Debt Collection Defense / Debtor’s Rights
Fraud Against Business Owners
Breach of Contract
General Civil Litigation
In Arizona, consumers are protected by the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act. The Fraud Act protects consumers against fraud in the sale or advertisement of goods, services, and real estate.
Nonetheless, fraud can be a complicated matter to prove. It is also difficult if you are accused of fraud to avoid the long process of litigation.
It is important to engage an attorney experienced with fraud matters to review your case.
Garnishment is the process that allows a creditor to attach and collect money belonging to the debtor.
In Arizona, earnings and non-earnings can be garnished. Earnings includes wages, salary, bonuses, or commissions. Non-earnings is usually money in the debtor’s bank account or money being held by someone else for the debtor, like rent money or trust accounts.
Are You Collectible?
The saying goes “you can’t squeeze water from a stone.” The same goes for debtors that do not have assets available to pay their debts. ”Uncollectible” means you do not have assets to pay your debts or the assets you have cannot be reached by the debt collector because they are protected by law.
Here are a few examples of ways the law protects debtors from collection:
Debt collectors cannot garnish you if you are unemployed because you do not have income. Unemployment benefits area also protected from garnishment or collection.
- Minimum Wage Restrictions
There are restrictions on the amount that can be garnished from your income by most unsecured creditors.
Federal law provides that you cannot be garnished if you make less than 30 times the federal minimum wage or approximately $217.50 per week.
If you make between $217.50 and $290 per week, only the amount above $217.50 can be garnished.
If you earn more than $290 per week, you cannot be garnished more than 25% of your disposable (after tax) income. That means that 75% of your disposable income is protected by law.
These restrictions do not apply to garnishments for child support, spousal support or maintenance, bankruptcy, or actions to recover state or federal taxes.
|MAXIMUM GARNISHMENT OF DISPOSABLE EARNINGS UNDER NORMAL CIRCUMSTANCES FOR THE $7.25 MINIMUM WAGE*|
|$217.50 or less:NONE||$435.00 or less:NONE||$471.25 or less:NONE||$942.50 or less:NONE|
|More than $217.50 but less than $290.00:Amount ABOVE $217.50||More than $435.00 but less than $580.00:Amount ABOVE $435.00||More than $471.25 but less than $628.33:Amount ABOVE $471.25||More than $942.50 but less than $1256.66:Amount ABOVE $942.50|
|$290.00or more:MAXIMUM 25%||$580.00 or more:MAXIMUM 25%||$628.33 or more:MAXIMUM 25%||$1256.66 or more:MAXIMUM 25%|
*Table provided by US Dept of Labor.
- Social Security
Debt collectors cannot garnish social security income (SSI) in your bank account. It is best to keep these funds in a separate account from other sources of income.
Creditors can garnish wages and other monies held in your bank accounts. Only $300.00 of money held in your bank account is protected by law.
- Retirement income
Money held in qualified retirement accounts is protected by law from garnishment or collection. However once the money is withdrawn, it may become subject to garnishment or collection.
Pension payments are considered earnings and may be subject to garnishment. The specific nature of the pension account determines whether it is protected as a qualified retirement account or public services pension.
- Personal and business property
State law protects household and other property from garnishment or collection. A list of some of the exemptions currently used in Arizona can be found here.
The laws regarding the protection of property can change. You should seek legal advice to determine the protections available for your specific property.
If you are being garnished. contact us to determine whether debt settlement or bankruptcy is an option.
Debt Collection Defense / Debtor’s Rights
Are you being contacted by someone that says you owe them a debt? Are they calling you at work or contacting your friends and family? Are you afraid to answer the phone because it might be a debt collector?
It’s important to know your rights.
Who is the debt collector?
“Debt collector” is a tricky term. Generally a debt collector is a third party, not the creditor, that is primarily in the business of collecting debts. It could be an individual or a company with many employees. A creditor hires the debt collector to collect money. The debt collector’s job is to make sure the creditor gets paid as much money as possible.
A creditor can also collect their own debts. In large companies, this is often the job of a special department dedicated to collecting debts or a collection company owned by the creditor. The debt collector or creditor should always announce who they are and who they are collecting for when they contact you. You can use this information to determine whether you are being contacted by the creditor or a debt collector.
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
Debt collectors are subject to federal law and any state collection laws in the state where the debtor is located. Under federal law, debt collectors must follow the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Under the FDCPA, debt collectors cannot:
- Harass or threaten you with criminal action
- Disclose your debts to friends and family
- Ask your family members to pay your debt
- Call before or after normal hours
- Call your workplace
- Call after you have written them to stop calling
- Misrepresent themselves and who they work for
- Collect fees not included in the original debt or allowed by law
Under the FDCPA debt collectors must:
- Give accurate information about the status of your debt
- Disclose who they work for
- Disclose the name of the original creditor
- Stop collection efforts during the 30 day verification period
- Request verification of the debt after you have disputed it in writing within 30 days of their first notice
- Report accurate information about your debt to the credit bureaus
Debt Collection in Arizona
To collect against debtors in Arizona, debt collectors are required to register with the Arizona Department of Financial Institutions. Debt collection law firms and attorneys do not have to register. However they are still subject to the same rules and regulations of ordinary debt collectors.
An experienced debtor’s rights attorney can help you work with a creditor or debt collector to achieve better results. Debt collection may be very emotional for you, but it is just business for the creditor and debt collector.
Let us deal with them so you can get back to what matters.
If a debt collector is contacting you, call us immediately at 480-499-5334 to schedule your FREE consultation.
Fraud against Business Owners
Federal and state law protects consumers from fraudulent, unfair and deceptive acts and practices.
Consumers include individuals like you. Sole proprietors and small business owners are among the many of consumers that are tricked into fraudulent schemes and illegal practices every day. There are literally millions of ways that this can happen, but some examples are:
- contractors and service providers who misrepresent their qualifications
- license agreements subject to franchise and business opportunity laws
- false advertising of products, merchandise, and equipment
- fake offers for credit or investment in your business
- business agreements with illegal or unenforceable terms that subject the business owner to liability
Whether you’re performing a trade, starting a limited liability company, or becoming a new franchise owner…fraud can affect you and your business.
A little professional advice can go a long way to protect you and your business. Protect your business. Call for a free consultation.
If you are unable to pay your debts in full, debt settlement may allow you to pay off your debts for less and avoid further collection action. Debt settlement is not for everyone. In some cases it is the best option to resolve outstanding debts.
Let Us Try To Negotiate A Settlement
Debt settlement is never guaranteed. In some cases we may be able to help you negotiate a payment plan or payoff that reduces or eliminates part of your debt.
The debt settlement process can take several months depending on your individual circumstances and is never guaranteed as it depends on the creditor, the type of debt, the balance, and other terms of the debt.
Whether you are facing a debt collection emergency or just trying to get back on your feet, let us help. We can also discuss how debt settlement may affect your credit and any steps you can take to improve your credit in the future.
Call us today at 480-499-5334 to schedule your FREE consultation. We offer affordable hourly rates and flat fees on a case-by-case basis.
Don’t spend your time on debt collectors. Bankruptcy allows you to get back to enjoying the things that matter most! Call today.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Chapter 7 allows individuals to get rid of debt after the liquidation or sale of available property to pay creditors. Not all property is available for liquidation. Certain property is “exempt” or protected, from liquidation under Arizona exemption laws. The debtor gets to keep this property and get rid of their debt in bankruptcy.
In Arizona, you can:
- Keep your house - up to $150,000 in equity
- Keep your vehicle - up to $5,000 in equity per person
- Keep your retirement or education savings funds
- And more
A complete list of exemptions is available here. If you want to keep assets that are not exempt, or your income exceeds the Chapter 7 guidelines, you may want to consider Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Chapter 13 provides an adjustment of debts for wage earners or self-employed individuals. The individual is given a discharge of debt after completing a court-approved payment plan lasting 36 to 60 months. During the plan, the debtor can continue to pay regular living expenses and keep their house, car, and other property.
The Chapter 13 plan is based on many factors, including the income of the debtor and the type and size of debts.
Individuals above the median income must file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. If you are not above the median income, you can still file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy if it makes sense for you, There are several reasons a person may want to file Chapter 13 rather than Chapter 7.
Contact us for a free consultation to discuss Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy with you.
Information about Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
If you do not qualify for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, we can refer you to a qualified Chapter 11 bankruptcy attorney.
Chapter 11 is a reorganization of debts, resulting in payment of debts through an agreement made with creditors while the debtor remains in possession of their assets and/or continues to operate a business. Individuals whose unsecured and secured debt exceeds certain guidelines may file bankruptcy under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code.
Key Bankruptcy Terms
Creditor – The person or entity that is owed a debt or has a secured interest in property Debtor – The person or entity that has an obligation to pay money to the creditor Discharge – A release from personal liability for the repayment of debt Exempt assets – Property which is protected by law from collection by creditors; the statute providing such protection is referred to as an “exemption” Liquidation – The sale of property to pay creditors Non-exempt assets – Property which does not fall within any exemption and is therefore available for liquidation Secured debt – A debt which is attached to property or collateral, such as mortgages and car loans Unsecured debt – A debt which has no security for repayment, such as credit cards or personal loans
There can be many unanticipated problems involved in creating and operating a business. Chase Law can help negotiate the dissolution and winding up of your business affairs if your business or partnership is at an end. Let us deal with your creditors and properly close up your business.
When you go into business with someone the last thing you expect is a fight. Chase Law can represent you in court and litigate on your behalf in business and partnership disputes.
We can provide legal advice to guide you in your decision-making process and assist you in the formation of business agreements that will minimize disputes.
Chase Law is here for your small business, partnership, or limited liability company (LLC) needs:
- Formation documents
- Operating agreements
- Partnership disputes
- Business dissolution and winding up
- Civil litigation
To manage the many changes to your business operations, you need an effective operating agreement that changes with the company rather than limits your growth. Don’t have one yet? It’s not too late!
We provide tailor-made documents and operating agreements for you and your business. We will meet with you and your members to discuss the business details that are essential to your success. Make sure your business has a strong foundation to be successful.
Call 480-499-5334 today for a free consultation regarding your small business needs today.
Breach of Contract
Whether it’s in writing or just a spit and a hand shake, it matters.
Chase Law Firm PLLC can assist you with pursuing or defending against a contractual dispute.
Let us review your case to determine what options are available to you.
Are you being sued? Let us help. Litigation is complicated, confusing, and usually stressful.
Chase Law Firm PLLC can help get you through the civil litigation process. Whether you seek settlement, mediation/arbitration, or a trial, we will advocate on behalf of your interests.
Call us at 480-499-5334 today to discuss your case.