Frequently Asked Questions

Don’t hesitate to call Attorney Poriss at 860-593-1758 with any questions not answered here.

Q.  I want to check my credit report but I’m afraid it will hurt my score.
A.  That is a myth!  Consumers may check their own credit reports and scores without hurting their credit scores.  It is when third parties check your credit — especially stores that offer their own credit cards — that will cause a reduction in your credit score.  The more applications for credit cards you make, the more times a third party sees your credit and your score will go down.  But you may– and should!– check your own credit to maintain good credit health.  Go to my Consumer Resources page for a link to get your credit reports and scores for free.

Q.  Do I get a free credit report?
A.  Yes.  Once per year you may obtain a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus by going to www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228.

Q.  I don’t live in Connecticut but I think I need a lawyer like you.  Who do you recommend?
A.  I would recommend any lawyer who is a member of the National Association of Consumer Advocates.  Visit their web site at www.naca.net to find an attorney in your area.

Q.  I think I should file bankruptcy.  Can you help me with that?
A.  I am not a bankruptcy attorney.  Sometimes people feel the only way to stop debt collectors from calling is to file bankruptcy.  This is not true, and if you are receiving calls from debt collectors please contact me at 860-593-1758.  For a bankruptcy attorney in your area, I would recommend a member of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys.  Visit their web site at www.nacba.com.

Q.  I am waaaay behind in student loan payments and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to pay them back.  Is there hope for me?
A.  YES!  There is a way to get back on track and start making reasonable, affordable payments.  Contact me to discuss your current loan status and we can work together on a plan to get you back in good standing.

Q.  Will a secured credit card help me build up my credit?
A.  I don’t recommend borrowing more money (i.e. using a credit card) in order to improve credit. The problem with pre-paid or “secured” credit cards is the fees are often 50% or more of the available credit, so you end up being over the credit limit very quickly, which can then HURT your credit.  If you wish to build credit, develop a relationship with a credit union (most have open membership policies and opening a small savings account there gives you access to all their great services).  Then apply for that credit union’s low-limit and low-interest credit card.  There are no “tricks” to improving credit; your credit score improves over time, as negative information becomes older and ages off your reports, your scores will rise.  The fastest way to improve your credit score without opening a new account is to carefully review your credit reports and call me at 860-593-1758 about correcting any errors that may be dragging your score down.

Q.  What is a Return Date?
A.  If you have been served with a summons in a superior court case, there is a Return Date on the summons.  It is not a deadline for you.  It is actually a deadline for the Plaintiff to have you served and then file the suit with the court.  It is not a court date; you do not have to appear in court on that day.  HOWEVER, there are deadlines for you in your case that start to run from the Return Date.  Feel free to contact me at 860-593-1758 to discuss those deadlines, your options, and a strategy for handling your case.

Definitions

“Appearance”
This is just a form you fill out with your name, address, phone number and email (if applicable) and file with the court to inform the court that you are going to represent yourself; or if you have a lawyer, your lawyer fills out the appearance form to let the court and other parties know you now have an attorney.

“Law Day”  
This is the term used in Connecticut foreclosures to designate a deadline for a homeowner to resolve the past due mortgage payments or else title to the property will revert back to the Plaintiff once this day passes.  It is very difficult to reverse a law day; that is, once a law day passes, only under extraordinary circumstances have our courts permitted homeowners second chances.  It is vital to take action before a law day to ensure that foreclosure is not completed.  If a law day is set in your case, it is usually necessary to retain an attorney for assistance.

“Mediation”  
Connecticut has a free foreclosure mediation program open to most homeowners who have been served with foreclosure papers (you have to reside in the property and be a borrower on the mortgage).  Mediation can be very helpful to communicate with your lender because the lender’s attorney must attend certain mediation sessions and even get a representative from the bank on the phone if needed.  The mediators can also be very helpful in assisting homeowners organize their financial paperwork to apply for a modification of their mortgage.

“Modification” 
Many homeowners who are behind on their mortgage payments cannot afford to pay all the money needed to catch up.  When that occurs, the lender will review a modification application for the homeowner’s eligibility for a recalculation of the past due payments and other charges.  Modification is the most common tool used by homeowners to remain in their homes and get back on track with their mortgage payments.

“Motion for Foreclosure by Sale”  
This is the other motion the Plaintiff can file asking the court to enter a final order of foreclosure.  Only if your home has equity (you owe less than the fair market value of the home) or if the IRS has a tax lien on your property, does the judge enter a foreclosure by sale.   The sale date will be set for a Saturday usually about 2-3 months after the hearing date.  A foreclosure auction sign will go up on the property as early as 4 weeks before the auction date.

“Motion for Strict Foreclosure”  
This is one of two different motions the Plaintiff can file asking the court to enter a final order of foreclosure. In Connecticut, we use the term “strict foreclosure” when a home does not have any equity (that is, when the total mortgage debt owed to the Plaintiff is more than the value of the home).  If an order of strict foreclosure enters in a case, there is no foreclosure auction (with one exception, see below) so there is no foreclosure auction sign.  Instead, at the hearing on a motion for strict foreclosure, the judge enters an order issuing a “law day” (see below).

“Summary Judgment”  
In Connecticut, the foreclosure process is through the courts.  When a foreclosure case cannot be resolved by mediation and modification or some other option, the Plaintiff will file motions to move the case toward a judgment of foreclosure. One major step in this process, if the homeowner has filed an Answer in the suit, is the filing of a motion for summary judgment, which is usually done by the Plaintiff but can be filed by any party.  This motion essentially states to the court that everyone agrees on the facts of the case, so the judge can make a finding that the Plaintiff has the right to foreclose.  I tell homeowners that the granting of a motion for summary judgment is only “half way” toward a complete foreclosure; the Plaintiff still has to file at least one other motion for the foreclosure to be finalized.