Resources & Links
This page is intended to provide an introduction to debtors’ rights, debt relief, and foreclosure options. Below, you will find information and assorted links that will be helpful to you whether you’d like to file your own bankruptcy or you wish to equip yourself with the knowledge to make sure that you get the most out of any legal services you might seek. Further down the page, you’ll find an introduction to using legal libraries, which you’ll find very helpful, if not indispensable, if you intend to handle your own bankruptcy filing. We have also included several links to sites which deal with FORECLOSURE FRAUD and other varieties of CRIMINAL AND PREDATORY acts which a person should be on the look out for when facing debt, credit, or foreclosure problems.
Know your Rights
Creditors routinely violate the law by failing to make the required disclosures, by contacting debtors too frequently or at inappropriate times, or by contacting the family members and even friends and neighbors. They do this because people do not know their rights and because they can get away with it. Anyone who calls, writes, or otherwise contacts you with respect to a consumer debt, must make certain disclosures:
1. They must describe the purpose of the communication.
2. A person calling you must give you his or her full name and identify the creditor or the collection agency that he or she works for.
3. They must inform you that any information that they receive from you may be used for the purposes of Collecting the debt.
4. A creditor or collection agency must inform you that you have the right to dispute the debt and obtain verification and accounting of the debt. They are obligated to send you written verification of these disclosures.
If any of these disclosures are ambiguous or confusing, they have failed to satisfy the requirements of the law. If a debt collection agency or other creditor fails to make these disclosures, make a note of it and inform the creditor of collection agency that it has failed to satisfy its statutory obligations. Such a failure is a violation of the law. If you dispute the debt or demand an accounting of the debt ALL EFFORTS TO COLLECT THE DEBT MUST STOP until you have received verification of the debt. They must also inform credit reporting agencies that the debt has been disputed.
CREDITORS MUST RESPECT YOUR PRIVACY!
THEY MUST NOT CONTACT YOUR RELATIVES, NEIGHBORS, OR FRIENDS AND THEY CANNOT CONTACT YOU AT WORK!
It has been our experience that these prohibitions are routinely violated. When it occurs, make a note of the date, time, and identity of the caller and company they represent and report them! .
To view a summary of fair debt collection practices click HERE. You may also CLICK HERE to download a printable version of the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Summary of Fair debt Collection Practices Statutes. The Department of Consumer Affairs has also provided a document entitled “What To Do If You Receive a Demand for Payment” which you can download by clicking HERE. For more information on how to deal with creditor harassment and to find form letters, we recommend you CLICK HERE and go to the Consumer Law Center, Inc. website and CLICK on the collection harassment tab.
External links For an Introduction to Debt and Bankruptcy Issues
If you aren’t sure if Bankruptcy will help you, how it works, or even if it will alleviate your problems then the following link is a pretty good place to start: SHOULD I FILE FOR BANKRUPTCY from the Nolo Legal Encyclopedia page.
Local Law Libraries
Note: Law librarians and Clerks are not permitted to give legal advice. It is not that they aren’t trying to help you the best they can, but is actually against the law for them to address specific legal concerns directly, however, they can help you to find sources for your answers.
For Amador County residents, the Amador County Library has a legal division which lends out books on Chapter 7, Chapter 13 bankruptcy and a variety of other materials. You’ll be able to find sample forms as well as a variety of guidebooks designed for general readers that will help you navigate the process. To go to the Amador County Library web page follow this Link. The Amador County Library is located at 530 Sutter Street, in Jackson, you can reach a librarian at (209) 223 6400 for any information you may need.
For Calaveras County Residents, the legal resource center is located at the government center 1404 Gold Hunter Road in San Andreas. Their collection includes several Nolo books on filing your own bankruptcy and other self help resources for people with debt and foreclosure problems. For questions you can call (209) 754-1443. You can also follow this Link to the Resource Center’s web page.
For the residents of El Dorado County, the law library can be found at 550 Main St. Suite A in Placerville. They offer computerized legal research and have a large collection of reference material. They have an impressive website with many useful links and resources, no matter what county you live in I recommend going to the El Dorado County library website by clicking this link. Unfortunately Alpine County does not have a law library at this time. You can avail yourself of one of the other available libraries and can certainly find plenty of internet resources that can help your learn about various debt relief options that are available to you. (see links below). If you are among the unfortunate people who do not live in one of the above counties, it is very likely that there is a law library in your community as well. You can find it by going to The Council of California County Law Librarians by clicking HERE. From there you can also click on the legal resources link and find many more links to great resources.
Consumer Rights, Foreclosure, & Fraud
Keep Your Home California is an organization which was set up with a 2 billion dollar grant which will be used to assist the hardest hit home owners in California who have had reductions in income or whose homes are worth less than they owe.
They have several programs designed to help homeowners who are unemployed, who have fallen behind on their payments, or otherwise need assistance in keeping their home. They also offer a Transition Assistance Program for people who are giving up their homes. To find out about eligibility requirements go to their web page or give them a call to see if they can help: www.keepyourhomecalifornia.org.
The Federal Government has a number of programs and a list of approved housing counselors. To learn about these programs and to find an approved non-profit housing counselor, go to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development main foreclosure prevention page by CLICKING HERE.
If you are having trouble with your lender or loan servicer, BE SURE THAT YOU TALK TO A HUD APPROVED HOUSING COUNSELOR. Be careful and find an approved non-profit counselor, as there are many scams which have sprung up to take advantage of those most in need of help. There are several such services in Sacramento, Stockton, and Modesto. CLICK HERE to see a complete list of approved counseling groups in CA.
The California Department of Real Estate offers a lot of good information about foreclosure, foreclosure scams, prevention, and much more if you are in foreclosure or at risk of foreclosure we encourage you to go to their website at http://www.dre.ca.gov.
You can also download several PDF booklets that they publish including the Foreclosure Prevention Act Facts. The CA Department of Real Estate also offers a PDF file that describes how to deal with a lender when requesting a loan modification, which you can download by CLICKING HERE. The CA Attorney General’s Office has dedicated a page to mortgage modification fraud, you would be wise to review this site if you are in default and hope to negotiate a modification of your payment plan. CLICK HERE to go the the MODIFICATION FRAUD SITE. The California Department of Justice has many useful resources and a great list of links related to debt and bankruptcy issues can be found at their Self – Help Page.
The Federal Trade Commission has an excellent article which deals with debt problems, cautions consumers about fraudulent debt counseling agencies and debt consolidation schemes at their Facts for Consumers Page. You might also want to look at the Federal Trade Commission “Money Matters” page which is a wealth of information that may help you guard against the many predators in the marketplace looking to take advantage of vulnerable people: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/moneymatters/index.html.
For information from HUD on foreclosure prevention and the most recent programs for helping homeowners click HERE. If there is any way we can help call us at (209) 267 1381 or CLICK HERE to EMAIL us. Also feel free to join us at one of our free bankruptcy seminars which are open to the public.