Government Debt Relief
Many individuals and families in New Mexico and across America are living paycheck to paycheck and barely paying their monthly credit card bills. Of these consumers, many are having a hard time making ends meet and are looking for government assistance to lessen the gap between expenses and income. Unfortunately, while local and state agencies do provide a measure of emergency assistance for low-income families - there is no state or federal program in place to help provide consumers relief from credit card debt. While banks and other financial institutions have been provided bailouts and loans in recent years, this type of relief does not, unfortunately, extend to individuals and families. However, there are a variety of debt relief options, including debt consolidation, debt management plans (DMPs) coordinated by credit counselors, debt settlement or negotiation, or even bankruptcy, available to consumers who get in over their heads.
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Government Debt Help
While there is no government debt consolidation, credit counseling, or debt relief grant program to assist consumers in need of credit card relief, it is important to understand that much has been done in recent years, at both the state and federal levels, to offer assistance and protect the rights of credit card holders and other individuals and families in debt. Here are a few areas where government is working on behalf of consumers to help debts become more manageable:
Credit Card Act of 2009
Even though all consumers are responsible for paying off credit cards and any other debts they incur, in recent years, aggressive credit card company policies have, in part, contributed to the increasing level of credit card debt facing Americans. As a result, the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 is a federal statute passed and signed into law by President Barack Obama on May 22, 2009. Approximately nine months later, February 22, 2010, the bill went into full effect.
The Credit Card Act of 2009 offers consumers several provisions and protections. It does not, however, place restrictions or controls on credit card company pricing, interest rate caps, or fees. This government debt help legislation is a proactive measure that can help provide and reinforce a first-line-of-defense against credit card debt. Its objective is to try to reform the credit card debt problem at its source, starting with the actual policies and the often confusing, hard to read terms contained in cardholder agreements.
The legislation was enacted because many citizens - and many in Congress - believed that the credit card revolving debt epidemic had gotten out of control. Overly complicated credit card company disclosures and agreements, arbitrary rate increases, failure to give significant advance notice of rate increases, and a very harsh credit card company practice called Universal Default were just some of the factors contributing to the debt machine.
Today, the Credit Card Act of 2009 requires that credit card companies give 45 days advance notice of a rate increase. If the cardholder chooses to cancel the card in question, they are allowed to pay off the balance at the older, existing rate, not at the new higher rate. Credit card companies are also no longer allowed to retroactively increase interest rates on the balance of a cardholder in good standing for reasons that have nothing to do with the cardholder's payment record with that particular card.
Prior to this piece of legislation, credit card agreements that included the Universal Default provision allowed credit card companies to raise rates suddenly, at the sign of ANY change in the credit "profile" of the individual. That means consumers with credit cards that included the Universal Default provision could be paying a 10% interest rate on a card and have a perfect payment record with that particular card. However, if the consumer applied for credit, bought a car, or even became late on a different credit card, their credit profile (or score) could change -- and the creditor with which they had a perfect record could assess those events and updated profie, and legally raise interest rates from 10% to up to 29% or even higher. Many considered this to be a predatory practice instituted by credit card companies, and it dealt a crushing blow to numerous consumers, many of whom were already deeply in debt.
So, while the government does not offer credit card debt relief grants, debt management, debt consolidation aid, or special programs to bail out everyday consumers with credit card debt, these provisions and others from the Credit Card Act of 2009 have been a positive step to help consumers avoid being trapped by credit card debt in the first place.
Mortgage Debt Relief
In addition to credit card debt relief legislation, the government has also stepped up to help consumers who have been hit by the subprime credit meltdown. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) now assists consumers via a program called the FHA Secure Loan Program. This helps provide financial aid for homeowners who are facing possible foreclosure and may need to refinance a subprime credit mortgage.
Federal Student Loan Consolidation
The government also recognizes that consumers might need debt relief in the area of federal student loan debt consolidation. This program may allow debtors to consolidate all federal student loans into a single, lower interest rate loan and make a one, more affordable monthly payment. It is important to note that this loan consolidation program only applies to federal student loans and not privately funded loans.
State Economic Assistance
In addition to federal economic relief aid, New Mexico also has a variety of programs available to help consumers in need of relief. As is the case with the federal government, the state does not have specific credit card relief programs, grants, or consolidation loans to help consumers pay off their credit card debt obligations.
However, for individuals who are experiencing financial troubles - including low income families, the elderly, and those needing medical assistance - the state does offer several areas of support. These programs can help New Mexico residents in need of food, medical assistance, housing assistance and help paying utility bills. To learn more about these resources, go to the state's Human Services Department official page Looking for Assistance section.
If you need credit card debt relief, or relief from other unsecured debts, you can get a free debt relief analysis and savings estimate at no obligation. Begin online by answering a few questions regarding your financial situation.