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Author Archives: Robert J. Semrad

Credit Counseling, or “How You Can Help the Bank While Hurting Yourself”

Credit Counseling, or “How You Can Help the Bank While Hurting Yourself” If you’ve fallen behind in your credit card payments, you have probably heard from your bank, and the representative may have suggested you look into a credit counseling program. The kind bank rep may even have offered to supply a list of credit… Read More »

Legal Loansharking: How Georgia Regulates Payday Loans

Loansharking is an illegal practice where unlicensed lenders extend credit to borrowers at impossibly high interest rates and then use threats and actual violence to collect. A slightly more respectable version of this practice is commonly called a payday loan. These are small consumer loans for short terms at exorbitant interest rates. Payday loans are… Read More »

The Power of the Automatic Stay

If you are behind in your bills, you’ve probably gotten letters from you creditors as well as phone calls threatening to take action to collect on your debts. As if the harassing phone calls aren’t enough, your various creditors could also: Shut off your utilities Foreclose on your home or evict you from your apartment… Read More »

Why All the Upfront Fees for Debt Resolution Services?

If you’ve fallen behind on credit card or loan payments, you may be curious about the direct mail advertisements you’ve been getting from companies calling themselves “debt resolution services.” They promise to help you settle your debt for significantly less than you owe. It sounds great until you find out you have to pay them… Read More »

What to Do When a Creditor Sues for Payment

It’s a moment that can be terrifying: you collect your mail and see a certified letter from a law firm. You open it and learn you’re being sued for the money you owe on your credit card. Now what? You’ve never been sued before. You can’t even remember going into a courthouse. Can you handle… Read More »

Your Tax Refund: How You Loaned Your Money to the Government at Zero Interest

Most people get a good feeling when they know they’ll be receiving a fat refund on their taxes. But is that really the best financial strategy? If you’re paying off credit cards or a high-interest loan, the answer is probably no. Imagine your tax refund is $3,200, which is about the average amount a U.S…. Read More »

Financial Lessons from The Big Short

The Big Short, the Oscar-nominated film about the 2008 housing crisis, is an instructive, sometimes funny, and intense human drama about fraud and greed in the financial world. The film exposes the corruption that led to the near collapse of our banking system, but offers little comfort to the millions of Americans who lost their… Read More »

Bankruptcy – If It’s Good Enough for Trump, Why Not You?

Donald Trump, the New York billionaire, real estate mogul and television celebrity, has been making headlines for months as a leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. That has prompted his many challengers to insinuate that his business record is not what it appears to be. Opponent Carly Fiorina, a former CEO whose business record… Read More »

Are You Still Hiding Your Car from the Repo Man?

If you have defaulted on your car loan, the lender has the right to repossess it provided he does not “breach the peace.” This can put you in a terrible bind if you rely on your car to get to work or to run errands for your household. Sure, you can keep your car in… Read More »

What Property Can You Keep Under Georgia’s Bankruptcy Exemptions?

Every state has different rules when it comes to bankruptcy. States have their own laws about which property can be kept (exempted) in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding. While many states allow you to choose between state and federal rules, Georgia limits its residents to state rules. Georgia’s bankruptcy exemptions apply to property or equity… Read More »