• Trap Doors Being Exploited In Cards ‘Designed To Be a Safety Net’ For Consumers

    On Monday, we noted some encouraging stories indicating that Americans were cutting back on borrowing, credit card debt was declining and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) was putting more institutions on notice about deceptively marketed products. However, a Wall Street Journal story published on September 5, 2012, called attention to another type of plastic that is starting to become a growing problem: prepaid cards.

    Noting that these “cards were designed to help the less-affluent have better control their finances by allowing them to spend only the preloaded amount,” the Journal reported that some consumers are now accumulating debt because of overdraft and other credit-like features have been added to the cards in recent years. Furthermore, the Journal also stated that prepaid cards are “among the fastest-growing types of plastic,” as American consumers loaded $83.3 billion onto prepaid cards in 2011. Payment-industry researcher Mercator Advisory Group said this was a 34 percent increase over the prior year, according to the Journal.

    The National Consumer Law Center, the Center for Responsible Lending and the Consumer Federation of America are now lobbying the CFPB to prohibit prepaid cards from offering any type of credit. The Journal reported the agency is “evaluating the consumer advocates’ proposal as part of a broader effort to more-closely regulate prepaid cards.”

    The Journal story began by citing an Ohio man who borrowed $400 and loaded it onto a prepaid card, beginning a cycle of debt that would ultimately result in $1,344 of total fees from the card provider by the time the man stopped borrowing a year later. “Prepaid cards were designed to be a safety net,” Steve Streit, chief executive of prepaid card issuer Green Dot Corp., told the Journal. “Once you start adding overdraft and other types of credit, it becomes a form of debt.”

    Does this situation sound similar to your own? You should know that you may be able to wipe out your credit card debt by filing Chapter 7 or pay back a portion of the debt through a Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan. Our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers can help determine which plan you are eligible for when you fill out the form on this page or contact our firm at (866) 930-7482.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorneys

  • What Will Higher Food Prices Mean For You?

    While we often write about the problems that the bigger payments like mortgages, medical bills and student loans cause for families throughout the Chicagoland area; however, the truth is that the increase in the smaller everyday bills can be just as devastating. In a September 3, 2012, column for CNN, author and Newsweek editor David Frum predicted that 2013 will be a year of serious global crisis.

    As Frum noted and many families across Illinois have felt, an intense summer drought has ruined key crops. The corn harvest will drop to its lowest level since 1995, and Frum noted that corn and wheat prices increased about 25 percent each while soybean prices climbed roughly 17 percent. This will lead to all sorts of higher food prices, ranging from meat and poultry to dairy products.

    The Tennessean reported that a gallon of milk “will cost 10 cents to 15 cents more by Thanksgiving and rise an additional 25 cents by year-end.” Last month, the PBS NewsHour reported in the video above that a price index from the US Agriculture Department showed that “overall food prices would increase about 3 percent to 4 percent because of the drought,” with the corn intensive items like beef, pork, poultry and eggs most likely to be impacted.

    While Frum wrote that higher food prices are “in almost all cases, a manageable burden,” how much will each additional dollar every week affect you and your family? If you have been scraping by every month and are in need of debt relief in order to keep up with the cost of living, then Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be the answer you need. Filing bankruptcy delays foreclosures and ends the calls from debt collectors.

    Our firm can pull you out of what seems like a crisis or we can help you avoid what could turn into one. If you are tired of fearing what financial obstacle might come up next, contact our firm today at (866) 930-7482 or use the form on this page to let our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers see how we can help eliminate as many of those obstacles as we can.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorneys