Ways to Avoid Common Scams Against Seniors

The biggest group of people targeted by scammers is the elderly, who often are extremely trusting. If you are now in retirement after working for many years, you should be able to enjoy your money without feeling threatened. Keep in mind that if you have already been hit with a scam and now face major financial challenges, you have options that will help. To learn about various solutions, including bankruptcy filing, debt consolidation, and credit counseling, it is important to talk to an Oswego bankruptcy lawyer who has years of experience in this particular field. Protecting Yourself Against Scams To protect yourself and the money you worked so hard to earn, your best line of defense is education. Investment Scams – These scams have become a real problem over the past several years as seniors look for ways to capitalize on retirement funds. For example, a scammer will offer an elderly person some type of investment opportunity in which the returns are excellent while the risks are low. Instead of handing your money over to just anyone claiming to be a financial advisor, it is imperative that you do your homework. The biggest telltale sign of an investment scam is being pressured to make a fast decision. Reverse Mortgage Scams – This scam is particularly challenging because a reverse mortgage is a legitimate way of getting equity out of a home. However, with reverse mortgage scams, an elderly homeowner is approached with what appears to be a 100% genuine loan. In reality, a fast-talking scammer who seems knowledgeable about mortgages talks the aging homeowner into transferring the property. Ultimately, the scammer ends up with the equity as well as the home itself. Charging extremely high fees for a legitimate reverse mortgage is another type of elderly scam. If you want to withdraw equity from your home for whatever reason, turn to your bank first, followed by a reputable Oswego mortgage broker. Contractor Scams – Often, an elderly person lives in a home that needs repairs, which is what a scammer preys upon. Coming across as being someone with real construction skills and a kind heart, the scammer offers to do work for a ridiculously low price. To the homeowner, this is a great way of getting repairs done without spending a significant amount of money. The catch: to get started, the “contractor” needs the full amount of the job paid upfront. Once paid, the scammer finds a reason to leave the property, never to return. Remember, only pay a percentage of the job ahead of time and the remainder once the work is completed to your satisfaction. To find a licensed contractor, ask for referrals from family members or friends, or check online for recommendations from trade associations, open forums, and other similar sites. Seeking the Advice of a Bankruptcy Attorney Your retirement money is yours to enjoy, not something that should be taken as part of a well-planned scam. Therefore, be wary of situations that seem too good to be true. Of course, if you have been victimized, a reputable Oswego bankruptcy lawyer can answer questions and provide guidance on other legal...

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Making the Wise Decision to Avoid Student Loan Debt

Student loan options are readily available in the Fulton (Oswego County) area. However, for a loan of this kind, you need to be extremely cautious. Most importantly, if someone asks you to co-sign on a student loan, the law firm of  Harris-Courage & Grady advises against it. In place of student loans, you or your child can attend college by choosing an educational institution that is less expensive. In addition, student loans can be avoided by taking on a part-time job or perhaps going to school at night while working full-time. Ultimately, you want to do everything possible to avoid student loans. The biggest issue with student loan debt is that you will owe money for decades. Even if you file for bankruptcy, getting student loans discharged is very difficult, if not impossible. For this, your best bet comes from working closely with an experienced bankruptcy attorney in Fulton. Simply put, if you or your child depend on student loans for a college education, be prepared to carry a financial burden, longterm. If you have already co-signed on a student loan for someone and that individual is no longer in a position to pay, the debt automatically becomes yours. If you are thinking about co-signing on a student loan, then assume that you will end up being the responsible party. That means that without the benefit of a college degree, you will pay off another person’s student loans over a period of decades. For many people who co-sign on a child’s student loan, retirement is put on hold. This is financially draining and puts a strain on the family dynamic. Remember, when going to school, even if you or your child does not graduate, student loans must be repaid. If you or your child were to drop out of college for one reason or another or not land the anticipated high-paying job after graduation, the last thing you want to deal with is a significant amount of debt. According to the latest statistics, people who drop out of college have the highest rate of default on student loans. Before getting involved with student loans, whether for yourself or a child, you need to fully understand the amount of money that would need to be repaid and for what duration. Think about your financial situation, as well as short- and long-term goals, to determine if carrying the burden of student loans is realistic. Prior to taking out or co-signing for a student loan, you should first look at a student loan analysis program, something a reputable attorney in Fulton can assist with. Of course, if you have already put yourself at risk and now face serious debt, it is always best to have a qualified attorney in your corner. If you have questions about student loan debt, contact Harris-Courage & Grady...

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Fulton Bankruptcy Attorney’s Top Tips to Save Money

Part of our job as Fulton bankruptcy attorneys is to teach clients how to manage their money and avoid bankruptcy, or at least stay out of it once we’ve taken them through the process. Saving money is actually easier than you might think. With the tips provided, you will be well on your way to putting more money in the bank while staying out of debt. Helpful Savings Tips Buy Used Buying used items is a great way to save. Whether purchasing a vehicle, clothing items, furniture, housewares, electronics, or other items, buying used instead of new equates to instant savings. To save, hit garage sales; visit sites like eBay and Craigslist; and go to discount, thrift, and consignment shops. There, you will find all types of used items in good condition. For instance, you might find a nice table that needs a little TLC. With a little paint, you can completely transform the table’s appearance and make it look like new. Combine Errands Good planning is another great way to save money. Instead of running one errand, plan your day so you can make several stops along the way. By being efficient, you ultimately spend less on gas and free up some of your time. Shop the Right Areas Grocery stores use a trick of placing the healthiest and cheapest priced foods toward the back, along the outer walls, and on bottom shelves. When shopping for boxed and canned goods, look at these areas first. In addition, always check out the clearance section. Overall, buying meats, dairy, and fresh fruits and vegetables instead of processed foods will cost you less at the grocery store and allow you to shop for healthier food items. Coupon Savings Coupons definitely save money. You can find coupons in the local newspaper, online, or through mobile apps, like Groupon. Overall savings is even greater when using coupons in conjunction with store sales. Remember, some stores offer double coupons on certain days of the week. Cut Television Costs Having satellite or cable television is costly. Instead of purchasing a bundled package that includes shows and stations you never watch, consider streaming just your favorite shows or go with a minimal online subscription. Many television shows are offered at no charge online or at a price that is less than satellite and cable television. You can also check out free DVDs from your local library of your preferred shows. Sack Lunch On average, it costs $2,000 a year to eat lunch at restaurants. Along with being expensive, eating out for lunch is typically unhealthy. By taking a sack lunch to work several days a week, you’ll save money upfront and on doctor’s bills later. Have a Purpose When Shopping Instead of going into a store without a list, make sure you know the exact items you need. That way, you avoid what is referred to impulse shopping. Without making huge changes to the way you live, you can save a lot of money. Just a few simple lifestyle changes will cut your annual debt by thousands of dollars. If you are already facing a financial crisis or need some financial guidance, a Fulton bankruptcy attorney can help you identify the best solution. To set up a free consultation with one of our Fulton bankruptcy attorneys at Harris-Courage & Grady Solutions, please contact us today at...

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What Documents Does Your Bankruptcy Lawyer in Fulton Need?

Laws that govern bankruptcy changed dramatically over the past years to where you must now provide a significant amount of documentation to support the petition. Therefore, you need to hire a Fulton bankruptcy attorney who ensures things are done according to law. As part of this, the attorney reviews documents prior to filing in order to identify potential issues. First Steps Initially, your bankruptcy lawyer in Fulton only needs a copy of: your social security card driver’s license W2 tax form After filing bankruptcy, you must provide additional documentation, such as IRS and state tax returns to show a history of income, specifically money received in refunds, so your attorney can verify the size of the household as well as confirm that you are not withholding information about other business interests or assets. Failing to provide your Fulton bankruptcy attorney with tax documentation allows the court to deny the petition. Because of new laws, the Internal Revenue Service mandates proof of taxes filed. Your lawyer needs pay stubs and other documentation to support additional income to determine whether you qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Unless you provide paystubs for at least two months, the court may dismiss your case. To include debt in the bankruptcy, you must give your attorney copies of outstanding bills pursued by creditors and collection agencies. In addition, the attorney needs proof of outstanding balances on credit cards, as well as documentation on assets, including automobiles and homes. Additional Required Documentation by the Trustee & Your Fulton Bankruptcy Attorney Spending of Tax Refund – The trustees determines if you used the money to pay off debt or squandered it on luxury items, gambling, lavish trips, and so on. For this, you need to provide proof in the form of bank statements or receipts. Automobile Titles/Proof of Ownership – Your bankruptcy lawyer verifies ownership and the correct listing of a secured creditor that allows the lawyer to protect vehicles owned. In addition, the attorney verifies the NADA or Kelly Blue Book value, current mileage, and any special features that increase value. Home Deed/Mortgage – Your bankruptcy attorney also requires recorded deed/mortgage documentation on your home. To obtain a recorded copy, you can visit the county clerk’s office. If the fee is too high, your attorney will pay it. To protect as much equity in the home possible, the trustee verifies the value prior to the attorney filing the bankruptcy petition. Divorce Papers – Your Fulton bankruptcy lawyer wants to make sure your ex-spouse never cosigned on a loan. If such a loan exists, the trustee considers the debt as support that cannot be discharged. Bank Statements – The trustee wants to see if the court has interest in bank funds or if you transferred large sums of money. Retirement Documents – The trustee reviews documents to determine if funds in the account are protected under new bankruptcy law. Proof of Auto and Home Insurance – Creditors have the right to see proof of insurance. If you fail to provide your bankruptcy attorney this information, your home may go into foreclosure and your vehicle may be repossessed. As you can see, filing for bankruptcy is complex, which is why hiring an experienced and reputable Fulton bankruptcy attorney is critical. The attorney works on your behalf to help you get out of debt while retaining as many assets...

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Will I Lose My Car if I File Bankruptcy in Fulton?

Although you might be concerned about losing your car in bankruptcy, you do have options for keeping it in your possession. Now, if a creditor has a judgment against you, your car could be taken in order for the claim to be paid. However, once your Fulton bankruptcy attorney files your case, the vehicle is protected from creditors. In other words, with your bankruptcy filed, using a judgment as a method of collecting on a debt is no longer viable. Bankruptcy Protection Of course, there are several considerations in determining if your car can be protected. For instance, if there is any money still owed on the vehicle and, if so, what the balance is. In addition, the status of payments is important. A common misconception is that bankruptcy is a perfect solution, when in reality, being behind on payments could lead to repossession. For instance, if your Fulton bankruptcy lawyer filed Chapter 7 and you are not current on car payments, the vehicle will be repossessed by the lender. Therefore, prior to and following the filing of bankruptcy, you need to bring payments current. In comparison, if a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is filed, you will have the opportunity to catch up on payments. Car Valuation Something else that you and your Fulton bankruptcy attorney will need to discuss is the value of your car. If a loan exists, you may be required through the court to use the dealer valuation or get a valuation from an expert for the specific type of vehicle. On the other hand, if there is no loan against the car, the valuation could probably come from trade-in or private party information. Once the value is determined, any amount owed is deducted. With that, the equity in the vehicle is calculated. For instance, if your car is valued at $15,000, but you still owe $8,000, the amount of equity is $7,000. Home Value Even the value of your home needs to be determined, along with outstanding balance for any mortgages. While you might find it strange that information on your home is used when trying to salvage your car, this actually helps the court determine if payments can be afforded, if applicable. In New York State, someone filing for bankruptcy can choose state or federal exemptions. While the concept is much the same, exemption rights are different. By choosing New York State exemptions, up to $75,000 of home equity can be protected for each client. This means that if you and your spouse are co-owners of a home, the total amount of protected equity is $150,000. With federal exemptions, only $22,000 of home equity can be protected for each client. As your Fulton bankruptcy lawyer will explain, just $4,000 is allowed for a car exemption in New York. However, if you are not currently a homeowner or you are but the amount of equity is minimal, the $22,000 of federal exemptions can be used to protect your car, as well as other assets. In comparison, if the amount of equity in your car is $7,000 and you have to use state exemptions, protecting the vehicle in bankruptcy will be extremely difficult. Ultimately, the trustee decides if the car will be taken by the court, sold, or if the money from selling the vehicle will be given back to the lender. In some cases, a trustee will allow you to purchase the car back. For that deal to go through, money has to exchange hands quickly. Because there are many factors involved with bankruptcy, you need to start by hiring the best Fulton bankruptcy attorney...

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