- Respond to the lawsuit. Although you may want to throw away the letter informing you of the lawsuit and pretend you never got it, that is the worst thing you can do. You must respond to the lawsuit or face a default judgment against you. This may happen if you ignore the lawsuit. If the debt collector’s attorney is in court and you aren’t, the court may rule in their favor.
- Gather evidence about your debt. First, you need to make sure the debt is really yours. Unless you are positive it is, start asking questions about the debt. Look back through your records for the debt. You may also be able to look at your credit record for the debt. If the debt is yours, check your records for what you have already paid and make sure it wasn’t paid off. While there are unscrupulous people, it may also be a mistake in bookkeeping that can be resolved.
- Contact an attorney. Make sure the attorney you choose has experience with debt settlements. A family attorney may not have the skills you need to fight a lawsuit over debt. Take your documentation to an attorney and discuss your options with him/her. Always be completely honest as an attorney they cannot give you the best advice if you hide things from them. You may be embarrassed, but your attorney is there to help you out of a bad situation. Resist the temptation to handle the lawsuit without an attorney. You may think that incurring more debt by hiring an attorney is a terrible idea, but you need help when dealing with the lawsuit.
- Challenge the lawsuit. If you and your attorney feel you have reason to dispute the lawsuit, file that paperwork immediately. Make sure you have copies of all of your documents that prove you have either paid the debt or that it isn’t yours. Your attorney can advise you on what types of documents the court will want to see.
- Consider filing a countersuit against the creditor. If you and your attorney feel the creditor did not follow the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a countersuit may be another option for you. Again, consult with your attorney and always keep detailed notes when you have contact with the debt collector so you can prove what you and the collector said.
Drowning in unpaid bills is one of the most stressful things you can go through in life. Worrying every day about what bills to pay and hoping that no debt collectors call is a terrible feeling. It is even worse when a debt collector sues you for an unpaid bill. You may be humiliated and worried about what to do. Below are the top five things you need to do if you are being sued for unpaid debts.
Dealing with debt is hard enough without trying to handle a lawsuit, too. No matter how well you think you understand your options, an attorney who specializes in debt defense is your best option. You may make your problem worse by making a wrong decision too quickly.
Buying a new car is an exciting time. When you are sitting at the dealership, the salesman may try to offer you many other products for your vehicle and it is hard to make a quick decision on what you really need. A car maintenance plan is an option that your salesman may try to convince you to purchase.
What is a Maintenance Plan?
If you are offered a vehicle service plan, ask for specifics about what that plan is. Many dealers use that term for both extended warranties and car maintenance plans.
A car maintenance plan covers services that the vehicle’s manufacturer recommends be completed to keep the car running in optimum condition. These things could be oil changes, filter replacements, and tire rotations. Dealerships have learned that offering maintenance plans can be a very profitable revenue stream for their business.
These plans are prepaid and can be very valuable to have, but you need to carefully consider what is covered and what you would pay out of pocket compared to the cost of the plan. Always read all of the fine print details, and if you don’t understand the contract, consider having an attorney explain it to you.
The Positives of Purchasing a Plan
Dealerships rely on their service departments for a large part of their income. By selling car maintenance plans, they are guaranteed that their department stays busy. These plans are prepaid and often offer discounts on the services you will need. Remember, though, that what sounds too good to be true often is, and you still need time to think about whether you actually need the maintenance plan. Do not let a sales person talk you into something that may not fit your needs.
For example, the average cost of an oil change in South Carolina is around $30. Assuming you change your oil as recommended, or about every three months, that is $120 a year. Tire rotations are about $40, and it needs done once a year. Filter costs vary, but you may plan on about $100 for filters a year. If this is your plan of maintenance, you will be paying about $260 a year in car maintenance. (You also need to check your car’s owner’s manual for recommended maintenance.) If you can get a car maintenance plan for less, it may be worth it.
The Negatives of Purchasing a Plan
Before you purchase a plan, carefully read your owner’s manual. These can often be found online if the dealership doesn’t have one. See what maintenance the manufacturer recommends. Some dealers still use outdated information to try to convince customers to purchase the plans.
An example of this would be that new vehicles require very little maintenance. Many cars will go for more than 5,000 miles (instead of 3,000) between oil changes. This reduces your out of pocket expenses. Many manufacturers now state that your vehicle will only need significant servicing every 30,000 miles. If you don’t drive much, a car maintenance plan is probably not a good option for you.
Also, once you purchase the plan, you will have no options about who services your car. Unless you decide to pay out of pocket, you will have to take your car to the dealership for services. If you aren’t happy with their service, you have no options. Another thing to consider is that the things that do wear out quickly, such as wipers and brake pads, are not usually covered by maintenance plans.
The dealership may also sell the plan according to their schedule of maintenance and not what is recommended by the manufacturer. If you drive often in extreme heat or cold, oil changes may be recommended more often, but your dealership may not take these conditions into account, and you will have to pay for the oil changes yourself.
The Final Cost
If you decide to purchase the car maintenance plan, be sure to pay for it in full and do not add it to the total of your car or you will be paying interest on the plan, just like the purchase price of the car. To make the best informed decision, make sure to find out exactly what is covered and compare prices of those services to the total cost of the plan.
Unpaid debts can affect your life for several years. You may be stressed over how to pay your bills and think it would be easier to not pay them, but not repaying what you owe can cause long and short term problems you may not have considered.
Short Term Effects
In a world where you can Google, search the internet, and even get legal counsel, it may seem strange to have a local lawyer. But ask yourself this, would you want a to see a medical professional you have never met before treating you for something serious? Then this area of your life shouldn’t be fast tracked to the internet either. You need a local lawyer in your corner for many reasons.
When buying a car from a private seller, you have few guarantees or warranties to fall back on. Here are some steps that you can take to reduce your chances of being cheated by an individual looking to ditch a defective car.
1. Set Your Car Budget Before You Start Shopping
The best way to avoid getting drawn into spending more money for a vehicle is to decide how much you are able to spend and have this number clear in your mind. Only look for those cars within your budget and don’t be talked into spending more.
2. Select Your Target Vehicle Model
Check Kelley Blue Book to see what model years and mileage you can expect from a car that will fit within your budget. Use Consumer Reports to see reliability ratings and check the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety to review crash safety ratings for the make, model, and year for the car you are going to see.
3. Test Drive Your Target Model
It is important to feel how the car you are going to buy handles. Are there any mysterious noises when you drive the car? Check how the car handles in city traffic and on the highway.
4. Get the car inspected by a mechanic
For about $50, you can have a mechanic at a car shop do a used vehicle inspection. This is useful to help you avoid buying a car with major problems. It is also useful to have the inspection results when negotiating the price.
5. Negotiate the Best Price
After gathering information about the car from your test drive and car inspection, show the seller book prices or a list of repairs that are needed. Sellers are more likely to accept the lower price if they think it is rational and that other buyers would likely come to the same conclusion.
Following these steps will help you make a good deal with the private seller, but there are no guarantees. It is important to find out as much as you can about the car before you purchase, and doing this will lessen the likelihood that a seller will take advantage of you.
Payday loans have a strong appeal when you find yourself struggling to make it to the next payday. They’re quick. They’re easy. There is no credit check. And the money is there instantly. However, they are extremely dangerous and should be approached with caution.
The first major danger is borrowing against your future self. By using a payday loan, you are giving up part of your future paycheck. Unless you budget carefully you will need another payday loan with your next paycheck to make it through to the third payday and so on. This could set up a series of payday loans that may be impossible to pay off.
The biggest hazard is the interest rate. Average interest rates vary from 300% per year to almost 800% per year. For each $1 you borrow, you could have to pay $8 back with this type of loan.
One last, well-hidden danger is that this loan can affect your credit score. If you struggle paying back your loan, it can be sold to a collection agency. When your loan is sold, it will show up negatively on your credit score as a non-payment of a loan. Then the collection agency will be merciless in trying to get you to pay your loan back. This leads to threatening phone calls and nearly continuous mail.
To avoid this drastic financial step, ask for help from friends and family, go to a bank and ask for a small personal loan, talk to organizations that help you set up a budget, and go to other organizations that will help you financially get back on your feet without the pressure of a payday loan.
Here is a short list of resources to get you started:
The Department of Justice offers a list of Approved Agencies for credit counseling.
Here are questions to ask a credit counselor: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0153-choosing-credit-counselor
Nerd Wallet can help you set up a budget.
For even more financial advice, Dave Ramsey has free resources.
After a natural disaster, such as a hurricane, one of the first items people want to replace is their damaged car. They need transportation to take care of all of the other details associated with the after affects of the hurricane. And usually, a car is the easiest to replace. However, after a hurricane, you need to be very careful about the car you purchase.
3. Ask for a full inspection by your mechanic. Once the car passes your initial inspection, bring a mechanic you trust to check out the car. They will know how to find flood damage.After a major disaster, it is truly a seller’s market as thousands of people may need to replace their cars with a limited supply. It is understandable that you may be in a hurry to replace your car, but go slow. Think about your options and be sure to thoroughly check the car you are considering. If you rush this decision, it may be one you come to regret later.
Few things are as stressful as owing money and not being able to pay that debt. Most people feel this at some point and have questions about what will happen. To help alleviate anxiety about your debt, we have written about five things you should know about debt.
The Affect on your Credit Score
Your credit score is used for many things besides being able to get a loan. Higher credit scores often means better rates on credit cards, loans, and even insurance. An overwhelming amount of debt will lower your score.
Negative information stays on your credit report for seven years. Oftentimes, you will need to request the negative information to be removed after the time has expired. However, even if the information is gone, you may still owe that debt.
What Debtors Can Do if You Can’t Pay the Debt
First, understand that debtors are never allowed to lie or be abusive when they contact you to collect debts. They may try to bully you into payment agreements, but there are laws that protect you.
Debtors are also not allowed to contact you at inconvenient times (before 8:00 AM or after 9:00 PM) or places. Once they have been told you cannot receive calls at work, they can’t call there.
The debt collector can’t talk about your debt with anyone but you or your spouse, but they can contact other people to obtain your contact information.
A debt collector can sue you for the money you owed within a certain period of time. Any time you receive legal papers about your debt, you need to contact an attorney immediately and only respond through him/her.
If a Debt Collector Breaks the Law
If you feel a debt collector has broken the law, you may be able to sue the collector within one year of the violation. You will have to decide if any possible damages you may receive are enough to make a lawsuit worth your time. Again, this a discussion for you to have with your attorney.
Each state has different laws about wage garnishment. A creditor must obtain a court order to garnish your wages. In South Carolina, wages cannot be garnished for commercial/personal debt. However, debt pertaining to child support, taxes, alimony, and student loans can be collected through garnishing your wages. Any federal benefits you may receive may also be garnished for those debts.
How Long a Creditor can Collect Debt
Creditors only have a certain number of years to collect your debt. This time begins the first time you miss a payment. Once the statute of limitations expires, the debt is considered “time-barred.” However, you need to be aware that every state has their own laws on how long the statute lasts and that may be different depending on what types of debt you have.
Often, creditors will work with you to resolve your debt. Most of the time, they would rather get a small amount from you each month than have to take you to court. For this reason, it is a good idea to contact your creditors immediately when you are having problems making your payments. Try to find a solution that works for you and your creditor before legal action is taken against you.
Shopping for a used car is often more difficult than buying a car that is new. While odds are good a new car isn’t going to have been wrecked or have damages you can’t see, sometimes, used cars do. Some of those cars have salvage titles, and they are some of the most dangerous vehicles on the lot. That’s why it’s important to know what you’re buying before you sign the contract.
Why do cars get salvage titles?
In South Carolina, a salvage title is issued on a car when the cost of fixing the vehicle is 75% more than the value of the car. When this happens, the insurance company tells the DMV that the damage has met the 75% mark, and the DMV issues a salvage title for the car. Some of the reasons for a car being a “total loss” are flooding, electrical fires, and collisions.
How can you be sure not to buy a car with a salvage title?
Research is the best thing you can do to ensure that you don’t buy a car with a salvage title. Start by asking the seller if the car has been previously wrecked? You can also use the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN number) to look it up with Carfax or the National Insurance Crime Bureau. You can also check if the vehicle has been reported stolen by calling a police department. It may be in your best interest to get the car inspected by a reputable mechanic and/or body shop as well.
Is it illegal to sell a damaged car?
Although it may seem illegal to sell a car that may be unsafe, it is legal if the car has a salvage title. However, a car salesperson must disclose that the car has a salvage title. A dealer cannot and should not hide the fact that a car has been deemed a total loss in the fine print of the contract. Dealerships have the expertise and resources to know when a car has been totaled so there is no excuse not to disclose the fact. Unfortunately, disclosure doesn’t always happen, and you can end up with a car that is too dangerous to be driven.
To avoid the costly mistake of buying a car with a salvage title, do the research. Learning the history of a car before you buy it can save you a lot of money and heartache down the road. If you do discover you’ve unknowingly purchased a car with a salvage title, you should contact a reputable attorney immediately so you’re not stuck with a car you don’t feel safe to drive.
It is becoming very common for people to turn to the internet for a car purchase. If you are considering it, be careful and follow these tips to get the best deal.
Do your Research
Before you begin your search for your car, do plenty of research about the type of car you want. Discover what the car usually sells for and any problems other people have had with the car, including any recalls.
Beware of Low Prices
Cars posted for sale with ridiculously low prices that are well below market value should send up a red flag. Sellers tend to always have a reason for such prices. They are being deployed or someone is sick or has died, and they need the money right away. On the other hand, the seller may want to get rid of the car because he wrecked it or the car has had lots of mechanical problems.
The pictures that are posted may be stock photos and not that of the actual car. Always, always be careful when the price is too low. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Research the Seller’s Information
If you are buying from an individual, you can search for that person on the internet, too. You can also check dealer ratings. Research delivery options. Another big red flag is someone who refuses to communicate with you in person.
Make sure you see a Title
Ask the seller to send you a photo of the title and a photo of the VIN plate on the dash. When you look at the pictures, make sure the person who is selling the vehicle is the person on the title and that the title’s VIN matches the one on the dash.
Obtain an Outside Inspection
If you are unable to view the car yourself, have a reliable inspection done by someone other than the seller or dealer. Ask for photos of any damage that the inspector may see and for a check of the odometer reading to make sure the seller has given you an accurate number. If the seller won’t allow an inspection, walk away.
Ask for a History Report
Dealers will have access to histories of their vehicles if it has been serviced. Ask for copies of maintenance records to prove that the car has been regularly serviced such as oil change. If the seller refuses to give you a copy of any of these records or gives you excuses why they can’t be produced, don’t buy the car.
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