All posts by Michelle

Is It Right For You? Why People Avoid Bankruptcy

avoid bankruptcySome people avoid bankruptcy, and there are legitimate reasons to do so.  However, many people each year hire a bankruptcy attorney to resolve and eliminate their overwhelming debt. Those clients often express the relief they feel in knowing that their debt will be handled as quickly and painlessly as possible. However, we’re not going to say that the process is “easy” because we know that making that first call to your bankruptcy attorney can be a difficult first step.

Avoid Bankruptcy?

Reasons Why Some Choose Not to File.
• Fear of the unknown. We think you will find that the fear subsides when an adequate amount of information about bankruptcy is obtained to ensure a solid decision can be made. We can help you overcome fears, and gain access to information through a free initial consultation with one of our bankruptcy lawyers.
• Debt load is small. “Debt” levels may be interpreted differently from one household to the next. Debt compared to income will vary. Furthermore, if the ability to repay debt is not there, then bankruptcy may still be a good option. (Even if the debt is perceived to be small.) If you are unsure, seek an experienced attorney help make this determination with you.
• It will ruin credit scores. This is one of the biggest myths. In fact, if you are an ideal candidate for bankruptcy, your credit score is likely suffering right now. Bankruptcy can stop the downward spiral of credit ratings and help your scores to go up over time. In addition, we offer our clients the 720 Credit Score Program.
• It is open public record. Bankruptcy is a legal proceeding that is recorded in public court listings. But, unless you are a celebrity, a major corporation, or you have a family member who religiously reads public court records, there isn’t too much to worry about. The information isn’t printed every day. The financial future of you and your family should be more important than pride.
• We will lose everything. Even a chapter 7 bankruptcy, otherwise known as liquidation bankruptcy, ordinarily allows individuals to protect or exempt all of their property.  Depending upon your personal financial situation and the type of bankruptcy that is filed, you ought to be able to keep your car and your home.
 

Is Bankruptcy Right For You?

There are many myths about bankruptcy that put fear in front of facts. For many, declaring bankruptcy and committing to better money management are the best avenues towards ensuring a stable financial future. To find out if bankruptcy is the right option for you and your family, make the call today. The bankruptcy attorneys at Debt Advisors Law Offices will evaluate your situation and provide a best scenario or if available, alternative options to consider.

Bankruptcy Advisors Discuss Fraud

bankruptcy fraud, bankrutpcy advisors
At Debt Advisors, we provide a second chance to people who are in serious debt.  We aspire to share knowledge and insight.  Education is a key component. This includes outlining a clear understanding of the bankruptcy process, including the importance of honesty.  Bankruptcy fraud is a federal offense, and a very serious matter.  We think you will agree that the penalties are just not worth the risk.

Bankruptcy Fraud is a federal offense. A Federal Crime segment of the Department of Justice, The United States Trustee Program, (USTP), is responsible for overseeing the administration bankruptcy cases and private trustees.  USTP investigates and makes criminal referrals for bankruptcy fraud.  One who is found guilty of bankruptcy fraud may be charged with a civil or criminal offense, depending upon the severity of the crime.  If a guilty verdict is decided, it could include both prison time and hefty fines.

 

All assets need to be listed within paperwork to prevent bankruptcy fraud

When a law firm files a bankruptcy petition on your behalf, the courts need to know everything you own.  Sharing this information doesn’t mean that everything will be taken away.   It’s state or federal laws that determine what property can be kept and what will be used to pay creditors.  The assets that you are allowed to keep are considered “exempt.”  Exempt assets play a part in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.  However, if it is proven that bankruptcy fraud has been committed, the courts will be less likely to work with the debtor.  They may let the creditors have property that would have otherwise have been yours to keep.

Understating the value of property and assets, or not listing them, are the most common ways in which people commit bankruptcy fraud.  We believe that people are, for the most part, honest in nature.  Here is a list of things to avoid.

 

These actions would be considered deceptive:

  • Fraudulent tax reporting or tax abuse
  • Falsified statements on bankruptcy forms
    or while under oath
  • Bankruptcy Fraud Schemes
  • Failure to report all Assets; hiding or transferring them
  • Using false identity including social security numbers
  • Intentionally abusing credit cards with no intention of paying them off
  • Bribing a court-appointed trustee

 

File with a reputable bankruptcy attorney

Debt Advisors Law Offices has been in business for more than ten years and has helped thousands of Wisconsin residents overcome serious debt.  When dealing with banks and creditors, accuracy is really important.  Forms are to be filled out completely and honestly, including truthful disclosure regarding assets.   Debt Advisors bankruptcy lawyers are knowledgeable regarding both state and federal laws.  We will walk with you through every step of the bankruptcy process to ensure it is efficient and thorough.  Find out if we can help you by requesting a free case evaluation.  We have six Wisconsin locations to serve you.

Citizen Status and Bankruptcy

citizen status, illigal immigrantPersons who file bankruptcy are basically saying they have incurred a considerable amount of debt that they intended to pay for, but in good faith, have not been able to pay.  Accurding to Census Bureau studies and other statistics over the past several years, there are an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. A good number of them are working and paying taxes. With over 790,000 bankruptcy cases were filed in 2016 alone, some cases are going to be assoicated with an illegal immigrant or other citizen status. Bankruptcy is a common solution to large debt problems. If you have not filed bankruptcy, you’re still likely to know or work with someone who has filed bankruptcy. Although bankruptcy is public record, many people have gone through the process without people in their inner-circles finding out.  They simply do what they need to do, and get on with their lives.

 

Immigration, Citizen Status and Bankruptcy

The democracy of the United States is to protect the rights of all individuals, not just the majority of individuals.  Therefore, bankruptcy does not discriminate against race, language, occupation or status of citizenship.  There is nothing in the bankruptcy code that eliminates illegal immigrants from filing.  Regardless of whether or not a person has legal or illegal immigrant status, anyone can look into the process of bankruptcy to eliminate debt.
 

How an illegal Immigrant Can File for Bankruptcy

If the illegal immigrant has come into the U.S. with a tourist visa, student visa or other type of visa, they may obtain a social security number that is still valid, even if they over-stay their visa.  Many illegal immigrants are employed in some way and pay taxes; sales, property and employment.  Temporary citizen status can quality for bankrutpcy. So, even without a social security number, taxes can be paid through obtaining a tax identification number from the IRS.  This number, a (ITIN) can be used in place of a social security number to prove identify in a bankruptcy petition.

 
Start an Honest Bankruptcy Process
Honesty is a two-way street.  Before filing bankruptcy, be prepared to be very honest because you never want a trustee to suspect fraud.  If the bankruptcy court suspects it, your case can be thrown out of court.  If fraud is proven, there are serious penalties.  First, shop around and chose a bankruptcy lawyer you can trust.  Then, return the sentiment by providing truthful information to your attorney.   More on Bankruptcy Fraud

 

Debt Relief Regardless of Citizen Status

Filing bankruptcy is intended to provide financial relief to those who are overwhelmed with debt, regardless of race, language, occupation or citizen status.  If you need assistance with the bankruptcy process in Wisconsin, contact Debt Advisors for a free initial consultation.  During this consultation, our attorneys will answer your questions and set your mind at ease.

Taxes and the Collection of Unpaid Debt

taxt debt, tax debt collection, debt collectionSoon the holidays will be over and tax season will be staring us in the face.  The average tax refund in the United States is around $3,000, but not every tax payer will receive a refund.  Many people will procrastinate preparing taxes because they fear how much money they may owe.  After all, who wants to write a big check to the government?  Most people would rather owe money to their creditors than to owe Uncle Sam.  Maybe this is because they know that the IRS can garnish wages and levy or seize your property.  The IRS can even charge interest and fees on the collection of unpaid debt such as back taxes.

 

What If I Can’t Pay Tax Return Amount Due?

There are always tax-payers who are shocked in disbelief after seeing the dollar sign at the end of their tax form.  Many find that the taxes due are more than they can’t afford to pay.  What next?  The worst thing you can do is to ignore or run from your taxes.  There are stiff penalties for not paying taxes and it will cost a lot more in the long run.  If you can, file for an extension or make a partial payment.  Then, call the IRS to setup a payment plan.  Lastly, don’t forget to adjust withholdings or quarterly payments to ensure that you’re not going to owe more than you can afford to pay next year.

The IRS has payment options.  Try to work with them to resolve your tax debts.  If not, the IRS has the right to enforce collection of unpaid debt.  Eventually, you will hear from the IRS, or in some cases, from a private collection agency hired by the IRS.  You may begin to see wage garnishments coming from your paycheck.

 

How Bankruptcy May Eliminate Some or All Unpaid Debt

If you find that none of the tax return payment options reflect what you can pay, then you may have some larger debt problems that need to be addressed.  This is where we may be able to help.  Filing bankruptcy with a bankruptcy attorney at Debt Advisors can stop wage garnishments in most cases.  Wage garnishments stop due to the bankruptcy “automatic stay.”  This means that the IRS, or any collection agency, must cease all collection activities associated with the debts that you owe during the bankruptcy process, and as long as the bankruptcy is in effect.  This may include debt from unpaid taxes as well as other debts such as credit cards and medical bills.  There are some exceptions that can be discussed in detail with one of our lawyers.

If you are overwhelmed by debt, and can’t pay your taxes, find out if you are a candidate for bankruptcy. Some of your unpaid debt may be dischargeable. Reach out to Debt Advisors Bankruptcy Attorneys for legal advice.  Don’t procrastinate.  It’s always best to resolve debt issues as soon as possible.  At Debt Advisors Bankruptcy Law Firm, the initial consultation is free.

Financial Literacy Skills Develop Early In Life

financial-literacy, bankruptcy, eliminate debt, managing moneyFinancial literacy pertains to an understanding of how money works in our lives, and how to manage it effectively. There is a correlation between financial literacy and one’s ability to a achieve long-term financially successful life.  Early education may provide a logical and responsible approach to money matters wich could, in turn, minimize emotional attachments to money and prevent bad money decisions in the future. Education about money begins early in life, including exposure to financial transactions, earning a paycheck, saving money, paying taxes, and responsible spending.

Math & Money
Recent studies have found that strong math skills result in a more natural understanding of money. However, few states require schools to offer classes such as economics or personal finance. This means that parents are mostly responsible for the financial education of their children.  It’s not as difficult as it may seem; much of the learning process comes from observing, listening, and mimicking the way parents handle money.

Teaching Children Financial Skills
Simple purchase transactions are a great way for kids to learn and experience counting money. The goal is to ensure that money matters are relatable and not intimidating. Help your kids determine long-term and short-term goals, combining current knowledge with hands-on action for practice. It’s our responsibility as parents to share real financial situations as soon as they are old enough to understand. Once they have a means to make money, show them how to follow a budget and open an entry level bank account. Building a savings account is rewarding at any age. On top of that, some banks even offer special children’s savings accounts with age-appropriate perks.

Money Priorities, Obligations & Debt
Money obligations are part of life. Outline financial priorities that apply to the present, and shine a light on what is to come. Be frank about the difference between good debt and bad debt and how to steer clear from debt traps such as payday loans. Talk about why credit scores are so important. Review the pros and cons of having a personal checking account, automatic deductions, and what can happen if fiscal responsibilities such as paying taxes are not followed. Honest conversations may include sharing some of our mistakes, as well as the mistakes of others. Learning about money, how to stay out of debt, and how to get out of debt, are sometimes a process of trial and error. If there is an ambition to succeed, mistakes and resolutions can become a large part of the learning process.

 

Bankruptcy to Eliminate Consumer Debt

consumer bankruptcy, consumber debt, consumer bankruptcy attorneyIn bankruptcy lingo, the term “consumer debt” is often used to clarify how debts have been incurred. Different from business debt, consumer debt involves funds used for consumption rather than investment. Consumer debts are typically classified as such based upon the purchase of consumable goods that do not appreciate in value, such as those things that are purchased to pay personal or household expenses.

More about Consumer Debt
You’ll hear some other terms associated with consumer debt such as secured, unsecured, variable interest rate, fixed rates, and deductibles. It is helpful to understand the meaning behind these terms. It is also important to understand that not all consumer debt is considered to be negative. (Your mortgage is a good example of this.) Any debts that have high interest rates, such as credit cards, auto loans and some student loans, are typically considered bad consumer debt. Most recent studies indicate that the average U.S. Household Debt is increasing. For the first time, credit card debt is approaching one trillion dollars. In 4Q of 2015 alone, consumers racked up more new debt than in 2009, 2010, and 2011 combined. There is a level of economic concern when consumer spending goes far beyond what can be paid back.

Consumer Debt and Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
The good news is that if your debts are mostly consumer debts, half or more of your total debt, then you may be eligible to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy to eliminate debts. A Debt Advisors bankruptcy attorney may administer what is called, “The Means Test.” This, among other factors, will help determine what kind of debt you have, how much, when the debt incurred, what the purpose was, who made the purchase, etc. During the calculation of consumer debt, both spouses and debt incurred by children living in the home will be included. There are some surprises too, like the fact that medical bills are usually classified as non-consumer debts.

When filing bankruptcy, the determination of which debts are business or consumer can get a little tricky. Hire an experienced consumer bankruptcy attorney to ensure that your bankruptcy is filed correctly the first time. Your attorney will conduct a thorough debt analysis and cover all the bases to avoid any potential bankruptcy disputes in court. (The bankruptcy trustee and court will review each debt closely, and you will need the appropriate documentation.) Ask for our free consultation to get information you are looking for right now.  Bankruptcy may turn out to be the best financial decision you have made regarding oustanding consumer debt.

Can Bankruptcy Help Identity Theft?

identity-theft-and-bankruptcy

Last year nearly 500,000 complaints of identity theft were reported to the Federal Trade Commission.  Anyone with a social security number could be a potential target for identity theft.  You may be surprised to hear that of the complaints filed, more than 20,000 involved minors.  All identity theft is a loss, but one of the most difficult to deal with is identity theft of a minor.  Kids are prime targets; they don’t apply for credit for years, and they have a clean social security number to work with.  If your minor child has become a victim of identity theft, file a police report, and report the issue to both the Consumer Protection Bureau and Federal Trade Commission.

 

The FTC has also released a report outlining the current situation in America regarding identity theft.  Here are the interesting points noted:

  • -Id theft pertaining to wage or tax dollars is reported at the highest rate, representing 46%
  • -Credit card fraud comes in second at 16%
  • -Identity theft can negatively affect your credit score
  • -Military members are a prime target due to the ease of obtaining   personal social security numbers
  • -Children are at risk, although it may go unnoticed for many years

 

Protect your Family from Fraud

When data breaches happen, they can place the private information of people at risk.  With access to so much information, and security moving too slowly to protect it, the internet is an identity thieves dream come true.  Besides fraud alerts, consumers should also frequently check credit reports.  If the theft goes too long, victims of stolen identity can find themselves in a real uphill battle trying to prove to credit agencies that charges were not made by someone other than themselves.  Identity theft is a growing problem that in the most severe cases leaves people feeling helpless.  At some point, no amount of time or money is enough to reverse the damage that has already been done.  One thing you can do to protect yourself and family is to place a “fraud alert” on credit profiles.  For a minor child, submit request for all credit agencies to place a “security freeze” on accounts until the child is at least 18 years of age.  Wisconsin in one of many states who allow credit freezes for minors.  If you have already become a victim, hire a reputable bankruptcy lawyer to provide the guidance and resources that you will need at a time like this.

 

Debt Dischargeable in Ch. 7 Bankruptcy

The great news about bankruptcy is that credit card debt and most other unsecured consumer debts are dischargeable in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.  If you’ve experienced identity theft, it’s likely that there are multiple unsecured debts involved including some you have not yet been made aware of.  Once the petition is filed for Chapter 7, creditors will no longer be able to harass you about these debts.  You and your bankruptcy lawyer will work together to uncover and gather information.  Resolving all of your debt issues through the bankruptcy code will be less expensive and quicker than trying to tackle them one by one.  After it’s all said and done, your credit score can begin to improve and you can begin to rebuild your life.  More tips on how to rebuild credit after bankruptcy. #debtadvisors

Ins and Outs of Debt Collection and Consumer Rights

 

questions about bankruptcy, consumer rights, credit card debt, wisconsin consumer laws

 

Credit card companies, hospitals, schools, utility companies, banks, or even payday loan stores extend services and credit to nearly everyone, but not everyone is able to return payment.  Although the intentions of consumers may be to pay back each line of credit; a job loss, illness or other life event that prevents us from working can make this very difficult.  Millions of Americans are contacted by debt collectors each year.  State and federal agencies are receiving more complaints about unfair or deceptive practices than any other part of the consumer financial system. 

Accumulation of Debt:  Families with children under eighteen, those without health insurance, and those that have experienced more than two months of unemployment are more likely to hold a credit card balance.  Credit Card Debt Statistics  Once any type of debt becomes overdue, the very companies that extended credit and asked for your business will become focused on collections.  If the company is not successful in obtaining payment for past due amounts, or if a payment plan has not been established, they may hire a third-party “debt buyer agency” to collect for a percentage of the original debt value.

Wisconsin Consumer Rights:  If a third-party debt collection agency is contacting you on behalf of a creditor, it can be helpful to know the statute of limitation that applies to your specific debts. If the statute of limitation has expired, a debt collector cannot sue to collect.  Any debtor has the right to obtain “verification” of the debt and to dispute it.  This and other laws are part of “The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.”   The FDCPA and the Wisconsin Consumer Act has protected Wisconsin consumers from abusive and harassing debt collection tactics for more than forty years.

 FDCPA Violations:  There are many examples of debt collector abuse that are considered FDCPA violations.  For example, collectors must identify themselves and accurately identify the agency that they represent.  They cannot ask you to pay more than what is owed, threaten, or use profanity or violence.  They can’t ask for interest, fees or expenses that are not allowed by law, or call repeatedly or before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m.  If any other violation of the FDCPA occurs, consumers have the right to sue the debt collector for damages.

Debt Collector Defense:  Once a creditor or a debt collector begins to contact you, keep records of each call including caller name and other important details.  Save all mail and emails, and ask them not to call you at work.  If you decide at some point to sue creditors for harassment, your records will be a valuable asset.  Next, contact an attorney who is familiar with Wisconsin debt collection laws and the elimination of debt.

Contact a Debt Lawyer:  Feeling that you have been harassed or deceived by a debt collector is a justifiable reason to seek the advice of an attorney.  Debt Advisors Law Offices offers a free consultation with a lawyer to discuss your experiences, financial circumstances, and options such as an “automatic stay” to stop harassment calls immediately.   Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy have helped thousands of Wisconsin Residents get back on their feet after a tough financial crisis.  The lawyers at Debt Advisors will be upfront and honest regarding whether or not the bankruptcy process is right for you.  The sooner you speak to an attorney about your particular situation, the sooner the calls can stop, and the sooner you can get back to living peacefully again.

Medical Diagnosis Often Precedes Financial Problems

mydebtMany recent studies have been done over recent years to determine who files and why. Most people who file bankruptcy carry some form of medical insurance, have an education, and are employed. Research findings repeatedly conclude that un affordable healthcare services lead to medical bills that cannot be paid; a common situation that explains why many people seek bankruptcy.

Rising medical costs lead to bankruptcy; especially for the young.

A medical diagnosis or catastrophic medical event is a sudden and unexpected life event that often precedes financial problems. Younger cancer patients have the highest bankruptcy rates. This is because younger patients are more likely to have debt burdens such as student loans, starting business costs, new home purchase, raising young families, etc. Combine these indicators with fewer assets and little or no supplemental income. Soon, it will become clear why younger people diagnosed with cancer are more susceptible to bankruptcy than older folks. To benefit most from the bankruptcy filing process, seek advice from a lawyer who specializes in bankruptcy. Most initial consultations are free. Eliminating financial burdens will allow all expendable energy to be focused on a positive healing process.

Medical bills are only a hurdle.

When you or a loved one is diagnosed with a medical condition such as cancer, the diagnosis itself is devastating. The ultimate manifestation of a diagnosis like this can become economic hardship. However, the medical bills that have accumulated should only be viewed as a hurdle. While a medical team is aiding in your physical needs, allow a reputable legal team to assist in resolving your financial ailments.

Filing bankruptcy is a positive and optimistic fresh start.

Already overwhelmed by debt? Need to improve credit scores and regain financial independence?Beyond the stereotypes and misconceptions, filing bankruptcy is an affordable resolution that can eliminate most types of debt, including debt incurred from medical bills. Filing bankruptcy provides the launch pad of positive actions necessary to regain control of finances, build back your credit score, and focus on health.

Find an experienced bankruptcy law firm

Filing for bankruptcy can become an expensive and complex process if not handled correctly. Only an experienced Wisconsin bankruptcy law firm will be prepared for the task. The bankruptcy attorneys at Debt Advisors are fair, honest, considerate, compassionate about your diagnosis and helpful in these types of financial situations. They will present all of your options, steer you in the right direction. The most difficult part is making the call for your free consultation. 888-997-4917

Chapter 128 Wisconsin Bankruptcy Alternative

Chapter 128 Wisconsin Bankruptcy AlternativeOverwhelmed by debt? Making the necessary changes to take back control of finances is a key step, but sometimes easier said than done. If you’ve tried everything in your power, and still find yourself becoming further and further in debt, get the facts about your options. Rest assured, there is help available to you. It can be as simple as just reaching out. Make the call today and get some helpful advice. 888-997-4917

Doing Nothing, Fixes Nothing
If you are becoming further in debt, don’t let the fear of bankruptcy overcome the reality of the situation. Sure, bankruptcy could affect your credit score. However, the beauty of filing bankruptcy is that it provides a fresh start. This way, you’ll actually have a real chance at building back credit scores. Without some kind of action, your credit score will likely continue to fall due to missed payments, defaults, repossessions and potential lawsuits. Never discount bankruptcy as a realistic, reliable, and attainable solution because for many…it is just that.

Filing Bankruptcy in Wisconsin
Filing bankruptcy has been a life-saver for many Wisconsin residents. Financial relief can be obtained in as little as 3-6 months with a Chapter 7. You do lose your credit cards, but they’re likely a burden anyway, and you’ll be able to obtain new ones in as early as a year. There many other advantages to filing chapter 7 that most people are not aware of. For example, many personal property items are exempt, and you’ll get to hold on to the wages you earn and the property purchased after you have filed. Keep in mind that nothing will remove student loan debts, but filing bankruptcy may free up money in other areas to make your life a whole lot easier. Chapter 7 can only be filed once every six years; chapter 13 or chapter 128 may continue to be options in-between, if necessary.

Bankruptcy Alternative – Wisconsin Debt Relief
Chapter 128 is a decades old state-law debtor action, with a bankruptcy sounding label, although it is not bankruptcy. Chapter 128 may work well for someone who has more debt than they can handle, but can still repay with minimal help in structuring a plan. With Chapter 128, the debtor bypasses filing bankruptcy for a different course of action which includes debt repayment;forcing most creditors to accept monthly payments for as long as three years, and stopping interest from accruing on debts.Nearly any type of unsecured debt can be included in a section 128.21, although larger amounts for home and car loans often have monthly payments that are too big for debtors to be included. At the onset of the process, an automatic stay also goes into effect against creditors who are subject to the jurisdiction of the state of Wisconsin. Unlike bankruptcy, a chapter 128 debtor must repay all debts noted on their individual plan. (No debts are discharged through section 128.21.)

Debt Advisors Law Offices
If you’re interested in learning more about bankruptcy or Chapter 128, consult with a bankruptcy lawyer who understands the different roles of the debtor, creditors, attorney and trustee. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can clearly explain the differences between state debt relief and federal options. They will review your individual circumstances and provide the best option for you and your family. Request a free debt advisors consultation.