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Scura, Wigfield, Heyer, Stevens & Cammarota Blog

Leading Causes of Debt in New Jersey

Unsecured-Debt

Americans currently exceed $13 trillion dollars of outstanding household debt. Within that amount, $9 trillion is related to mortgage balances, $1.5 trillion is related to educational loans, and $2 trillion is split evenly between both auto loans and credit card debt. Very few households around the world utilize debt as freely as the United States' households do. When household debt is measured against GDP, the United States' 77.30% ranks as the 11th highest percentage in the world.

How does all of this relate to New Jersey and its residents' habits?

Overwhelmed by Credit Card Debt? What You Can Do Now

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Did you know that 34 million Americans admit to paying their credit card bills late? Credit cards can be extremely useful when trying to establish credit or to use in case of an emergency. However, when they are used improperly, credit cards can plunge you further into debt than you had ever imagined. And as your debt builds up over time, it can become increasingly difficult to get your finances back on track.

Understanding your FICO and CreditWise Credit Scores

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All consumers should be aware of their credit score by checking their credit report.  Amongst other benefits, periodically checking your score ensures that fraudulent activity is timely recognized and can also help in planning for indebtedness from a car loan, mortgage, or student loan.  Most online credit cards or banks allow the account owner to obtain their credit score for free.  Some credit card companies and banking institutions use different credit score calculating models such as FICO or Creditwise.  If your credit card company or bank does not offer this free service, a free credit report can be obtained at AnnualCreditReport.com.  No matter which direction a consumer goes in, they should always stay on top of their credit status.  

How Common is Debt in America?

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The Federal Reserve Bank of New York reports that as of the second quarter of 2017, the American household debt load has reached nearly $13 trillion. Approximately 80% of Americans are in debt today.

Unfortunately, many Americans also have very low savings balances as well. The combination of high debt and little savings can spell disaster for many Americans. However, the type of debt that you have may determine whether bankruptcy or some other financial workout with your creditors is the right option for you if your debts become unbearable.

Are All Debts Dischargeable in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

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Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be an extremely helpful way to get back on your feet financially after you have been struggling. It allows you to “start fresh” and try again. In that process, most of your debts can be forgiven entirely, which means that those harassing phone calls and intimidating letters will stop coming. It results in significant freedom for many individuals and companies that are stressed financially.

Why Credit Cards Can Be Harmful for Financial Health

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For new credit card users or those looking to build their credit, the idea of taking out a “free” line of credit can be exciting. But if you aren’t careful, credit cards can be potentially hazardous to your financial health. In fact, maintaining a healthy credit score with one or more credit cards can also be difficult for more experienced credit card users. If you’ve recently been thinking about applying for a credit card or you’re wondering if it’s time to get rid of your current credit cards, there are a few important risks to be aware of. While there can be many benefits that come along with responsibly using credit cards, for many people the cons definitely outweigh the pros. However, if you can learn to develop better credit card habits, you'll have a better chance avoiding some of the most common financial mistakes.

Debt Relief Strategies: What Will Work for Your Stage in Life?

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The type and amount of debt that you have directly correlates with your stage in life. Older people face different debt challenges because they also have also likely accumulated more assets than a younger person as well. Your debt relief strategies may vary depending on where you are in life and your unique financial situation.

Non-Financial Consequences of Credit Card Debt

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It is very common for residents in New Jersey and elsewhere in the nation to use a credit card. Moreover, it is also common for consumers to have multiple credit cards with a balance on them. While it can be relatively harmless to use credit cards for major purchases, some bad spending habits could lead to very difficult financial challenges.

While the financial issues related to credit card debt are known and obvious, there are other non-financial consequences of credit card debt that many do not consider. Here are five major ways credit card debt could be harmful to consumers in non-financial ways.

Knowing the Creditors Time to Collect on a Debt

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It is crucial to fully understand how long a creditor has to collect on a debt.  There are a series of laws in place that govern debt collection procedures including for example: the timeframes for collecting a debt, the practices and procedures for collecting a debt, and the penalties for violating these procedures.  This series of laws is called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”). 

The New Jersey Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“NJFDCPA”) fortifies the federal FDCPA and bans debt collectors from using unfair and dishonest practices.  As with the federal law, the NJFDCPA guidelines apply only to debt collectors and does not apply to original lenders.  The FDCPA defines a debt as any obligation of a consumer to pay money arising out of a transaction primarily for personal, family or household purposes, including money owed on a personal credit card account, an auto loan, a medical bill or mortgage.  The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from using abusive, unfair or deceptive practices when attempting to collect a debt.   

Debt Collection Options for Small Businesses

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When residents in New Jersey decide to start a business, it is very common that they will seek a small business loan. While it is obvious that at the start of the small business the owner will deal with a certain amount of debt, if the business fails to accumulate revenue and assets, they might have to consider debt relief options, filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy or even ending the business. This is why it is important to understand how to address business debt, especially when they are dealing with their own debt collection issues from their customers or clients.

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