|Posted on April 10, 2018 at 4:30 PM|
REBUILDING CREDIT AFTER FILING BANKRUPTCY
Most people are aware of how important it is to maintain a good credit score. One of the reasons that many people who are overwhelmed with debt are hesitant to explore filing bankruptcy is the fear that it will do even more damage to their credit scores than they have already done in falling behind in paying their bills. However, those who have filed bankruptcy can take steps to rebuild their credit scores and should be aware of some common pitfalls to avoid during the process.
One of the best ways to begin rebuilding credit is to apply for a secured credit card. A person can open a secured credit card with a bank or credit union by giving the bank the amount of money equal to the credit limit. For example, if a person gives the bank $500, the card's limit is $500. After several months of reliable payments, the person can raise the credit limit by giving the bank more money. Some banks allow up to $10,000 limits on secured cards.
The cardholder must make sure that the bank will report the card's activity to the three major credit reporting agencies, however, or the card will not help a person build positive credit history. Additionally, a person seeking to rebuild credit should avoid institutions that require hefty fees to open a secured credit card, as the fees will eat up much of the credit limit before a person can make any purchases and the card will not help build credit as much.
This path will eventually lead to the ability to take out unsecured credit cards, as well. However, a person needs to be diligent in paying the balance off every month. Carrying a balance on a credit card does not build positive credit and could lead to a person spiraling into the same situation that led to filing bankruptcy in the first place.
What to Avoid
People trying to rebuild credit need to apply for new credit selectively. Numerous credit inquiries lower a person's credit score, so a person should be confident that he or she will receive credit before even filling out an application.
People should also be wary of getting credit from finance companies that charge excessive fees and exorbitant interest rates. Credit from such businesses does not look as good on a credit report as credit from a bank or credit union.
Consult an Attorney
Trying to find a solution to financial problems can be overwhelming. If you are struggling with debt, consult an experienced debt relief attorney who can discuss your situation with you and advise you of your options.
|Posted on April 10, 2018 at 4:25 PM|
Applicants With Criminal Records Face Greater Employment Challenges
With the economy still reeling from the recession, unemployment remains high in South Carolina and around the country. In July 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a national unemployment rate of 8.3 percent, with an even higher rate of 9.6 percent unemployment in South Carolina. In these difficult economic times, finding work in South Carolina can be difficult for anyone - and for many people who have been convicted of certain criminal offenses, the task has become nearly impossible.
A recent Fox News report examined the issue of seeking work in South Carolina after a prior criminal conviction. The report included interviews with job seekers, policymakers and employers about the difficulties faced by people looking for work after a criminal conviction in South Carolina, as well as what is being done to address the issue.
One job seeker quoted in the article has been seeking work for more than a year. The woman was convicted of a felony criminal conspiracy charge in 2008 after she was found in a vehicle with another individual who was arrested on drug charges. Although her own offense was nonviolent and was not drug-related, she says she is turned down for multiple jobs per day. Even when she is granted an interview, she says potential employers routinely say they won't hire her because of her felony conviction.
This woman's story is repeated many times among the approximately 40,000 former offenders in South Carolina who have served their debts to society and are attempting to re-enter the workforce. Although research has shown that gainful employment is an important factor in preventing recidivism among former offenders, many employers are simply unwilling to hire applicants with criminal records.
One South Carolina legislator, Sen. Darrell Jackson, has sponsored legislation that would give nonviolent offenders the chance to clear their records by going before the pardon and parole board. The measure was defeated at the subcommittee level this year, but Jackson says he plans to reintroduce the proposal next year.
Particularly in today's difficult economy, when jobs are scarce and competition is fierce, the long-term consequences of a criminal conviction can extend far beyond the courtroom and the jailhouse. People facing the possibility of criminal charges in South Carolina are encouraged to seek help from an experienced criminal defense attorney who will work hard to defend their rights and protect their futures.
|Posted on April 10, 2018 at 4:25 PM|
Mortgage Fraud Convictions In South Carolina Can Carry Stiff Penalties
A couple from Myrtle Beach recently pleaded guilty to crimes based on mortgage fraud; the man illegally collected $36,500 and the woman $200,000 through a real estate deal based on fraudulent statements. Each may receive sentences of up to five years in jail and $250,000 fines.
A Fort Mill ex-councilman is in jail after violating his parole for mortgage fraud he committed by lying on a home loan application. In addition to a year and a half in jail, he also has an order to pay back $314,750 to the victim.
A West Columbia Realtor overvalued a number of homes, costing a Wachovia bank almost $1.7 million in losses. The Realtor, who also works as a mortgage broker, may spend up to 20 years in jail in addition to paying a $250,000 fine.
Mortgage fraud can be a misstatement, misrepresentation or omission relied upon by a lender or underwriter when funding, purchasing or insuring a mortgage loan. One may incur criminal charges for mortgage fraud stemming from actions taken at the time of loan origination and later, during the foreclosure avoidance process. Schemes targeting certain types of consumers during short sales, loan modifications or credit clean-ups are common.
People convicted of mortgage fraud are subject to a number of forms of punishment, including:
- Jail time
- Restitution — paying back the victim's losses
- Legal costs and fees
Not only may state laws and penalties be imposed, but mortgage fraud is also a federal crime, which can carry punishments of up to $1 million in fines and 30 years in jail.
Even if an alleged perpetrator is not convicted in criminal court, he or she may be sued in civil court. Because the burden of proof — the amount of evidence needed to prove wrongdoing — is lower in civil cases than in criminal, a finding of "not guilty" may not provide a respite for the accused.
If you are charged with a crime, you need experienced assistance from an attorney knowledgeable of criminal law matters. There is too much at stake to avoid seeking the legal help you need.