Financial Advice

National Collegiate Student Loan Trust Settles Loans for 39% of Balance

A case out of California by attorney Greg Fitzgerald’s firm Fitzgerald & Campbell caught my eye. In this case NCSLT settled a $38,918 debt for $15,200 and allowed payment interest free over 9.5 years.

It always amazes me the number of time NCSLT sues consumers over debts only to have people give up and lose by default. There are plenty of NCSLT wins and even some for higher settlements at times.

The hardest part is not if there are good opportunities to settle student loans but that it is very hard for people to find an attorney who is experienced in this area.

I asked Greg for some feedback on the case. He said, “They hired us and we naturally beat all that back and ultimately settled. Attached is the stipulation for judgment where the terms are $132.18 per month from 6-20-17 to 11-20-26 and a final payment of $131.18 (that’s $15,200 interest free over 9.5 years!)

The thing about these NCSLT cases is that we actually think we can win them. The problem is, we naturally can’t guarantee that. So when an offer such as this comes along, the client has to decide: do they try the case, hoping for a victory that I cannot guarantee, or do they make the very affordable interest free payment on a reduced amount? Most people acknowledge they owe something and actually want to pay something. Most times the only reason they defaulted in the first place is because the private student loan lender is totally unreasonable on the payment amount (let alone the total balance due amount). This is why I generally encourage consumers default on private student loans if they cannot afford the payment (which needs to be fixed) and/or have no definitive term (# of payments).”

Geg stands behind his position on strategically defaulting with a plan. He’s also the same attorney who contributed Top 10 Reasons You Should Stop Paying Your Unaffordable Private Student Loan.

And besides settlements as the result of a court case, settlements are available for private student loans without being sued. You just need to know what to do.

Steve Rhode

Get Out of Debt GuyTwitter, G+, Facebook

If you have a credit or debt question you’d like to ask, just click here and ask away.

This article by Steve Rhode first appeared on Get Out of Debt Guy and was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.

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Financial Advice

FTC Returns Money to Victims of Abusive Debt Collection Operation

The Federal Trade Commission is mailing 4,380 checks totaling more than $550,000 to people harmed by Houston-based Goldman Schwartz, Inc., a debt collection operation that also used other business names, including Cole, Tanner & Wright and Harris County Check Recovery.

The FTC sued Goldman Schwartz for multiple law violations, including making false threats and collecting bogus attorney’s fees and other unauthorized charges. The defendants were banned from the debt collection business under a settlement with the FTC.

Injured consumers will receive approximately 28 percent of the money they paid Goldman Schwartz. The average check amount is $127.

The FTC never requires consumers to pay money or provide account information to cash a refund check. Recipients should deposit or cash checks within 60 days. If they have questions about the case, they should contact the FTC’s refund administrator, Rust Consulting Inc., at 866-683-7387.

To learn more about the FTC’s refund program, visit www.ftc.gov/refunds.

This article by the FTC was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.

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Financial Advice

Uber Just Upped Your Side Hustle Earning Potential

The past few months have been pretty rocky for Uber. In fact, if the company were an Uber driver, you’d probably give them one star for the nausea-inducing wild ride they’d have taken you on. But the ride-sharing pioneer and sometimes Silicon Valley darling is looking to make a U-turn, starting with the addition a feature that will certainly interest current and prospective Uber drivers alike.

For the first time, Uber will now offer in-app tipping. This comes after years of the company’s main competitor Lyft often citing their allowance of tipping as a way to gain drivers. As I alluded to, this change of heart comes on the heels of CEO Travis Kalanick’s resignation from the company, topping off a laundry list of PR nightmares and internal struggles at Uber.

But enough about what led to this change,  here’s why it’s a big deal. First, prior to now riders who wanted to tip their driver had to do so in cash. Considering that Millennials — a notoriously digital clan on the whole — make up the majority of  Uber’s clientele, you can imagine what an inconvenience that was. Making matters worse, Uber is specifically designed to be a cash-free exchange, so the absence of a tipping option always made some uncomfortable. However, now that Uber is matching Lyft and allowing guests to simply tack on a few dollars to their fare at the end of their ride, it stands to reason that drivers will be seeing a lot more tips coming their way.

Of course, there are a couple potential downsides to Uber’s new tipping initiative. For one, in the eyes of some good-hearted but short on funds riders, taking an Uber where tipping was less customary may have been a selling point over Lyft. Similarly, there’s a small chance that riders were compensating for a lack of tip by giving drivers a better rating than they may have felt was actually deserved. This could mean that, from here on out, riders may feel obligated to offer some sort of tip but might be a bit more stingy with the five-star ratings.

On the other hand, for passengers who wished to reward their drivers monetarily, it was always a pain to find cash (let alone small bills) before taking an Uber. In that way, this addition is a convenience for riders as well. Plus, with Uber and Lyft now on the same page, both companies will have to find new ways to innovate and stand out to customers.

Uber’s tipping feature is currently available in Seattle, Minneapolis, and Houston as of this week. As for the rest of the country, the company says in-app tipping should be completely rolled out by the end of July. So if you’ve ever considered starting a side hustle and driving for Uber, now may be the perfect time to get on board.

This article by Kyle Burbank first appeared on Money@30 and was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.

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Financial Advice

Avoid Quick Fix Debt Elimination Scams

Consumers that are looking to improve their credit and credit score often look for ways to get their existing debt under control. Managing and reducing existing consumer debt is certainly one way to help manage debt payments, credit reports and credit scores. Unfortunately, too many consumers in need of debt relief fall victim to debt elimination scams.

Debt elimination will help with an individual’s credit score over time. With lower monthly payments, a consumer can now better manage their payments and improve their payment history as well as reduce the amount of debt displayed in their credit report. These changes in debt payments and debt load will help improve a credit score. But, quick debt elimination programs are not the solution are usually just scams.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has recently produced a press release informing consumers that the number of fraudulent schemes supposedly designed to “eliminate” debt is increasing. As the credit crisis continues and consumers remain overwhelmed with credit card debt, collection agency calls and even foreclosures it is no surprise that debt elimination marketing has increased as well. These fraudulent debt elimination schemes are being marketed to ordinary consumers, not just those in foreclosures or with poor credit histories. The new targets of the debt elimination scams include borrowers who are current on their payments.

There are number of potential significant consequences to using these fraudulent services. The scams are generally designed to defraud the consumer with fraudulent fees that can ranges from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. Since the debt elimination plan is established as a scam and will not eliminate or reduce the consumer’s debt the end result often includes a worse credit report and lower credit score. Furthermore, the creditors that may be contacted under a fraudulent pretense by debt elimination company may take additional legal action against the consumer to resolve the fraudulent attempt to eliminate the debt.

Some of the debt elimination scams do more harm to an individual’s credit report and credit score because the intention of the scam artist to steal the consumers identity. A potential result of participating in the illegal scheme is that the fraudsters acquire personal information and the engage in theft of a victim’s identity. Once the personal data and identification is obtained, they may be able to run up substantial new debts before the victim is aware of the theft and further damage the individual credit score.

The deceptive processes are pitched and revealed to the consumer or borrower to con the consumer into paying money to eliminate the debt. Some of the scams used by the fraudulent debt elimination companies may include the following processes and notices:

A phony arbitration award from an arbitrator not authorized under the debt agreement.

The use of a nonexistent “trust account” supposedly held in a person’s name at the United States Department of the Treasury or some other part of the federal government.

The substitution of a fictitious U.S. government debt instrument, which claims to be payable or authorized by the United States Department of the Treasury or a related person or entity, for the obligor’s original note or account at the creditor.

A notice to the creditor that the contract or note is illegal and, therefore, the borrower does not have to pay the debt and may even be entitled to a compensatory award.

A notice to the creditor that the creditor does not have authority to “lend its credit” to the obligor and has violated the law, and therefore, the borrower does not have to pay the debt and may even be entitled to a compensatory award.

The sample fraudulent processes listed were listed by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency Special Supervision Division.

There may be a number of variations on the elimination debt scams. Consumers should always be careful of quick fixed to eliminate debt or fix a credit score or repair credit. If it sounds to be good to be true, it probably is. Investigate unsolicited offers carefully before going any further.

This article by Maiane Cassanego first appeared on Credit Zeal and was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.

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Financial Advice

Did I Get Scammed by Federal Debt Assistance Association?

Question:

Dear Steve,

I received the exact letter depicted in your article about the Federal Debt Assistance Association back in December of 2016.

I was unemployed for the first four months of 2016 so it was convenient when a “friend” of mine broke up with his girlfriend as my lease was coming up, and I moved in with him to cut my expenses in half. Unfortunately, he lost his job the month I moved in leaving him unable to pay his portion of the $2,400 monthly rent. I paid it, but drained my savings and racked up about $25k in credit card debt.

I was getting back on my feet in December but after repeated calls and letters, decided to give FDAAP a chance as the appearance of their letters and verbiage written made me think they were affiliated with the government.

I have all the documentation including the letter with what appeared to be a government seal. I signed with them back in February, paid $1,000 up front and have been paying them $500/month since then. They advised me to stop payment on the three cards with the most debt, and they provided me a form to send to each company requesting that they only contact me by mail moving forward.

I was told to keep detailed records of collection calls from the creditors, which I did, and the calls dissipated 90 day after I mailed in the mail communication request forms. I’ve scanned all documents to them, but cannot get firm answers regarding the progress of the debt validation process they promised would take the $25k I owed and reduce it to $15k which I would pay to them in $500 increments for the next 24 months.

It is difficult to get anyone on the phone and they are very slow to respond via email. When they do respond, I cannot get any straight answers.

I am now in a panic and wondering what I can do to get out of the contract, or who I can contact to assist me with what I’m now realizing was/is a total scam?

Dan

Answer:

Dear Dan,

Well it looks like the website for FDAASSOCIATION.ORG is offline. I’m not sure if they are having temporary server issues or they’ve vanished.

It sounds like they sold you into the garden variety debt settlement solution and asked you to watch for Fair Debt Collection Practice Act (FDCPA) violations.

Public records say the company domain name is registered to:

Registrant Name: Robert Pantoulis
Registrant Organization: Federal Debt Assistance Association, LLC
Registrant Street: 11615 Crossroads Circle, Suite M
Registrant City: Baltimore
Registrant State/Province: Maryland
Registrant Postal Code: 21220
Registrant Country: US
Registrant Phone: +1.8777777845
Registrant Phone Ext:
Registrant Fax: +1.8884556089
Registrant Fax Ext:
Registrant Email: directors@fdaa1.com

The BBB is reporting:

MISUSE OF BBB NAME AND/OR LOGO

In March 2017, it was brought to the attention of BBB that the business was utilizing the BBB Torch symbol in the email signatures of their employees. This business location is not accredited by this BBB and our policies prohibit such a reference.

PATTERN OF COMPLAINTS

As of March 2017, BBB files indicate that this business has a pattern of complaints concerning deceptive advertising (consumers allege they were deceived by the company’s marketing materials that the business was affiliated with a government agency), high pressure sales tactics, high up-front fees for service, and poor customer service.

BBB requested for the business to review and respond to these complaint allegations and provide an action plan for how to eliminate the underlying cause for the pattern of complaints. To date, the business has failed to provide a response to this request. – Source

I’m afraid it’s not looking good to expect an anticipated outcome from this situation.

The last cached Contact and About Us pages appear to be from five days ago.

Rather than get volcanic at this moment I would suggest you follow my guide How to Try to Get a Refund From a Debt Relief Company.

According to the State of Maryland, where the Federal Debt Assistance Association says they are located, the company is NOT IN GOOD STANDING. The State of Maryland says that means ““Not in Good Standing” means the business entity is not in compliance with one or more Maryland laws that apply to businesses and their responsibilities in this State. The status can be returned to Good Standing by addressing the manner in which the business is out of compliance.” – Source

But it appears the reason for the NOT IN GOOD STANDING status may be because of the lack of their first annual filing. The company was registered in Maryland on January 14, 2016 and not other documents are on file about the company.

When you contact the company you might also want to send a copy to another address they list on their Maryland filing:

Federal Debt Assistance Association
9904 Harford Road
Parkville, MD 21234

You might also want to look at my Get Out of Debt Calculator and you may come to the conclusion that bankruptcy will be a lot faster and cheaper than the current path you are on especially if the company has bailed on you.

Steve Rhode

Get Out of Debt GuyTwitter, G+, Facebook

If you have a credit or debt question you’d like to ask, just click here and ask away.

This article by Steve Rhode first appeared on Get Out of Debt Guy and was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.

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Financial Advice

Logan Ryan of the Tennessee Titans Pays Off Brothers Student Loans

Logan Ryan, now with the Tennessee Titans just did a wonderful thing and paid of his brother’s $82,000 in student loan debt.

Ryan posted the picture below on Instagram to celebrate the good deed. He added, “Surprised my big bro and paid off his student loans for his 29th Bday!! My man got accepted to college, graduated with honors, and now works as an engineer. He did everything the right way and still lives with a ridiculous amount of student loan debt.The system is broke and makes no sense!! I’m Fortunate and blessed to be able to take care of that for him.. Love you big bro you deserve it!!”

And while that is great news, you’ve got to look closely at the memo line on the big check for a good laugh.

Steve Rhode

Get Out of Debt GuyTwitter, G+, Facebook

If you have a credit or debt question you’d like to ask, just click here and ask away.

This article by Steve Rhode first appeared on Get Out of Debt Guy and was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.

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Financial Advice

Ransomware re-do? Back up your files.

Based on early news reports, it’s possible that another widespread ransomware attack is sweeping the globe. It may spread using the same vulnerability that the WannaCry attack used in May, or it may be a new virus. Either way, if organizations don’t patch their software, they’re at risk. It’s crucial to keep operating systems and other software up to date.

If you’re a computer user, what else can you do to avoid losing access to your data because of a ransomware attack? Back up your files! Here’s a lighthearted reminder that backing up your files is serious business.

Know somebody who might need a reminder to back up their files? Send them our video, or post it to social media.

This article by the FTC was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.

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