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The San Diego Bankruptcy Law Blog

The latest from Golden State Law Group, San Diego bankruptcy and injury attorneys.

Recent blog posts

The Fourth of July is a time for fun and celebration for the entire family. The San Diego County Sheriff's Department is committed to keeping you safe during the long holiday weekend by making sure drunk drivers are taken off our roadways.

Watch for increased DUI patrols by deputies across the county beginning on Thursday, July 3rd through Sunday, July 6th. Deputies will also take part in a DUI checkpoint on Saturday, July 5th from 7:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. at an undisclosed location within the city of San Diego.

The Sheriff's Department arrested 46 people for DUI during the Fourth of July enforcement period in 2013. Deputies arrested 26 people for drunk driving during the Independence Day enforcement period in 2012.

"I cannot stress this enough: don't drink and drive this Fourth of July weekend," said Sheriff Bill Gore. "By doing so, you put your life in danger, as well as those of other drivers on the road. Remember: DRIVE SOBER OR GET PULLED OVER!"

If you do drink, be sure to have a designated driver ready or call a taxi.

Here are some sober rider options for the Fourth of July:

• Tipsy Tow:  http://goo.gl/aLWvlr

• Be My Designated Driver:  http://goo.gl/9JBt9g
• Metropolitan Transit System (MTS):  http://goo.gl/5X13j
• North County Transit District (NCTD):  http://goo.gl/qU69Ug

student loans credit-ratingIt’s all but universally understood that people with low credit scores have a much harder time obtaining credit than those whose credit scores are high. Mortgages these days are all but impossible to be approved for with bad credit given all that has happened in the housing market in recent years. Credit card companies have tightened their standards in terms of those who are offered accounts, and the same holds true for those who are looking to purchase automobiles for the most part. As a result, people with low credit scores are not borrowing in these ways as much as they were a few years ago.

However, based on the data provided in a recent report released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, people in the United States with low credit scores have been borrowing quite a bit by way of new student loan debts. A link to the data can be found here, and it contains some potentially troubling information. Several years from now, it’s possible that people all over the United States could be strapped with student loan debt that is a constant weight on their finances, thereby preventing them from raising their credit scores and moving forward in life.

ice deportationFor obvious reasons, people who are living in the United States with uncertain residency statuses are terrified of the prospect of being detained and then facing deportation. It is generally believed that when someone faces deportation that he or she faces an extreme uphill battle in his or her fight to remain here and to continue the life that he or she has built. That’s one of the problems that surround the issue of illegal or undocumented immigration – people don’t want to expose themselves to the system because they are afraid that they will be treated harshly and wind up in their country of origin.

Hopefully that general belief will begin to dissipate as more information becomes available. The Transactional Records Clearinghouse at Syracuse University collects and studies federal prosecution records in order to identify trends and to inform the public of what they discover. Obviously, immigration cases are federal in nature, and one of the most prominent types of cases involves the possibility that an immigrant will be deported. It seems that those who are fighting immigration are having more success than in years past.

credit card debt relief san-diegoSeveral news stories in recent days have detailed reports stating that the number of delinquencies on credit card accounts rose during the final quarter of 2013 in the United States. Specifically, 1.48 percent of credit card borrowers were more than 90 days delinquent at the end of the fourth quarter of 2013 as compared to 1.36 percent at the end of the third quarter. In addition, the amount of debt present per credit card borrower rose to $5,376. These may seem like relatively insignificant numbers on a large scale, but they could signal trouble.

Given this news, it seems relatively clear that there are a lot of people out there who may need some help with getting their credit card debt under control. Anyone who has been through this will agree that it doesn’t take long before credit card debt seems to completely spiral out of control to the point where it is totally unmanageable. Below are 5 different ideas to keep in mind for people who are struggling with their credit card debt balances.

medi-calWhen people live in the United States and their residency statuses are uncertain, many of them unfortunately retreat into the proverbial shadows. They live as quietly as possible and do whatever they can not to be noticed or to appear on any documentation. The reason is obvious – they are afraid that someone may notice their name and cause problems for them. Some of the things that people in this position give up put them in positions of enormous peril. That apparently includes medical coverage and medical care, at least according to one recent study.

Researchers at the University of California – Berkeley Labor Center, the UCSF Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research decided to take a look at this specific issue recently and they published a study that provided some troubling findings. A link to the full study can be found here, and it found that as many as 125,000 young immigrants in California may be eligible for Medi-Cal, which is the state’s version of Medicaid.

credit card debtAnyone who has had any kind of training in the realm of personal finances will tell you that credit card debt is about the worst type of debt that someone can carry. It’s generally very expensive debt in terms of the interest rates that are paid and it’s often too easy to simply pay the minimum each month to fund other things. Over time, people become beholden to these debts such that by the time they are done paying their monthly bills, there is not much left.

Unfortunately, people in this position also tend to be unable to put money away in emergency savings accounts. These savings accounts can help people when unforeseen problems arise that include the loss of a job, a medical expense or even auto repairs. Another fundamental component of personal finance generally states that people should have enough in savings to cover at least a few months of living expenses, but that is much more difficult to accomplish when those credit card bills continue to arrive every month and they continue to get larger as interest compounds.

immigrant workers economic impactAs the issue of immigration reform continues to swirl around in the political winds of Washington, D.C., different groups are beginning to study the effects that different types of reform could have on different industries and different aspects of American life. While it’s somewhat stereotypical to think of immigrants as agricultural workers, the fact of the matter is that many immigrants do work jobs in this industry, and a recent report has attempted to lay out the different effects that different types of specific reform could have on it.

The American Farm Bureau along with several other groups has recently completed a thorough analysis of this issue. A link to the full report can be found here. The study looked at three scenarios, including leaving the immigration system as it is today, reforming immigration to focus solely on enforcement and reforming the system to include a guest worker program. The results of the analysis should be generally predictable to many, but the tangible effects could come as a surprise.

tax debt creditMany of us who are employees for a company look forward to tax time. We hurriedly get our annual tax returns together and anxiously await the arrival of our refunds. We see it as free money that we can use for fun things, and it’s no coincidence that retail outlets mention these refunds in their advertisements in the spring. Things that we have been saving for or at least waiting for suddenly become affordable, and we run out and purchase them as soon as possible.

Many of us have also received a very unwanted surprise when we found out that instead of receiving a refund, we are going to have to pay both the IRS and the Franchise Tax Board. No one wants to have to cut a check in April, particularly those people who were not expecting to have to pay into the treasury and who may not have the funds available to actually make those payments. It’s a very difficult situation, but one thing is sure – no one wants to avoid making these payments if they are owed.

americas credit ratingThere are few numbers in life that are more important to a person’s ability to manage his or her finances effectively than the all-important credit score. People with a high score can borrow at relatively inexpensive rates and they rarely have to worry about whether or not they will be approved for a loan. People with lower credit scores are constantly concerned about their higher interest rates and their general inability to be approved for new types of credit. A low credit score can be paralyzing for just about anyone who has goals in life that include owning a home or retiring early.

Given the importance of an individual’s credit score, Experian, one of the major credit reporting agencies in the United States, publishes an annual report on the state of credit in the United States. The agency recently released its Fourth Annual State of Credit Study, and it looked at several different aspects of credit scores, borrowing, debt and other trends across the United States and even across generations. A link to the full report can be found here, and based on the numbers it looks as if the people of San Diego are about average with respect to the rest of the United States.

return to mexico surveyThe issue of immigration reform is one that concerns everyone who was not born in the United States but who lives here now, whether they are doing so legally or illegally.  However, for many people the country that is considered first when the issue of immigration is raised is Mexico.  This makes sense, as Mexico is the country of origin of a very large number of immigrants in the United States and our neighbors to the south have been featured – rightly or wrongly – in many of the arguments made both in favor of and against immigration reform.

When one country is so prominent in the discussion of an issue, it tends to lead to assumptions.  To date, the assumptions behind the reduction of immigration from Mexico to the United States to a net-zero status have included the Great Recession that strangled the American economy and the prevalence of a negative attitude towards immigrants.  According to the results of a recent survey, those assumptions are incorrect. 

immigrants crimeFor more than a year now, the debate regarding immigration reform has rambled on in Washington, D.C. and around the rest of the United States.  Many people see this as a political issue, but the prospect of reforming the immigration system here is one that will have very real consequences for those who were born in another country.  As is the case with any debate, there have been many talking points circulated on both sides of the issue, and given the intensity of this debate and the potential consequences for those affected some of those talking points have been scrutinized.

One such talking point by those who are against immigration reform is that immigrants tend to be more likely to commit crimes, and therefore allowing more people to legally immigrate to the United States would likely lead to higher crime rates. Researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas, however, have recently completed a study relating to this question. Their conclusion is that immigrants are generally less likely to commit serious crimes. A link to an abstract of the study can be found here, and a link to an article describing the study can be found here.

credit cards debt problemsThe average household in the United States owes more than $15,000 in credit card debt.  That equates to millions of people owing what is basically a used car to different credit card companies.  While people have made progress in terms of what they owe to these creditors in recent years because of the Great Recession, the fact of the matter is that too many people still struggle with this form of debt.  One reason that it quickly becomes such a problem is because it’s so expensive in terms of the interest rates that apply to these accounts.

Many people likely find themselves in different levels of denial when it comes to their credit card debt and figuring out whether or not it’s manageable.  Anyone who realizes that they do have a problem needs to take steps to have their overall financial situations reviewed by experienced professionals, as there is most likely a way out.  Below are 5 possible signs that you may have serious problems with credit card debt to the point where you should seek professional advice.

new year financesAs we turn the calendar to a new year, millions of people around the country are beginning to at least attempt to follow resolutions that they made.  These resolutions are common and they involve many different aspects of life.  Some people may resolve that they want to get back into shape; others may decide that it’s time to complete some projects around the house and still others may decide to pursue professional goals.  There are also many people who decide that after months or years of stress that it’s time to get their finances in order.

The San Diego bankruptcy lawyers at the Golden State Law Group have helped thousands of people earn a fresh start to their financial lives over the years.  It’s common for the firm to hear from new people in January who want to put their troubles in the past for good.  As such, below are 5 suggestions that should be considered for those who are ready to take this step.

obamacare immigrantsImmigration is an extremely complicated issue in the United States, and it’s one that involves many different layers and millions of individual situations that make it very difficult to fit certain aspects of immigration into an equation.  People who are not immigrants may not realize this, but those who are tend to live with these complications every day.  Every now and then, certain events take place that bring these complicated aspects of their statuses into focus.  The latest issue to do so is that of Obamacare, as its passage and beginning is putting a lot of stress on immigrant families.

That’s because many immigrant families include both people who were here legally and those who are not.  As such, many people are hesitant to sign up for Obamacare even though they do not currently have health insurance because they are worried that immigration enforcement officials will obtain their information and seek out people whose statuses may not be completely in order.  An article describing this widely-held concern can be found here.

holidays credit card debtWe know that it’s coming every year, even if many of us are procrastinators.  We know that at the end of the year, we are going to have to spend some money on gifts for the people in our lives who are important to us.  Most of us are generous in nature and most of us want to give gifts to those we love that show them how much they mean to us.  That desire along with the propensity for people to be swept up in the holiday spirit can lead to bad financial decisions.

While the most advisable thing to do throughout the year is to save a bit every month in order to build a holiday spending budget that can be exhausted when the time comes, many people do not take this step.  According to the results of a recent survey that was conducted by TransUnion, 64.3 percent of American consumers do not set aside any additional spending money during the rest of the year.  As a result, millions of people will put holiday purchases on credit cards and decide to deal with those bills in January and February.  An article describing this phenomenon can be found here.

holiday shoppingThe holidays are once again upon us and that means for millions of people around the United States that it’s time to get back out into the world of consumer spending so that everyone on our list receives a gift and a reminder that they are important to us.  We are seeing the advertisements for holiday sales and deals inundating the television and the computer screens, and this is a fun and exciting time for those of us who get into the holiday spirit and who begin to look ahead at how we’ll be celebrating with family and friends.

Unfortunately, it’s also a time of year that’s filled with bad financial decisions and irresponsible spending.  It’s easy for any of us to talk ourselves into overspending this time of year, but those of us who have gone through this in the past understand that those bills always come due in January and February and they are never easy to handle when it’s time to pay them.  Below are five ideas to keep in mind that will hopefully help you avoid that cold sweat that’s all too common when credit card statements start arriving in several weeks.

Posted by on in Immigration

immigration scamsIn recent months, the news has included many different stories regarding the process of immigration reform in the United States.  While that process remains mired in the political system and its conclusion murky at best, the fact that it has gotten attention has prompted many people to take a look at their own statuses and perhaps take steps to clarify them.  While this is a very good idea for many people, those who are looking into this possibility need to be careful with how they proceed.  That’s because if they choose the wrong option they have at-best wasted their time and money and at-worst harmed their status.

Unfortunately, immigration reform is also a process that has prompted some unscrupulous people out there to attempt to make some quick money off of unsuspecting people who either may or may not need help, but who think that they do.  It’s become so prevalent that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has released some examples of common scams that exist to the public.  Below are five examples of these scams that people will hopefully recognize.

consumer debtOne of the many signs of fallout from the Great Recession that shook the American economy to its foundation in recent years was that debt started going down.  This was because people were no longer borrowing for homes, vehicles or other things and because companies were charging off debts that were most likely not going to be paid.  In addition, consumers seemed to learn on a collective level that they needed to be very careful about their borrowing, as any unexpected downturn such as the one we all faced could leave them in a very stressful and difficult situation.

Generally speaking, the amount of consumer debt owed by Americans has been on the decline in recent years, although in recent quarters it has inched back up to a degree.  That trend seemed to intensify during the third quarter of 2013.  Statistics were recently released regarding American consumer debt during the third quarter, and it climbed by the largest amount between quarters since the third quarter of 2008.  Many people are already calling this development a positive sign that indicates that consumers are gaining confidence in the economy.

Fair Debt Collection Improvement ActWhen an economy goes south as it did in the United States a few years ago, there are certain industries that tend to actually grow and thrive because of such a negative circumstance.  It should come as no surprise to anyone that one of the fastest-growing industries in the country since the Great Recession hit was that of debt collection.  Debt collection companies suddenly began to pop up all over the place and they began to acquire debts to pursue against both consumers and business entities.  People who were struggling with their finances began to feel pretty intense heat from some of these collection agencies.

As it turns out, the debt collection industry swelled to the point where several billion dollars per year were being recovered.  With this type of opportunity came an increase in competition, and with an increase in competition came more problems with regards to pursuing these debts without violating existing federal laws.  Since the 1970’s, a law known as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or the FDCPA, has governed how all of this was to occur.

BAPCPAEight years ago this month, Congress passed the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, otherwise known as BAPCPA. The new law brought about sweeping changes to bankruptcy law in the United States and was stated to have been enacted in order to minimize the abuses that were occurring with consumers who were allegedly taking advantage of the old system. While most eight-year anniversaries are relatively low-key affairs, the one relating to the BAPCPA is significant for many people, as it means that those who rushed to file bankruptcy cases before passage of the bill into law have now endured the waiting period for filing another case.

It used to be that people who encountered serious financial difficulties and who filed for bankruptcy protection as a result needed to wait for six years before filing for bankruptcy protection once again. BAPCPA extended that waiting period to eight years, which means that as of now many people are eligible to look into discharging the debt that they may have accumulated since October of 2005. Given all that has happened since that date, this could provide much-needed relief for many people.