Archive for the ‘Find a Bankruptcy Lawyer’ Category

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

The Case For Bankruptcy Lawyers

Rick Bloom, a financial advisor and columnist with the Detroit-area Observer & Eccentric, had some direct and stern words for a reader that recently wrote in and asked if he should represent himself when filing bankruptcy.

The reader was concerned about the bankruptcy lawyer's fees. He found some Web sites to help him with the paper work and was considering trying it himself. Naturally, if you're considering filing bankruptcy money can be tight.

But Bloom didn't mince words when offering his take:

I think it is a lousy idea for people to handle their own bankruptcy.

He offered lots of reasons, but perhaps the most compelling:

If you fail to dot all of the “I's” and cross all of the “T's,” you may find you did not get the results you desire and that could lead to problems. After all, your creditors, whether they are a charge card company or a bank, are going to have lawyers represent them. You are at a severe disadvantage if they have an attorney and you don't.

If you are concerned about the costs of filing bankruptcy, there are a few things that you can do:

  • Speak with an attorney about fees. As Bloom points out, your lawyer should be able to give you a "good faith estimate" of the costs associated with filing.
  • Speak with the local state bar association. Depending on the circumstances, this governing body for bankruptcy lawyers may be able to provide support.
  • You need to be comfortable discussing matters with your bankruptcy attorney, especially money matters. If you aren't comfortable with your lawyer, find one that suits you better.

If you’re having trouble making it paycheck to paycheck or if you’re having difficulty paying your bills, it may be time to assess your debt levels objectively.

Debt Test

This debt test involves a series of questions concerning your debt levels. Simply answer the yes/no questions to discover how you may be able to improve your financial situation.

Debt Calculator

Enter your current debt and interest rate(s) into this debt calculator. Through this calculator, you can see what may lie ahead for you in paying off your debt.

Reasons for Mounting Debt

One of the most important things to remember about debt is that you’re not alone. Everything from compulsive shopping and gambling to growing medical expenses, job loss, divorce, injury and unexpected expenses is leading to increasing levels of debt for Americans today.

If the burst of the real estate bubble and the exposure of high-level con artists reveal anything about investing it’s that even those who are “in the know” aren’t always sure of what’s happening with their money.

So don’t feel bad that your finances have gotten out of control – take this as a sign that it’s time to start over.

Learn more about how a bankruptcy attorney may help you analyze your debt situation.

The crime of identity theft occurs when someone uses another person’s identifying information (including Social Security Number, account numbers and credit card information) to make fraudulent transactions.

Unfortunately, the same technological advances that allow us to pay bills, shop and bank over the Internet also offer identity thieves opportunities to steal our data.

What Happens if My Identity is Stolen?

If you’re victimized by an identity thief, you may find your finances thrown into turmoil – and, depending on how quickly you realize the problem, you may have quite a headache in store.

Identity thieves can do many things, including:

  • make purchases with your credit cards
  • pose as you during a criminal arrest
  • use your SSN to pose as you during everyday life
  • obtain lines of credit using your information

Preventing Identity Theft

There’s no surefire way to prevent identity theft, but you can take steps to make sure you protect yourself as much as possible, including the following.

  1. Check your credit report! This is the single most important preventive measure you can take. Visit for a truly free credit report from major reporting bureaus. This report will include information about action on all of your accounts. You’ll be able to see any suspicious activity – and take care of it immediately.
  2. Avoid phishing scams. Be cautious about e-mails. Many scammers pose as legitimate banks or lenders and request personal information for “verification” purposes. Never send sensitive information unless you are SURE you know where it’s going and that it’s secure.
  3. Treat your SSN like gold. Some people, like lenders and employers, actually need your Social Security Number; but most do not. If you’re uncomfortable about giving out your Social Security Number, ask how it will be used and why it’s needed. If you still feel uncomfortable, withhold that information. It is generally considered best practice to never give it out over the internet.
  4. Shred your important mail. Once you’re finished with credit card offers, bank statements, medical reports and other important mail, shred them. Shredding is an easy and effective way to prevent identity thieves from getting their hands on your information.

If you've been a victim of identity theft, a bankruptcy lawyer may be able to help you sort things out.

Learn more about how filing bankruptcy may help you.

Here’s some things keep in mind when you’re shopping for a bankruptcy lawyer:

  • Shop around. Interview a few bankruptcy lawyers before making a decision. Many offer free consultations (be sure to ask), which will give you a chance to meet a few before selecting one.
  • Ask some questions. Don’t waste your introduction to them – get information that will help you make your decision by asking questions like:
    • How long has the bankruptcy lawyer been practicing?
    • What types of the cases does he/she have experience in?
    • Does he/she offer client references?
    • How much experience does he/she have with your type of bankruptcy filing?
  • Don’t shy away from finances. It’s okay to ask how much your case will cost and it will demonstrate that you’ve thought through the bankruptcy process. Try to find out:
    • Whether the bankruptcy attorney charges hourly or by case
    • Whether installment payments are accepted
    • Whether you’ll receive itemized bills
    • Whether you can get an estimate
  • Find out who will work on your case. Don’t shy away from asking who will be responsible for your case. After all, you’re footing the bill and you should be kept informed about what is going on.
  • Accept referrals. If a bankruptcy lawyer refers you to someone else, don’t take offense. He or she likely has good reasons for doing so, like too large a workload to give your case proper attention or insufficient experience with a case like yours.
  • Offer to help. While your attorney may handle most of the paperwork and court-related documents, he or she may need you to collect receipts, find tax returns or complete other tasks. Letting your bankruptcy attorney know you’re engaged and ready to help will set the stage for a cooperative case.

Contact a Local Bankruptcy Attorney Today

The slumping economy has caused many Americans to depend on credit cards to survive. A real problem arises when the credit card bills are due and there’s no money to pay them.

Enter the debt collector.

According to the Federal Reserve, nearly one in 20 credit card accounts in the U.S. were delinquent, or more than 30 days past due, at the end of 2008. And when a credit card account becomes delinquent, debt collectors begin calling.

A recent Washington Post article provided some valuable tips consumers can use to protect their rights when debt collectors begin calling.

In Debt? You Make the First Call

Financial experts recommend calling creditors first if you’re having a problem paying bills on time.

If you call them before they call you, you may be able to negotiate a lower interest rate and/or get fees waived or reduced

Avoid Debt Collection Companies: Don’t Ignore Your Creditors

If you don’t take the opportunity to call the creditor before they start calling you, it’s not a good idea to ignore them.

If an account is more than 90 days past due, the lender may have a third-party debt collection agency step in and attempt to collect the debt.

Consumers should realize that the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act provides protection for consumers by restricting the actions of third-party debt collectors.

However, this law does not apply to the original creditor and if a debt is sold to another company, the law regards the new owner as an original creditor.

Credit card companies have fewer restrictions when contacting debtors, but are generally more reasonable and pleasant when dealing with consumers. These companies usually wish to keep their customers, if at all possible.

If the account is turned over to a debt collection company, it’s usually much harder for the debtor to work out a solution.

Don’t Lie About the Debt, But Don’t Acknowledge It Either

While it’s not a good idea to dodge or ignore calls from debt collectors, there are things experts say debtors shouldn’t say.

For example, some experts tell debtor to not lie, but to also not specifically acknowledge owing the debt.

Keep in mind that you’re not required to speak with debt collectors and you may terminate a phone call at any time.

Don’t Agree to Unrealistic Repayment Plans

Debtors should never agree to a payment plan that can't be managed. If you agree to a payment plan, the payments should be made according to the agreement.

Don’t Provide Personal Information

You should never provide personal financial information to a debt collector.

Some debt collectors ask for debtor's bank account numbers and routing numbers, but this information should not be provided.

Gail Cunningham of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling warns that this type of information could be used to garnish a bank account if the collector gets a judgment against you.

Know Your Debt Collector

Consumers should collect detailed information from any debt collector who calls.

Collection agencies may attempt to hide their identities, so start by trying to get the name and address of the debt collection agency from the caller.

Under the federal debt collection act, you must send a written request for the debt collector to stop calling. Verbal requests are generally ignored.

Verify the Debt

Debtors should also demand verification of the debt.

The law gives debtors the right to request and review documentation of the debt. If a debt has been resold several times, the debt collector may be unable to provide proof of the debt.

The Protection of a Bankruptcy Lawyer

If a debt collector threatens court action, it may signal that it’s a good idea for a consumer to contact a bankruptcy lawyer.

If a debtor has a lawyer, debt collectors may only attempt to contact them through their lawyer.

If a debtor winds up filing bankruptcy, an automatic stay is issued and all collection activity must stop immediately—that means no more calls, no more letters, no more contact. Period.

A new year brings new opportunity. Don't let old debt latch onto you any longer.

You may be able to shake off that old debt by filing bankruptcy.

Times are tough and millions of Americans just like you have sought the protection of bankruptcy.

Talk to a bankruptcy attorney today about your debt-relief options.

The two types of personal bankruptcy:

  • Chapter 7 bankruptcy can eliminate debt like credit cards and medical bills and it stops creditor collection efforts.
  • Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment plan can stop/prevent foreclosure and allow a debtor to repay his or her debts according to a more realistic and fair repayment schedule.

Make the first move toward real debt solutions and talk to a bankruptcy lawyer today.

Don't spend one more day in debt.

Many people think bankruptcy is too complicated to even consider as an option.  An experienced bankruptcy lawyer can help you decide if bankruptcy makes sense for you.   A simple means test will be used to determine whether you can file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition in your current financial situation.  Even if you do not qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Chapter 13 may still be a good option for you to consider.

Before you give up hope of  getting out of debt, talk to a bankruptcy attorney in your area first!