Archive for June, 2010

Deadline to File A Claim Against Mann Bracken is June 25, 2010

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

If you have a claim against debt collection law firm, Mann Bracken, LLP, the deadline to file is Friday, June 25, 2010.  I cannot give you legal advice on Maryland law, but you are supposed to send a copy of this claim to the receiver’s attorney, James M. Hoffman of Offit Kurman, P.A., in Bethesda, Maryland.  You should ensure timely delivery before close of business, at the Circuit Court for Montgomery County. 50 Maryland Avenue; Rockville, MD 20850 and reference the case as: Mann Bracken, LLP v. Connell A. Loftus, Esq.; Case No. V327646.

I am aware that many of the claims submitted were by companies that provided services, such as process serving, to this massive debt collection law firm, which had close ties with Axiant, which previously filed for bankruptcy.  I was advised that since all Mann Bracken’s law offices have been closed and their staff let go, it is unlikely Mann Bracken will ever be back in business or be able to pay all the claims submitted.

If you are sued or harassed by a debt collector, you have substantial rights that you should protect and not delay, so that a default judgment is not entered against you.  Please review your options at www.stopcollectionlawsuits.com and contact me if you have any questions or need representation against a debt collector or creditor.

Court Furlough Days: Why not on a Monday or Friday?

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Starting 2009, to reduce the budget problems of the State, California Superior Courts have been closed on the third Wednesday of each month (see LA Times Article at http://articles.latimes.com/2009/jul/30/local/me-court-close30). Today, for example, June 16, 2010, the court is closed, which affects not only the judges, court clerks, court reporters, and deputies, but also the juries, parties to litigation, and lawyers.

I am trying to understand the logic in closing on a Wednesday, as compared with Friday or Monday, that is not already a holiday. According to the Judicial Council’s report (see page 3 at http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/jc/documents/reports/072909item3.pdf) if they close the Superior Courts on a Monday or a Friday, it would impose longer detentions over the weekend and thus increase costs on local jails. I have not seen how many people that would impact, but I seriously doubt that many people will be affected because their arraignment is delayed by one day, which already happens when Monday is a holiday.  However, perhaps the criminal court buildings should be exempted from furlough, in any event, in large counties, such as Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco, or opened for this limited situation of hearing arraignments on a “better” furlough (Monday or Friday).

More important in my mind is the extra cost to close down for a day on Tuesday and reopen from the closure on Thursday, only to close again for the weekend two days later. There is likely extra cost in closing for a day and reopening that the Judicial Council did not consider.

Finally, we hear in the news how the court clerks, deputies, and judges dislike the furlough, as it is a nuisance and breaks up the work week. Of course it does.  What employer proposes closing in the middle of the work week, when the closure could be on any Friday or Monday? Of course people that work there would prefer a three day weekend to a single day off. Why can’t the Judicial Council consider job satisfaction as a savings, when they decided on the furlough day?

I hope when the Judicial Council reconsiders the furlough for year 2010/2011 they re-evaluate the impact on the court clerks, deputies, and judges at the courthouse and the costs of closing and reopening mid-week.

Bankruptcy Alternative: The Don’t Pay a Dime Strategy

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

I just answered a question on Avvo.com from someone in the Modesto area, who is unemployed and had $20,000 in total debt and wanted to file Bankruptcy, but it was difficult to locate a Bankruptcy attorney who would do it for free or almost free. Below is a blog on my response to this person, so others may consider this strategy in similar circumstances.

If you are unemployed and have no real estate (either because you rent or live with family or friends) and almost nothing in the bank, attorneys describe this as being “judgment proof.” That term means a creditor can get a judgment against you, but it will be virtually impossible to get a dime from the case, because there are no wages to garnish, no bank account to levy, and no real estate (or home) to secure a judgment lien.

If the creditor or debt collector knows this up front, they would probably not hire a lawyer ($400 or more), file a debt collection lawsuit ($200 or more); pay to have a process server deliver the summons and complaint ($45 or more); and their time, costs, and expenses continue from there, even to get a default judgment and enforce the collection lawsuit. An unpaid debt collection judgment expires after ten years, and can be renewed for another ten years, but monitoring the employment and financial status of the defendant takes time and money to do properly. A debt collection judgment may also appear on the consumer’s credit report for seven years from date of entry, possibly longer.

Rather than file bankruptcy for this relatively low debt, see what happens if you don’t pay at all and put the creditors and debt collectors on notice that you cannot pay the debt, because of your unemployment status, low job prospects (due to the economic downturn), and lack of any assets with which to pay. In fact, send them a letter (regular mail should be fine) to this effect to the address where they are likely to read it (the address for correspondence, not payments). This letter should NOT promise to pay anything now or later, or ask for anything at all. Just be very matter of fact that you cannot pay the debt and have low job prospects. Please be candid and don’t overstate or understate how bad your situation is.

The result may be that you don’t get sued and the debt becomes uncollectible, because of the statute of limitations expiring. Once you have not paid (or promised to pay) the debt for more than a certain number of years, they cannot sue you or even threaten to sue you, as the statute of limitations will have expired. One word of caution: if you move out of state before the statute of limitations expires, Cal. Code of Civil Procedure, Section 351 may extend the deadline for as long as you are out of state.

Keep certain documentation. Please keep a file for your debts, preferably one file for each debt. Please do not put any marks on your documentation. Of course, save a copy of your letter, discussed above. Also, save the last few statements, starting with the last statement that shows you made a payment and keep all statements and late payment notices and debt collection letters that follow for each account. Finally, keep a copy of your last three payments from your bank, whatever you have to prove your last three payments.

My firm’s other web site, www.StopCollectionHarassment.com, has a number of sample letters that anyone can freely download and use as a template for this letter. I may soon prepare a sample letter specifically for this strategy, if people contact me and ask about my letter to possibly prevent the filing of more collection lawsuits against people who are judgment proof. Please let me know if this is a sample that you would like me to add.

My hunch is that this strategy may help you avoid being sued for a long time, hopefully at least several years. If you have questions about this strategy, please feel free to contact me for a consultation. I can also be reached by using the contact page on www.StopCollectionHarassment.com or www.StopCollectionLawsuits.com.

Six things you can do better than a credit repair company

Friday, June 4th, 2010

The Fair Credit Reporting Act was written by Congress to empower individual consumers to dispute incorrect items on their personal credit reports.  From what I have seen, consumers are more likely to correct credit errors  than a credit repair mill.  Here are some easy steps that you can do to improve your credit.

1.  Know what’s in your reports.   If you don’t know what is in your credit reports, please order it right now, without any hesitation.  If the consumer orders his or her credit report directly from a credit reporting agency (“CRAs”) (such as Equifax, Trans Union, or Experian), it has NO affect on your credit scores. Only when you apply for credit or have a friend run your credit at a mortgage company, real estate broker, or car dealership (for instance) does this lower your credit score because this shows up as a use of credit, as though you were trying to buy a car or house.

2.  Dispute errors by Certified Mail.  If you find any errors in your credit report, send one of the sample letters from my web site (www.StopCollectionHarassment.com) to the credit reporting agency to dispute those errors and provide written documentation to prove your are correct. Many credit repair agencies don’t bother with providing documentation.

3.  Dispute errors by phone.  If the credit reporting agency refuses to correct the error on your credit report, call them on their toll free number. The CRAs must receive disputes by phone or mail.  You may have better success if you call and speak to a representative in the consumer relations department about the specific error and they may even have access to the documents and dispute letter that you sent before, when you call.  Credit repair agencies usually will not call and many CRAs will not talk to anyone but the consumer.

4.  Consult an experienced lawyer.  If a debt collector or creditor refuses to correct an error on your credit report, review this with a lawyer who knows about the Fair Credit Reporting Act and can explain the next step, if litigation would be advised or if another dispute should be sent.

5.  Pay off debts with the money you save.  Credit repair is very expensive,  hundreds or thousands of dollars.   The money you save on credit repair is better spent paying down account balances, which will improve your credit scores, in addition to making all monthly payments on time.

6.  Review the free legal guide that I wrote on Avvo.com entitled “DIY Credit Repair.”