Florida Resident Debt Relief & Financial Assistance
InCharge assists Floridians having issues paying off their bills or struggling financially with credit counseling and free, nonprofit debt management programs. If you are in need of assistance in wiping out credit card bills, InCharge is ready to help.
Choose Your Debt Amount
While Floridians have done a somewhat admirable job of keeping their debt levels in check despite some tough economic times, there are some particularly troubling numbers coming out of the Sunshine State in the past year.
Florida ranks second in the nation in both bankruptcies and foreclosures in 2021. A whopping 13,595 Floridians were forced to file for bankruptcy in 2021 — second only to California’s 18,817.
In terms of foreclosures, Florida ranked first in the nation until October of 2021 when Illinois mercifully passed the Sunshine State. As of December of 2021, Florida has seen 2,971 foreclosures with most of them coming in hard-hit counties Wakulla, Hamilton, Clay, Broward and Miami-Dade.
Despite those troubles, Florida’s economic outlook appears headed for major improvements in 2022.
The state’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.5% at the end of 2021, which was below the national average (5.2%) and down some 9.2% from the peak in May of 2020. The state has regained more than half (974,300) of the 1.2 million jobs lost in March and April of 2020 and nine of the 10 biggest industries in the state reported growths in year-over-year job numbers. Leisure and hospitality — long a lifeblood of Florida’s economy — showed a 14.6% jump in 2021.
The hope, of course, is that improved job numbers will lead to fewer issues with foreclosures and bankruptcies in 2022.
Debt Relief Options for Florida Residents
When credit card bills get overwhelming, InCharge Debt Solutions is among Florida’s top nonprofit debt counseling services.
Debt Management Program
A debt management program can consolidate credit card debt, lower interest rates and create an affordable payment plan.
InCharge’s debt management program helps customers get rid of credit card debt in 3-to-5 years. Clients will have to abide by a strict spending budget and make on-time payments every month, but they emerge debt free.
On average, consumers paid 16.5% interest on their credit card debt in 2021. Consumers who fail to pay off their debt every month, could see interest charges spike to 25%, and occasionally as high as 30%.
InCharge works closely with the credit card companies to reduce interest rates to approximately 8% and reach a monthly payment that fits in a family budget. InCharge manages the monthly payments and distributes them to creditors in agreed-upon amounts.
There’s another critical factor to consider in starting a debt-management plan: your credit score will not be a stumbling block. Clients whose scores have plunged can still qualify for debt management plans.
To enroll in this program, go online or contact InCharge by phone at 866-721-3925.
Debt management programs are the easiest and most effective ways of taking care of debt, but there are other options for Floridians struggling financially to consider.
If you are facing credit card debt, personal loans, and medical bills, then debt settlement is a good option. This option allows the debtors to pay less than the amount(s) owed on their credit card(s). However, creditors must agree to a lump-sum payment amount that ultimately settles the debt.
While this debt-relief option could solve some of your financial issues in the short term, the negatives — both immediate and long-term ones — should cause some concern. Debt settlement will result in a ding that will go onto your credit report and stay there for at least seven years. It can lower your credit score by anywhere from 50 to 100 points. That will affect your chances of landing future credit opportunities for major purchases such as a home or a car.
Additionally, the IRS will count forgiven debt of more than $600 as regular income for tax-filing purposes.
Debt Consolidation Loan
Consumers with a good credit score should be able to qualify for a debt-consolidation loan. Consumers will use that loan money to pay off their credit cards bills. Then, they will begin monthly payments to the lender that arranged the loan.
That interest rate should be but a fraction of the onerous one charged by credit card companies, which should mean big savings. The downside is that you still have a loan to repay and consumers who don’t stop using credit cards will be at risk of running balances back up.
Credit Card Debt Forgiveness
Credit Card Debt Forgiveness is a new program offered by a small group of nonprofit credit counseling agencies, including InCharge Debt Solutions. Choosing this option allows consumers to pay 50% to 60% of what is owed over a three-year period.
The difference between this option and traditional debt settlement is that no negotiating is needed. Creditors agree in advance to lower the amount owed. Consumers can be free of credit card debt in 36 months.
Bankruptcy is lauded by some as “a fresh start.” While it does allow a consumer to eliminate their credit card debt, it should be considered only as your last resort when all other options have failed.
Bankruptcy delivers some short-term relief, but the long-term damage is cause for concern. Bankruptcy has a negative impact on credit reports for 7-10 years. That will result in issues in trying to qualify for a loan to purchase a new vehicle or a home before the year 2030. Before choosing the bankruptcy option, you must consider the future damage this could have on your credit going forward.
Florida Debt Resources
Floridians experiencing hard times as result of being unable to find gainful employment, suitable housing or paying off their bills might qualify for financial assistance through a variety of federal and/or state programs. Here are some of the services that Florida residents might qualify for:
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families: Florida’s TANF program is in place to help needy families achieve long-term self-sufficiency. States, such as Florida, receive grants for programs that are designed to provide families assistance with child care, promote job prep and work opportunities, prevent out-of-wedlock pregnancies and to encourage the formation of two-parent families.
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: To be eligible for Florida’s SNAP program, you must be a resident of the Sunshine State and have a bank account balance of less than $2,001 or less than $3,001 while sharing the home with someone age 60 or older or a person with a disability. This food-assistance program in Florida provides food benefits, access to healthy foods and education on food prep. Benefits to buy eligible food items will come on an electric card similar to an ATM card.
- Women, Infants and Children Program: The WIC program is a nutrition program for women, infants and children. It provides healthy food, education about nutrition, breastfeeding support and referrals for community services. Clients who qualify for WIC services will be provided with an EBT card to purchase food items.
- Medical Foster Care: The MFC program offers home-based care that lets a foster child with a chronic medical condition receive care within a family setting. This program offers services for children and their birth parents and foster parents. Contact your local MFC office to see if you qualify for these services.
- Literacy programs: Florida’s Department of Health is aware that the ability to read, write and understand numbers are basic components to maintaining good health. Early literacy has been found to be very important to later academic success. The better a child’s development of language the more likely he or she will be successful later in life. For reading tips, activities and printable sheets, visit Just Read, Families!
- The Office on Homelessness: The Office is the primary point of contact in the state of Florida to serve the homeless population. The Continuum of Care helps operate shelters, outreach programs for homeless individuals, rental assistance, rapid rehousing and prevention policies.
- Medicaid: The Office of Economic Self-Sufficiency and medicaid provide medical coverage to low-income individuals and families. The federal government shares the cost of the Medicaid program. Eligibility is determined by the Department of Children and Families or the Social Security Administration. Individuals can apply for assistance at www.myflorida.com/accessflorida/
Florida Debt Statistics
Here’s a look at some of the debt problems that Floridians have logged as they head into 2022.
- Auto loan debt: Sunshine State residents ranked 23rd in the nation in auto debt in 2020 at $20,110. That was a 4% jump over the 2019 average auto debt.
- Credit card debt: Floridians have $5,623 in credit card debt — the eighth largest amount in the U.S.
- Mortgage Debt: Mortgage balances climbed 3.9% in 2020 to $195,549. The amount ranked as the 17th highest in the nation.
- Student Loan debt: Florida, one of the nation’s most populous states, ranks third in the nation in student loan debt at $94.3 billion. On average, Floridians owe approximately $39,700 in student loans, which ranks fourth in the nation. Some 46% of graduates in the Sunshine State are currently carrying student loan debt.
- Household debt: Floridians owe an average of $49,000 in total household debt, excluding their mortgages. The problem, however, is that amount of debt is 96% of what residents in Florida bring home on a yearly basis.
- Bankruptcy and foreclosures: As of May of 2021, Florida had 13,595 bankruptcy filings — the second-most in the nation only behind California (18,817). Approximately 74% of Florida bankruptcies have been Chapter 7 with individuals looking to rid themselves of unsecured debts (ones not backed by collateral). As for foreclosures, Florida ranks a troubling second in the country with 2,971 foreclosures of its 9.4 million households. In the nation’s fourth-most populous state, that translated to 1 foreclosure in every 3,180 households.
- Credit scores: On average, Floridians have a credit score of 688 — the 14th lowest score in the nation. While that relatively low score is nothing to be proud of, it is better than that of many of Florida’s southern brethren, such as Mississippi (666), Louisiana (669), Alabama (672), Georgia (676) and South Carolina (677).
- Identity theft: Fittingly, the nation’s fourth most-populated state had the fourth largest number of incidents of identity theft (101,367). Of every 100,000 people in Florida, 472 of them fell victim to identity theft.
About The Author
In his 40-plus-year newspaper career, George Morris has written about just about everything -- Super Bowls, evangelists, World War II veterans and ordinary people with extraordinary tales. His work has received multiple honors from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Louisiana-Mississippi Associated Press and the Louisiana Press Association. He avoids debt when he can and pays it off quickly when he can't, and he's only too happy to suggest how you might do the same.
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