Can I still go to debtor’s prison if I owe money? Look out Charles Dickens, in some states unfortunately it appears that it is happening now!

(My most recent debtors prison blog is found here: http://bit.ly/I2qMO2 .

There are numerous articles posted online that describe cases where people appear to have been put in jail in some states for merely owing  monetary debts.  This can happen to debtors who either owe money to the court or to private parties.  And this has happened in spite of the fact that debtor’s prisons were outlawed federally in 1833.  Most of the states followed suit after 1833 and included clauses in their constitutions prohibiting imprisonment for owing money to someone.

In spite of these prohibitions debtor’s prisons seem to be making a comeback.  There are states where it’s possible to put someone in jail for failure to pay a debt.  I am surprised that lawyers in these states have not put together constitutional challenges to someone who was thrown in jail for such a monetary debt.

According to blog I found online people are languishing in Illinois jails, in Champagne and other counties, for owing unpaid traffic tickets.  A law professor from Notre Dame Law School quoted in the article says that we do have “de-facto” debtor’s prisons because of this practice of jailing debtor’s for merely owing money in spite of constitutional prohibitions even if the money is owed to the state.   According to this law professor this creates a situation where debtors are scrambling to come up with money by any means just to stay out of jail.

An article in the Saint Petersburg Times points out that it costs the jails $53 per day (in Florida) to incarcerate these people who often don’t owe much money.  So the taxpayers pay for the jailing, the judge, and the whole judicial system that wastes time and money trying to collect from these destitute people.  In Florida they have an ominous sounding “Collections Court” that handles these cases and about a third of Florida counties have these courts.  Even in the counties without these courts people are still being jailed for owing money.

According to the Times article it costs the system $62,085 to bring in $80,450 in debt.  Those languishing in jail for these unpaid tickets are certainly poor and often minority but anyone without means can get caught up in this travesty of justice.  How is it still a possibility that you could go to jail for owing money?  Were debtors prisons not outlawed in the 1800s?  Didn’t Charles Dickens inform us 200 years ago about the foolishness of this practice?

The Times article points out that you can be jailed for violating a court order or for failing to make court ordered payments.  So technically they are not being jailed for owing money but it amounts to the same thing.  Jail time is usually given to people who owe spousal and child support but legal experts argue that it is all illegal.

Now there is more and more disturbing chatter on the internet about debtors being jailed for owing a purely private company money.  There are horror stories emerging about arrests made and persons jailed for owing money to private parties.  On such woman was arrested one day, handcuffed, put in a very cold police car, brought to jail and no one told her why for some time while the contents of her purse were unceremoniously dumped in a plastic bag.  She spent a cold night in jail keeping her hands under her armpits for warmth until 16 hours later when she was informed that she missed a court hearing concerning some private debt.

In that case she had missed a court hearing but in Indiana a man faced jail for just failing to pay a purely private debt.  His incarceration had nothing to do with violating a court order.   According to an online article in the Minnesota StarTibune a lawyer challenged the constitutionality of a debtor being threatened with jail for owing a debt.  The appellate judges agreed with the lawyer and he won the case because debtor’s prisons were made illegal in Indiana in the 1850s.

The article in the Star Tribune points out that there is an inconsistency with who is locked up when, and for how much debt, and that all of these things vary from state to state and county to county.  It also makes mention that no one knows how often this happens as no statistics are kept of these incidents.  One man in Illinois was locked up by a judge “indefinitely” for owing $300 to a lumber yard.

Now it seems that the collection agents are influencing the legal system more and more to be more creditor friendly.   Some would say that the collectors are subverting the legal system and using the threat of jail and jail time extract money from people who cannot afford to pay anything towards these privately held debts.

The good news is though that bankruptcy can remove most debts from your balance sheet.  After a bankruptcy discharge you legally no longer owe the debts anymore so no creditor can try to collect on them or try to get you put in jail if you don’t.  Your legal obligation to pay these debts is eliminated.  With debt collectors gaining in power and money and influence this is a very good thing.

In California I know that the courts can threaten jail if you do not attend the court ordered “debtor’s exam”.  This is where a creditor can ask you all sorts of personal questions about your assets and your financial situation.  The courts cannot jail you if you do not pay the creditor in California but they threaten to jail you if you don’t show up for the court ordered exam.

I filed a case for a client the day before his debtor’s exam and he brought his bankruptcy case number to the debtor’s exam.  The other attorney did not know what to do but the judge threw the whole case out right there and told her to go to bankruptcy court for any money.  My client had nothing and the creditor had no reason to declare his debts non-dischargeable so that is the last we ever saw of the creditor.  My client got his discharge without a problem.  Bankruptcy is indeed a powerful mechanism to defeat over-zealous creditors.

You almost always don’t have to argue whether you owe a debt after bankruptcy and you don’t have to argue whether any punishment is constitutional.  I wrote another blog about debtor’s prisons here: http://bit.ly/JmsMFt .

I am a bankruptcy lawyer practicing bankruptcy law in San Diego California.   For more information related to debt, bankruptcy, or debtor’s prison please visit my websites at www.farquharlaw.com and www.freshstartsandiego.com.  Or call me directly for a free consultation at (619) 702-5015.  Call now for free credit report and analysis!  For a free e-book: “13 THINGS YOU SHOULD DO TO PREPARE FOR YOUR BANKRUPTCY FILING” please send a request by e-mail to: farquharesq@yahoo.com.

Has a creditor threatened you with jail if you don’t pay them? FDCPA says this is illegal!

Has a creditor threatened you with jail for non-payment of a monetary debt?  This is most probably illegal according to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).  Collectors often harass and threaten debtors with all sorts of things that they have no right to threaten.  They will often threaten jailing you if you don’t pay today!  A person just contacted me with this problem and the client was threatened by a creditor to have police show up at their work and arrest them if they did not pay today!  And this creditor did not even file a lawsuit yet!

This is clearly illegal!  With no lawsuit filed there is no judgment and with no judgment no legal right to collect on this debt.  This creditor would have to first obtain this judgment which would give them the right to collect but in California there is no going to jail for owing strictly monetary debts.  And to threaten that police will show up at someone’s work and arrest them when they cannot is a violation of FDCPA section 807(4).

In that section it clearly states that an implication that non-payment will result in arrest or imprisonment unless that action is legal and intended by the party is a violation of this law.  In my client’s case there is no arresting or jailing someone for owning monetary debts so this threat was a violation of the law.  If my client could prove it then we could win damages against this collector.  I told this person to tell the collector that they were recording the call next time and see how fast he hangs up.

Section 807(5) restates this and says that any threat to take any action that is not legal or intended is a violation of the FDCPA.  So this collector violated this section too.  My question is can we get this guy to say this clearly into the microphone so we can replay it for the judge?

So don’t take any crap off of these creditors.  I hate to hear these stories and I answer these e-mails immediately.  We live in a great country where we pride ourselves in our freedom but if these collectors can violate the law with impunity then it threatens all of us.

In a previous blog I discussed how these collectors by far receive the greatest number of complaints to the Federal Trade Commission.  They routinely harass, threaten, bother and annoy people and they are now routinely violating the law I believe.  So know your rights and don’t allow them to bamboozle you.

I am an attorney who practices bankruptcy law in California.  For more information please visit my websites at www.farquharlaw.com or www.freshstartsandiego.com .  Or call my office for a free consultation at (619) 702-5015.  Call now for free credit report and analysis! 

If you or someone you know needs to file bankruptcy please get my FREE E-BOOK; 13 THINGS YOU SHOULD DO TO PREPARE FOR YOUR BANKRUPTCY FILING” by e-mailing me at: farquharesq@yahoo.com.

Don’t answer your cell phone! New bill would allow collectors of goverment debt to robocall you!

In a move that is not typical of Democrats, the Obama administration is pushing a bill that would make it easier for the private collection industry to robocall your cell phone when you owe a debt to the government.  Robocalling is when a collector calls your phone number endlessly, excessively, and ceaselessly, until you tear your hair out or throw your phone away.

This proposal is tucked into the deficit reduction bill that is in Congress now according to an AP article and it is intended as a means to collect more money for the government.  This law applies to debts owed to government agencies. These debts are primarily student loans but I suppose the law could apply to any government debt like back taxes, tickets, fines, fees or penalties.

These debts may have been owed originally to the government but the government will transfer them to private debt collection companies who want to robocall your cell.  The department of education apparently has the largest share of these debts at $28 billion that they have passed out to 22 private collection companies.

A a Boston-based consumer law center spokesman says in the article that this “is just going to lead to more harassment and abuse, and it’s not going to help the government collect any more money.”  The spokesperson goes on to say that people aren’t paying their student loans because they have not been harassed enough but they are not paying these debts because they can’t find a job.  The administration as of yet has no estimate of how much money they expect to collect from this practice.

I agree that it is likely that very little money will actually be collected by allowing robocalling of cell phones.  This new practice will just result in more stressed out people who cannot answer their cell phones for fear of getting one of these collectors on the line.  My bankruptcy clients which I interview every day typically are broke and out of work and they want very much to pay their bills but they cannot.  They universally have the desire to pay the bills but not the means.

I believe in the old saying that you can’t get blood from a turnip.  If people have no money and no job then no amount of phone calls will change reality.  If you mistakenly pick up a call and talk to one of these collectors then you will get no sympathy and just demands to pay.  If you say you have no money they won’t believe you and tell you to borrow the money.  These collectors are incentive driven and they don’t appear to care what you have to say as they get paid as much as 17% of what they collect from you.

The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) regulates the collection industry.  The FTC receives more than 100,000 complaints a year from the collection industry alleging harassment, demands for ridiculously large and unaffordable payments, and threats of jail time (which is illegal under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act).  Apparently the collection industry receives more complaints than any other industry in America.

This move by the Obama administration perplexes consumer groups and Democrats alike.  The article points out that this bill aligns the administration more closely with the collection industry.  Democrats normally are more friendly to those in debt and generally Democrats protect consumers from additional potential harassment.  Many Democrats opposed the creditor friendly bankruptcy reform bill of 2005. (Joe Biden supported the law as he was from Delaware where many credit card companies are incorporated).  Many Democrats are now indicating that they can’t support this bill.

Hillary Clinton sponsored a bill a few years ago to make student loans dischargeable in bankruptcy.  That bill went nowhere though and these student loans are still non-dischargeable in bankruptcy.  So are the other government fines, fees, penalties, and most tax debt.  But the point is that they are not going unpaid because people are not being robocalled enough.  People have no jobs and no money and that is why payment is not forthcoming.

Robocalling by private collectors is currently allowed under Federal law on landlines but only individually dialed calls are allowed to on cell phones.  Since more and more people have only cell phones now the collection industry has been lobbying the administration for this change in the law according to a spokesperson quoted in the article.  Apparently the lobbying has worked as the Obama administration has heard the call and pushed for this law.  The spokesperson says that robocalling is the most “efficient” way of collecting debts.  If you have ever been on the other end of the line that is receiving these robocalls you may have a different view as I have.

This is a terrible idea that will collect little money and result in the increased harassment of people with no means to pay these debts.  My clients come into my office already tapped out and they have no extra income even when we get their credit card debts discharged in bankruptcy.  If these people are not paying on these loans it is probably because they have either no job and no income or they are working at a reduced rate and barely affording their current bills.

If you are in this situation or you know someone who is, send them to myself of another bankruptcy attorney in your area.  We can help them discharge the credit card and other private debts so that more money is freed up to pay the non-dischargeable government debts like the student loans.  You can work out a payment plan for the student loans if you can afford one.

If this law is passed then debt collection will become that much more invasive, annoying and bothersome.  My advice will then be: don’t answer your cell!

I am a San Diego bankruptcy attorney.  For more information please visit my websites at www.farquharlaw.com or www.freshstartsandiego.com.  For a free consultation on bankruptcy or debt please call (619) 702-5015.  Call now for free credit report and analysis! 

If you or someone you know may need to file a bankruptcy get my FREE E-BOOK: “13 THINGS YOU SHOULD DO TO PREPARE FOR YOUR BANKRUPTCY FILING by e-mailing me at: farquharesq@yahoo.com.

Are credit card companies unleashing the dogs of war? Their calls appear to be increasing in frequency.

You may have experienced that it doesn’t take long for the credit card company vultures to call you if you are late.  One blog I found called them the “collection police”.  The blogger was shocked that he got a call after being 1 day late.  Someone from the collection police called him one day after his payment due date and asked for a payment right away.  He was floored as he had never been late on a payment in his life and the last thing he expected was a call from his creditors.

I certainly have been late on my payments to these credit card companies and I have talked to India many times.  I often ask about the weather in Mumbai when I get on the phone with one of these people who speaks english with a funny british accent.  But it does seem like there has been a lessening lately in the time that credit card companies give you to pay your bill.

It used to be that these companies (in the good old days) allowed you to be 30 days late before you heard from them.  Then it seemed to advance to 2 weeks and then one week and now my clients report getting calls from credit card companies when they are one day late.  The collectors call and ask for an immediate payment and they don’t seem to care if you have been on time for 6 months or 60 years.  They couldn’t care less and they just ask for the money.  They are starting to act like loan sharks from mob movies when they say “just pay me”!  They truly seem to be unleashing the dogs of war after only one day.

The blogger who got the call was shocked by this but I would advise him to get used to it.  I noticed that these guys from these credit card companies are calling me quickly if I’m late on a payment and they don’t wait long.  I theorize that they have stepped up their enforcement of their debt collections.  Someone has reasoned that if they could just get the calls out quicker and the money in faster than they could collect more.

It is the time value of money.  If the money is in their bank earning interest then they get the interest and not you.  Now remember that they have millions of accounts and even one day quicker on payment could net them millions more dollars so they get the calls out to demand you pay them more and more quickly.  In the future I expect that they will come up with some hour in the day when your payment is due and then they will call you at one minute after that hour has elapsed.

So get used to it as this is the way it will undoubtably be for some time.  For now expect calls to come even if you are one day late and even if you have been on time with your payments for your whole life.  The company and the guy in India don’t care about your payment history or how good of a person you are.  They just want your money now.

One sure-fire way to rid yourself of this headache is to file bankruptcy.  That will stop the calls and end your liability for the debt.

I am a bankruptcy attorney practicing bankruptcy law in San Diego California.  Please visit my website at www.farquharlaw.com.

What’s in your wallet? These huge credit card companies are plenty rich- it’s okay to file for bankruptcy!

Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo, Capital One, Citibank, Discover, American Express.  Recognize these guys?  You probably owe them money right now and I’m not talking about for your mortgage, car, or for some other secured asset.  I’m talking about credit cards.  What’s in your wallet?  Probably there is some credit card in there right now with one of these names on it and you are in debt.

If you check you will see that these are very large companies.  They have billions of dollars in assets and if you think about it is a very easy business to run.  Think of them like Joe Pesci in the movie “Casino”.  They get a little money and they “put it on the street”.  But you are the street.  They borrow money at a low-interest rate and lend it to you at a higher rate.  If you default or are just late on the payments then they will jack your interest rates and charge you all sorts of penalties.  They make a tremendous profit on you when you cannot pay them.

Remember they don’t have a plant with machinery where they make things or even an office where they give advice.  They just need a little small space where there is a phone with which they can call you twenty times a day when you don’t pay them.  Are you getting those calls now?  Most of us do and they call now not just when you are a month late or even a few weeks late but if you are a day late.  They seemed to have recently decreased the time they allow you to not pay them.

According to Wikipedia Bank of America is the largest financial services company in America and also the largest bank holding company.  It is the second largest bank in the country by market capitalization.  As of 2010 B of A is the fifth largest company in the U.S. by total revenue and the second largest non-oil company in the U.S. after Wal-Mart!

Wells Fargo is the fourth largest bank in the U.S. by assets but the second largest by market capitalization.  JP Morgan Chase has assets of $2 trillion.  Citigroup has the largest financial services network in the country and it has over 200 million customers.  Get the picture?  They are huge and they won’t miss your debts if you get them discharged in bankruptcy.  Most of the big banks received federal bailouts financed by your tax dollars when they ran into financial difficulty.

Where is your bailout?  Do you get a break when you get into financial difficulty?  These companies are the largest and richest companies in the world and they are deemed “too big to fail” and when they get into trouble they run to the federal government (that’s you) and they ask for and get a bailout so they can make more money.  Did you get a break?  A bailout?  Where can you go when you run into financial trouble?  How about they only call you ten times a day when you owe them money?

Forget about it.  It’s not going to happen.  You will get no breaks from these companies.  They only move one way and that is forward in collecting money from you.  They will call you, hound you, and harass you into paying them.  Your only way out is to file bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy stops the calls, the harassment, and relieves you of the liabilities for those debts.  It makes sense and is the only break you are going to get.

So don’t feel bad for these banks who are too big to fail.  They are the largest and richest entities in the world and they won’t miss your little debts when you file bankruptcy.  They will write it off as a loss on their corporate taxes.  Remember that most people have paid back all of the money they borrowed on their credit cards with interest before they file bankruptcy.  It’s just that the interest rates are so large that they have to keep paying indefinitely.

How long does it take to pay off a card if you make the minimum payment?  I don’t even know anymore but it used to be 30 or 40 years.  That is debt slavery.  Don’t let yourself be a slave!  File for bankruptcy if you have debts you cannot pay!

I am a San Diego bankruptcy attorney.  Please visit my website at www.farquharlaw.com or www.freshstartsandiego.com.  Or call my office for a free consultation on any bankruptcy or debt related issue at (619) 702-5015.  Call now for free credit report and analysis!

For a free e-book: “13 THINGS YOU SHOULD DO TO PREPARE FOR YOUR BANKRUPTCY FILING” please send a request by e-mail to: farquharesq@yahoo.com.

Can I still go to debtor’s prison if I owe money? Look out Charles Dickens, in some states unfortunately it appears that it is happening now!

(My most recent debtors prison blog is found here: http://bit.ly/I2qMO2 .

There are numerous articles posted online that describe cases where people appear to have been put in jail in some states for merely owing  monetary debts.  This can happen to debtors who either owe money to the court or to private parties.  And this has happened in spite of the fact that debtor’s prisons were outlawed federally in 1833.  Most of the states followed suit after 1833 and included clauses in their constitutions prohibiting imprisonment for owing money to someone.

In spite of these prohibitions debtor’s prisons seem to be making a comeback.  There are states where it’s possible to put someone in jail for failure to pay a debt.  I am surprised that lawyers in these states have not put together constitutional challenges to someone who was thrown in jail for such a monetary debt.

According to blog I found online people are languishing in Illinois jails, in Champagne and other counties, for owing unpaid traffic tickets.  A law professor from Notre Dame Law School quoted in the article says that we do have “de-facto” debtor’s prisons because of this practice of jailing debtor’s for merely owing money in spite of constitutional prohibitions even if the money is owed to the state.   According to this law professor this creates a situation where debtors are scrambling to come up with money by any means just to stay out of jail.

An article in the Saint Petersburg Times points out that it costs the jails $53 per day (in Florida) to incarcerate these people who often don’t owe much money.  So the taxpayers pay for the jailing, the judge, and the whole judicial system that wastes time and money trying to collect from these destitute people.  In Florida they have an ominous sounding “Collections Court” that handles these cases and about a third of Florida counties have these courts.  Even in the counties without these courts people are still being jailed for owing money.

According to the Times article it costs the system $62,085 to bring in $80,450 in debt.  Those languishing in jail for these unpaid tickets are certainly poor and often minority but anyone without means can get caught up in this travesty of justice.  How is it still a possibility that you could go to jail for owing money?  Were debtors prisons not outlawed in the 1800s?  Didn’t Charles Dickens inform us 200 years ago about the foolishness of this practice?

The Times article points out that you can be jailed for violating a court order or for failing to make court ordered payments.  So technically they are not being jailed for owing money but it amounts to the same thing.  Jail time is usually given to people who owe spousal and child support but legal experts argue that it is all illegal.

Now there is more and more disturbing chatter on the internet about debtors being jailed for owing a purely private company money.  There are horror stories emerging about arrests made and persons jailed for owing money to private parties.  On such woman was arrested one day, handcuffed, put in a very cold police car, brought to jail and no one told her why for some time while the contents of her purse were unceremoniously dumped in a plastic bag.  She spent a cold night in jail keeping her hands under her armpits for warmth until 16 hours later when she was informed that she missed a court hearing concerning some private debt.

In that case she had missed a court hearing but in Indiana a man faced jail for just failing to pay a purely private debt.  His incarceration had nothing to do with violating a court order.   According to an online article in the Minnesota StarTibune a lawyer challenged the constitutionality of a debtor being threatened with jail for owing a debt.  The appellate judges agreed with the lawyer and he won the case because debtor’s prisons were made illegal in Indiana in the 1850s.

The article in the Star Tribune points out that there is an inconsistency with who is locked up when, and for how much debt, and that all of these things vary from state to state and county to county.  It also makes mention that no one knows how often this happens as no statistics are kept of these incidents.  One man in Illinois was locked up by a judge “indefinitely” for owing $300 to a lumber yard.

Now it seems that the collection agents are influencing the legal system more and more to be more creditor friendly.   Some would say that the collectors are subverting the legal system and using the threat of jail and jail time extract money from people who cannot afford to pay anything towards these privately held debts.

The good news is though that bankruptcy can remove most debts from your balance sheet.  After a bankruptcy discharge you legally no longer owe the debts anymore so no creditor can try to collect on them or try to get you put in jail if you don’t.  Your legal obligation to pay these debts is eliminated.  With debt collectors gaining in power and money and influence this is a very good thing.

In California I know that the courts can threaten jail if you do not attend the court ordered “debtor’s exam”.  This is where a creditor can ask you all sorts of personal questions about your assets and your financial situation.  The courts cannot jail you if you do not pay the creditor in California but they threaten to jail you if you don’t show up for the court ordered exam.

I filed a case for a client the day before his debtor’s exam and he brought his bankruptcy case number to the debtor’s exam.  The other attorney did not know what to do but the judge threw the whole case out right there and told her to go to bankruptcy court for any money.  My client had nothing and the creditor had no reason to declare his debts non-dischargeable so that is the last we ever saw of the creditor.  My client got his discharge without a problem.  Bankruptcy is indeed a powerful mechanism to defeat over-zealous creditors.

You almost always don’t have to argue whether you owe a debt after bankruptcy and you don’t have to argue whether any punishment is constitutional.  I wrote another blog about debtor’s prisons here: http://bit.ly/JmsMFt .

I am a bankruptcy lawyer practicing bankruptcy law in San Diego California.   For more information related to debt, bankruptcy, or debtor’s prison please visit my websites at www.farquharlaw.com and www.freshstartsandiego.com.  Or call me directly for a free consultation at (619) 702-5015.  Call now for free credit report and analysis! 

For a free e-book: “13 THINGS YOU SHOULD DO TO PREPARE FOR YOUR BANKRUPTCY FILING” please send a request by e-mail to: farquharesq@yahoo.com.

Don’t put you head in the sand- your creditors will not stop hounding you until you pay them or file bankruptcy!

Many of my clients have debts that are very old.  Collection agents have long since been brought in and my clients are being called on the phone sometimes 20 times a day to pay these debts.  It’s especially vexing if you have a number of these collectors each trying to call you numerous times a day.  Most people in this position have long since stopped answering the phone.

Creditor harassment can really affect your life.  It makes you constantly uptight, nervous and upset.   You know in the back of your mind that something must be done about these debts.  Many people can get seriously depressed about their debt.  This can lead to all sorts of bad consequences.  If this is you or someone you know then read this.

The point of all this is why live this way when it is totally unnecessary?  There is an alternative to this and it is filing bankruptcy.  By the time these collectors are calling you this often on this many debts its clear that you cannot pay them.  Its time to get your head out of the sand and admit the reality that is staring you in the face.

These collectors will not stop pursuing you and they will call, fax, e-mail, and send you letters continuously until something is done about the debt.  If they can’t get ahold of you for an extended period then they will usually file a lawsuit against you in state court.  This filing goes on your credit report and should be avoided if possible.

Once these creditors get a judgment against you in state court they will use all available attempts to collect on that judgment like garnishing your wages, seizing you bank accounts, putting a lien on your real estate, or getting you into court for a debtor’s exam.  If you miss the debtor’s exam they can issue a warrant for your arrest.

I know this because one of my clients got one of these debtor’s exam notices recently.  In his case we were able to file his bankruptcy the night before he was due in court and that stopped the whole collection process.   The point is though that all of these things are bad for you and they can only cause you trouble or loss of money, probably both.

The good news is that filing bankruptcy stops all of this whether you have been sued or not.  Please stop trying to avoid the reality of the debts.  Don’t be the ostrich!  Bankruptcy, debt relief, happiness and freedom are only a phone call away!

I am a bankruptcy attorney practicing in San Diego.  For further help please visit my website at www.farquharlaw.com.