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Questions from other readers:

How long does a foreclosure typically take in Florida? (Kathy, Florida)

Kathy, foreclosure reportedly takes between 6 and 7 months in Florida, provided that the legal action is uncontested. Homeowners facing foreclosure may be able to extend this timeframe by contesting the legal action or requesting more time to respond. Additionally, a bankruptcy filing by a homeowner could further delay foreclosure proceedings.

If you are facing foreclosure, you will want to determine whether it is avoidable. If you can afford the mortgage in the long run but need help now, you might benefit from either a loan modification or some other mortgage delinquency counseling. If foreclosure is unavoidable, then you may wish to discuss short sell options with your lender or contact an attorney.

I have old accounts that have been transferred to or sold to other lenders. The date of last activity exceeds the 7 year FTC law. Does the new company get an additional 7 years to report on my credit report? If not, what do I do to resolve this? (Barbara, South Carolina)

Barbara, Your question is one that we commonly come across. Any collection account must be removed from your credit report once the date of last activity is more than 7 years ago. It is common for debt collectors to sell old debts to other collection agencies that specialize in outdated debt collection.

This sale or transfer of your debt account does not give them the right to keep the original account or any subsequent collection account on your credit report. Any collector that willfully does this risks fines.

You may dispute any outdated debt with the credit bureaus to remove all items. Additionally, you may file a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission in order to notify the regulators.

My interest rate just went up on my credit card even though I keep making the minimum payment. I heard that rates were going up, but mine went from 14% to 25%. Why did this happen? (John, South Carolina)
John, your situation involves more than just regular interest rate increases. Your creditor likely has labeled you as a slow paying card holder. Some creditors have begun penalizing you for failing to send in an amount above the minimum payment at least once per 6 month period. The best bet is to send an extra amount at least once every four months. This extra amount should be at least $20 to $50 depending on the size of the minimum payment. Even if you are focusing on paying off a high rate card and paying only the minimum payments on other cards, you should make sure they also receive an amount above the minimum payment at least once every four months.
Can a collection agency garnish my pay? (Jason, California)

Jason, a collection agency that owns your debt account may pursue a garnishment only if the statute of limitations has not expired, AND if they win a judgment. Pursuing a garnishment can be expensive, so many collectors do not pursue it. However, take any summons for court seriously so that you may defend your actions. There are different laws pertaining to garnishment, so check the laws in your state to see how they pertain to you.

My credit report shows my payment history for 2 years for my credit card. Does this mean that it drops off my credit after 2 years? (Mindy, Oklahoma)

Mindy, some credit reports will display your recent payments going back a couple of years on your credit report. Even so, your payment history is factored into your credit score for up to 7 years on that credit card.

Searching for the right answers on credit, debt and legal proceedings can be difficult. If you cannot find the answer you are looking for, ask Ken. Ken Long has years of experience helping people manage difficult debt situations, combating identity theft and helping families build and rebuild credit.

If you have a specific question, fill in the form in the left column. Some questions and their responses may be selected to appear on our reader's forum below. Only your first name and state will appear to identify the source of the question. Some names and specific situations may be edited for content and to protect the identities of those involved.

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