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					        Money! Money! Money!




                                    Catherine T. Martin




  WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TO
MAKE GOOD FINANCIAL DECISIONS



             CONSUMER LAW TIPS
              FOR SURVIVORS OF
             DOMESTIC VIOLENCE




Why Economic Issues Are Important


   Economic self-reliance prevents return to abuser

   Ensure stability necessary to maintain custody of
    children

   Knowledge of rights can reduce some of the stress




                                                          1
Common Forms
of Economic Abuse


   Financial control
   Loss of housing (eviction, foreclosure)
   Educational sabotage
   Employment sabotage
   Credit destruction




Topics for Review:

   Prioritizing debt
   Mortgage problems
   Utilities
   Joint debts
   Student loans
   Can bankruptcy help?
   Identifying financial goals
   Resources available to help




Debt Prioritization


   Always pay family necessities first
    –   Food,
        Food medical care
   Pay housing bills next
    –   Rent, mortgage
   Pay at least the minimum required to keep
    utilities on
   Pay car loans or leases if car is a necessity




                                                    2
Debt Prioritization         continued




   Child support
    Income taxes
   Unsecured debts (most credit cards, doctor
    and hospital bills, merchant accounts) are of
    low priority




Two Types of Debt

SECURED DEBT                UNSECURED DEBT

             collateral.
“Secured” by collateral     Not “secured” by collateral

E.g.: car loan, home        E.g.: credit card bills,
  mortgage, home equity       payday loans, medical
  loan                        bills




Secured v. Unsecured Debt


   Secured debt – pay or lose the collateral

   Unsecured debt – creditor cannot take property
    if you fail to pay – unless they sue




                                                          3
Unsecured Debt Collector CANNOT:
   Threaten to take actions they cannot legally take, such
    as take your home, put you in jail, or have your
    children removed
   Use obscene, insulting language
   Call you at work after you have told them not to
   Make repeated phone calls
   Call at unreasonable times (before 8 a.m. and after
    9 p.m.)
   Contact you by telephone after receiving a letter telling
    them to only communicate with you in writing.




Unsecured Debt Collector CAN:

 Report the default on your credit report
 File a lawsuit
    If you lose the lawsuit and cannot afford to pay
    the judgment, the creditor can take certain
    steps to collect: freeze bank account, try to sell
    personal property or even real estate.
    But you won’t go to jail!
    It is not a crime to be unable to pay your bills.




Mortgage Issues


   Who owns the house?
    - Names on the Deed: You? Partner? Both?

   Who owes the Money?
    - Names on the loan: You? Partner? Both?




                                                                4
Mortgage Issues             continued




   Bad news: you can lose your home if mortgage
              aren’t
    payments aren t made – even if your partner is ordered
    to pay them.
   Do not assume that your partner is paying the
    mortgage.
   Contact lender and request that all bills and
    correspondence be sent to you.
   Contact an attorney immediately if the mortgage is in
    default.




Mortgage Issues              continued


Good News: HELP IS AVAILABLE:
 Housing Counselors: www.phfa.org
                      1-800-822-1174
 PHFA loan programs: 1 800 822 1174
  - HEMAP
  - REAL
  - HERO
 Federal loan
  modifications




Utility Bills


                    y                   y
    Victims of family violence in Pennsylvania
      have extra protection.
     Service cannot be shut-off in the winter
      months, December through March
     You cannot be made to pay a bill in
      someone else’s name




                                                             5
Utility Bills         continued




          g         protections y may need to
        To get those p              you   y
        give a copy of your PFA order to the utility
        company.
       Call the P.U.C if the utility company does
        not help you
        –   P.U.C Phone Number: 1-800-692-7380




Joint Accounts

• In Pennsylvania, most creditors cannot hold
  someone responsible for a debt they did not
  incur.

• If a joint debt is in default, the creditor can
  usually try to collect the total from any of the
  people on the account.

    They do not have to divide the amount due.




What Can You Do About Joint Debt?

 Try to remove your name from joint accounts or close
  those accounts.
                   partner s
 Remove your partner’s name as an authorized user on
  your accounts.
 Notify utility companies if you move. Cancel service in
  your name.
BUT – VERY IMPORTANT:
 Make sure you will be able to still get the services you
  need if you change the accounts.




                                                             6
Student Loans

Most student loans are insured by the
Federal government.
 If you are behind on your student loan, the
  government can try to collect by:
    –   Attaching your wages
    –   Taking your tax refund
    –   Denying future student loans




Student Loans              continued




   Bankruptcy usually does not wipe out student
    loans.
   You may be eligible to set up a repayment plan
    based on your income.
   For very useful information, go to
    www.studentloanborrowerassistance.org




Bankruptcy


Q: Is bankruptcy a good idea?

A: Sometimes.

Bankruptcy can wipe out certain debts and
help you repay other debts.




                                                     7
Bankruptcy            continued




Chapter 7:

     Will wipe out many debts but does not provide a way to
     repay secured debt.

     Filing Fee: $299.00 but can be waived by the court if
     your income is low.




Bankruptcy             continued



Chapter 13:
     Permits repayment of secured debts over
                years.
 time – up to 5 years
 e.g. Can help you catch up on a mortgage or
 pay real estate taxes to save your house. You
 need to have enough income to make the
 payments. May not need to repay all your
 debts.
     Filing Fee: $274.00




Bankruptcy            continued



   Either Ch. 7 or Ch. 13 can stop most civil legal
    actions, e.g. utility termination, sheriff’s sale,
           l
    tax sale, etc.
    Depending on individual details, filing
    bankruptcy may stop an eviction.
   If you filed bankruptcy before, eligibility to file
    again depends on details of past cases.
   A bankruptcy may stay on your credit record
    for as long as10 years.




                                                              8
After this Review of Financial
and Legal Basics---



                              What can you do with
                              this information?

                              How can it help you?




Thinking is free!


   Make deliberate
    decisions—
    d i i
    don’t just let things
    happen

   Avoid costly
    mistakes




BAD Ideas


   Pay day loans

   Credit card checks

   Credit repair companies

   Home equity loans




                                                     9
More BAD Ideas

                                         Refinancing unsecured
                                          debt and turning it into
                                          secured debt
                                         Getting credit cards you
                                          don’t need
                                         Making a repayment
                                          plan you can’t afford
                                         Expensive rent-to-own
                                          purchases




GOOD         Ideas:

   Use available resources

    - PA Coalition Against Domestic Violence
      www.pacdv.org

    - Housing Counselors
      www.phfa.org

    - Legal services programs in PA
      www.palawhelp.org




More GOOD Ideas

   Make a Budget
    - Can you increase your income?
    - Can you decrease your expenses?

   Check your credit reports
    - Free reports available at:
    www.annualcreditreport.com




                                                                     10
Even more GOOD Ideas

   Identify your financial goals

    - What are you trying to achieve?
    - What are the obstacles to your goal?
    - Who or what can help you achieve your
      goals?




Take control of your financial life


    By educating yourself about your rights
    and making good decisions about money.




KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!




                                              11
To apply for legal help at NLSA:


  Neighborhood Legal Services Association
        Intake Line: 1-866-761-6572
     For more information about NLSA,
           check out our website
                 www.nlsa.us

                          .




Special Thanks


       Special Thanks to Amber VanSchuyver
            Texas RioGrande Legal Aid
            for help with these materials



   Funding for this Video and PowerPoint material
                 was provided by the
         Allegheny County Bar Foundation




Disclaimer

 This presentation contains general educational
 information about the law and does not contain
 specific advice about a particular legal
 problem. Please use the information contained
 herein carefully since the law is constantly
 changing and the information may not accurately
 reflect any changes in the law that occurred
 following the distribution of this presentation. The
 information herein cannot and should not serve as
 a substitute for seeing a lawyer.




                                                        12
Sample Letter to Send to a Debt Collector




                                            13

				
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