HELPS in THREE MINUTES
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Do you have debt you can't afford to pay?

Are You Receiving Social Security, Pension or Disability Income?

WE CAN HELP.


HELPS is a nonprofit law firm and 501(c)(3) charitable organization. We serve senior citizens and disabled persons struggling with debt.


Call HELPS now to learn how your retirement income is protected by law and how we can help.

Thank you for your information.

Need immediate help? Call 855-435-7787 to speak to a HELPS representative.

Questions and Answers

Answers To Questions Asked About HELPS.

WHO DOES HELPS HELP?

HELPS' clients are senior citizens, retired persons, veterans and legally disabled persons. HELPS clients receive incomes protected by federal and state laws. They struggle with debt they cannot afford to pay. Some of our clients find us after struggling with debt for years. Some of our clients find us when they have never missed a payment on a credit card, but changes in life have put them in a position where they can no longer pay the debt. For nearly ALL of our clients, there is no simply no money to pay the debt or doing so means sacrificing funds for medication, food or utilities.

HOW MUCH DOES HELPS COST?

HELPS is a 501(c)(3)charity. We don’t turn anyone away that needs our help. The cost is normally less than a cheap cup of coffee a day. Many receive our help at no cost. You can read more about the cost of HELPS here.

WHAT DOES HELPS DO?

We provide legal representation for the receipt of debt collection calls as described by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. 1692 et seq, often referred to as the "FDCPA". The FDCPA is federal law. It was created to protect consumers from debt collectors. HELPS uses 15 U.S.C. 1692(c), which protects people from unwanted debt collector contact. This law requires debt collectors deal directly with an attorney representing a person instead of the person his or herself, once it has received notice that an attorney has been retained for reprsentation regarding the matter.

HOW DO I ENROLL IN HELPS?

You call 855-435-7787 and speak to one of our paralegals or attorneys. We ask you questions designed to help us understand your situation. We do not pressure to you to enroll. We are here to provide callers with with information so they can make better decisions based on information and not fear. Some people contact us many times before they become our clients. We do not mind; HELPS' services are for persons receiving protected income who are struggling with unsecured debt they cannot afford to pay. This is not everyone. We want all potential clients to understand our services. Most of our clients enroll over the phone. We do not require you to fill out any forms before you become our client. We do require your ability and willingness to answer several basic questions like your name, and contact information information along with your sources of income and approximate amount of debt you owe. Enrollment requires no immediate payment of fees. All HELPS clients receive the first 30 days of our services for free.

WILL SIGNING UP FOR HELPS AFFECT MY CREDIT?

Any time you do not conform with the terms of a contract (miss a payment on debt or do not pay a debt), this event can be posted on your credit report. The rules are the same for everyone. HELPS, bankruptcy attorneys and every law firm in the United States cannot change this reality. Credit Reporting Agencies are poorly regulated private companies. Your age, your income and even the statute of limitations for your debt do not affect what can be posted to your credit report.

Be very wary of companies promising to "fix" your credit score. You do not need pay someone to dispute incorrect items on your credit report. This guide explains how to dispute inaccurate or incorrect items on your credit report.

We strongly suggest you watch these videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtlfHQH-tf0 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UL7CyR56UAI when considering whether or not your credit score should be a priority concern.

WHAT IS A DEBT COLLECTOR?

A debt collector is a person or company that collects a debt. Debt collectors are typically in business to collect debts assigned to them by original creditors or debt buyers.

HOW DOES HELPS COMMUNICATE WITH THE CREDITORS AND DEBT COLLECTORS?

We send them a notice to cease and desist contact with you. Our notice is sent via writing, in the U.S. mail, and via fax or email when this contact information is available. Our notices are letters, explaining to the creditor or debt collector that you are a senior citizen, veteran or legally disabled person receiving legally protected income. We want the creditor or debt collector to understand that any lawsuit filed against you will not result in easy access to money, like wage garnishments and bank levies. We also explain to the debt collectors and creditors that you do not have any ability to pay the debt they allege you owe. Finally, we tell the debt collector that all future communication must be made directly to us, not you.

CAN MY CREDITORS CONTINUE TO CALL ME AFTER I HAVE RETAINED HELPS?

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act provides that once a debt collector is informed that you are represented by counsel they cannot legally contact you again. Federal law allows original creditors to continue sending statements by mail. Some states, like California, Colorado and Illinois have passed laws expanding the amount of protection you receive from unwanted debt collection contact to include original creditors.

CAN I GET ANSWERS ON THE WEEKENDS? WHAT I HAVE QUESTIONS THAT I FORGET TO ASK YOU ON THE PHONE?

We are always checking email. If you have a question during the evening or on the weekends, we encourage you to send us an email at info@helpsishere.org. We don't want you to have to worry.

IF I ENROLL IN HELPS, CAN I KEEP MY BANK ACCOUNT?

If you owe the bank money, e.g. a credit card balance, and intend to include this debt in the list of debts you provide to HELPS, it is best to close any deposit accounts you have with the bank. If you do not owe your present bank money or you are not listing any amount owed to this bank with HELPS, you do not need to change your bank account.

WHAT IS THE FAIR DEBT COLLECTION PRACTICES ACT?

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits debt collectors from using abusive, unfair, or deceptive collection practices. The FDCPA does not apply to original creditors or those collecting business debts. In addition to the FDCPA, many states have laws that proscribe unlawful collection practices by collectors and creditors, including original creditors.

I AM NOT A SENIOR CITIZEN BUT I AM DISABLED. CAN HELPS HELP ME?

We have many legally disabled clients. Most forms of disability income are protected by law. To find out whether or not HELPS can help with your situation, please give us a call.

CAN I BE SUED FOR MY DEBT?

Yes. A creditor or debt collector can still sue you for a breach of the original contract you signed when you incurred the debt you owe. It is very important to remember, however, a judgment resulting from a lawsuit for debt can only do two things - go after unprotected income and unprotected assets. Nearly all HELPS clients do not have either of these things. Most of the people we serve are judgment proof. We strongly encourage you to learn more about what it means to be sued for debt when you're a senior citizen or a legally disabled person.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE SUE ME IF MY INCOME IS PROTECTED AND I AM JUDGMENT PROOF?

Lawssuits can be very intimidating. Some senior citizens and legally disabled people who have been sued think they are in criminal trouble and may be arrested. Many more do not know about the laws protecting their retirement incomes from any judgments potentially resulting from a lawsuit for debt. Fear is often a debt collector's best friend.

IF I AM SUED, DO I HAVE TO GO TO COURT?

Appearing in court and/or filing a response to a lawsuit is always your choice. It's important to remember lawsuits are filed in the civil justice system, not the criminal justice system. Being sued is not the same as being arrested. Owing a debt you cannot afford to pay does not make you a criminal. Responding to a lawsuit is never legally required, and you will not go to jail if you choose to not to do so. You can watch this video made by our founder, Eric Olsen, to learn more about whether or not you are required to appear in court after being sued: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfbSwRiqNoc&t=8s

WHAT IS THE AMOUNT OF WAGES I CAN EARN WITHOUT A JUDGMENT CREDITOR TAKING THEM BY GARNISHMENT?

Federal law protects up to $217.50 per week net (your income after taxes and other legally required deductions). A few states like Texas do not allow garnishment of wages. Other states provide better protection of wages than what is protected by federal law. You can see what your state protected as of December 2021 here: https://www.nclc.org/images/pdf/debt_collection/NFS_2021_state_summaries.pdf

CAN SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS BE GARNISHED FOR ANY TYPE OF DEBT?

Federal benefits can be offset for federal debts, certain types of criminal restitution and past due familial support.

CAN HELPS HELP WITH A GARNISHMENT OR DEBT COLLECTOR HARASSMENT FOR A STUDENT LOAN DEBT?

If your student loan is a federally subsidized student loan, you can apply for Income-Driven Repayment with the Departmetn of Education. You can find more about this at the Department of Education website located here: https://studentaid.gov/manage-loans/repayment/plans/income-driven. In most instances, this will result in a minimal payment plan based on your income.

WHY DID A BANKRUPTCY ATTORNEY TELL ME TO FILE BANKRUPTCY? WHY WAS I NOT TOLD MY RETIREMENT INCOME IS PROTECTED BY LAW?

The old saying "if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail," probably applies here. Bankruptcy attorneys are used to dealing with debt problems with bankruptcy filings. This is how bankruptcy attorneys make their living.

Unfortunately, there are also some bankruptcy attorneys who do not fully understand the laws protecting incomes and assets outside of bankruptcy.

CAN I STILL USE MY CREDIT CARDS AFTER I ENROLL IN HELPS?

Because HELPS is not bankruptcy, you do not have to give us all of your debts. Whether or not you can use a credit card after you enroll in HELPS depends on a few factors.

Any credit card you give to HELPS will not be avaible for subsequent use. This is because you won't be making payments on the account. If the account is not already closed, the creditor will eventually cut off access to the card and close the account when payments are stopped.

Any credit card you do not give to HELPS may still remain open, and available for use, if the payments are kept current and you have not defaulted on payments to another card you have with the same bank, e.g. a Chase Sapphire card and a Chase Freedom card.

HOW OFTEN CAN I CALL OR ASK QUESTIONS?

As often as you want. Our entire purpose is to help our clients stop worrying about these matters. We want you to call whenever you have questions and never sit home and worry. You can also email us whenever you want.

ARE VETERANS BENEFITS PROTECTED? WHAT ABOUT BENEFITS FOR VETERANS' SPOUSES?

Veterans benefits of all types are protected from collection along with social security and other retirement income. In addition, HELPS routinely assists its veteran clients in making sure they are receiving the full amount of benefits to which they may be entitled. Many lower income veterans and spouses are entitled to supplemental veterans benefits. HELPS volunteers can assist in providing more information. Many widows of deceased veterans are entitled to supplemental benefits that they do not receive simply because of lack of knowledge.

WHAT IS ERISA?

ERISA is an acronym for the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. This law protects almost all forms of retirement such as pensions from collection by judgment creditors

IF I RECEIVE A 1099C FROM A CREDITOR DOES THAT MEAN THAT I NO LONGER OWE THE DEBT?

No, you receive this form because it is part of a formal procedure used by creditors for tax purposes. Collectors may sometimes use a 1099C form as an empty threat to lower income debtors, implying it will cause them negative tax consequences. It does not mean that a debtor does not still owe the debt.

WHAT DOES HELPS NOT DO?

We do not provide legal advice or represent persons in court. We do not negotiate with debt collectors to settle a debt. If a HELPS client needs legal advice, HELPS will attempt to assist with finding legal professionals qualified to offer the same in the appropriate jurisdiction. Our practice is limited to issues involving consumer debt. HELPS does not dispute the legitimacy of debts, practice estate law, provide criminal representation, file lawsuits or dispute erroneous items on credit reports.

Find Out More...

Peace of Mind
These HELPS clients were dealing with harassing debt collectors and anxiety over old Debt. HELPS provided a solution to their financial worries.
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