How to Use this Resource

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.

How to Build an Emergency Savings Fund

Unfortunately, emergencies happen to all of us. Maybe your pet is suddenly sick and you have to pay an expensive vet bill. Or, you get into a fender bender and need to pay to get your car fixed. Emergencies are serious, unexpected situations that require immediate action. Many Americans don’t have enough money in savings to cover the cost of these unexpected expenses.   More often than not, they turn to credit cards to pay for emergencies.

While using credit is fine from time to time, it can be detrimental to rely on it, especially if you can’t keep up with the minimum payments. If you fall behind on payments, your account could go into default and negatively affect your credit report and credit score.

To set up an emergency fund that can help to avoid using credit cards in the future, follow these steps.

1. Establish a Specific Savings Goal

Start with a savings goal of $1000 and set aggressive benchmarks to reach your goal. Create a budget for your expenses and determine where you can cut costs for a few months. Food, entertainment, and transportation expenses are a good place to start.

2. Deduct a Set Amount from Your Paycheck

Deduct a set amount of money from every paycheck and put this into a savings account. Many online banking accounts allow you to set this up automatically so that it’s easier to stay on track.

$1000 is enough to cover many emergencies. Once you reach this goal, you can set more modest goals and work on building a more substantial savings account over time.

3. Consider Other Sources of Income

If you can’t find areas to cut expenses and are having difficulty saving a portion of each paycheck, consider potential sources for additional income. Babysitting, dog sitting, and house cleaning, or seasonal work such as cutting grass, raking leaves or shoveling snow, are all good part time options that are always in demand.

4. Take Charge of Your Finances

Assess your overall financial well-being. Request your current credit report and address any issues or inaccurate information.

If you’ve relied on credit for emergencies in the past and find yourself in debt as a result, take steps to pay off credit card debt over time. If you begin to receive contact from debt collectors, make sure you’re familiar with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Under this law, debt collectors are not allowed to threaten or harass you, provide false information about your debt, or contact friends, neighbors or family about your debt.

Get Legal Help from Abusive Debt Collectors

Flitter Milz is a consumer protection law firm that represents people that have become victim to debt collector’s abusive practices.  If you have been contacted by a collection agency or law firm collector, we will evaluate whether your consumer rights have been violated – whether you fell behind on payments or not.  Contact us for a free legal evaluation.

How to Pay off Credit Card Debt

Believe it or not, the average household debt is approximately $134,643 — an amount which can include mortgages, auto loans, credit cards and personal loan balances. Debt has continued to increase as cost of living increases. And as a result, many Americans rely on credit cards to pay for expenses they can’t necessarily afford.

If you’re in debt, the idea of paying it off probably feels overwhelming and unrealistic. It can be difficult to keep up with minimum payments while managing other everyday expenses. But if you make a long-term plan to pay off your debt, and stick with your plan, you’ll make significant progress toward your goal.

Five Steps to Address Debt

  1. Make more than minimum payments on credit card and loan balances

2. Prioritize your debts and pay off those with the highest interest rate first

3. Contact the creditor to see if you can make adjustments to your account.  You may be able to change a payment due date or lower an interest rate, to accommodate your budget and income.

4. Evaluate personal items to liquidate. Use the funds to pay off or lower your debt

5. Create a budget and track your spending.  Evaluate where you may be able to cut expenses.  The money you save can be used to lower your debt.

Protection from Abusive Collectors

Contact from debt collectors can cause additional stress. You have rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).  This federal law prohibits collectors from using deceptive, misleading abusive tactics to collect consumer debt. Under the FDCPA, debt collectors are not permitted to:

  • Threaten or harass you
  • Tell you false information about your debt
  • Contact family and friends and disclose information about your debt
  • Continue trying to collect from you if you requested they stop

But debt collectors may not always provide accurate information about your debt resort to unlawful tactics to get you to pay. If any information seems inaccurate, ask that the collector provide Validation or Itemization of the debt.

Seek Free Legal Help

Flitter Milz is a consumer protection law firm that represents consumers that have become victim of unfair collection practices by debt collectors and collection law firms.  Whether you owe the debt of not, the collector must follow the law.  Contact us to discuss your consumer rights.

How to Avoid a Bank Repossession After Purchasing a Car

The decision to purchase a new car is exciting. Vehicles provide independence and mobility. Whether you’re purchasing a car for the first time or not, having the means to drive is liberating. You can go anywhere, whenever you like.

Buying a vehicle that suits your needs and your budget can be a challenge. Often, the vehicle that we would like to drive may not be the vehicle we can affordBefore going to the dealership, take some time to shop around for a vehicle as well as the credit you’ll use to purchase the vehicle. You want to make a purchase with financial terms that are right for you.

Auto Loan Default

Bank repos occur when the borrower does not meet the terms of a signed loan agreement. If the borrower defaults, the bank, credit union, or lending institution can take the vehicle back at any time. Repossessions often take place when a borrower:

Car Repossession

Once your vehicle has been repossessed, the bank is required to provide you with a notice detailing terms to retrieve your vehicle. If you are not able to meet those terms, the bank may sell your vehicle at a private sale or auction.

After the sale, the bank will send a notice to confirm the amount of the sale. That amount will be deducted from any balance owed on the loan. If there is a deficient balance, the bank will inform the borrower of that amount and take steps to collect.

Avoid Bank Repo

Always shop around and consider your options before your buy a new vehicle. Be sure to choose a car that you’re confident you can afford. Get all the details of your car loan agreement in writing and ensure that you’re aware of the terms of the agreement. Always pay in full and on time to avoid default.

If you think your vehicle may be repossessed, follow these steps.

Seek Legal Help

Flitter Milz is knowledgeable about the laws governing repossessions of cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats and RVs.  If your vehicle has been repossessed, Contact Us.  We will review the details of your case at no cost and evaluate whether your consumer rights were violated.

How to Find Out If Your Auto Loan Account is Current

A key aspect of financial wellness is to avoid spending above your means. It may be tempting to apply for an auto loan to buy a more expensive vehicle, but keep in mind that falling behind on payments not only harms your credit, but also leaves your vehicle at risk for repossession.

It’s important to stay up to date on all payments. Be sure to pay in full and on time each month. Remember, if you are late or miss a couple payments there may be additional interest or late fees owed to bring your account current. Until these fees are paid, your account is still overdue, even if you pay your next payment in full and on time.

Follow these steps to ensure that your account is current.

Request Payment History 

Contact the lender and ask for a complete loan payment history. You may be able to access this information online, otherwise, you can write a letter to the lender.

The lender’s records will show the amount of each payment you have made, the date on which they were applied to the account, and any additional charges, such as interest or late fees. Review the records to ensure everything appears accurate. Address any overdue payments and late fees as soon as possible. If your account is delinquent, the lender can repossess the vehicle without prior notice.

Keep a Record of Auto Loan Payment History

Moving forward, keep a detailed record of your auto loan payments. Your personal records should include the payment date, amount, method of payment, and the date it was applied to the account. Detailed records will keep you on track with payments to ensure you don’t fall behind, and are also useful in the event that the lender makes an error.

What to Do if You Fall Behind on Payments

It’s common to experience financial hardship, whether it’s due to job loss, divorce, health issues, or a death in the family. If you’re having difficulty making payments in full and on time, contact your lender. The lender may be willing to defer your payments and apply them to the end of the loan.

Be sure to request the lender provide you with a letter that confirms any changes to the original loan agreement. For example, if the lender agrees to defer payments to the end of the loan, additional costs associated with the deferment will have to be paid to satisfy the loan. It’s important to have a record of any changes in terms and any additional charges you may endure due to deferment.

What to Do if Your Vehicle is at Risk for Repossession

If you determine that your account is past due and think your vehicle may be repossessed, follow these steps and contact your lender. It may still be possible to avoid repossession if you’re able to pay off some of the overdue balance.

Seek Legal Advice

Contact Flitter Milz, an experienced consumer protection law firm, for a no cost consultation to discuss your rights if you believe your vehicle may be repossessed.

Improve Your Credit Health

Make your credit health a priority by assessing your credit and determining where you can make improvements. Set yourself up for success. Identify financial goals and outline clear steps to achieve them.

Resolve to Make Payments On Time

Set up a system and strive to pay your bills on time and in full. 

  • Set up automatic payments on  accounts 
    Payments will be automatically withdrawn from your account, meaning you never run the risk of a forgotten bill.
  • Align payment dates with pay check dates
    Review payment due dates for your accounts. If an important bill is due right before you receive your pay check, contact the creditor to see if your due date could be adjusted to coordinate with your pay check date.
  • Set reminders for bill payment due dates
    Mark your calendar for dates when your payment must be made.  If you send your payment through the mail, note the mailing date so that your payment is received by the creditor on time.
  • Contact the creditor to request deferment
    If you know that you won’t be able to make a loan payment on time, contact the lender before the due date passes. The lender may allow you to defer payments until your financial situation improves. A deferment still appears on your credit report, but a deferment doesn’t reflect as negatively as a default.

Resolve to Reduce Debt

Determine a set amount that you can put toward debt payoff each month.

Identify a set time period to pay off specific debts. With focus and discipline, small manageable payments will help achieve your goal. Also, these regular on time payments show responsibility to creditors.

Improve Your Credit Score & Credit Report

A credit score is derived from a formula of your payment history, length of credit, type of credit and credit usage.  It is an indicator of how likely you are to pay your bills on time.  Scores range from 300 to 850.  A lower score means that you may be a higher risk to a prospective lender, resulting in a credit denial or unfavorable credit terms for a loan.

An accurate credit report may raise your credit score.

You can get a free credit report from each of the three main credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, every twelve months. Check your report regularly to ensure that all information is accurate and up to date. If there are errors, dispute them by sending a letter directly to the credit bureaus. Your letter should include documents, such as an account statement or cancelled check, that proves why the error should be corrected.

In addition, you may want to write to the creditor to dispute a credit report error. Show a copy of your report and state why the listing is incorrect.  Request the creditor write the credit bureau to correct the listing.

Seek Free Legal Help

Flitter Milz is a nationally recognized consumer protection law firm representing victims with credit reporting accuracy and privacy issues. Contact us for a free legal evaluation to determine whether your consumer rights have been violated by the credit bureaus, debt collectors or lenders.

Any Change to the Terms of your Auto Loan must be in writing

Many times a job loss, illness, death in the family or divorce cause a hardship making it difficult to keep up with financial obligations. When a borrower defaults on auto loan terms, such as late or partial payments, a lapse in insurance coverage, or death of borrower, the lender may choose to repossess the vehicle.

The loan agreement signed at the time of purchase, or Retail Installment Sales Contract, details the lender’s rights if you default on the terms of the loan, and your rights if the vehicle is repossessed.

Lending money for an auto loan gives the bank or credit union a security interest in the vehicle.  If the loan terms are not met, the vehicle can be repossessed from the borrower.  The lender may demand full payment of the loan, payment of only past due payments, and payment of repossession charges and storage fees.

The lender and borrower may discuss alternative payment options, such as deferred payments. If any changes are made to the terms of a signed loan agreement, the borrower must get those terms in writing from the lender.  For example, if payments have been added to the end of the loan, the lender must show the calculation of any additional funds required to satisfy the loan.

Never rely on a verbal agreement. Any changes to the original terms of an agreement should be in writing.  

Seek Legal Assistance

Whether you have fallen behind on your auto loan payments or not, if your vehicle has been repossessed in the past six years, Flitter Milz will evaluate the repossession for potential violation of your consumer rights. Contact Us for a no cost legal evaluation.

Beware of Charged-Off Debts

Most people look for ways to pay their debts and get out of a financial hole. Whether it’s by taking a second job, reorganizing payment schedules with creditors, or possibly deferring payments to the end of the loan, there are steps that can be taken to resolve delinquent accounts.

If the creditor is unsuccessful in collecting with no payment by the borrower, the creditor may designate the debt as “charged-off”.

What is a Charge-Off?
Uncollectible “charged-off” debt is an internal accounting function and means that the creditor may choose to collect at a later date, or assign the collection to a third party collector, such as a collection agency or law firm collector. Charged-off debt does not disappear.  These debts may continue to be collected and probably be assigned or sold to a new debt collector.

Debt Collectors may collect Charged-Off debt
If the debt moves to a collector, the consumer may begin to receive calls or letters from the debt collector about the underlying debt.  Whether the consumer owes the debt or not, the collector must follow the law called The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Credit Reports list Charged-Off Accounts
The creditor is required to report charged-off debt to the credit bureaus. The creditor’s listing on the report will note the status as “Charged-Off” and can remain on the report for seven and a half years. This status carries negative weight and may impact the consumer’s ability to obtain credit.

Tips to negotiate charged off accounts
-Request an itemized calculation of the debt
-Only agree to payment terms you are able to manage
-Remain in control of your checking account
-Get the payment agreement in writing

Seek Help from a Consumer Lawyer

Flitter Milz is a nationally recognized consumer protection law firm that pursues cases against debt collectors that have violated a consumer’s rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  If you have received contact from a collection agency or collection law firm, Contact Us for a free consultation:  888-668-1225.