• Teens Need to Learn Dangers of Credit Cards Before Heading Off to College

    As the video above from WOLO-TV notes, one group being targeted by many credit card companies is college students. In a July 12, 2012 article entitled “Credit cards and college students can be a dangerous mix,” the USA Today discussed how the Credit Card Act that took effect a little less than three years ago made it more difficult for anyone under the age of 21 to get a card. However, “Under-21s can still obtain a credit card if they have a qualified co-signer or proof of sufficient income to repay the debt,” The USA Today reported. “And card issuers still market aggressively to college students, targeting them with pre-screened mail offers.”

    With thousands of families getting ready to send teenagers off to college, this is an important topic that needs to be discussed and handled responsibly. Many of the nation’s graduates are already struggling with the student loan debt they incur during their studies, and adding credit card debt on top of that only compounds the problem after graduation.

    As USA Today noted, some credit card issuers will say that as long as an applicant under 21 has a job and can afford a monthly minimum payment, they can be approved for a credit card without requiring a co-signer. Whether parents are co-signers or not, they should encourage their teenagers to use credit cards only for emergencies or pay off the balance immediately. A secured credit card can be a far safer option, and both debit and prepaid cards also avoid much of the trouble associated with traditional credit cards, although neither of those options will help build credit scores.

    Whether you are a student or not, filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be able to eliminate your credit card debt and help you get a fresh start. If you are tired of struggling to pay your monthly minimums, you should contact our firm at (866) 930-7482 or fill out our intake form on this page to let our Chicago bankruptcy attorneys see how we can help.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy lawyers

  • Debt Settlement Firm Will Refund $2.1 Million to Illinois Customers

    Legal Helpers Debt Resolution LLC is a Chicago-based law firm specializing in consumer debt settlement. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said that rather than providing legal help, the lawyers were a “front” to collect hefty fees from desperate consumers. The Chicago Tribune reported on July 27, 2012, that Legal Helpers Debt Resolution agreed to refund $2.1 million to its Illinois customers under a settlement announced this month.

    According to the Tribune, abusive practices by debt settlement operators led Illinois lawmakers to pass legislation in 2010 that banned charging upfront fees for helping consumers negotiate relief from creditors. Legal Helpers Debt Resolution and other firms like it promised to help consumers cut their debts in half, but the Tribune noted that they “also claimed they were exempt from restrictions on upfront fees because they offered legal advice about bankruptcy matters in addition to debt settlement.”

    Legal Helpers Debt Resolution has received a rating of “F” from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and 213 complaints have been closed with BBB in the last three years with 100 of those being closed in the last 12 months. The Tribune reported that Madigan’s office alleged the firm “contracted out the debt settlement service to non-lawyer, third-party companies.” The lawsuit said Legal Helpers Debt Resolution charged nonrefundable fees that included a $500 retainer, a $49 monthly charge and 15 percent of the total debt.

    The Tribune said Legal Helpers Debt Resolution has more than 2,000 clients in Illinois. As a result, the $2.1 million settlement will provide an average of about $1,000 in restitution to customers. Companies like Legal Helpers Debt Resolution take advantage of struggling consumers who are overwhelmed with credit card debt, but you should know that this type of debt is considered “unsecured” and can often be discharged through a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy . We will continue to focus on issues relating to credit card debt in blogs throughout the week, but if you are maxed out or just want to start getting your finances in order, contact our firm by telephone at (866) 930-7482 to see how our Chicago bankruptcy attorneys can help.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy lawyers