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March 2013 Archives

Zombie foreclosures haunt unsuspecting homeowners

The term zombie foreclosure conjures up visions of a house from a horror movie, stumbling around looking for a homeowner to feast on. The reality isn't too different - zombie foreclosure is a term used to describe houses that are in between owners and are not being cared for or lived in. The result of this can be quite scary, both for the state of the house and for the homeowner who last held the title.

United States consumer debt increased at start of year

According to the Federal Reserve, Americans borrowed an additional $16.2 billion between December and January, mostly in the form of automobile and student loans. This brings the total amount of consumer debt up to $2.8 trillion, which is the highest it has ever been. However, the amount of credit card debt remained essentially the same, only increasing by $106.1 million for the entire country. Credit card debt is approximately 17 percent below its peak, which occurred in 2008. Some analysts believe that the leading cause of reduced credit card use stems from the recent tax increase that took effect at the beginning of this year. Following the tax increase, people making $50,000 per year will take home $1,000 less this year, and households with a pair of high income earners will have about $4,500 less. 

Improving your credit score after filing for bankruptcy


Even as the economy shows signs of improvement, the Great Recession had a huge impact on Tennessee residents' finances, and many are still dealing with economic issues related to the downturn of the last few years. The unemployment rate is still high, underemployment is 14.4 percent and over a million Americans filed for bankruptcy, including Chapter 13 bankruptcy, last year. The good news is that once someone has filed for bankruptcy and their debts have been discharged, it is not impossible to attain a great credit score again. People can start working on their credit rating as soon as their bankruptcy goes through, and using secured credit cards along with gas and retail charge cards can help rebuild a person's credit. With diligence, consumers can even attain a rating of 700 or higher by the time their bankruptcy falls off of their credit report. 

Consumer protection bureau adds oversight to more student loans

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has announced a plan to provide additional oversight for student loan collections practices, helping to ensure that borrowers with student debt are not subject to the stress and difficulty of dealing with disorganized creditors.

Income tax exemption and liability is complex for cancelled debt

In one of our recent posts we discussed the impact that forgiven credit card debt can have on federal income taxes. With tax season approaching and many Tennessee readers in the process of preparing their tax return, it is important to take into account the variety of ways that debt consolidation or debt forgiveness can impact a tax return.

Regulators look for solution to payday lending debt trap

Regulators at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have announced that they are investigating the practices of payday lenders, which are banks and other organizations that make loans to individuals using a post-dated check as collateral to advance a paycheck. The loans are associated with high fees and interest rates.

This tax season, don't forget about forgiven debt

For Memphis residents who have been through the bankruptcy process this year, the process of restructuring debt offers much needed relief from the stress of being unable to make regular payments. The bankruptcy process does offer finality and a clear resolution to debt problems, but the hard work continues after the filing is complete and payments are due on the restructured debt. In addition, borrowers should be aware of the other peripheral implications of a bankruptcy filing, such as unexpected tax liability.

Don't get scammed by phony 'debt relief' companies

With as many people as there are across Tennessee and the entire country struggling to pay their bills, it's no surprise that there are bad actors out there trying to take advantage of a bad situation. The story of what happened to one Tennessee woman should serve as a warning sign to others about what and who to avoid when you're trying to pay off your debts.

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