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Steven Raiser is Chief Legal Officer, and Legal-Counsel at Delancey Street. Steven is a native of Long Island and has also resided in Manhattan and the Bronx.

Since being admitted to the New York Bar, Steven has represented the city of New York, serving as a Special Assistant Corporation Counsel. He handled all aspects of litigation in child neglect cases there, representing the interests of the children and the city. He then served as an Assistant District Attorney, where he successfully prosecuted hundreds of criminal cases, from violations of the Vehicle and Traffic Law to homicides. During his time as a prosecutor, Steven was involved in high-profile cases such as those involving Rapper DMX and NY Rangers’ Defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh.

While serving as a prosecutor, he joined the U.S. Army. As a commissioned officer in the Army National Guard Judge Advocate General’s Corps, Steven volunteered for active duty in Iraq. There he served in the office of the Staff Judge Advocate, defending soldiers from actions instituted by the federal government, making probable cause determinations for the command, and assisting in the training of Iraqi soldiers in legal proceedings. In recognition of his service in Iraq, he earned the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal for meritorious service in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Army Commendation Medal for exceptional meritorious service during combat operations.

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Steven M. Raiser is admitted to practice law in the state courts and federal court in the Eastern District. Steven has appeared as a legal analyst for FOX, CNN, and Court TV (TRU TV). His interviews on CNN and FOX have been posted to their websites and have been showcased under “must see videos.”



Getting Legal Help for Austin Merchant Cash Advance Debt

Merchant cash advances can seem like easy money for small business owners in Austin. You get an upfront lump sum, and only have to pay it back through a percentage of your credit card sales over time. No fixed monthly payments or strict repayment terms. What could go wrong, right?Well, sometimes business doesn’t pick up as expected or you end up owing more than you realized. And that “not a loan” merchant cash advance starts to feel an awful lot like a high-interest payday loan. Before you know it, you’re facing aggressive debt collection calls and threats of lawsuits or even jail time.Don’t panic! Here’s what you need to know about your legal rights and options if you’ve gotten in over your head with an Austin merchant cash advance company.

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Understanding How Merchant Cash Advances Work

First things first – let’s quickly review how merchant cash advances (MCAs) work. An MCA provider gives you an upfront sum of cash in exchange for a percentage of your future credit card and/or debit card sales.Unlike a small business loan, there’s no set repayment schedule. Instead, the MCA company takes a fixed percentage of your daily credit card receipts – usually 10-20% – until you’ve repaid the initial advance plus fees and interest.This contingent repayment structure allows flexibility but also means you end up paying back far more than you borrowed. Rates often equate to 70-400% APR when it’s all said and done.The exact terms vary by provider but some common pitfalls include:

  • Deceptively high interest rates – Rates are rarely expressed as APR so it’s hard to compare costs vs a loan
  • Double dipping – Some providers take a percentage of gross sales vs just credit card sales
  • Recourse – Personal guarantees mean your personal assets may be pursued
  • Aggressive collections – Merchants face threats, harassment and lawsuits over unpaid debts

While not all MCA companies are predatory, the lack of oversight and regulation in this financing niche means plenty of shady players exist.

Common Legal Issues Facing Austin Small Businesses

If you’ve already signed a merchant cash advance agreement, what legal rights and defenses do you have under Texas law if things go south?Some of the most common problems local business owners face include:

Excessive Interest & Fees

While there are no caps on interest rates with MCAs like there are on bank loans, arguments may exist that excessive rates should be deemed unlawful. What constitutes “excessive” comes down to the specifics of your case but 100%+ APR is often deemed unreasonable.

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Breach of Contract

If the MCA provider violates terms of your agreement – like taking more than the agreed upon percentage per sale – you may have grounds to terminate the contract. Proving breach requires careful documentation however.

Fraud & Misrepresentation

Some companies lure in merchants with false promises about repayment terms and fail to adequately disclose costs or conditions. This may provide grounds for legal action.

Aggressive Collections & Harassment

It’s illegal for debt collectors to make false threats of jail time, seize assets without court order or continue calling after requested to stop. Violations provide grounds for damages.

Violations of Lending Laws

Though marketed differently, some courts have found MCAs to legally constitute high-interest loans subject to state lending and consumer protection laws.

Debt Collection Laws & Consumer Rights

If you’re struggling to keep up with payments, familiarize yourself with laws around debt collection practices. Some key rights to remember:

  • Debt collectors can’t discuss debts with third parties without permission
  • You have 30 days to dispute invalid debts before it can be reported
  • Collectors must stop contacting you if requested except to confirm receipt or indicate intention to proceed
  • Threats, harassment, profanity or calling before 8 am/after 9 pm is prohibited
  • False threats of jail time, asset seizure or garnishment are illegal without court order
  • Debts can’t be inflated with unauthorized fees or interest
  • Communicating in ways that could risk third party awareness of debts is prohibited
  • Failing to validate debt when requested violates federal law

Document any violations in detail. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and Texas Debt Collection Act (TDCA), you can sue for damages including emotional distress.

Seeking Legal Advice for Austin Merchant Cash Advance Relief

If you feel overwhelmed, scared or confused about your merchant cash advance debt, don’t go it alone. Consult a qualified legal professional to understand your options. An attorney can help with:

  • Reviewing the MCA Agreement – Identifying unlawful terms or violations
  • Disputing Invalid/Excessive Debts – Drafting legal disputes and responses
  • Halting Collection Efforts – Sending cease and desist notices if needed
  • Negotiating Settlements – Working towards lump sum discounts or payment plans
  • Defending Lawsuits – Responding to legal complaints over unpaid debts
  • Bringing Counterclaims – If collector illegalities provide grounds to sue
  • Managing Bankruptcy – Using Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 to eliminate qualifying MCA debt
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The right lawyer can also advise if your MCA may legally constitute a loan subject to Texas usury laws or other consumer protections. Usury laws cap interest rates on loans under $250k at 28% APR. Violations provide strong grounds for contract termination, debt invalidation and damages.

Key Texas Laws Impacting Merchant Cash Advances

  • Texas Finance Code Chapter 306 – Outlaws threats/harassment and other abuses by debt collectors
  • DTPA – Prohibits deceptive trade practices by lenders which may apply to hidden MCA fees
  • **Texas Usury Laws **- Caps interest rates on loans under $250k at 28% APR if MCA deemed a loan
  • UCC Article 9 – Contains secured transaction laws regarding business property liens
  • Texas Homestead Protection – Protects home equity and personal assets in bankruptcy

Consult experienced legal counsel to determine how these and other laws may impact efforts to fight unlawful collection practices or invalidate all or part of your merchant cash advance debts.

Comparing Austin Merchant Cash Advance Relief Lawyers

As you vet attorneys, look for these key credentials and capabilities:

  • Local experience – Nearby lawyers understand TX judges and debt collection laws
  • MCA-specific expertise – The niche complexities require specialized legal knowledge
  • Track record getting cases dismissed – A history of successful defenses in court
  • **Settlement skills **– The ability to negotiate discounted lump sum payoffs
  • Cost transparency – Clear explanations of fee structures and billing
  • Personalized focus – You want a lawyer not paralegal doing the work

Also confirm any prospective lawyer carries errors and omissions insurance. This protects you if they make a mistake that negatively impacts your case.Reputable Austin merchant cash advance attorneys will offer a free initial consultation to review your account documents and provide expert insight into your options. They should be able to give guidance on potential defenses and tactics to fight back against predatory lenders seeking collection.

Alternatives to Litigation for Debt Relief

Fighting an MCA company in court can help invalidate debts but also takes considerable money, time and evidence. Before pursuing legal action, be sure to explore alternatives like:

  • Settling Debts – Negotiating a discounted lump sum payoff amount
  • Payment Plans – Agreeing to realistic extended repayment terms
  • Debt Consolidation – Rolling multiple debts into a lower fixed payment
  • Debt Relief Loans – Leveraging a new loan to pay off the old one
  • Bankruptcy – Using Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 to eliminate or restructure qualifying business debts

The right resolution path comes down to your specific situation. Discuss pros, cons and eligibility for each option with a qualified legal professional.

Finding the Right Austin Merchant Cash Advance Lawyer for You

I hope this overview gives you a good understanding of the legal landscape when struggling with Austin MCA debt. Don’t hesitate to seek qualified legal support if you feel lost or overwhelmed. With the right lawyer in your corner, you can identify violations, assert rights and defenses, halt harassment, negotiate settlements, and craft strategies to invalidate, eliminate or reduce debts.

Delancey Street is here for you

Our team is available always to help you. Regardless of whether you need advice, or just want to run a scenario by us. We take pride in the fact our team loves working with our clients - and truly cares about their financial and mental wellbeing.

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