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Debt Relief

Lancaster, California, attorney explains how utility shut off is affected by filing bankruptcy!

Many times when people are faced with impending debt, they start looking for shortcuts to save money–using coupons and sales to buy groceries and other necessities, making sure to turn off all lights and appliances when they are not being used, or letting a few bills slide in hopes of catching up on the payments later. The first two are great ways of saving money! The last one can often land you in deeper trouble than you were in before!

Lancaster, California, attorney explains how utility shut off is affected by filing bankruptcy! When you have fallen noticeably behind on your utility bills, utility companies will shut off your utility. Fortunately, there are some requirements that utility services must follow before shutting off your utilities. The power cannot be shut off on days when the utility office is closed, which includes holidays! If there are members of the household whose health is dependent on a power supply, a utility representative must visit the house before the utilities are disconnected. Utilities services must also notify recipients before the utilities can be shut off.

I also have good news, courtesy of SignOn San Diego!

In reaction to stories from around the state that people were being cut off because the bad economy had made it difficult for them to pay their bills, the California Public Utilities Commission told utilities they had to take steps to prevent needless cutoffs.
In particular, the commission said power companies, including San Diego Gas & Electric, must give people at least three months, and up to a year, to get their bills up to date.

But what about people who have already had their utilities shut off and are seeking debt relief? More good news! “The bankruptcy laws require the utility company to restore the service of any utility that was terminated prior to the filing. A bankruptcy filing prevents the utility company from terminating an individual’s service.”

That’s right, Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy provide debt relief and can restore your utilities! You simply need to pay a security deposit within 20 days of filing to ensure your utilities stay on. Contact me or visit our Lancaster office for a free consultation! Bankruptcy attorney David Lozano is dedicated to keeping you debt free and powered up!

David Lozano, Attorney at Law
Contact me today for a free consultation
800-974-5680/Se habla español

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Is there a difference between forgiving debt and discharging debt?

To the IRS and many collection agencies, to forgive debt means that while you don’t have to repay the debt, there is a possibility that you will still owe income tax on it! In bankruptcy, having debt discharged means that you are exempt from having to pay all or part of the debt you owe–depending on the type of bankruptcy claim you file. The whole point of bankruptcy is to give people a second chance and a fresh start!

Coming to terms with your debt is difficult thing to do. Many clients come into my office thinking they could have done something differently to avoid bankruptcy. But in most cases the circumstances that lead to debt are beyond your control, such as the loss of a job or unexpected medical bills!

Although collection agencies may have a somewhat distorted view of what forgiveness is, they are on the right track in their terminology! Friends, family members, and employers need to show forgiveness to people who are in debt or filing bankruptcy. More importantly though, you need to be able to forgive yourself! You cannot blame yourself or let others place the blame on you. Contact me for a free consultation. By filing bankruptcy you are doing the responsible thing by taking charge of the situation!

David Lozano, Attorney at Law
Contact me today for a free consultation
800-974-5680/Se habla español

Dealing with debt and rising prices? Lancaster attorney David Lozano advises you to keep a budget!

Everyone has a different grocery shopping approach–some make a list, others go in and shop for whatever looks good, some plan their shopping trip by clipping coupons and waiting for the biggest sales, others shop for what they need for the week. Whatever their shopping style, however, all shoppers will be affected by the increase in food prices this year!

There is a predicted 2% to 3% rise in food prices for 2011! According to Rick Plumlee, the break down of prices goes like this:

“Beef increased nearly 6 percent through Sept. 30 over the end of the third quarter in 2009. Pork shot up 10 percent, and fresh vegetables increased more than 4 percent. And then there are eggs. They jumped 11.3 percent, in part because of a salmonella outbreak in August at two Iowa farms.”

With the economy the way it is, any increase in prices is cause for concern! Gas prices are already causing people to pull their hair out. Although the government has turned to using ethanol fuel to try to keep the price of gas down. But wait, ethanol is made from corn! Do you know how many foods have corn or corn syrup in them? Not to mention how corn is used as feed for chickens.

As a bankruptcy attorney, I look at things from the perspective of my clients. Dealing with debt makes even the slightest jump in prices a nightmare! I advise my clients to practice good budget management. By sticking to a budget, my clients can take advantage of the times when prices are good and make do when they aren’t! Visit our Lancaster location today for a free consultation!

David Lozano, Attorney at Law
Contact me today for a free consultation
800-974-5680/Se habla español

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Overdraft protection plan dangers – West Covina attorney David Lozano

I’ve told you in past blog posts about the drawbacks that go with payday loans, but a bad payday scheme isn’t the only risky deal out there! Banks offer what is called an overdraft protection plan to prevent a check from bouncing due to insufficient funds. Of course this sounds like good thing but, as with the payday loans, there is a major downside!

If you should happen to make a withdrawal that exceeds the amount of money you have in your account, you are charged a penalty fee. Well that sounds reasonable, right? The bank simply wants to discourage people from overdrawing their accounts. The only problem is that the fee can be up to $20 or $35 per overdraft! On top of that, there is a $2 to $5 daily fee until the balance is paid!

West Covina attorney spreads the word about the risks of overdraft protection!An overdraft is most common at the ATM or when using a debit card, but it can also occur when writing a check. Overdrawing an account usually happens when someone doesn’t monitor his or her account activity as closely as he or she should. But even the most scrupulous account holder is capable of making a mistake!

Of course by itself, an overdrawn account doesn’t typically result in bankruptcy, but the little things can add up! Someone who is dealing with the loss of a job or medical bills doesn’t need anything else on his or her plate! At the Law Offices of David Lozano, we do everything we can to make your financial life easier! Stop in at our West Covina location or contact me for a free consultation.

David Lozano, Attorney at Law
Contact me today for a free consultation
800-974-5680/Se habla español

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Do you have something in common with Will Smith? (Bankruptcy attorney David Lozano says, “more than you might think!”)

Do you have a flair for the dramatic, a thirst for action and adventure, a good sense of rhythm with a dash of witty humor and charm to tie everything together? See, we’ve already established some strong similarities between you and the Fresh Prince! One likeness that might come as a surprise to you, however, is Will Smith’s close encounter with bankruptcy.

Will Smith was once an up-and-coming rapper with dreams of one day becoming a movie star! He earned the nickname “Fresh Prince” for being able to smooth talk his way out of trouble. In 1988, as part of a hip-hop trio, Will Smith won a Grammy for the song “Parents Just Don’t Understand” and became a millionaire. Smith then went on a spending spree and underpaid his taxes, which nearly forced him into bankruptcy. To be fair, Smith was only 18 and a million dollars is enough to go to anyone’s head!

Regrettably, the Fresh Prince couldn’t smooth talk his way out of the debt he accumulated after squandering his fortune. He owed 2.8 million dollars in tax debt to the IRS, a number of his possessions were repossessed, and his income was heavily garnished. Will Smith narrowly escaped bankruptcy thanks to NBC signing him on the sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. It was a close call, but fortunately the sitcom was a hit and put Smith on the road to stardom.

Now, you certainly aren’t in debt as the result of reckless spending, I’m sure! The average Californian’s debt problems are due to unforeseen  circumstances, such as the loss of a job or unexpected medical bills. Whatever the case may be, David Lozano is here to help! Contact me for a free consultation. Bankruptcy is not an end-all, it is merely a stepping stone to getting your life back on track!

David Lozano, Attorney at Law
Contact me today for a free consultation
800-974-5680/Se habla español

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Does filing bankruptcy affect student loans?

A common question I get from my clients is if filing bankruptcy will have any effect on their student loans. Unfortunately, filing bankruptcy does not eliminate or reduce your student loans. The U.S. Bankruptcy Code states that only “undue hardship” is grounds for discharging student loans. Now before you start planning your appeal saying that you are facing “undue hardship”, I should tell you that the Code’s definition will settle for nothing less than permanent and total disability.

While filing bankruptcy does not discharge your student loans or prevent interest from accruing on the loans, there is a ray of hope. Filing bankruptcy will give you a little extra time–up to five years–to get your finances straightened out and possibly catch up to the point where you are able to pay off your student loans! You can do a lot of things in five years if you set your mind to it!

Pursuing the career you took those student loans for may be the key to paying off your loans as well! Don’t let student loans interfere with your goals in life! Contact me for a free consultation. It’s never too soon or too late to seek professional advice on settling your debt!

David Lozano, Attorney at Law
Contact me today for a free consultation
800-974-5680/Se habla español

Are Mom and Dad making sacrifices for your sake?

To cope with the current state of our economy people will often take on extra shifts at work or cut back on frivolous spending. But what about individuals who are retired and their frivolous spending consists solely of buying the grandkids holiday and birthday gifts? That’s right, I’m talking about generous Grandmas and Grandpas here!

The elderly are struggling with debt just as much as the rest of society. A common assumption has been that social security and a good 401(k) plan will be enough to support the elderly after retirement. What I’ve seen happening more and more frequently, however, is elderly folks dipping into their savings for the sake of their children and grandchildren.

Supporting ones children is a hard habit to break. So when Mom and Dad see their son or daughter low on cash, struggling with unemployment, beset with unexpected hospital bills, or in need, the automatic response is to help out.

Lending cash when one is on a fixed income is difficult though. Many elderly men and women turn to borrowing against the equity on their house or relying on credit cards to get by. Unfortunately, both of these methods lead to trouble! Taking out a second mortgage can easily result in foreclosure and missing a few payments on the credit card quickly develops into hefty credit card debt. The elderly may even go without prescribed medication or scrimp on food in an effort to keep up with their bills.

No one likes the thought of dear old Grandma and Grandpa risking their health and comfortable living during retirement! That’s why it is important that elderly individuals get professional financial advice before it comes to that!

Bankruptcy was designed to give people relief from their debt! Mom and Dad have been taking care of you all your life! It’s probably about time to return the favor. Contact me for a free consultation. Together we will make sure that your elderly loved ones can enjoy their retirement to the fullest!

David Lozano, Attorney at Law
Contact me today for a free consultation
800-974-5680/Se habla español

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Considering a payday loan to get you by? Bankruptcy attorney David Lozano strongly advises caution!

Commercial and Internet ads for payday loans are a dime a dozen these days. And if you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all. Payday loans all work basically the same way–you write a check (or grant the lender permission to access an electronic account) to cover the money you are borrowing plus the finance charge. This transaction is then held by the lender until your next payday. Of course if you don’t have the money to cover the cost of the loan by your next payday you’re pretty much out of luck!

It is likely this and many other reasons why payday loans are legal in only thirty-seven U.S. states–with our sunny California being one of them. Nine times out of ten the consequences outweigh the benefits of getting a payday loan. And with online payday loans, there is an added risk of fraud. You hear about online scams all the time, and they are definitely something you do not want to happen to you! You need to be careful when giving out financial information in any situation, but be particularly careful when it’s over the Internet to a payday loan service!

If you find yourself struggling to make ends meet a payday loan is probably not your best option. Contact me for a free consultation and we will discuss your financial situation to determine what is the best course of action for you!

David Lozano, Attorney at Law
Contact me today for a free consultation
800-974-5680/Se habla español

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Do you give yourself and your credit card enough credit? (Bankruptcy attorney David Lozano sheds a little limelight on the subject!)

It is probably safe to say that the majority of Californians are credit cardholders. The U.S. Census Bureau recently collected data on the number of credit cardholders there were in the United States and found that there were 159 million in 2000 and 176 million in 2008. With this data, they then estimated the count for 2011 to be 183 million. I’d like to think these astonishing figures support the idea that Americans are, in general, becoming more financially responsible!

Getting your own credit card is almost like a right of passage for many young adults. It symbolizes that they are–or at least have the potential to be–financially responsible. When managed correctly, a credit card is a useful and often beneficial method of payment. Some credit cards even come with rewards or cash back on essentials, such as groceries, gas, dining, or travel.

There are many brands of credit cards offered by different companies, but did you realize there are just three basic types of credit cards?–unsecured cards, high risk cards, and secured cards.

An unsecured card is most commonly offered to individuals with a good, solid credit history. These cards do not require cash deposit and have no collateral loans. High risk cards often go to people who have a slightly less polished credit history. These cards tend to have an activation fee, annual fees, and late payment penalties attached to them. The last type is a secured credit card, which comes with steep annual fees and late payment penalties. This type of credit card functions similarly to a debit card in that you need to have a certain amount of cash in an account as “insurance”.

When it comes to credit cards, there are many options out there. But no matter what type of credit card you have, as a bankruptcy attorney, I am equipped to handle any type of credit card debt you may have. Contact me for a free consultation on settling your credit card debt!

David Lozano, Attorney at Law
Contact me today for a free consultation
800-974-5680/Se habla español

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Wondering if there’s an advantage to using a payday loan service? (Bankruptcy attorney David Lozano says, “definitely not!”)

The tempting offer of a payday loan is hard to resist. They make it sound as if there are no strings attached–the service simply lends you the money you need until your next paycheck. The hard truth, however, is that you often end up owing more money than you borrowed. Whatever label it is given–payday loan, cash advance, check advance, deferred deposit–it amounts to the same thing. The payday loan service cashes in while you struggle to stay afloat!

Here’s how it works, if you want to borrow $100 to get you through the next two weeks, you write the payday loan service a check for $115–that’s a 15% fee, which equals a 391% Annual Percentage Rate. Then they hold the check for those two weeks. But what happens if you can’t afford the expense? Most of the time you can’t renew or extend your loan. So you either you have to cough up the cash or they rely on a collection agency to get the money out of you. In the cases that you can renew or extend your loan, it comes at a costly fee, which almost always outweighs any benefit of getting the advance in the first place!

Payday loans aren’t what they are cracked up to be. If you’re having financial troubles your best bet is to go to a professional financial adviser! For a free consultation to discuss your options, contact me! We can find a solution that benefits you instead of adding to the problem!

David Lozano, Attorney at Law
Contact me today for a free consultation
800-974-5680/Se habla español

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