Wyoming Debt Relief: Your Guide to State Laws and Managing Debt
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Just like people in the rest of the country it’s pretty common to have to carry debt if you live in Wyoming. There are a lot of strategies for debt relief (and we’ll cover them in this article), but sometimes your ability to pay off that debt takes a nosedive. At some point, you may find yourself working with debt collectors or considering drastic options like bankruptcy.
In these cases, it’s good to know your rights when it comes to working with creditors and what protections you’re afforded under the law. That way, you can make sure you’re not being taken advantage of and you can focus on getting out of debt sooner. We’ll help you get started with this guide.
- Debt in Wyoming: At a glance
- Debt collection in Wyoming
- Wyoming debt relief programs
- Payday lending laws in Wyoming
- Tips to tackle debt in Wyoming
- Filing for bankruptcy in Wyoming
- The bottom line
Debt in Wyoming: At a glance
|Type||Per capita balance, 2018||Rank out of 50 states*||U.S. per capita balance|
|Credit card debt||$3,000||27||$3,220|
|Student loan debt||$3,610||50||$5,390|
|*No. 1 is the highest
**First-lien debt only
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York, March 2019
Debt collection in Wyoming
If you’re late paying your debts, it’s important for you to know that you still have rights. Your debt collectors can’t simply come in and stomp all over and disrupt your life. Wyoming state has no specific laws regulating the behavior of debt collectors, although the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) provides plenty of barriers. The FDCPA only applies to second-party debt collectors, however (i.e., those that your original creditor hires to collect on a past-due debt) — not to the person or business who you were originally indebted to.
Specifically, debt collectors cannot contact you under the following circumstances:
- Between the hours of 9 p.m. and 8 a.m.
- At your job, if you ask them to stop
- If you ask them to contact you through your lawyer
- If you ask them to stop contacting you, period (except to tell you they got the message, or that they’re suing you for the debt)
Similarly, debt collectors can’t lie to you, harass you, or threaten to tell anyone else (such as your boss) that you’re in debt.
Responding to collection letters
It’s always best to deal with debt collectors in writing, if possible. That way, you have written records of everything you’ve communicated with them, in case you need evidence later. So if a debt collector calls you up, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask them to contact you in writing.
If you hear from a debt collector, you should verify the following things:
- Their name and address
- What the debt is for
- A breakdown of the debt (including principal and fees)
- Who the original creditor is (i.e., who the debt is originally from)
- Whether or not the debt really is yours
In some cases, it can be worthwhile to hire an attorney. But if that’s not an option or not yet needed, you can also DIY your communications with your debt collectors as well. In case you need help in responding to letters from your debt collectors, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has some sample letters you can use for different situations.
It’s also important to know that you do have some recourse in case your debt collectors step over the line. You can report them to the following agencies:
In some cases, you can even sue your creditors. Keep in mind, though, that this won’t wipe away your debt. Even if the judge agrees with you and rules in your favor, you’ll still owe that original debt.
Understanding Wyoming’s statute of limitations
If you’re far past due on your debt payments, it’s also important to know about the statute of limitations. These are time limits that your debt collectors have to take legal action with regard to your debt. If you haven’t made a payment on your debt in a certain number of years, your debt collectors no longer have a right to sue you for the debt.
In Wyoming, the statute of limitations vary according to what kind of debt it is:
|Wyoming Statute of Limitations on Debt|
|Mortgage debt||10 years|
|Medical debt||10 years|
|Credit card||8 years|
|Auto loan debt||4 years|
|State tax debt||3 years|
It’s especially important to know these statute of limitations because even if you make a single payment — or even agree to make a single payment, without even actually doing it yet — the statute of limitations clock will be reset. So if you haven’t made a state tax payment in two years and 11 months, for example, you’re only one month away from no longer being held legally responsible for that debt.
However, your debt collector still has other ways to punish you. The late payment (and eventual charge-off) will show up on your credit report. So even though the debt collector can’t sue you anymore, they can still seriously harm your credit score.
Wyoming debt relief programs
Navigating debt can be confusing (as you’ve surely found out by now if you’re reading this article). There are a lot of legal protections for you and a lot of options for dealing with your debt, even if it seems like you’re stuck in a box right now. The good news is that there are a lot of places you can go to get personalized help.
The National Foundation for Credit Counseling also maintains a nationwide group of credit counseling agencies who can work with you remotely or possibly even in person. The services that NFCC member agencies provide is often free, or at least low-cost.
Payday lending laws in Wyoming
- Maximum loan amount: None
- Maximum loan term: One month
- Finance charges: $30 maximum, or 20% per month, whichever is greater
If you need money stat and you aren’t able to qualify for a better loan, payday loans can seem like an attractive option. After all, these loans generally don’t require a credit check, and you can often get your cash on the same day you apply. But these loans often come with high fees and often need to be renewed, dragging out the debt for months. It’s for this reason that we don’t recommend payday loans at LendingTree.
Payday loans are generally regulated on a state-by-state basis, and in Wyoming the rules help you in some cases and hurt you in others. For starters, there is no maximum loan amount for payday loans in the state. Many other states limit payday loans to $500 or less, but you can sign up for far more than that (without limit, in fact) in Wyoming. This can get you into trouble real fast if you sign up for a larger loan than you’re able to pay back.
Another big way people get into trouble with payday loans is by rolling over their loans with each paycheck — i.e., using a new loan to pay off the old loan if you aren’t able to pay it off in full as planned. This can allow your one-time small loan to grow into a monster-size balance that will make it difficult or impossible to get out of debt.
However, in Wyoming, you’re actually not allowed to roll over loans at all. You have to pay it off entirely after you first take it out, or your lender has to work with you to provide you a payment plan if you can’t. Even better, the lender can’t charge you extra for allowing you to pay off your loan via a payment plan.
Finally, it’s important to know that you can take out payday loans online and/or in other states, and if you do, they’ll be subject to the laws of those states — not Wyoming.
Tips to tackle debt in Wyoming
Getting out of debt can be a long struggle, but there’s also good news: there are plenty of things you can do to speed up your debt payoff progress even further, and potentially save money in the process.
No matter which option you choose, however, it’s a good idea to tally up all of the fees and interest payments you’ll be making with your current debt, and with any changes you’d be making (such as refinancing or using a balance transfer card). That’s because some of these methods can look cheap in the short term because your monthly payment might be lower, but once you consider all of the fees and interest payments, it may actually be more expensive in the long run.
But if the math works out in your favor, these methods can be a great way to get out of debt faster.
Consolidate your debt
If you’re juggling multiple different debts, especially credit cards, personal loans, or medical debt, one solution is to consolidate your debt. This simply means taking out one loan to pay off all the other loans, so that now you have one loan to pay off instead of several. You can streamline your repayment this way so that you only have to keep track of managing one loan instead of several.
Ideally, you’ll also get a lower interest rate when you consolidate your debt. This may be easier to do if you’re consolidating high-interest debt, such as several different credit cards.
You may also be able to stretch your loan out for a longer term length, so that your monthly payments are smaller. This might help your budget and monthly cash flow, but keep in mind that this may cost more in the long run because you’ll be paying interest charges for longer.
You can use our debt consolidation calculator to run the numbers for yourself to see whether consolidating your debt would save you any money.
If you’ve got a large debt, such as a mortgage or an auto loan, you can also consider refinancing it for a cheaper rate. This is similar to consolidating your debt in that you take out a new loan to replace the old loan, but in this case you’re just replacing one single loan.
You can also refinance your private student loans, but if you have federal student loans it’s often better to consolidate them instead. That way, you won’t lose out on the forgiveness programs and protections that federal student loans offer.
Just like with debt consolidation, refinancing your debt can have advantages and disadvantages. You might get a lower monthly payment if you qualify for a cheaper interest rate and stretch your loan out for longer, but in the long run that could be more expensive because you’ll be paying interest charges each month for longer.
If you’re interested in refinancing, you can use our refinancing calculator to see if the numbers work out in your favor in both the short and the long term.
Use a balance transfer card
If you’re primarily working to get rid of credit card debt and you think you’re able to pay it off within a year or two’s time span, transferring your debt to a balance transfer card could be a good option. This involves opening a new credit card, often with a 0% APR balance transfer offer — i.e., you get a certain number of months (usually 12 to 21) to pay off that transferred balance interest-free. After that, you’ll start paying interest on the balance just as if you’d originally made the charges on that card.
In order for this method to be effective, you need to be dedicated enough to pay off the balance entirely before the introductory period is over. Otherwise, if you’re just adding on more debt, it’ll be harder to pay it off.
It’s also a good idea to be aware of balance transfer fees. These are typically a small percentage of the amount you’re transferring over (3 to 5%), and this means that this method isn’t totally free. But if you need to give yourself a deadline to pay off your credit card debt and get an interest-free runway to do it with, a balance transfer card could work well for you.
Filing for bankruptcy in Wyoming
If you’re at a point where you can’t see any logical way out, filing for bankruptcy is always an option. It’s usually the option of last resort, and for good reason — the mark will stay on your credit report for up to 10 years. This will likely harm your ability to take on debt in the future, such as buying a home. The cost of bankruptcy can also be very expensive itself.
But if you’re at a point where you’d rather look toward changing your future rather than being penalized for the past, bankruptcy can help. There are two types of bankruptcy that you can file for.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the one most people think about when it comes to filing for bankruptcy. This is the classic example where all of your assets are sold to pay off creditors. Chapter 13 bankruptcy, however, is much less invasive. This just involves creating a three- to five-year repayment plan. When you’re done, the court will wipe away some (or even all) of your debts. You can even keep your assets such as your house.
If you think bankruptcy might be a good option for you, you can learn more about it from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court’s District of Wyoming.
The bottom line
No matter where you live, it’s not easy to be in debt and see a good chunk of your take-home pay evaporate to your creditors each month. But the good news is that you don’t have to be in debt forever.
You can get out of debt faster using these tips:
- Know your rights as a debtor
- Avoid debt traps like payday loans
- Create a debt payment strategy, whether that’s consolidation, bankruptcy, etc…
- Change your behaviors so you can avoid debt in the future
- Save an emergency fund so you don’t necessarily need to take on debt
If you follow the strategies we’ve shared in this article, you’ll be well on your way to living on your own terms, not your creditor’s terms.
The information in this article is accurate as of the date of publishing.