Halloween is coming. Behind the fun of costumes and candy, lies real terrors for everyday people. Imagine a contest for the real-life scary Halloween costume. Here are three contenders we see too often.
Our third place winner is… the scary Zombie Foreclosure
This nightmare frightened millions from their homes at the height of the foreclosure crisis. Our prior blog gives more details, but imagine this scary scenario. The doorbell rings, but instead of cute kids in costumes a stern man in a sheriff uniform stands at the door and hands you foreclosure papers. Cue the scary organ music.
What do you do? You’ve lost your job, had health issues, or have no real way to keep up with the mortgage so you leave assuming the bank will foreclose. Then they don’t. They leave you in limbo because they don’t want responsibility for taxes and upkeep. The foreclosure languishes in a torturous dead, but not dead, state. This is a zombie foreclosure.
Last week I met with Martha. The bank filed foreclosure on her family farm four years ago. She moved out because she is disabled and could not maintain payments after her husband abandoned and divorced her. The bank has dropped and refiled the foreclosure three times. They continue to add fees and cost while leaving Martha responsible for unpaid property taxes and upkeep. She needs our intervention to stop this Nightmare on Foreclosure Street from continuing.
Our second place winner is… the scary Zombie Debt Collector
This nightmare returns from the grave to rob people of old debt, scare them into reviving debt, or trick them into paying on a debt that is not theirs. Trick or treat? Definitely all trick. Dave Ramsey has good advice on avoiding these scary scams.
Recently the Washington Post highlighted the abuses of the $11 billion dollar debt collection industry in pursuing zombie debts. Consider one of our stories from the book Gospel Justice involving Mary who was 80 years old. A debt collector was continually calling and threatening her for a debt with Target. She could not remember owing anything but thought she must be confused. She was frightened enough to come to us to help her figure out how to pay. We investigated and discovered the debt was not hers. A much younger Mary with the same name owed the debt. These zombie debt collectors don’t care. Without help this 80 year old woman would have paid a debt she did not owe from funds she did not have.
Sometimes these debts belong to the person but they are years old. Mike came to us because he was being harassed on a 20 year old debt he thought he eliminated in bankruptcy. Illinois was one of the worst states for allowing collection on debts sometimes as long as 26 years. Beginning in 2020, Mike will have protection under a new law limiting debt collection and interest rates on zombie debts.
Our winner is… the dreaded Law Suit
From an early age my son wanted to be a lawyer. He loved wearing suits and one Halloween he decided to pin legal documents to his suit and terrorize the neighborhood as a Law Suit. Neighbors appreciated the humor, but when you are served legal papers it is anything but funny.
Every day across America people receive scary legal notices which paralyzes them with fear. Many race to their computer to google an answer only to be flooded by ads seeking to scam them and information overload. Even the smartest person has difficulty reading a legal document or understanding legal options. Consequently every second in this country someone is unable to access legal help because they cannot afford the high cost of lawyers.
This faceless nightmare is real. Neighbors near you are impacted every day. But what if there were a safe place neighbors could go to find answers to legal questions. What if a caring team came alongside them and provided a plan to cut through the darkness and fear? There is.
All across the country people are providing the hope of the gospel and the help of a lawyer to free neighbors from legal burdens. This last Saturday we trained a new team with Uptown Baptist Church in Chicago. They join 100 neighborhood locations from coast to coast as we press on to see 1,000 gospel justice centers transforming lives in the name of Christ.
Trick or Treat
Far too often the justice system is a trick. Too complicated and expensive to navigate people lose cases every day not on the merits but because they could not afford help. Families and whole communities are impacted.
No more. A gospel justice center provides a true treat. Not only in the treats they provide guest coming with legal questions, but with a caring team that provides holistic services. The team does not see a person as a problem to be solved but as a neighbor to be loved.
Justice should not be the nightmare of Halloween. Justice should be a beacon of hope available to all. Join us in bringing the love of Jesus through legal help to vulnerable neighbors in need. Download our lawyer or church guides to get started.