Thursday, June 14, 2012


In response to the growing need for education and assistance with student loans, Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo, Inc. (CCCS Buffalo) will begin offering Student Loan Counseling, a service designed to assist individuals with student loans
Student loans are a growing financial concern for many individuals. According to the Federal Reserve Board of New York State, the outstanding student loan balance is now approximately $870 billion, higher than both credit card and auto loan balances. With college enrollments increasing and the costs of education rising, this balance is expected to continue to rise. In addition to student loan debt rising, the default rate has also increased. In fiscal year 2009 the default rate rose sharply to 9% among borrowers who entered repayment, up from 7%.  Due to the complexity of the student loan market and  options available during repayment, many individuals with student loans feel overwhelmed and have no place to turn for help.
 CCCS of Buffalo, Inc. has certified financial counselors ready to help those with student loan issues. Specifically, CCCS Buffalo is local, non-profit agency committed to promoting financial self-sufficiency. Their business is your credit. They are a member of the Better Business Bureau with an A+ rating, a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Services for Families & Children (COA), Inc. and affiliated with the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County.  They have served the WNY community for over 45 years. 
During a Student Loan Counseling Session our Certified Financial Counselors will:
·        Evaluate student loan debt (current or in default)
·        Explore options for student loans including deferments, forbearances, alternative repayment plans, and consolidation loans
·        Assist in applying for the appropriate option
·        Assist in communicating with the lender, as needed
·        Review credit score, credit report and living expenses
CCCS Buffalo can help consumers in a variety of other ways as well. New expanded hours include a Live Counseling Line Open: Monday-Thursday 8:00 am-8:00 pm and Friday 8:00 am-4:00 pm.
For more information on Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo, Inc., call 712-2060 or visit our website,

Friday, June 8, 2012

Bankruptcy filings up 3.2% from a year ago

Downward trend unaffected by rise

News Business Reporter
Published:June 8, 2012, 12:00 AM
Updated: June 8, 2012, 6:55 AM

For the first time in two years, new bankruptcy filings in Western New York rose slightly in May from a year ago in what may be the first sign that the level of new cases may be reaching a plateau.

New cases in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Buffalo rose 3.2 percent in May, to 422 from 409 a year ago. That’s the first rise locally since May 2010.

For the entire 18-county Western District of New York, which also includes Rochester, new filings rose 1.8 percent to 636 from 625. Rochester saw a drop of 0.9 percent, with 214 new cases compared with 216 a year ago.

The uptick doesn’t change the overall downward trend of the past two years. So far in 2012, new cases are down 9.3 percent for the entire district, to 2,842 from 3,133 for the same five-month period a year ago. In Buffalo alone, filings are down 9.6 percent, to 1,835, while filings in Rochester fell 8.8 percent to 1,007.

Local experts disputed whether the slight increase was a temporary blip in the downward pace, as the economy continues its slow recovery, or the first sign of a big change to come, with more consumers poised to seek court help with their debts.

“There are two differing opinions out there regarding bankruptcy trends,” said Buffalo bankruptcy attorney Jeffrey Freedman. But “there is no doubt that people affected by the recession are still in trouble financially” and may need “a more creative solution” than bankruptcy.

Freedman, the area’s No. 2 bankruptcy attorney by number of cases, said credit counseling agencies nationwide have been getting “a high number of calls from consumers in financial distress” and are “predicting that people have been putting off filing and that the time is coming for the dam to break, causing a new flood of cases.”

That’s happening locally as well, according to Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Buffalo in West Seneca. President and CEO Paul Atkinson cited rising credit card use — because new debit card fees are reducing the use of those cards — and student loan debts that “are getting way out of hand.”

At the same time, economic indicators are sending mixed signals about the recovery, as the nation’s gross domestic product rose only 1.9 percent in the first quarter, below expectations, while job growth has been modest.
By type of case, there were 484 filings in May under Chapter 7 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, which provides for both individual and business debtors to liquidate assets to pay creditors, erase any remaining unsecured debts and start fresh.

That included 328 in Buffalo and 156 in Rochester. All but 10 in Buffalo and five in Rochester were individuals. Another 143 cases were filed under Chapter 13, all from individuals. That included 87 in Buffalo and 56 in Rochester. And eight businesses filed under Chapter 11, with six in Buffalo and two in Rochester. Chapters 11 and 13 provide for businesses and individuals, respectively, to reorganize and develop a court-approved repayment plan over time.

So far this year in Buffalo and Rochester, there have been 2,100 Chapter 7 cases, 720 Chapter 13 filings and 20 petitions under Chapter 11. Only 84 were listed as business filings.

Geographically, the Buffalo court filings in May included 248 in Erie County and 69 in Niagara County, plus 46 in Chautauqua County, 24 in Cattaraugus County, 12 in Allegany County, 11 in Genesee County and six each in Orleans and Wyoming counties.