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Tampa Bankruptcy Law Blog

South Florida foreclosures down, but still among nationís highest

Of course, no one ever wants to experience a foreclosure. Not only are you losing ownership of the home you love, but your financial future will also be affected for many years to come. Although foreclosure rates across the country have been showing some positive signs, including in the Tampa area, the South Florida region is still facing more foreclosures than other areas.

When it comes to foreclosure rates in South Florida, there is good news and there is bad news. Even though rates are down, especially in January, South Florida continues to have some of the highest rates in the country. So, even though there were definite signs of improvement, Florida is still at the top of the list of foreclosures at 6.22 percent. The good news is that in January of 2013 the rates were 10.15 percent, which is a very encouraging sign.

Keep your credit score high by avoiding these mistakes

Have you checked your credit score lately? Although most people know that their credit score is very important, many people make several decisions that hurt their score. Sometimes, these things are obvious, but there are some mistakes people make that they might not even be aware can hurt them. That's just one of the reasons it's important for everyone in the Tampa area to keep a close eye on his or her credit score.

Having a good credit score can make a difference when a person wants to finance a purchase. On the other hand, a low credit score can really hurt a person. There are a few things one can do to help keep his or her score higher. First, one should be sure to pay his or her credit card debt on time. It's also very important to try to keep one's credit utilization ratio on the low end. This is the percentage of credit one has available compared with how much he or she owes.

Mobile retailer Wirefly reportedly filing for Chapter 7

The business word can be very competitive and many times companies can’t keep up with the competition. When a company in Tampa is unable to meet the financial demands of doing business, it might have to consider filing for bankruptcy. However, most companies considering bankruptcy, usually file for Chapter 11 or Chapter 13, which allows for the company to try to stay open while it sorts things out. A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, on the other hand, usually means that a company is calling it quits.

According to reports, mobile phone retailer Wirefly has apparently shut its doors for good and is filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The company’s website is no longer functioning and reportedly several employees of Simplexity, Wirefly’s parent company, have turned to social media to express their new job status. Simplexity employees appear to have been blindsided by the sudden closure as they claim they were given no warning.

Fees Paid for Payday Loans Could be higher than Original Loan

Seeking debt relief from payday loans can be a difficult process.  Payday loans are a form of debt which are often known as cash advances or check loans. They carry a fee between $10 and $20 per $100 borrowed, and must be paid back within a set amount of time (typically 14 days). The problem with this sort of loan is that many borrowers are unable to pay off the first loan, causing them to roll the debt over and take out a larger loan to pay off this existing debt. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, more than 80% of all payday loans are renewed or rolled over within the two week period.

Florida still leading the way in foreclosures nationwide

Although the economy continues to make some small gains, there are still many sectors that are struggling to improve. One of the hardest hit sectors of the country’s economic struggles has been the housing market. Florida has been one of the hardest hit regions, with many areas of the state, including Tampa, still trying to recover. Although there has been some recent good news regarding foreclosures, Florida is still seeing its share of difficulties.

According to the latest report from RealtyTrac, the country has seen a big decline recently in the number of foreclosures being filed. In fact, with a total of 112,498 filings, February saw the fewest foreclosures since December of 2006. However, despite the good new for most of the country, some states are still seeing a higher rate of foreclosures.

Knowing Whether or Not your Social Security Benefits are Taxable

Those retirees whom receive Social Security benefits while simultaneously making extra income from another source are often unsure whether or not their Social Security benefits require payment of income taxes. There is a way to know what the case is for any given individual and it has to do with Form SSA-1099.

Form SSA-1099 is the social security benefit statement for a given individual. This form shows how much money one has received through Social Security and the total benefit can be found in Box 3. Once you have the total benefit number, add one-half of this number to your additional income, including tax exempt income. The sum of these numbers is the provisional income of the individual.

Getting out of debt is not easy, but itís worth it

Just about everyone wants to enjoy the finer things of life. Most people, including many in the Tampa area, also like to enjoy their so-called toys. However, many people also get into severe debt in order to enjoy those things. Living within one’s means is not necessarily easy, but by avoiding the pitfalls of debt a person can actually enjoy his or her life much more by not being overwhelmed by financial problems.

Although everyone is aware that debt is a bad thing, that fact doesn’t seem to stop many, or even most, Americans from getting into debt. Whether it’s student loans for college, credit card debt or borrowing money for vehicles, a mortgage or to travel the world, people just can’t seem to stay out of debt. However, there are some things one can do to avoid these pitfalls, but it takes self-discipline.

Rebuilding Credit Post-Bankruptcy: Updating your Credit Reports

Updating credit reports is an important step to start rebuilding your credit after bankruptcy. Spotting errors and writing a personal statement to be included in your reports are two great ways to help your reports look their best to potential future creditors.

Errors are often found in credit reports. Incorrect information, such as the wrong amount of days a debt is overdue, may be listed in your credit report and it is important to be able to spot these errors in order for your credit history to look its best. This is often a situation where a simple mistake was made on your credit report and the information can easily be changed with the proper steps.

There should be a dispute form included with your credit report and sending this into the bureau with the correct information should allow for the change to be made on your report upon review. If no dispute form is available, write a letter to the credit bureau explaining the situation. Remember not to volunteer any copies of receipts unless the creditor claims the information is correct. If a creditor is unable to back up a claim, they must remove the bad information on your report if there is no proof of it.

Medical debt leaving peopleís finances in critical condition

When the subject of debt is discussed, most often people probably think about mortgages, car loans or credit card debt. However, there is another kind of debt, which is actually a huge problem for many people across the country, which may not get as much attention. However, medical debt is actually very common in the U.S., including here in the Tampa Area.

In fact, according to a new report from NerdWallet Health, medical debt is expected to be the leading cause of bankruptcy filings in the U.S., even outnumbering mortgage debt and unpaid credit card accounts. Although it may seem that this is only a problem for those who don’t have insurance and can’t afford to pay their bills, medical bankruptcies are actually more commonplace amongst those who have health coverage.

Personal debt levels for Americans rising at a blistering pace

Although almost anyone would agree that being in debt is never a good idea, more and more Americans don’t seem have to a problem with being in the red. Debt can be a very difficult situation to be in and the effects of debt can lead to all kinds of problems, including foreclosure and bankruptcy. However, despite those risks, debt numbers across the U.S., including in Tampa, continue to rise.

According to new statistics from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York the country’s overall debt numbers are now at their highest level since 2011. Consumer debt is at $11.52 trillion and the number continues to rise, according to the Federal Reserve. Over the last three months of 2013, consumer debt jumped $241 billion dollars, which is a 2.1 percent increase. That represents the biggest jump in consumer debt since the third quarter of 2007.

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Timothy J. Sierra, Attorney At Law
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