New Law Amends part of Wisconsin Consumer Act

New Law Amends part of WisconsinThe collecting, buying and selling of debt has become a multi-billion-dollar industry.  Debt Collectors will do whatever it takes to collect a debt. Sometimes called “debt buyers,” these organizations purchase charge-off debts for pennies on the dollar then often repackage and resell the debt, or portions of the debt to other agencies or firms to make more profit. The result of changing owners several times is the loss of important details associated with the original credit document.  In the event that a debtor is sued, it can be very difficult to track and verify original creditors, account numbers, dates, etc.  The FTC has made state recommendations which would essentially make it easier for debtors to verify the debts they are potentially being sued for. (Name and terms of the original creditor, last 4 digits of original account number, amount and date of the original default or charge-off, and amount currently due including principal, interest and fees.)
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Wisconsin Consumer Act Revised:  As of March 1st, 2016 parts of the Wisconsin Consumer Act have changed, but not enough to appease the FTC’s recommendations to fully protect the debtor.  For example, the new Wisconsin law does not require creditors to provide the original account number, the default or charge-off dates, or the terms of the original contract.  In addition, “specific itemization” is not required in the new law.  Many consumer advocates are disappointed in the new law because these missing details will continue to hurt consumers in the event that they are sued.

Bankruptcy Attorney Chad Schomburg:  “The Wisconsin legislator did not make the Wisconsin law strict enough on debt buyers or collection agencies.  They still have only minimal requirements when filing lawsuits against consumers, making it very confusing as to what debts they are actually collecting on.  The debtors then do not have much recourse under the Wisconsin Consumer Act.  They might be better off seeking protection through the Federal Consumer Protection Act, or more importantly, through bankruptcy.”

Debt Advisors Law Offices: Your situation may or may not benefit from bankruptcy.  To find out what your best options are, call Debt Advisors Law Offices at 414-755-2400 or find us online at   For your convenience, we offer six Wisconsin locations.  The attorneys at Debt Advisors are experienced in dealing with credit agencies, and will steer you in the right direction.

Correlation between Home Sales, Home Foreclosures, and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

MARCH 2In February, The National Association of Realtors posted a report stating that the home sales index rose 3.5 percent, the highest level since July of 2015. Although Midwestern states such as Wisconsin are in the middle of winter, sales surged ahead of the traditional Spring buying season. Rising home costs, fewer homes for sale, and higher expectations from lenders, had many thinking that sales would decrease. However, the opposite may be true, as the February numbers suggest a stronger than expected launch into Spring.


Foreclosure Crisis

Even the most optimistic of buyers can’t help to be a little cautious because in this fast-moving marketplace, things can change very quickly. It wasn’t that long ago that our nation experienced a major foreclosure crisis. Back in the early 2000’s, mortgage interest rates were very low. Buyers were able to borrow more money, and purchase bigger homes than what they would normally qualify for. Banks were largely basing their loans on the assumption that home prices would continue to rise. The assumptions were toxic and didn’t work as planned. Although most of the homes that were lost to foreclosure crisis were considered prime, the sub-prime borrowers did tend to default at a higher rate. Because the sub-prime loans were often sketchy, many experts blamed the crisis on sub-prime lending. However, other experts argue that a variety of stressful economic factors such as unemployment played a larger role. In any case, a crisis can happen at any time, to anyone, when particular conditions are present.

Stop Foreclosure

Foreclosure is the legal process whereby a bank or mortgage takes the real estate title, due to the homeowner’s failure to make mortgage payments. Although the foreclosure crisis may be over, and the market is showing some optimistic progression, hundreds of thousands of homeowners across the U.S. continue to find keeping up with mortgage payments a struggle. This is why our message is so important; if you are facing foreclosure, there are options available that could save your home.
Chapter 7, otherwise known as ‘liquidation bankruptcy,’ will allow you to eliminate a deficiency balance owed to your mortgage company, if your home is sold for less than the outstanding balance owed to the mortgage company. However, Chapter 7 will not provide the opportunity to catch up with over-due mortgage payments and will not provide the long-term protection that a Chapter 13 can.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Rising interest rates and the fragile balance of our economy makes foreclosure a real threat. For many people, Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be a very powerful tool that stops foreclosure and saves your home. In fact, Chapter 13 is the driving force behind many bankruptcy petitions. Generally, Chapter 13 must be filed before the mortgage company sells your home, but as soon as you file Chapter 13, the “automatic stay” goes into effect. This stops the mortgage company from foreclosing on your home. For more information on how bankruptcy can stop foreclosure, get first-hand advice from a bankruptcy attorney. Contact Debt Advisors Law Offices directly for a free consultation, while time is still on your side. 414-755-2400.

Basic Facts Regarding Bankruptcy and Paying Taxes

paintTaxes are a part of our government body, created to support a framework of opportunity for people, families, and local communities. Here’s another fact: Our forefathers had incorporated bankruptcy into the constitution. Sure, the laws regarding bankruptcy have been tweaked over the years, but it has always been part of this country’s history. Thankfully, bankruptcy protection has expanded from businesses to also include individuals who are struggling to get out of debt.


Sound financial decisions
Whether we look at how the government spends our money, or at how we spend our money; it’s important to recognize where we have the most control in order to make the most of our lives. Good intentions do not equal good design. If throwing more money into a deficit isn’t fixing the problem, you may need new plan to eliminate the debt. One can absolutely take control of personal debt that has spiraled out of control. Bankruptcy law eliminates certain debts so that a new plan and a fresh start can be established. Basic tax returns are pretty cut and dry but if you’ve filed bankruptcy, are in the in the middle of a bankruptcy, or are considering a bankruptcy…you may have some questions about how it would or could potentially affect your tax returns.

A Few Things to Note Regarding Bankruptcy and Paying Taxes
• Bankruptcy or discharge of debt is not considered taxable income.
• With Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you’re still required to file an individual tax return. There are special considerations and options that your attorney will review with you.
• With a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you’re also required to file your tax return as usual.
• Some taxes may be dis-chargeable in bankruptcy, but discharge of tax debt depends upon the details and circumstances of your personal bankruptcy case. Your bankruptcy attorney can clarify this for you.
• While in bankruptcy, you can receive tax refunds. But, they could potentially be delayed or used to pay down tax debt fees. Your bankruptcy lawyer can help determine if this applies to your case or not.
• Filing bankruptcy will not stop a tax audit.

If you have found yourself considering bankruptcy, don’t think about it as a failure, but as an opportunity to start new again.

You’re not alone, filing Bankruptcy happens and it’s a not the end…but a new beginning. The bankruptcy process is not complicated if you hire an experienced bankruptcy law firm. The best advice regarding bankruptcy and filing tax returns is to consult your bankruptcy lawyer if you have filed for a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. If you are considering filing bankruptcy, consult a bankruptcy attorney. Legal processes such as bankruptcy depend greatly on each individual set of circumstances. Debt Advisors Law Offices offers a free initial consultation to evaluate your situation and steer you in the right direction. Pay taxes responsibly; don’t risk having to pay penalties, fees and interest on unpaid taxes. Contact the IRS directly for tax-related questions that do not involve bankruptcy.

Could Federal Interest Rate Hike Cause more Foreclosures?

Rate Hike CauseAlthough nobody knew exactly when it was going to happen, the Federal rate increase last month had been predicted by financial markets for some time now. It’s the first increase since 2006, and the first time the Feds have implemented any rate hike since the most recent recession. (Federal Reserve interest rates went from a range of 0% to .25% to a new range of .25% to .5%.)There was instant chatter about more rate hikes to follow, possibly as soon as March of 2016. However, more recently, traders anticipate the next hike may not be until early 2017. The current rate hike appears minimal, but many still wonder if the economy is strong enough to handle even a small rise.

Rate hike may push homeowners into foreclosure

The housing market is supported by more than low mortgage rates, yet some home-buyers may still find it more difficult to get approved for a new home loan. Millions of American home owners and home buyers are uncertain about how this most recent federal rate increase will affect them both short and long-term. Some current owners fear that a small increase will equate to significantly more money taken from their wallets. Other consumers speculate higher interest will have minimal personal impact and a mostly positive mark on the economy. Chief economists and market strategist also have varying opinions. Some say that the increase is so small that it will have a very gradual and nearly unnoticed impact on mortgage rates. Other experts say higher rates could mean as many as one in five homeowners may face losing their homes.

Bankruptcy can save your home

Free financial advice from Attorney Chad Schomburg of Debt Advisors Law Offices.

The increasing cost of buying a home means fewer people will qualify for a mortgage loan. The larger problem may involve those who already own a home, especially those who have an adjustable rate mortgage, or those that may have taken out a home equity line of credit. It may be too soon to know what the full financial impact will be, but one thing is for sure, higher interest payments and financial pressure from many different angles may put your home at risk of foreclosure. If you find yourself facing foreclosure, don’t wait too long. (Don’t throw in the towel too quickly either.)How will you know what to do? Talk to a Debt Advisors Bankruptcy Attorney about your options. The consultation is free. If you qualify, Chapter 13 bankruptcy could save your home from foreclosure.

How to ensure your online shopping is safe & secure

How do I know an online site is safe to enter my credit card information?

When browsing online to make a purchase, there are easy things that you can look for that will reassure you that the website you’re on is secure.  Any site that asks for personal information should have an added layer of security between the browser and the website you’re connected to.  Before doing any kind of online banking or entering any kind of personal information, (including your name, contact info and or credit card information), be sure to look at the URL, or address for the site across the top of your computer screen or mobile, and ensure that you see “HTTPS.”  Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome will also display a “padlock” icon in the address bar to indicate the HTTPS connection.   On another note, reputable retailers and banks will NOT allow pop-ups advertising phony products or services, and you should easily be able to find a site privacy statement and return policy if applicable.

Good debt Vs bad debt

Borrowing money isn’t always a bad thing, it can actually be considered a good debt if it allows you to manage your finances more effectively.  Some examples of this could be investments in future earnings, taking out a mortgage, healthcare expenses or borrowing for a business expense.  Be cautious however, of online spending; it’s far too easy to spend beyond our financial means.  Credit card balances are bad debts that accumulate high interest charges.  The only way to avoid interest charges is to pay off the balance before the end of the current billing cycle.  Payday loans are also a form of bad debt.  If paying off a credit card balance in less than 3o days is not possible, or if you need to take out a payday loan, reconsider the long-term effects.  It’s always a better option to pay with cash, and you will spend less, avoid debt, and maintain your financial well-being.

Debit card vs credit card

DASometimes it’s difficult to see the visual differences between a debit and credit card, but the transactional process between the two is very different.  One comes directly from your banking account, the other is borrowed money.  To clarify, the amount of protection offered by both cards is essentially identical, as mandated by law.  However, because of the way debit cards are structured, unauthorized use can cause major havoc on your personal finances and take a long time to work through with your bank.  Credit card companies are quicker to alert suspected fraudulent behavior, and also offer some additional protections such as:  Disputing rights on a purchase, sometimes an extended warranty, property insurance, etc.

In financial trouble?  Find the help you need by scheduling a free, no obligation consultation with a Wisconsin bankruptcy attorney

Good money management and financial well-being

Good money managementand financial well-beingWe aren’t born with the natural ability to manage money, it is a learned skill.  Good money management is about commitment and true desire to want to live within your means and avoid bad debt.  Learning new money management skills has no age-limit. However, the best place to begin is at home.  Teach your kids about fiscal responsibility while they’re young, and prior to college.  Because each individual has their own needs and circumstances, balancing budgets and building a saving plan can mean something different to each person.

Typically, good money management is a combination of behaviors:

  • Setting reasonable budgets
  • Prioritizing needs over wants
  • Saving for short-term emergencies
  • Making legitimate plans to become debt-free
  • Having honest evaluations regarding spending
  • Starting a savings account and saving for the long-term
  • Seeking help when debt becomes out of your control

Setting budgets is placed first in order, and for good reason.  If done on a regular basis, the process of recording money coming in and money going out, forces a constant evaluation and allows the possibility for goals to be met.  We recommend creating a monthly budget for your household.  If you don’t have one, contact Debt Advisorsfor a “free budget worksheet template. One of the biggest mistakes that can happen when creating a budget is to make the budget so tight, that it’s nearly impossible to maintain.  Remember that budgets should be realistic and includes financial goals which are attainable.


Live within means.Here is an example:  Taking out student loans equal to your expected annual income may not be all that bad, but throw in a few credit cards and the story changes.Simply stated, “living within your means” is having a plan, making good financial choices, budgeting and planning based upon how much income you have.  We should all aim to become good stewards of our money.  The holiday season is an especially difficult time to do this.  Although most people say that the holidays are about spending time with family and friends, many also overspendon gifts.  Credit cards make the problem of overspending even more tempting.  Money alone isn’t the solution, nor is it the answer for living within our means because over-spending can be a potential issue for anyone, at any income level.  (From the less fortunate, to a millionaire athlete…anyone can make money mistakes.)  Take control of your finances and find peace of mind, even during the holidays.


What do you do when you have more debt than income? Sometimes, even while putting forth our best efforts, bad things can happen in life. In a short time, having more debt than income can potentially lead to a desperate financial situation.  There is a difference between good debt and bad debt.Given time, resources and goals, there’s almost always a solutionfor every debt issue.  The key is not to procrastinate because the longer you wait to make and execute a plan, the more that debt is going to grow.


If you find yourself overloaded with debt, consider Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.  Regain control over your finances and even rebuild credit. Contact Debt Advisors Law Offices for a free, no-obligation consultation today.


Consumer money scam targets bankruptcy filers

Predators target millions of people every year through fraudulent behavior and scams that intend to steal money from innocent people.  Unfortunately, many scams target the vulnerable in society, such as the elderly or financially burdened.  Some scams are so slick that they are able to fool even the most intelligent, on-guard, and cautious person.  Internet scams have opened a new realm of security concerns but let’s face it; those who are looking to steal your money will use a variety of techniques and tools to try and fool you.  scam

Visit USA.Gov for how to spot Common Consumer Scams and Fraud:

  • Financial Fraud
  • Pyramid Schemes
  • Telephone Scams
  • Charity Scams
  • Lottery Scams
  • Tax-Related Identity Theft

New Scam targets bankruptcy filers across the United States

Recently, phone scammers have targeted bankruptcy filers using software that is so sophisticated it even fools caller id.  Often the calls are made outside of business hours so that the victim cannot call their attorney to verify legitimacy. The bankruptcy phone scam in the news this week claims to know personal information about the bankruptcy filing and sometimes poses as an attorney asking for money to satisfy a debt.

The attorneys at Debt Advisors Law Offices in Wisconsin are doing their part to inform the community of this real financial threat.  Be on alert and fully aware that a scam could show up on your doorstep, potentially come through the mail, internet email, texting, phone calls, or delivered through the U.S. Mail.  In addition, “under no circumstances” would they phone a client to request personal information over the phone, nor would they threaten legal action if money isn’t wired to resolve an unpaid debt.

Report a scam complaint

Report scamming or other fraudulent activities to your local law enforcement.  An excellent resource for determining the appropriate federal agency to report cases or complaints can be found at STOPFRAUD.GOV.  The Federal Trade Commission website can also be referenced regarding phone scams in particular.


Top 10 strategies to avoid excess student loan debt

daBLOGStudent Loan debt is in the news, and on the minds of many Americans.  This month, The Federal Housing Administration, (FHA), added to the misery of student loan debt problems by making it more difficult for first-time homebuyers to make a down-payment which is required to establish a home loan.  Essentially, the FHA changes now require two percent of student loan debt to be calculated in an applicant’s debt-to-income, DTI, ratio.

Here aresome things that can be done to avoid overwhelming student loan debt, before it becomes an issue.

#1           Remember, not all college degrees are created equal.  During High School, start researching degrees vs careers and ensure that what you’re considering to pursue in college will be a legitimate way to earn a decent living, provide enough income to support your desired lifestyle, and to pay off any student loans.

#2           Of course you want to encourage your kids to “follow their passion.”  However, some interests make better hobbies than careers!  Is college right for your child?  Weigh your options and choose the best case scenario.

#3           Apply for every student scholarship you can gets your hands on.  Get organized, and hit them hard. Hard work and dedication to this incentive will pay itself off…and then some.

#4           Encourage your college bound student to live at home while going to school.  Sure, the ‘college experience’ may be hampered by living at home, but the long-term benefits of saving “cost of living expenses,” are huge.  Pull together numbers and face the facts directly.

#5           Encourage part-time work during college.  There are many jobs offered right on campus in both public and private colleges.  Help them start a savings account and begin to build credit.  Although they may be living at home, they should still adhere to a college student’s budget and learn financial responsibility.

#6           BUT, don’t work so much that it extends an early graduation date.  The quicker you can obtain your college degree, the better!  Stay focused and informed.  Don’t take an entire summer off, try reducing credit hours instead.  Plan your classes in advance to see when the courses you need are available.  Talk to a guidance counselor at school.

#7           At minimum, try to pay upfront for books each semester.  Opt for online books instead of hard copies whenever possible.  Visit used book stores and look for ads from other students who are hoping to sell their used books.  Google the book needed and see if there are other alternative options that will save some cash.

#8           Try to take out loans for only what is absolutely needed.   Banks will often offer more, and that extra money can be tempting.  Don’t spend borrowed money, and if you can pay for any percentage of your classes upfront, do it.

#9           Ask your lender if you can earn a performance bonus,or performance credit based upon good grades.  If you qualify, be sure to place it right back into your student loan.  It’s not easy to do, but you’ll be happy you did.

#10         Students should choose online books instead of hard copies whenever possible.  Visit used book stores and look for ads from other students who are hoping to sell their used books.  Google the book needed and see if there are other alternative options that will save some cash.  Some professors and counselors may also be of assistance.

We all make mistakes, and sometimes, life just happens!  If you find yourself in financial trouble, just know that there is hope.  Contact a reputable local bankruptcy attorney who can discuss the possibility of a bankruptcy or non-bankruptcy options.

10 tips to save you money while back to school shopping in Wisconsin

blog augustSchool supplies are needed, money is tight and time is running short!  It’s the end of August and the new school year is upon us.  If you have K12 to college-aged students in your household, you know how school supplies can add up and cause a financial strain.  Statistics show that parents spend an average of $60-$100 per student for kids under eighteen years of age, and even more for each college student. (The yearly books-and-supplies estimate for the average full-time undergraduate student at a four-year public college is about $1,200.)

If you live in a state that offers tax-free weeks or weekends for back to school shopping, August is actually one of the best months to purchase the basics like shoes, clothes and supplies.  Tax-free weeks or weekends are supported by more than a dozen other states, but unfortunately, Wisconsin is not one of them.  There are bills which have been proposed at our Wisconsin Capitol to spare parents the 5.5% sales tax, but none have passed yet.  Individual stores in Wisconsin may offer a tax-break incentive, but with no statewide collaboration, it’s really difficult to know who is offering the incentive, and when.  Your best option is to approach back to school shopping with a strategy to prevent overspending.

Here are 10 tips that may save you money while back to school shopping in Wisconsin:

  1. Always budget for back to school expenses. (Reference last year’s amount to structure this year’s budget.)
  2. Sometimes drug and grocery stores have the best deals, so watch for common items throughout the summer during regular shopping trips.
  3. For the rest of the supplies; don’t buy until you know what you need. (Schools will provide a list.)
  4. Watch your Sunday paper and local advertisements for coupons and incentives.
  5. Go online before you head out. Find out what the average prices are for each item so you know if you’re getting a good deal or not.
  6. Try to get all of your supplies at one or two stores. (Gas and time cost money too!)
  7. Buy in bulk if you can. (Team up with another parent if needed.)
  8. Recycle and reuse where possible.
  9. Wait until school starts. If you’re already running short on time, buy only the very basic needs and wait a bit longer for the rest.  (Stores that start to clearance after school starts to make room for holiday items.)
  10. Low income people should seek assistance. There are resources for finding free or reduced supplies.  (Such as The United Way, County Volunteer Services, Churches, Optimist Clubs, Schools, Hope Houses and more.)  Start by a simple search online for “free school supplies + your city.”


About Debt Advisors

Since 2006, Debt Advisors helped thousands of Wisconsin families get out of debt.  The benefits of bankruptcy do not exclude low-income families.  Chapter 7 may help clear your debt for a relatively low cost if you are eligible. To see if you qualify for filing bankruptcy, contact us for a free consultation at or call us at 888-660-5413 for immediate assistance.

Are auto loans driving Americans into debt?


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Unless you live in New York City, owning a vehicle has become an American necessity.  Most of us depend on wheels for commuting, transporting precious cargo, and for delivering basic living supplies to and from our homes. According to 2000 Census Data, the average household purchases ten to twelve vehicles in a lifetime.  Our vehicles provide freedom and independence; yet few people who earn the median income can afford the prices of a new car or truck.

Kelly Blue Book states that average prices for automakers’is increasing due mostly to demands of fuel efficiency and high-tech safety features.  In April 2015, the average transaction price of a new car or truck was $33,500.  Pricey trucks and SUV’s such as the Chevy Suburban and Cadillac Escalade continue to be favorites.  Observe any Milwaukee area parking lot; the majority of cars are less than 5 years old!Are we purchasing more vehiclesthan we need, and more than we can afford?Is your nice ride eating a big chunk of your paycheck?

Dealers make it easy to spend more than we can afford

Just about every TV commercial break has an auto-related ad.  The industry tempts consumers into new buying that new car when maybe it’s not really needed to begin with.  Purchasing a vehicle that doesn’t get good gas mileage because gas prices are low today means you’ll pay that much more for your commute when prices go back up.  When the market allows for it, manufacturers offer attractive loan rates to push sales,but can we really afford the long-term and full cost of the car?  Those extended loan times make the purchase appear more affordable.  (Ex: Financing for more than five years will typically allow payments under $500.)This may seem affordable, but these long-term payoffs never get the buyer to the point whereby the car is worth more than what is owed.  The 97-Month Car Loan Is The Craziest New Car-Buying Trend.

What happens to my vehicle if I file bankruptcy?

You don’t have to surrender your vehicle.  If you find yourself in financial trouble, contact an affordable bankruptcy attorney right away. They can stop repossession of your car through an automatic stay.  Your local bankruptcy attorney has the experience negotiating with auto lenders.  A good bankruptcy lawyer can also discuss the possibility of reaffirming your current car loan which may reduce car payments and allow you to both afford, and keep your vehicles.

Wisconsin Bankruptcy Attorneys

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is often referred to as a short period “liquidation” process allowing a person to discharge debts.  (The process typically takes about five months.)  Once that period is over, you will come out of Chapter 7 debt-free.  Chapter 13 also provides options to reduce your auto loan.  Debt Advisors can help you decide which direction is best for your situation, guide you through the bankruptcy process, and help you avoid common mistakes.  Begin by scheduling a free initial consultation to find out if you may qualify for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.