What Are Your Rights When Deep in Debt?

When you’re deep in debt, your next move is not always clear. Obviously, you’d love to snap your fingers and find yourself “out of the red,” so to speak. But it’s easier to rack up debt than it is to repay it, so many people find themselves in a limbo state, wondering what to do next. Finding yourself here can be stressful, to say the least—and that’s before you add in the incessant contact from debt collectors.

Seeing as credit card debt is at a record high—the average American has a balance of $6,375, an increase of 3 percent over 2017—you’re certainly not alone in feeling this way if you do. You may find yourself wondering about your own rights when you’re deep in debt.

Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind so you can look out for yourself while navigating the process of repayment, however you choose to do so.

Addressing Your Debt

The only way to truly end collection efforts is to get out of debt. It’s important not to lose sight of this fact. While understanding your rights as to maintain healthy boundaries can help you stay motivated and avoid excess stress, it doesn’t address the root of the issue.

First, make sure you have a clear understanding of the amount and nature of your debts. Then settle on a repayment strategy or combination of methods. For example, consumers with substantial credit card debt may choose an option like debt settlement through an organization like Freedom Debt Relief because they’re already facing credit score damage and regular collection calls as is. This entails paying into a special bank account instead of sending money to creditors while amassing enough to negotiate a lower balance due.

Yet others decide to pursue a do-it-yourself approach to debt relief. However, this journey may still be paved with plenty of calls and letters from collectors. No matter which option you choose, it’s still helpful to know your rights along the way as you work toward repayment.

Dealing with Debt Collectors

Do you feel like flipping over your cell phone when you see an unknown number pop up? Does checking the mail require a pep talk in front of the mirror these days? Dealing with communications from debt collectors—some of which feels like it’s bordering on harassment—can make handling your debt that much more difficult.

But the good news is that you still have rights, even if you’re deep in debt. According to the Federal Trade Commission, here are a few consumer rights as protected by law:

Debt collectors cannot call before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.

Debt collectors cannot swear, threaten violence or otherwise harass you.

Debt collectors must be honest about who they are.

Collectors cannot ask you to pay fictional debts.

Collectors cannot tell others, like your spouse or lawyer, about your debt.

Collectors cannot threaten arrest or deportation due to debt.

So, while picking up the phone and connecting with a debt collector can be anxiety-inducing, a legitimate collector will not engage in any of the aforementioned illegal activities. As U.S. News & World Report writes, “The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits collection agencies from being abusive, harassing or deceptive when collecting on a loan.” If you believe a collector has crossed a line, stand firm and remember your rights. Then report it to the Federal Trade Commission.

No matter how deep in debt you are, you still have certain rights as a consumer. Ask plenty of questions so you can ensure the legitimacy of whoever is contacting you. Make sure you’re wary of scammers, too.

5 Compliance Measures Every Business Should Take

Every single industry and every business has certain things they must comply to. These include legal requirements, regulations that must be followed, and voluntary compliance with industry and employer norms.

There are different consequences when it comes to non-compliance depending on what specifically we are talking about. When it comes to government regulation, these can often be disastrous, and we will talk more about those in a moment. Below are five compliance measures every business should take.

Internal Operations Compliance

What is internal operations compliance? There are some requirements of corporations like forming a board of directors and having annual meetings. Smaller companies like LLCs simply have to file annual reports and have less stringent regulations.

Then there are your internal compliance rules that you establish.These are essentially your rules for doing business on a day to day basis. They include a number of things.

Here are some examples of internal rules you should consider:

  • Physical Entrance Rules: When can employees come and go, and who has access when and where? These should all be clearly outlined in a policy document.
  • Virtual Access: Similar to an entrance policy, this tells your employees who can access what data from where, how, and using what equipment.
  • Password Protection: What are your password requirements, and how often do employees have to change them?
  • Security Updates: How often do security updates need to be done? Are they done by IT or do employees have permission to initiate them on company equipment?
  • Media Removal/Addition: When can media be removed or added to the company systems, by whom, and when is it appropriate?
  • Audits and Reviews: How often will audits and reviews be done, and what will they look like?

These items should all be clearly defined so that employees know what to expect and what is expected of them.

External Government Regulation Requirements

Of course, there are government requirements of your business, and many of them are related to HR and payroll. From overtime laws, which can vary from state to state, minimum wages, break policies, and more, there are regulations that govern how you treat employees and the benefits you offer them.

On top of that every business must deal with tax laws, both Federal and local laws which can include city, county, and state regulations. Many businesses choose to deal with these by outsourcing HR services to a professional employer organization or PEO. What is a PEO? A service that can offer professional employer tasks such as payroll and compliance.

The best PEO companies handle legal, payroll, benefit, and other requirements for a number of companies and corporations. These are options to consider as your company grows and dealing with these regulations becomes more than you can handle on your own.

Industry Specific Requirements

From factories to mines, each industry has specific requirements they must deal with. From OSHA and MSHA to the EPA and other environmental regulations, industries must deal with a number of compliance issues on a daily basis.

The key is to know the requirements for your business, and to follow them. Most agencies want you to be successful in compliance and they offer primers and courses that will help you follow the specific requirements for your industry. If you have questions, check with the regulating agency or a compliance expert.

Voluntary Employer Compliance

While some things are not requirements for your business per se, they are expected by employees, customers and others. For instance, you may not be required legally to offer certain benefits, but employees in you industry may expect them as they are “normal” for businesses of your type.

For instance, restaurants often offer food discounts to employees. While this is not a legal requirement, it is pretty much expected. Many office type jobs offer gym memberships to help employees stay active. While not a requirement, it is something employees have come to expect an employer to provide.

In other cases, customers expect businesses to be environmentally conscious and engage in recycling and energy conservation efforts. Using or paying into renewable energy and other responsible tactics are not only desirable, but almost compelled. Not participating in these things can drive your customers toward your competition.

Understand Consequences for Non-Compliance

There should be consequences attached to non-compliance with internal regulations, as they are related to the smooth everyday operations of your business. These can include written warnings and range up to dismissal for cause. Whatever structure you choose should be written in policies provided to the employee.

Government compliance comes with penalties at the state and Federal level, and can be small and inconsequential or disastrous for a small business. As mentioned above, tax penalties or violations of payroll compliance issues like overtime and labor regulations can easily bankrupt a smaller company.

Voluntary compliance violations can result in huge amounts of recidivism, lost employment prospects, lost sales, and lower profits. Sometimes what is expected of your business is just as important if not more so than what is required of your business.

As with any endeavor, compliance with laws and expectations is vital to the success of nearly any business. These are just five of the many compliance measures a company should have in place. Find out what your industry demands, and be sure you are in line with both what you need to do and what you are expected to follow.

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Save Yourself From The Inevitable Recession With Real Estate

Bill Maher landed in hot water recently after he said he welcomed another recession if it meant that Donald Trump would lose his presidency. Forget the politics for a moment and the fact that Maher could easily afford a recession on his salary. Instead, let’s focus on his defence. Maher suggested that it didn’t matter whether he wished for one or not, we were due to a recession. He’s right of course. Recessions come around like clockwork and seem to be completely unavoidable. Since there hasn’t been one in a while, it’s only a matter of time before the economy takes a turn for the worse once more. What does this mean?

It means that individuals should be looking for ways to invest. One thing we know happens in a recession is that savings often get washed away. If you have hundreds of thousands in savings right now, you need to think about investing it. Even if you don’t have savings, it’s still worth considering this option because there are other ways to get in on the action and essentially make sure you are protected with a backup in the wake of a financial fallout.

This brings us to property. Short of investing in precious metals, the property is arguably the surest and safest investment option. Invest in property, and you can keep your money safe for years, maybe even decades. It’s certainly not as volatile as other investment possibilities, and that’s probably what you’re looking for. You want something that is safe but also has the potential to bring a huge ROI. Well, that’s property investments in a nutshell. Let’s look at this in a little more detail.


Choosing Your Path

Choosing your path

The first step is to consider whether you should invest to sell or invest in letting. Investing to let is the long-term option whereas selling will put the money you make right back in your bank account. As such, if you’re worried about the chance of a recession buying to let is arguably your best option.

Even then there are a few possibilities you can think about. For instance, you could buy to let a home, an apartment, a block of apartments or even a holiday home. Right away, if you fear the chance of a recession, there’s one choice that you should avoid, and that’s the holiday home. You see, holidays are luxuries and in a recession luxuries are the first thing to go. People take fewer holidays which means that making money off an investment like this is going to be more difficult.

It’s between a house and apartments then or potentially offices. But again, offices are risky because when you buy offices, you’re hoping that businesses will be booming. Of course, this won’t happen through a recession.

The best bet would be to buy apartments to rent out in the city. You should probably start at one. This can provide a comfortable second income and essentially give you an easy life. You’ll always have money to fall back on with this single real estate investment option.


Why Not Buy More Than One?

Think about the game of Monopoly because actually, it can teach you a lot about the property investment game. First, you buy the house which is fine, and then you buy three more houses. Eventually, you might end up with a hotel. Unfortunately, at this point, things can get a little risky. What if your houses need maintenance? Unless you are making substantial profits, then maintenance bills really could take you through the ringer. This is exactly what happens if you pick up that maintenance chance card in Monopoly and the effect is quite similar to a real-life maintenance situation. You’ll have bills that you may not be able to afford.

You can win big by taking risks with real estate, but if you want to keep your finances healthy, one or two apartments are all you need.


Can You Invest Without An Investment?

You may like the idea of investing in property but not have any money to do it right now. You can still invest, and there are a couple options. You can find other people to go in on the investment with you. By doing this, you each only pay a few thousand and share the profits between you. Alternatively, you can take out a personal loan. With personal loans, you can borrow as much as 150K which is more than enough to get that apartment.

You will be taking on a sizeable amount of debt. But you should be able to pay this off gradually with the money that you’re making from letting it out. The issue here is that your investment will be built on a loan so you will have to keep a check on repayments and make sure that you are not in the position where your income stops. Empty properties can be a real killer for investors.


Who Should Be Your Tennant?

There are plenty of choices for tenants. Students can be a good option, particularly if you buy apartments in the city. Students need affordable places to stay, and they aren’t usually interested in all the bells and whistles. You can also get them to sign a guarantor agreement which means that if they can’t pay for one month, then someone else will.

The only issue with the students that you need to consider is those summer months. It’s crucial that you make sure that you take into account the months through the year where no one will be using the property at all. That said, there are various ways around this including fitting it into your budget.

We hope this helps shed some light on real estate investments and whether it is something that you should get involved in. At the very least real estate can be a great way to keep your money secure even in the wake of a recession or any other problem in the economy. Make the right choices, and you also stand to gain huge profits in the short and long term.