid of your debts. DNPs use this rhetoric to prey on debt-ridden consumers who are vulnerable and desperate for quick solutions. In order to avoid these potentially harmful programs, it is important to recognize their warning signs.

Facing bankruptcy: can I use my credit card for groceries?

Facing bankruptcy is a difficult time for anyone. It becomes even more stressful when there are dependents involved. You may be watching your disposable income run low and fear for the future—how do you keep food on the table when there just isn’t any money left?

If you recently filed for bankruptcy, or are seriously considering filing for it soon, some credit card companies may frown upon using your credit card for certain purchases. For example, if it seems like you suddenly made changes to your purchasing patterns, or made unnecessary purchases, credit card companies may charge you with fraud.

Legal help is here when debt becomes overwhelming

Imagine that after you graduate from college, you carry a massive amount of student debt into your professional life. But that's okay to a certain extent -- because you are able to find a job relatively quickly in a good industry that pays very well. For years, you are able to keep up with your debts and payments, building a life that you enjoy. This is the ideal life that many people would want.

However, let's say that after a few years of this stability, you suffer a medical emergency. Or you have to sink a lot of money into a financial emergency. As a result, that stability you once had is gone. You rack up immense credit card debt -- on top of the student debt you are still paying off -- and you can't pay it off. The interest keeps racking up, and the debt never goes away.

Seniors: know how to avoid medical debts

For many people, turning 65 is a time of peace and relaxation to enjoy retirement. However, often it is the start of complex changes as insurance switches to Medicare, which doesn’t always cover all medical expenses. This can cause thousands of dollars in unplanned medical bills or bills that are not covered.

Understanding Medicare, your health plan changes, and how to avoid medical debt are critical moves to making the transition to 65 and the subsequent years smoothly. These tips can be a huge help to get you on your way and help avoid future pitfalls you may not be expecting.

The different three years can make

Apparently, Equifax was not content with the image problems created by the fallout that followed their hacking controversy in September. The prominent credit-reporting agency made what they likely considered a recently discovered, small change that had a huge impact on hundreds of thousands of consumers.

Without announcing the policy shift, Equifax decided to enhance the penalty for those who filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

What consumers should be doing to prepare for the holidays

It was only a matter of time after Labor Day before we started seeing displays for Halloween costumes, cards and candy. Yes, Halloween is a few weeks away, but retailers want to make an impression on consumers as soon as possible, so expect to see commercials for Party City advertising Halloween costumes this week as well.

Halloween is not the only holiday that will be coming soon. As soon as the last bit of candy is purchased, displays will quickly transform to holiday season mode, which is the season that retailers depend on to make their profits. So expect retailers to pull out all the stops to get consumers’ dollars.

Older credit card debt common among U.S. consumers

Having high balances on one’s credit card can put a lot of financial stress on a person. Many things could lead to a person facing this situation. One is carrying a credit card debt for a long time, given the high interest rates that can apply to credit card balances.

A recent report points to having credit card debt stick around for awhile being something a good deal of Americans are dealing with. According to the report, around 29 million American consumers have a credit card debt that they’ve carried for at least two years. And around half of these individuals have carried this debt for at least five years.

Why are you putting off bankruptcy?

Like any significant life decision, especially one that may bring about notable discomfort, it is normal to waffle around before taking the step to undergo a bankruptcy. While bankruptcies are often not what people expect, they are still a significant event that carries a certain amount of social stigma, although this is fading slowly over time.

Despite the many benefits that bankruptcy offers consumers, many individuals who might greatly benefit from a bankruptcy choose to put it off, often only making matters worse.

Dealing with student loan debt after a co-signer passes away

It’s no secret that student loan debt is a prominent credit issue today. In fact, it is arguable that the amount of student loan debt in America is outpacing credit card debt. This is likely because a greater number of students are taking out loans from private lenders.

When these loans are co-signed by parents (or even grandparents) they can come with some hidden responsibilities. For example, many borrowers may not know that a lender could require a loan to be paid in full immediately if the co-signer passes away. In fact, this has grown to be a common complaint lodged with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the agency created through federal legislation stemming from the financial collapse of 2007.

Consider all the options you have to pay off debt

Feeling like you just can't keep up with the bills isn't a pleasant experience. You might decide one day that you need to do something about the overwhelming debt you are in. This is when you will have to make a decision.

When this happens, you have a few options. You can continue to struggle to make only the minimum payments. You can make a plan to try to pay off some of the debts to ease your burden. You can file for bankruptcy.

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