Q. Hello - I have had a family emergency (a death) and have fallen behing on my debts as a result. At this point, I'm so far behind that bankruptcy is the only solution for me. My credit is already score is bad as a result of the late payment history, which in the past was always very good. Will I always have bad credit as a result of filing for bankruptcy? Will I ever be able to get a house of my own?
Lee, Charlotte, NC 3/16/04
A. A bankruptcy will remain on your credit history for 10 years. Depending on the lender and your recent payment/employment history, you should have a chance to get a house several years after the filing, though expect to pay a high interest rate.
Andrew Shain 3/29/04
Q. Fifteen years ago, I had some trouble paying off some credit card debt. I had some charge offs and late pays but cleared everything up...or so I thought. My parents recently received a letter addressed to me from a collection agency on behalf of a company with whom I used to have a credit card. They want payment for a $400 outstanding balance. I check my credit regularly with all three agencies and it hasn't appeared for at least 8 years. The SSN is correct on the letter but I don't have any records to verify the amount. What should I do?? If I pay it, it will have a new Date of Last Activity and start showing up on my credit report. Why couldn't they find me years ago?? I've never hid from any creditors. If fact, I'm married and a home owner (very easy to locate).
Anonymous, Charlotte, NC 2/18/04
A. If the debt was charged-off by the credit-card company, a collection agency can ask you to voluntarily pay the money at any time. Even though nothing appears on your credit record, the debt still exists. (The charge off remained on your credit record for seven years.) If the debt is that old, send a notice to the collector to stop contacting you and ignore further requests. If you promise to make payments, they collection agency could start legal proceedings against you if you fail to follow through.
Andrew Shain 3/23/04
Q. I'M HAVING A PROBLEM WITH A CREDIT CARD COMPANY CALLING ME AT WORK THAT I'M BEHIND ON MY BILL. I KNOW THAT I AM BUT AT THE COMPANY I WORK FOR I'M NOT ALLOWED TO GET THESE CALLS AND I'VE TOLD THESE PEOPLE THAT. I COULD LOOSE MY JOB IF THEY KEEP CALLING. WHO DO I CONTACT TO GET THEM TO STOP. COULD YOU PLEASE GIVE ME A SIGHT TO GO TOO.
JACKIE, SANFORD,NC 1/08/04
A. Debt collectors are allowed to call you at the office, but must stop if they have a way to reach you during non-work hours or they know your employer disapproves of the calls, the N.C. Attornet General's office said. If you have a complaint about a debt collector, call the N.C. Attorney General's office at (877) 5NO-SCAM or (919) 716-6000.
Andrew Shain 3/09/04
Q. The guy that I was previously dating asked me to rent a car for him (he did not have a credit card) and that he would pay me the cash. I rented the car in my name. Over the course of 4 weeks, he paid me $300 of a $750 bill. We have since broken up. Is there any possibility of my recovering the unpaid money?
Anonymous, Chicago, Illinois 2/18/04
A. Not sure there's much you can do except keep asking him for the money. You could take him to small claims court for the remaining $450. You can represent yourself, but there are fees that might eat into the cash you're seeking. For more information, visit http://www.statesattorney.org/aweb/confbbb.htm.
Andrew Shain 2/19/04
Q. Hi - I have a lot of credit card debt and it's starting to get overwhelming. How much of an adverse effect will using the services of a credit counseling service have on my credit report, which is otherwise good. I have never been late nor missed a payment.
Douglas, Charlotte 10/30/03
A. As long as you're current on your accounts, using a counseling service will not hurt your credit score with most groups, say credit-rating bureau Experian. Still, some creditors might consider you more of a risk when you apply for loans or credit cards. You can always add a statement to your credit record to explain the circumstances for using a counselor.
Andrew Shain 11/04/03