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Do you want to take control of your finances and don’t know where to start? You are probably asking yourself: “How to find out all my debts in the United States?” In this article you will find a complete guide to take control of your financial status. 

At Ortiz & Ortiz we are New York bankruptcy attorneys with over 30 years of business and estate planning experience. Our team is available in English and Spanish, ready to advise and defend you with great determination to succeed.

How to find out all my debts in the United States in 2021

Knowing the current status of your debts is the first step in beginning the process of resolving them. We know it seems difficult, especially if you have different types of credit. But don’t worry, here you will find all the information you need to solve this first big initial doubt: “How to to find out all my debts in the United States?”

Here we will present you with a guide of steps to follow and track if you have outstanding debts to find and solve in the United States.

  • First, make a list of your credits. This list will be very useful to understand your debt. A good way to visualize your debt is by making a spreadsheet. 
  • Second, sort the correspondence between you and your creditors. This will give you a chronological order of communication about your finances. It will also allow you to see what was said and what was not. 
  • Check thoroughly to see if you have messages on the answering machine, or unread e-mails. Also check if you have Spam messages. 
  • It’s time to supplement your information with an official credit report. The AnnualReport.com website is free to order. 
  • To be even more sure, you should request a report from the three largest credit reporting agencies, which are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. This is because the companies you owe money to should have reported you to one of these agencies. The companies that report to these agencies can be banks and credit card companies, mortgage and real estate finance institutions, and other lending institutions.

Now, it is important to delve into each point so that you can answer your question with peace of mind: How to find out and calculate my total debt in the United States?

Note: Remember that not paying your debts can land you in jail

The importance of the order of the information to find your total debts in the United States

types of debts in the usa

When you ask yourself, “How to find out and calculate all my debts in the United States?” you should know that the answer is a process. And, as such, answering this question will take a few weeks. To do so successfully, there are a few key things you will need to keep in mind. First of all, be neat and organized. However, being honest with yourself and the debts you owe is also very important.

The order of your information will be crucial to determine for sure if you have outstanding debts or not, and to which financial institutions you owe money. 

  • We recommend using a spreadsheet format that allows you to view the information in a user-friendly manner. Here you can find spreadsheets specially designed to find and sort debts. If you have a Google email, you can also access default Google Sheets formats.
  • Organize the information in chronological order. That way you can make sure you’re not forgetting anything by reviewing your credit status year by year.
  • Be honest with yourself and your family members. Debts won’t go away because you don’t write them down. Creditors or lenders will keep knocking on your door and calling you. 

Remember that there is no universal recipe. The order that works for you may be different from someone else’s. And that’s okay! The important thing is that your personalized order helps you visualize all the information and understand it easily.

Stay calm and seek professional advice

Relax, you have already started the process of organizing your finances. From now on, your situation will only improve. Thanks to having collected all the information, you are now in control.

Being in control and having clarity of your situation is the first step in building an action plan. In case you find out you have debts to settle, now you can do it in an orderly manner.

If the answers to your initial question “How to find out all my debts?” were daunting, and you are in a difficult position of debt, feel free to contact us. As you can see in our client testimonials section, our team of expert bankruptcy attorneys will be able to guide and accompany you during the process of resolving your situation.

Note: At Ortiz & Ortiz we are available through the contact page or on our phone to advise you. You can also book your appointment online.

Important Points About Debt Tracking in the United States

Let’s rewind a little. Before seeking to resolve your question to find out whether you have debts in the United States or not, let’s review some concepts on this topic.

What types of debts exist?

There are different types of personal debts. Here you can review the different types of consumer debt that currently exist in the United States.

Below you can see a list of examples of types of personal debts:

  • Credit card debt.
  • Consumer credit debt.
  • Auto loan debt.
  • Student loan debt.
  • Residential mortgage debt.
  • Home Equity Credit Debt.
  • Tax debt.

Loans and creditworthiness are an excellent input for the growth of your business, or investment in training or products necessary for your personal development. However, you must be careful not to overdo the number of commitments you make. In this way, you can ensure that you can pay the installments each month.

What is the interest rate?

“An interest rate is defined as the proportion of a borrowed amount that a lender charges the borrower as interest, usually expressed as an annual percentage”, Bankrate explains in its Glossary.

So the interest rate is the profit that the bank or lender will earn from lending money to others. Conversely, the interest rate is the money a saver will earn by keeping their money in a savings bank account.

There are different types of interest rates

There are simple and compound interest rates, which we can discuss in another article. The important thing now is that you understand that as time goes on accumulating debts, this interest of the creditor grows. As the months or years go by, your debt will continue to grow in proportion to the percentage of the agreed interest rate.

What should I know about collection agencies in New York?

When an unpaid debt has long passed, it is common for it to be transferred from the original lender to a collection agency. In the event that a collection agency is in charge of insisting on the payment of your debt, they should contact you through a letter or phone call. It is essential that you check if the agency is licensed, they should always provide their DCA license number.

Collection agencies in New York must follow rules and protocols

You should bear in mind that collection agents have strict rules on how they are allowed to contact you. 

Here is a list of actions outside the limits of collection agents, which you should not allow.

  • The collection agent cannot contact you at inappropriate times (before 8:00 am and after 9:00 pm)
  • They also cannot contact your friends, relatives, employer, or others, except to confirm your address.
  • No agent should chase you or harass you with repetitive phone calls, inappropriate language, or physical threats.
  • The agent may not use forms of extortion or threaten with potential arrest.

In the event that the collection agent is violating one or more rules, you can report a formal complaint directly to the authority. We recommend that you contact us quickly, and our experienced team of New York bankruptcy attorneys will be able to represent and defend you.

Depending on the case, our team may recommend that you follow courses of action with the Office for Consumer Financial Protection, with the Federal Trade Commission, or with the National Association of Attorneys General.

Debt in the United States: Bankruptcy as an Alternative

how to calculate total debt

Being in debt is a situation that can block you. Many questions arise about what to do about it. It’s easy to find yourself in the position of not knowing where to start.

For example, what happens if I am sued and I cannot pay? Your best alternative may be to file for bankruptcy.

If you are seriously considering this alternative, you should know what it entails: what is required to be able to file bankruptcy, the steps to follow, and what will be the consequences of this decision.

What types of bankruptcy exist?

First, you must know what types of bankruptcy exist. In New York there are four ways to file for bankruptcy that are protected by law.

Chapter 7: This is bankruptcy known as “liquidation.” It means that you as the debtor give up any non-exempt assets. These assets are then liquidated to pay off debts to creditors or lenders. The process in this way can last from three to six months from when the forms are presented until the debt is forgiven.

Chapter 11: This alternative is also known as “reorganization.” It is commonly used mainly by companies and by individual debtors who have very large debts.

Chapter 12: This is a particular process. It is used only for “family farmers” or “family fishermen” who have regular annual income. By filing for bankruptcy through Chapter 12, farmers and fishermen have the ability to carry out a plan to pay off some or all of their debts.

Chapter 13: It is known as the “wage earner’s plan.” Chapter 13 involves a reorganization that allows you to come up with a plan to pay off some or all of your debts if you have a steady income. This plan contemplates a period of 3 or 5 years.

Note: Review the complete steps to follow to find out how to file for bankruptcy in New York.

Consequences of bankruptcy

Bankruptcy filing process costs

Filing for bankruptcy has consequences. The first and most immediate are the costs of the process. In New York, filing bankruptcy under Chapter 7 costs $ 335, while under Chapter 13, it costs $ 274.

How Bankruptcy Affects My Spouse

On the other hand, if you file for bankruptcy, it could affect your spouse.

Although you can file for bankruptcy individually and independently, the impact on your spouse will depend on whether you have joint properties and / or debts. It will also depend on the property laws of the state where they reside. And, furthermore, under which chapter you decide to file for bankruptcy.

Note: If you have more questions about this matter, you can review all the detail in our article how bankruptcy affects my spouse.

If I file bankruptcy, will I lose my car?

If you file for bankruptcy, you will most likely be able to keep your car. But only so long as you can continue making the payments of each installment. Otherwise, it depends on the cost of the car, your debt, and exemptions.

If I file for bankruptcy, will I lose my cash?

If you file for bankruptcy under Chapter 13, you will not lose your cash. However, if you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will need to surrender the nonexempt cash. There are some exemptions such as alimony, retirement accounts, pensions, public unemployment or disability benefits, among others.

Related to this point, bank accounts can be exempted up to a certain amount under Chapter 7. Depending on what other personal property you exempt, you could protect around $10,000 in your bank accounts.

Credit Score

Filing for bankruptcy will lower your credit score, and your past debt history will not be erased even after the debt is paid off.

Lowering your credit score will classify you as a risky borrower. This could imply that financial institutions do not want to give you new loans, or that they offer you high interest rates, due to the risk that you would represent.

However, even though filing for bankruptcy affects your credit score, it is still a beneficial alternative to recovering from extreme debt. In other words, it may be that your credit score is a lesser evil compared to the benefit of improving your overall financial situation.

How to improve my credit in the United States?

bankruptcy as alternative to debt

After going through a debt situation, and especially after filing for bankruptcy, many of our clients wonder: how can I improve my credit score in the United States?

Your credit score is calculated based on several factors. The important thing is that you take control of your financial decisions and be proactive. Here are some tips to increase your credit score as quickly as possible:

  • Pay your creditors on time. If you are just emerging from a state of bad debt and even bankruptcy, you know the importance of this point. Debts pile up and snowball into a problem that quickly gets out control.
  • Schedule your payments. Using this measure, your payments will be automatically discounted, so you won’t be tempted to spend the money on another item. Also, it is a good way to ensure that you will make payments before the due date.
  • Improve your credit utilization rate. This means that it is not advisable to use more than 30% of your credit capacity. So if you have a quota of $ 10,000, you shouldn’t use more than $ 3,000 of credit. This will ensure you maintain a better credit score.
  • Make frequent payments. It is essential to make payments on time on a monthly basis. However, if you are able to do it even more often, this can help improve your credit score. Keeping debt as low as possible will help your score, and making frequent payments will help you get there.
  • Increase your credit limit. This is directly related to the Credit utilization rate. Since a credit limit increase (while maintaining current utilization) will automatically decrease the rate.
  • Do not close credit card accounts. Continuing with the previous point, maintaining active Credit Card accounts, even if they are not used, increase your credit capacity and, therefore, help to improve the Credit utilization rate.
  • Pay twice a month. Try to pay off part of the credit up front and the rest later. Thus, regardless of when the account is reported, it will be seen to have a lower credit utilization rate. On the other hand, if you make large purchases with your credit card, you should pay the amount as soon as possible.
  • Use inactive credit cards periodically. You already know the importance of having a higher credit limit.
  • Mix up your types of debt. It is advisable to have both installment and rolling credit accounts. Showing creditors that you can manage both responsibly will improve your credit score.
  • Negotiate your outstanding balances. At Ortiz & Ortiz we have an expert team of New York business lawyers who will be able to accompany you in this negotiation process with your creditors.
  • Dispute the errors in the Credit Report. Along the same lines as the previous point, if your report shows debts that are not yours, our lawyers can help you. If you find an error, you can dispute it, and if your creditor cannot back it up, it will be completely removed from your credit report.

Why hire the attorneys at Ortiz & Ortiz?

Being in debt can be a real headache. At Ortiz & Ortiz we want to help you and, therefore, we have multiple blogs on bankruptcy, its consequences and other derived issues.

Contact Us! Our bankruptcy attorneys will review your case and, after analyzing your options to:

  • Find out and calculate all your total debts.
  • Let you know what your credit situation is.
  • Advise you on the best measures to resolve your debt status.
  • Guide you through the process of rebuilding your credit.
  • Help you in your relationship with lenders and collection agencies so that all your interlocutors treat you fairly.
  • Advise you on whether or not to file for bankruptcy and under which chapter to do so.
  • Guide you through the steps involved in filing for bankruptcy.

Our mission is to help you to resolve any questions, both in legal and financial difficulties that you may be facing. We are a committed and expert team, with more than 30 years of experience serving clients in New York.

Our practice areas at Ortiz & Ortiz range from Business and Commercial Law, through Estate Planning, and even Bankruptcy.

Don’t hesitate and contact us! We are waiting for it.