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We hope the articles below help you understand your rights as a consumer. You can scroll through the titles, or sort by Practice Area or Topic. You can also use the search feature to locate information by keyword.

Flitter Milz represents people with a variety of problems involving consumer credit and collections. If you have a particular question or believe your consumer rights have been violated, Contact Us for a no cost consultation.

Dangers of Co-Signing an Auto Loan

Being asked to co-sign a loan for a family member or close friend is a larger responsibility than most people realize.  When you co-sign a loan, such as an auto loan, you and your credit are on the hook if that relative or friend decides to stop making payments on the loan.  In other words, by co-signing, you are a co-borrower and must accept responsibility of terms stated in the loan agreement.

Risks of Co-Signing

There are inherent risks associated with co-signing an auto loan for someone else. Usually, when someone approaches a relative or friend about co-signing a loan for the purchase of a vehicle, it is because that individual, or co-borrower, does not have good enough credit to qualify for the loan on his or her own.

When you agree to co-sign an auto loan, if anything goes wrong, you will be subject to the terms of the loan and responsible to satisfy any balance owed.

The vehicle could be repossessed.
If the co-borrower does misses payments on the auto loan and the vehicle is repossessed, the lender will approach the co-signer to furnish past due payments, or possibly request payment of the entire loan balance.  If the co-signer can not meet the terms, the vehicle would be sold at an auction or private sale.  Afterwards, the lender will seek payment of any deficient balance owed to satisfy the loan.

Additionally, when proper insurance is not maintained on the vehicle, the co-borrower may be in breach of the auto loan agreement. This type of breach could pave the way for the lender to repossess the vehicle, causing additional harm to the both co-borrowers credit reports and credit scores.

You Could Be Sued.

Once the vehicle is sold, the lender may assign collection of the deficient balance to a debt collector or law firm collector.  If the loan balance is not paid, the lender could choose to sue the co-borrowers to recoup funds owed on the outstanding balance.

 

 

The Occurrance of Unexpected Life Events
Equally important, the loan agreement may state terms  if unexpected life events were to occur.  In these situations, the lender may look to the co-signer to fulfill the terms of the outstanding auto loan agreement. Be sure to read the loan agreement carefully and understand your obligation.

      • Divorce
      • Loss of employment
      • Filing for bankruptcy
      • Death of Co-Borrower

Impact on your Credit — Understand your Debt-to-Income Ratio.
Co-signing a loan should not be taken casually. The co-signer must consider whether or not credit may be needed for him or herself.  If a co-signer has too much debt in relation to income, he or she may be viewed as a high risk for a new loan. The lender may either decline the new loan application or offer unfavorable credit terms.


Offer Help in Other Ways 


If you truly desire to help out a family member or friend who may simply be unable to secure a loan on his or her own, perhaps you can consider privately loaning the individual the money for the purchase. In other words, you lend the individual the money and they pay you back in installments over time, or whatever agreement the two of you come up with.

Of course, if the loan is for a larger purchase, such as an automobile, you should make sure the friend or relative would be able to pay you back. Whenever you loan money, it’s advisable to get your agreement in writing and indicate the amount borrowed and terms for repayment.

Seek Legal Help

Flitter Milz is a nationally recognized consumer protection law firm that represents individuals in matters against auto lenders, as well as debt collectors and credit bureaus.  CONTACT US for a no cost legal evaluation to determine whether your consumer rights have been violated.

 

 

How long can a debt collector pursue an old debt?

Are you getting calls or collection letters about an old debt from years ago? Perhaps you forgot about it, or you simply did not have the money to pay for it at the time.  But now, debt collectors are calling and sending you letters, demanding that you pay up.  You may be asking yourself: What are my rights? Is it legal for the debt collector to demand payment of this old obligation?

Debt Collectors must follow the Law.

In Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and many other states, debt collectors can lawfully attempt to collect a debt no matter how old the debt is. However, federal law prohibits debt collectors from making any false, deceptive, or misleading statements in connection with the collection of any debt. This means that they cannot threaten to sue you when the debt is too old and beyond the legal time period allowable to file a lawsuit.

For example, in Pennsylvania the statute of limitations on a debt is four years from the date of default or the date of last payment. But sometimes debt collectors make misleading statements in their collection letters which suggest or imply that they have the right to sue or offer to “settle” the debt. This type of misleading statement violates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. When a collector violates the law, the consumer may pursue a lawsuit against the collector, and the collector will be responsible for the consumer’s legal fees.

Attempts to Collect Old Debt
Even though a debt collector can still make attempts to collect on old debts for which you cannot be sued, you should think twice before volunteering a payment. First, the amount might not be accurate, meaning that you end up paying more than what was required. Additionally, if you make a payment on an old debt, you run the risk of reviving the statute of limitations on the debt, making it possible for the creditor to sue you for the debt when it previously had no lawful basis to do so.

You’ve been sued?  Do not ignore the lawsuit.


Sometimes, the first time someone learns about a debt is through a lawsuit filed against them.  If you have been sued on a debt, it is very important that you obtain legal counsel.  Do not ignore the summons. Instead, you should seek out legal counsel.

Are debts listed incorrectly on your credit reports?

Debts are often reported to the credit bureaus, and then listed on credit reports. These debts must be accurately listed in all respects.  You can dispute any errors that appear on your credit report with respect to a debt, such as an inflated balance or an incomplete payment history.

 

How to dispute errors with the credit bureaus
When you submit a dispute to the credit bureaus, we recommend that you send the dispute by U.S. Mail, Certified Return Receipt, so that you have a good paper trail of your dispute.  For this reason, we recommend that you do not call the credit bureaus to dispute.  Also, do not submit disputes online. In an online dispute, you run the risk of losing important consumer rights buried in the fine print of the terms and conditions.

Also, when disputing, make sure to explain in detail the error pertaining to the debt.  Gather all supporting documents that illustrate the error and provide it to the credit bureau along with your written dispute.  The credit bureau then has 30 days to either fix the inaccuracy or delete the portion of the credit report that you disputed.

What does Charged-Off Debt mean?
There are limits on how long a debt may appear on your credit report.  Debts that have been “charged off” must be removed from your credit report 7 years and 180 days after the date of the charge off.  If such an old debt appears on your credit report, you can dispute this with the credit bureaus to have it removed.

Get Help from a Qualified Consumer Protection Law Firm
Flitter Milz is a nationally recognized consumer protection law firm experienced in representing consumers who have suffered from abusive debt collection practices and credit reporting errors.  Contact Us for a free consultation and find out how we can help.

 

Overwhelmed by debt? Bankruptcy may not be the answer.

What Happens When I Declare Bankruptcy Consumers Law

Bankruptcy may be an opportunity for a fresh start, however, it is not without consequences. Often the ripples resonating from bankruptcy can affect your financial life for many years to come.

If you are overwhelmed with debt, you may want to consult with a consumer protection attorney.  The consumer protection laws provide protections from abusive collection tactics used by collection agencies and law firm collectors.

Continue reading Overwhelmed by debt? Bankruptcy may not be the answer.

How Debt Collection Laws Help Pennsylvanians

Past due bills debt

When you owe money to a debt collection agency, its employees have the right to contact you and try to recoup that debt.

But those rights only go so far. The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act regulates what debt collectors, or law firms acting as collectors, can do when contacting Pennsylvania consumers, and bars them from engaging in deception while trying to recover money that is owed.

Continue reading How Debt Collection Laws Help Pennsylvanians

How does a “Charge-Off” affect the consumer?

When payments on your account go unpaid, the creditor may stop you from making additional charges and list your account as a charge-off.  But even if the creditor stops trying to collect on your account, you still could be responsible for the debt.

Continue reading How does a “Charge-Off” affect the consumer?

Midland Credit Management KO’d in Flitter Milz Lawsuit

September 24, 2018/Philadelphia, PA

U.S. Court of Appeals precedential ruling impacts consumers nationwide

In an important ruling this week, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia, PA agreed with Flitter Milz that a collection dun sent to a consumer was deceptive and in violation of the federal law regulating debt collectors.

Midland Credit Management, one of the largest debt-buyers and debt collectors in the United States, sent our client a collection notice stating Midland would “report forgiveness of debt as required by IRS regulations.”  Flitter Milz argued that the debt involved was so small that there is nothing ever to report to the IRS, and the statement about Internal Revenue was just a scare tactic.

The federal appeals court, sitting in Philadelphia, agreed that the consumer might be persuaded into thinking that a settlement may be reportable to the IRS, and this remark is misleading under the consumer laws.  The Court agreed with Flitter Milz, holding that “it is not merely the inclusion of a lie, but also incomplete” language in a collection letter that may violate the consumer laws. The Court has told Midland that ‘half-truths’ to consumers are not good enough.

Flitter Milz is a nationally recognized consumer protection law firm representing consumers in matters against collection agencies and collection law firms for violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. “This victory, is not just for our client and firm, but for consumers across the U.S.”, said Cary Flitter and Andy Milz.

To learn more about this case, Robert A. Schultz, Jr & Donna Schultz v Midland Credit Management, click here .  Consumers with questions about collection contact, calls or letters, from Midland Credit Management, contact us.

Midland Credit Management is a billion dollar purchaser of consumer debt, who collects and files collection lawsuits in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and across the country.

Collection Contact After a Debt is Paid

Sometimes collectors contact consumers and ask for payment on a debt that was already satisfied. Whether the collector made calls or sent letters, the consumer may be left confused and uncertain about whether there was a clerical error or if the collection effort is a scam.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act outlines actions that debt collectors can and cannot take. If collectors contact you about a debt that was already paid, you have the right to request proof of the debt and how it was calculated. You can also request confirmation that the collector is permitted to collect the debt.

Check Your Records

Once a debt has been assigned or sold to a collector, the consumer may request information about the debt from the collector, not from the creditor. If you are not sure whether a claimed debt is owed, gather your account statements, bank records, and payment history. It may also be helpful to obtain current credit reports. These documents will assist in determining whether money is still owed. Once you’ve reviewed your papers, write the collector to dispute the debt.  Be sure to enclose documentation with your letter that proves the debt was satisfied.

Request Proof from the Collector

If you do not have proof showing payment of the debt, obtain payment information from the debt collector. You may request that the collector provides account statements from the creditor, which show the period when your last payment was made. Send a letter to the collector asking for verification of the debt and how the claimed balance was calculated.

Document Your Contact

Good record-keeping which shows your account payment history will help any disputes sent to the collector.  Maintain a file of all correspondence with the collector, including documents showing proof of payment – such as cancelled checks, money order receipts, etc.

When collectors contact you by phone, keep a log of the calls noting the date, time of day, caller ID, name of collection agent and agency, phone number where the call was received, and details of any phone conversations, messages, or texts.

Seek Free Legal Help

Flitter Milz is a nationally recognized consumer protection law firm that represents victims of abusive collection tactics.  Contact Us for a free evaluation of collection calls and letters that you’ve received.  There may have been a violation of your consumer rights.

Stay Calm When Debt Collectors Call

When it comes to debt collection, it’s important to find a balance between looking out for scams and ensuring you pay the debt you actually owe. You should begin by establishing whether or not you owe the debt the collector is contacting you about. Debt negatively affects your credit report and credit score. Make sure you take action to resolve any debts you owe.

Your rights against Abusive Collectors

To verify that the collection contact is legitimate, ask questions to find out the name of the collection agency or collection law firm and where they are located. Also, request details about the debt including the name of the original creditor, the account number, and the balance claimed. You can write to the collector and request a validation and itemized calculation of the debt.

As a consumer, you’re protected against harassment and other unfair practices by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). It’s important to ensure collectors aren’t using unfair tactics against you. Under the FDCPA, debt collectors cannot:

  • Contact you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. without permission
  • Continue to call your place of employment after you ask them to stop
  • Contact friends, family or neighbors and disclose information about the debt to them
  • Harass you using threats or profane language
  • Lie about who they are or the debt you owe

Take the Appropriate Action

Once you know whether or not you owe the debt, figure out an action plan. If you owe the debt, you may want to establish a payment plan. You’ll need the collector to provide written documentation showing the total balance owed. Then, figure out how much you can pay each month until the obligation is satisfied. If you enter a payment plan with a collector, be sure to obtain written confirmation of the payment terms, the payment due date, and where your payment should be sent. Keep accurate records of all payments made and when they were applied to your account.

If you’re convinced that you do not owe the debt, write a dispute letter to the collector.  Include any proof that shows the debt was already paid or does not belong to you.  Be sure to keep a copy of your dispute letter for your files.  Request the collector respond to you in writing.

Stop Collection Contact

At any time throughout the process, you can write a Cease and Desist letter to the debt collector that states they need to stop contacting you. This may be be helpful if the debt collector is contacting you at work, during odd hours, or if you feel your consumer rights are being violated. Be sure to send your correspondence to the collector by certified mail with a return receipt. It’s important for you to have proof that your letter was received.

A Cease and Desist letter does not make the debt go away. Often the collector will transfer the debt to another collector or back to the original creditor. Once a Cease and Desist letter is sent to a collector, that collector is not permitted to contact you again or attempt collection. If the collector contacts you after receiving your Cease and Desist letter, reach out to a qualified consumer protection attorney to evaluate whether your rights have been violated.

Seek Free Legal Help 

Flitter Milz is a nationally recognized consumer protection law firm that represents victims of abusive collection tactics.  Contact Us for a free evaluation of whether your consumer rights have been violated.

 

How Much Should I Spend on my Credit Card?

Credit cards can give you a lot of flexibility when it comes to your finances. When you get a credit card, you have the freedom to make purchases even when you don’t have any cash on hand. As long as you always spend within your means and make payments on time, your credit accounts can help build a well rounded credit history and reflect positively on your overall financial health.

Most consumers know that every credit account has a spending limit. If you exceed this limit, purchases may be declined. This doesn’t mean that you want to spend just up to your limit every month. If you consistently max out your credit cards, or come close to doing so, it will negatively affect your credit and lenders will see you as a high risk borrower. As well, if balances are not paid off at the end of the month, interest is charged on the remaining balance, plus all new charges.

How much credit do I have?

The easiest way to see your credit limit is to log in to your online account or check the monthly statements that you receive in the mail. You should see the available credit on the account clearly listed.

How much credit should I use?

Keep your credit utilization ratio low to continue making the most of your credit accounts. Ideally, you don’t want to spend more than 30% of your available credit. This means that if your account has a $1,000 credit limit, you should avoid spending more than $300 each month.

If your available credit is fairly low and you’re having a difficult time keeping your spending below 30%, consider making multiple payments per month to keep your balance down. Credit companies typically report balances to the bureaus at the end of the month. When it’s reported, you want your usage to be above 0%, but below 30%. This shows that you’re a responsible borrower.

Can I increase the amount of credit that I have?

If you regularly use more than 30% of your available credit, it might be a good idea to see if the creditor is willing to increase your limit. The creditor will probably need to perform a hard inquiry to assess your creditworthiness. Hard inquiries temporarily have a negative effect on your credit.

Creditors are often willing to increase your limit if you make payments on time and in full each month, or if you’ve had an increase in income.

You could also consider opening another credit card. Each individual account has its own set limit, so opening a new account will give you an additional 30% of the new account’s limit. Keep in mind that opening another account also requires a hard inquiry on behalf of the creditor. For this reason, it’s best to choose between opening a new account or requesting that an existing creditor increase your limit. This way, you avoid two hard inquiries.

Seek Free Legal Help

Flitter Milz is a nationally recognized consumer protection law firm that represents victims of abusive collection tactics.  Contact Us for a free evaluation of contact that collectors have made with you.