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If you find yourself overwhelmed by debt, chances are that you are also dealing with phone calls from creditors and dealing with threats of certain collection actions, including repossession. You may be wondering if an Ohio creditor can actually take your vehicle, and the answer is yes, that is possible. This may seem like a violation, but you would be wise to know your options and your rights as a consumer, as well as how to make the repossession process stop.

Repossession is the process of reclaiming property when the person who financed that property defaults on the loan. While repossession most often involves vehicles, this can also happen to other types of financed property. If you are receiving threats of this type of action, bankruptcy could offer you a way to make this process stop, at least temporarily.

How can they just take my personal property?

It is normal to feel frustrated at the fact that a person acting on behalf of a company could just come and take your car. In reality, the creditor likely outlined their right to do this in the fine print of your contract. The following are a few other things that you may not know about the repossession process:

  • The creditor likely has the right to initiate the repossession process as soon as you default on the loan.
  • While the creditor has the right to repossess the vehicle, the agent acting on behalf of the creditor cannot break any laws to do so.
  • Once repossessed, the creditor has the right to keep the vehicle as compensation or to sell it to pay off what remains on the loan.

The repossession process feels like a violation of your rights, and if you do not have your vehicle, you will not be able to get to work, school or participate in other activities. When you file for bankruptcy, the repossession process will stop, and you may be able to protect your personal property.

The benefits of the automatic stay

Filing for bankruptcy may be the right option for you if your financial situation looks grim and you cannot manage your debt. Upon filing, the automatic stay will go into effect, which will halt all efforts to collect on outstanding debt, including repossession, wage garnishment and even phone calls from creditors.

The automatic stay is just one way that bankruptcy can offer you a reprieve in what seems like a hopeless situation. If you feel like you are out of options, you would be wise to fully explore the option of bankruptcy and learn about the benefits of this process.

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When the topic of personal debt is brought to mind, credit card accounts are typically at the forefront of concern. Yet another type of debt that has recently moved to the center of public attention in Ohio is that produced by student loans. An overwhelming number of individuals who sought higher education now face the burden of student debt, which, in many cases, can result in bankruptcy and a multitude of other issues. 

Upon graduation, college students can enjoy the benefits of a new degree; but not without the looming reminder that student loan payments are just around the corner. Such is the case with many Ohio students, as Cleveland News reports that the state ranks sixteenth in student loan debt. This statistic may seem relatively benign, but Cleveland adds that roughly 65 percent of Ohio students who graduated last year borrowed money, with a statewide average student loan debt of $29,391. The news article also listed Ohio colleges and their averages of student loan debt, concluding that about six out of ten graduates had student debt.  

The Akron Beacon Journal also weighs in on the the issue of debt in the area, adding that Kent State is the college with the highest amounts of student debt in Ohio. The numbers may be crippling, but many ask questions regarding the possibility of resolvement in the future. The Akron reports that many universities are taking a preventative approach by helping students reduce the need to borrow money to begin with. While the need to take out loans is inevitable for many, colleges nationwide have continued to offer scholarships as alternatives to borrowing money that could take decades to pay back.      

 

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The last thing that Ohio residents who have debts that they are finding it difficult to pay need to deal with are annoying and overly pushy debt collectors. Fortunately there are laws in place that protect consumers from what may be harassing activities. However, despite these laws some debt collectors still go too far in the effort of obtaining payment. Consumers should be educated about what is legal and what is not in this regard so as to protect their rights.

Many attempts to collect a debt are made by phone and while this is legal there are limits as to when a debt collector may or may not call a consumer. Calling someone at 5:00 a.m. or at 11:00 p.m., for example, is not allowed. Calls should only be made during reasonable hours of the day. Similarly, making too many calls in a short period of time and even threatening people or speaking in threatening or violent manners is not appropriate.

Debt collectors may call consumers at work so long as they do not reveal their identities or the reasons for their calls. They cannot, however, come to a person's workplace. If a consumer asks a debt collector to stop calling them at work, the debt collector must legally abide by that request. Failure to do so would be an illegal practice on their part. Consumers should also be sure that a debt attempting to be collected is truly theirs.

When consumers in Ohio have questions about interactions with debt collectors, talking to an attorney may be a good way to get the answers they need.

Source: Star Tribune, "Five things that are illegal for debt collectors to do," September 9, 2017

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The Federal Trade Commission is the United States' consumer protection agency. Its duties include enforcing the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act for Ohio consumers as well as consumers throughout the country. This law makes it illegal for debt collectors to use abusive or unfair methods to collect on debt owed by consumers.

It also prohibits such methods when collecting a debt that the collector alleges a consumer owes when that consumer does not. As such, a mistake as to who to collect from or who is the debtor does not excuse the behavior.

Law prohibits some collections activities

Some of the tactics that are illegal include:

  • Harassing the apparent debtor or third parties, including excessive phone calls
  • Lying about being an attorney or that papers sent are legal forms
  • Misrepresenting amount owed or adding fees the debtor does not owe
  • Threatening arrest or suggesting the debtor committed a crime if the debtor has not
  • Threatening other acts, like garnishment or suit, if not legally possible or not intended

Some debt collectors are subject to FDCPA

Under the FDCPA, however, not all people trying to collect a debt have to abide by this law in their activities. Only those defined as a debt collector under this Act must comply with the law in their collections behaviors. This includes a person who regularly collects debts owed to others, such as the following collection agencies and lawyers who collect debt as a practice. It also includes junk debt buying companies that then seek to collect on that debt.

Not all debt collectors fall under FDCPA

However, not all entities or people regularly involved in collecting a debt are debt collectors under the FDCPA. Those not covered include those collecting the following:

  • Debts for companies with common ownership
  • Their own debts under their own company name
  • Debts they created but then sold, if it is still servicing the loan
  • Debts that were good when obtained but later went into default
  • Debts that were security for a commercial transaction

Legal process servers are also exempt from the FDCPA's definition of a debt collector.

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College students nationwide wonder about their futures regarding student loans, and how they will pay off those loans. Oftentimes, these students and graduates fall into an unfortunate pocket of student debt that lingers for years, and even decades, after graduation. Ohio is all too familiar with this type of debt, and recent news shows that the state even has the most student debt in the country. What causes this overwhelming amount of debt, and what are the possible solutions?

An article in Bloomberg echoes this preexisting worry across the country, stating that, as of 2015, student debt in America hit an all-time high of $1.4 trillion. 2015 was also the eighteenth consecutive year that American's education debt rose, and aside from mortgage debt, student debt stands at the foreground of financial obligations among young Americans. Many experts predict that this alarming debt could mean trouble down the road for U.S. economic growth. To improve collected data, and ultimately start reducing this debt, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently announced a proposal to collect more detailed information from the nation's biggest student loan companies.

When it comes to Ohio students, USA Today points out that the state has the most debt in the country, and that the reasons for such can be complex. The average student debt in Ohio is $30,329, and more than two-thirds of students are living with debt. Of course, consolidation is one solution to looming student loans, but the advantages can vary depending on individual finances and the level of interest that applies to monthly payments. USA Today adds that the balance of student loans make up more than 50 percent of their annual income. Other financial experts claim that the issue does not just begin post-graduation, but also involves the following factors while in college:

  • State and local government grants
  • Internships
  • Student job opportunities    

Yet when students graduate, they also naturally face car loan payments, monthly rent and eventually mortgages. While most students expect to see loan debt for their foreseeable futures, the government is currently working to ease debt through student loan officers, who can guide students through numerous student loan payment options. 

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You may not even realize how much you depend on your car. Certainly, you complain about the gas you put into it, the cost of insurance and the ongoing maintenance, but your vehicle is responsible for getting you to your job and allowing you to fulfill many other obligations. Without your car, your situation may become dire.

Nevertheless, there is no question that the car payments are a burden. In fact, you may have fallen behind due to a variety of reasons. You feel certain you will be able to catch up, and you hope the lender will be patient while you figure out a financial solution. You may want to be aware of the consequences of falling into delinquency with your car payments.

How does repossession work?

If you have received a notice from your lender that you are late with your payments, the clock may already be ticking. On the other hand, some creditors don't bother to notify you when they have decided to repossess your car.

Repossession is an unpleasant experience, to say the least. Your lender probably has an Ohio repo company contracted to do the dirty work, tracking down the vehicle attached to the delinquent payment and towing it to an impound lot to prepare it for auction. Repossession typically takes place at the most inconvenient times, such as when you are at work or in the middle of the night. It is often embarrassing when neighbors or co-workers see it happening.

How can I avoid repossession?

It is possible to negotiate with some lenders when you fall behind. It helps to contact them as soon as you realize you will miss a payment. Creditors appreciate your proactive steps and may be willing to work with you, perhaps even modifying your loan, to avoid the trouble and expense of repossessing your vehicle. However, negotiation may not always work, or you may simply have no means with which to negotiate. In that case, your alternatives may include:

  • Selling your vehicle privately
  • Volunteering your car for repossession
  • Defaulting on the loan

None of these options allows you to keep your vehicle, and losing your car may create more difficulties for you if you are unable to get to work to make money. If you are in such a situation, you may feel it is time to contact an attorney to discuss the option of filing for bankruptcy.

Through bankruptcy, you may be able to halt any repossession actions, protecting your car and your transportation to work. An attorney can provide you with guidance and assistance as you seek relief from the burden of your debt.

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Rauser & Associates | Ohio Bankruptcy La.. by On Behalf Of Rauser & Associates Le.. - 3M ago

Sometimes debts become so high that an Ohio person, despite great efforts, may never be able to pay them down barring winning the lottery. In such instance, one of the few ways certain to gain freedom from such a life-defeating burden is bankruptcy.

There are a few types of bankruptcy filings, and individuals generally look to Chapters 7 and 13. For Chapter 7, there are necessary steps a debtor must perform before he or she can successfully get applicable debts discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Credit counseling

Prior to filing, the debtor must undergo approved credit counseling. This must take place within approximately six months prior to filing a bankruptcy petition. Agencies make the approved counseling course conveniently available in person or on the phone or internet. The local bankruptcy court will have a list of approved agencies that the debtor may choose from.

The debtor must also demonstrate that he or she meets the financial eligibility requirements for a Chapter 7 filing. A means test establishes this, and then the bankruptcy filing can follow.

Means test

To be eligible for a Chapter 7 filing, a debtor must show that his or her disposable income after paying for basic survival needs is so low that the debtor cannot realistically pay his or her debts. First, there is the inquiry of whether the debtor’s income is above or below the state median.

If it is below, the debtor has typically met the burden of showing low enough income and can generally be eligible for a Chapter 7 filing. If the income is above the state median, the debtor must undergo a means test to determine if the household's disposable income, after considering the basic survival needs, is nonetheless low enough to warrant a Chapter 7 eligibility. If the disposable income is too high for Chapter 7, a debtor may then look to Chapter 13.

Bankruptcy petition

With a favorable completion of the means test, the debtor’s attorney can draft and file the bankruptcy petition, along with the following schedules:

  • Liabilities and assets
  • Current expenses and income
  • Unexpired leases and other executory contracts

A statement of the debtor’s financial affairs must also be submitted.

Once the debtor's attorney has filed the petition, the debtor is on the road to a fresh start. The debtor is now better able to pursue life unencumbered by debts he or she likely could never have paid off.

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If you find yourself overwhelmed by debt, chances are that you are also dealing with phone calls from creditors and dealing with threats of certain collection actions, including repossession. You may be wondering if an Ohio creditor can actually take your vehicle, and the answer is yes, that is possible. This may seem like a violation, but you would be wise to know your options and your rights as a consumer, as well as how to make the repossession process stop.

Repossession is the process of reclaiming property when the person who financed that property defaults on the loan. While repossession most often involves vehicles, this can also happen to other types of financed property. If you are receiving threats of this type of action, bankruptcy could offer you a way to make this process stop, at least temporarily.

How can they just take my personal property?

It is normal to feel frustrated at the fact that a person acting on behalf of a company could just come and take your car. In reality, the creditor likely outlined their right to do this in the fine print of your contract. The following are a few other things that you may not know about the repossession process:

  • The creditor likely has the right to initiate the repossession process as soon as you default on the loan.
  • While the creditor has the right to repossess the vehicle, the agent acting on behalf of the creditor cannot break any laws to do so.
  • Once repossessed, the creditor has the right to keep the vehicle as compensation or to sell it to pay off what remains on the loan.

The repossession process feels like a violation of your rights, and if you do not have your vehicle, you will not be able to get to work, school or participate in other activities. When you file for bankruptcy, the repossession process will stop, and you may be able to protect your personal property.

The benefits of the automatic stay

Filing for bankruptcy may be the right option for you if your financial situation looks grim and you cannot manage your debt. Upon filing, the automatic stay will go into effect, which will halt all efforts to collect on outstanding debt, including repossession, wage garnishment and even phone calls from creditors.

The automatic stay is just one way that bankruptcy can offer you a reprieve in what seems like a hopeless situation. If you feel like you are out of options, you would be wise to fully explore the option of bankruptcy and learn about the benefits of this process.

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Ohio spouses know that of the many things that may contribute to conflict and discord in a marriage, financial challenges is perhaps one of the most common. For many people, things can get so bleak that not only do they contemplate ending their marriages but they also pursue the option of filing for bankruptcy. When faced with both of these experiences at the same time, it is important that the right choice be made as to which process to file for first.

According to The Balance, there may be some clear advantages for people who are able to file for bankruptcy before they initiate their divorce proceedings. One benefit is that a married couple will have larger exemption amounts that may allow them to keep more of their assets than if they filed Chapter 7 bankruptcies separately after getting divorced. An exemption identifies the value of an item that a filer is allowed to keep versus have liquidated during a Chapter 7.

Another benefit of a pre-divorce bankruptcy is the ability to reduce or eliminate joint debt. This may protect people from future problems and also simplify the property division aspect of their divorce.

My Horizon Today does explain, however, that not everyone may be able to or want to file for bankruptcy first. People who truly cannot communicate well or have a high level of conflict may not really be able to navigate a bankruptcy together. For couples who may prefer a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, getting divorced first may be best as this type of bankruptcy lasts a minimum of three years.

 

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Home is where the heart is, but it is also where one can maintain health and comfort with basic utilities such as water, heating and cooling and electricity. When companies revoke such utilities without notice, an individual may go through a series of emotional and physical distress. In addition, the effects of having a utility service shut off likely stem from preexisting financial distress. Ohio has its own set of state disconnection regulations and laws, and such rules are made to assist those in need and who sometimes cannot pay monthly utility bills.

It is often illegal for utility companies to shut off its services, especially during months with extreme weather. Other circumstances come into play in regards to utility companies and the regulations they must adhere to for the protection of Ohio citizens.

Ohio's Utility Regulations

The National Center for Appropriate Technology provides state-by-state lists pertaining to utility disconnection laws. Ohio's protection dates that cover individuals who cannot pay utility bills are October 17 through April 14, and are not temperature-based. There is, however, a rule called the winter reconnect order, which the Public Utilities Commission issues on an annual basis. The winter reconnect order allows residential customers who are being disconnected or threatened with disconnection the opportunity to pay no more than $175 to maintain their utility service. Those who have already experienced a disconnection may pay no more than $36 to have their utilities reconnected.

Customers' Rights

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio provides a list of customers' rights in regards to state utility services. According to the PUCO, electric companies may not charge customers a deposit of more than 130 percent of the estimated average monthly bill for regulated services. If a customer fails to pay the electric bill by the due date, the company must send a 14-day notice before disconnecting the service. An exception to this rule is if an individual has a medical condition where the disconnection of electric service would be dangerous to health; these customers may qualify for a medical certification which would retain service for 30 days. However, medical certificates may only be used three times per household in a 12-month period.  

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