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Stopping Creditor Harassment

 

Not much is more stressful that feeling the heavy burden of unmanageable debt. When you add the prospect of non stop harassment by creditors on top of the burden of debt the situation becomes unbearable.  People who have been victims of creditor harassment and bill collectors know how uncomfortable it is when the phone rings, especially when it keeps rings all day long. A number of people assume there isn’t a way around being constant creditor harassment, there are provision in the law to make it stop.

What you have to do first is to realize that doing nothing will not fix the problem. The sad reality of it is that collection agencies have hundreds of staff members whose sole job is to make phone calls and harass you into paying a debt that you may not even owe. The question is, how do I make it stop?

Creditor Harassment: know your rights

You DO NOT have to accept being bullied by collection agencies. One thing you have to understand is that while they may be rude to you and harass you, you are not under their control. Don’t ever scream at them, lose your temper or threaten them; always keep a level head.

You must remember that you have rights that they absolutely must respect. There are a number of things that collectors can’t do when attempting to collect debts. They are not allowed to call before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. unless you have given them permission to reach out to you at those hours. You should always establish boundaries on the very first phone call. You also have the right to tell them they are not allowed to contact you at work or reach out to your family. Finally, and most importantly, if you wish for the calls to cease, you can tell them not to contact you.  Once you have completed the phone call send a follow up letter via certified mail asking for proof that you explained to them how they should contact you in the future. Under Federal law all notices must be in writing to retain full legal effect.

You are protected by the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act. Under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, creditors are not legally allowed to do the following:

  • Repeatedly call you
  • Call you at unreasonable hours or late at night
  • Call your employer if you’ve told them not to
  • Call without identifying who they are
  • Contact your friends, family or neighbors unless you give them permission
  • Employ deceptive tactics
  • Threaten you with child custody, arrest, or loss of welfare benefits
  • Threaten with self-help repossession when not authorized by the law
  • Use derogatory, obscene, or insulting remarks
  • Directly contact you after you’ve told them to call your lawyer instead

Always make sure you receive proof of debt

Don’t just assume that you owe a debt to someone just because a debt collector has called you. The cold hard truth is that you should never pay the collector anything until they can prove that you actually owe the debt. Debt collectors often try this tactic to scare people into paying a debt by mistake. If the company calling you is unable to provide you with real proof of the debt you can simply tell them to stop calling you. .

I would even go so far as to say that even if you are pretty sure that you owe the debt, make them prove it to you anyways. As I have previously stated, sometimes debt collectors try to collect on fraudulent debt. Additionally, third party debt collectors often buy debt without ever receiving proof that someone owes it. This situation gives you a huge leg up and can often times result in you not having to pay the debt.

You should always be honest. If there isn’t any way you can pay the debt tell the person who called you the truth. If you think there may be a time when you’ll have some money then give them an estimated time when you might be able to pay. By doing this you could eliminate the incessant phone calls.

You can try to make a deal

There are some creditors that are not impossible to work with.  They may be inclined to make a deal with you. Some companies may allow you to make small payments over time or they may forgive a portion of the debt they say you owe if you’re willing to pay right then.  Generally speaking, third party companies are usually more willing to work with you since they often buy debt in bulk for much less than it was previously worth.

If all else fails, see a lawyer

If you feel you’re a victim of creditor harassment and you can’t find a way to get them to stop contact the Attorneys at Harmon & Gorove today.  We can assist you in filing bankruptcy so that your creditors will stop harassing you, ruining your credit and garnishing your wages.

Timing Bankruptcy: How Often Can I file?

Timing Bankruptcy is very important and can have an impact on when and what types of cases you can file. The first thing you must realize is that there isn’t a set number of times a person can file for bankruptcy in their life, if you’re eligible to file, you can do it.  Just because you CAN file 5 or more times in your life, doesn’t mean you can actually get what is called a discharge of your debts. A discharge is the complete and total wipe out of your debt that comes upon completing a bankruptcy.

The biggest thing you must consider if you have to file for bankruptcy more than once in you life is timing bankruptcy correctly. If you completed a previous bankruptcy, whether it was a 7 or a 13, you have to wait a certain amount of time before you can receive a discharge in another bankruptcy. There are a number of factors that determine when and if you can file another bankruptcy and receive a discharge:

  • Which type of bankruptcy you file previously
  • When you filed the bankruptcy (ie. what date)
  • Whether your bankruptcy was completed (discharged), dismissed (voluntarily or involuntarily) or dismissed with prejudice (you can’t file bankruptcy again for a set period of time because of something you might have done.)

There are restrictions on timing bankruptcy as well.  When or whether you are eligible to discharge your debt again depends on whether you filed a 7 or a 13, when you filed that case, whether you received a discharge in that case and what kind of bankruptcy you want to file now.

  • If you file a Chapter 7 and want to file another Chapter 7: If you have filed a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and received a discharge, you must wait 8 years to the day of the date you last filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.  In other words, if you filed a Chapter 7 on May 1, 2010, you wouldn’t be eligible for another Chapter 7 until May 1, 2018.
  • If you file a Chapter 13 and want to file another Chapter 13: If you complete a Chapter 13 case and your debts are discharged you must wait 2 years from the date that your previous Chapter 13 was filed in order to file for and receive a discharge in a new Chapter 13.  This usually isn’t an issue though because it takes a minimum of 36 months to complete a Chapter 13 Plan. Generally speaking, you can file for a new Chapter 13 case pretty much immediately after your first Chapter 13 is closed.
  • If you file a Chapter 7 and want to file a Chapter 13: If you filed a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and received a discharge, you can file a Chapter 13 case and be eligible for a discharge if the case is filed at least 4 years after the date you first filed your Chapter 7. One important thing to keep in mind is the fact that if you file a Chapter 13 after you complete a Chapter 7 and are discharged, you can still use a Chapter 13 to get caught up on debts that are of a high priority like mortgage deficiencies or missed auto loan payments even if you aren’t eligible for a discharge.
  • If you file a Chapter 13 and want to file a Chapter 7: If you completed your Chapter 13 case and received a discharge, you must wait 6 years from the date your Chapter 13 was filed before you may obtain a discharge in a Chapter 7 case.  There is an exception to this rule though. If your previous Chapter 13 was a 100% case, meaning that you paid your unsecured creditors back in full you may be eligible for a discharge in a Chapter 7.

The only way to know for sure which type of Bankruptcy you are eligible for and if timing bankruptcy correctly is in your interest is to speak with a competent and compassionate Newnan Georgia bankruptcy attorney. Our attorneys at Harmon & Gorove can offer you a completely free consultation in a judgement free and comfortable environment. We can review your current financial status and tell you exactly what would work best for your situation.  Whether it is a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, Chapter 13 Bankruptcy or no bankruptcy at all.  We always look out of the best interest of our clients.  If you think Bankruptcy can help get your finances back on track, contact our office to schedule a free consultation today.

 

Someone Told Me I Can’t File Bankruptcy…

Today, so many people are worried that once they have decided to seek help someone might tell them they can’t file bankruptcy.  Whether it is the judge, a trustee or a creditor, They fear that someone might reject their bankruptcy petition all together or tell them they can’t file bankruptcy and put the right back at square one.  The long and short of it is that the chances of this happening are very very slim. This is why you hired an attorney to begin with. Trying to file a case “pro se” might lead you down a road full of serious legal problems, but filing with an attorney is definitely the right choice.  Your attorney’s job is to guide you through the process and make sure that your situation is fully vetted. The attorney will know your entire situation so that when your bankruptcy petition is filed with the court you will be in full and complete compliance with the bankruptcy code and the local rules set out in each judge’s courtroom. Whether it is a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your attorney will make sure that it is smooth sailing through the bankruptcy process.  

Like I stated earlier, the road is usually smooth and clear when you hire an experienced Newnan Georgia Bankruptcy Attorney. The only time you might find yourself facing problems in your bankruptcy is when you don’t disclose your entire financial history up front to your attorney and the court.  Your mother probably used to tell you that honesty is the best policy and if she did, she was right. That proverb holds true in Bankruptcy as well. You have to tell your attorney everything that’s going on in your financial life.  Whether you had a car accident and have the potential to recover money from it, you’re going through a divorce or you are being sued for something that you may be liable for, you have to disclose this to your attorney from the start.  Your attorney is best able to serve you when they have to complete and total picture of your financial situation. When that is the case, your attorney can almost always guarantee smooth sailing all the way through your bankruptcy case.  

If you are behind on your bills, being harassed by creditors or just feel like there’s no way you’re going to get ahead, make an appointment today with one of our compassionate and experienced bankruptcy attorneys at Harmon & Gorove. We will work with you to get you a fresh start in your financial life and get your credit back on track after bankruptcy.  

 

Positive Aspects of Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy has the ability to solve a bevy of financial problems but it is often associated with negative thoughts and reactions.  When the prospect of filing bankruptcy appears on the horizon, it is easy to only see the negative. If you have determined that bankruptcy is your only way out, it is important to focus on the positive impacts that bankruptcy can have on your life.  Remember, the night is always darkest just before the dawn and there are many positive aspects of bankruptcy protection.

Yes, there are negatives to Bankruptcy

Filing for Bankruptcy protection will often stay on your credit report for a minimum of 7 years and may hang around for as long as 10 years. There is also the very real possibility that bankruptcy could make it more difficult and expensive to finance a car or a home for a few years. It likely also will be difficult to get unsecured lines of credit like personal loans and credit cards for a time after your bankruptcy. Some people also feel embarrassed for having filed bankruptcy and many put it off because they feel shame by having to resort to bankruptcy.  Let me remind you though, if you find that bankruptcy is your only way out, you should not wait to file.  There are many circumstances where bankruptcy isn’t appropriate for you and your situation but until you contact a competent Newnan, Georgia Bankruptcy Attorney, you won’t have the right information to make your decision.

But there are also many positive aspects of Bankruptcy

First things first, filing for bankruptcy will allow you to discharge your debts if you follow the bankruptcy plan. In the majority of situations, you will also be able to retain most of your property if you want to keep it.  Once you have eliminated your debt you will be free to chart your new financial future in your own way. A lot of people learn significant life lessons from the bankruptcy process and it allows you to adjust your priorities in the least painful way possible.  Bankruptcy also allows you to stop collections action through the Automatic Stay. This keeps creditors from harassing you over unpaid debts and allows you to devise a plan to tackle your debts and re-organize your life around your new financial reality. There is even the possibility that you could improve your credit score by filing for bankruptcy. In the end, perhaps the most positive aspects of bankruptcy is peace of mind and knowing your finances are getting back on track and you’re able to successfully plan for your goals and your future. Filing bankruptcy puts you back in control of you life and protects you from the actions of unscrupulous creditors.

 

 

If You Die With Debt, Here’s What Happens

When you are making your plans and enjoying the present with your loved ones you build a legacy.  One of the things that people often don’t consider when building that legacy is the debt that they may leave behind in the event that they die with debt.  Unfortunately, many of your debts can and will out live you and the people you leave behind could be affected by those debts. If you have already created a will you will likely have named an executor who will be responsible for taking care of your debts and disposing of your assets when you pass.

When I Die, What Happens to My Debts?

If you die with debt, these are the most common types of debts that can have an impact on the ones you love:

Student Loans: If your student loans were obtained from the Federal Government, they will be forgiven upon your death.  If you took out private students loans, they can recover money from your estate or from a co-signer or guarantor. In the event that your estate has exhausted its resources, the private loans will also be wiped out.

Home Loans and Mortgages: If you own a home jointly with someone else or you wish to pass your home to a loved one and you die with debt on the property, they are responsible for continuing to pay your mortgage(s) after you pass. While the government protects you from having the loan called in upon your death, the note will have to continue to be paid until those you leave behind decide what to do with the property

Car, Boat, Motorcycle Loans: If the payments on these types of loans are not made then the person who lent you the money can take possession of the vehicle.  The person you leave the vehicle to will have the option of continuing to pay on the note but there are other probate concerns that often arise with transfer of title but that is something you may need to speak with a qualified probate attorney about.

Credit Card Debt and Medical Bills: While these types of debt are not secured by collateral (a car, house, etc.) if your estate has remaining funds they can be recovered by the credit card company or medical firm.  If the estate has no remaining assets then your debts are generally wiped out. In the event that that you have a JOINT credit card account, the non-deceased person will be on the hook for the debt incurred by you.  This generally doesn’t apply to an authorized user but if the primary passes away and you do not intend to continue to pay on the credit card, you shouldn’t continue to use that card.

Taxes: If you die with debt owed to the IRS or your state department of revenue it can create a headache for those you leave behind.  If you die owing back taxes and you have filed jointly with a spouse, your spouse is liable for the entire amount of the taxes.  Additionally, the IRS can try to collect any tax debts owed from your estate, even if you did not file jointly with your spouse. The IRS does allow certain exemptions but it would be advisable at that point to consult a qualified tax attorney to discuss your options.  

These situations can be avoided

If you need to file bankruptcy, get help now. Reach out to a qualified bankruptcy attorney, tax attorney or financial planner to discuss your particular situation. Ridding yourself of debt before you pass might be a good option for you.  The best thing you can do for your loved ones is to prepare your estate so they aren’t hit with unpleasant surprises in a time of profound grief. At the very least, you should have a last will and testament in place. You should also keep those you love apprised of your financial situation.  Provide them with a list of assets and liabilities, where you keep safe deposit boxes, a list of passwords and combinations to safes and lockboxes to assist your loved ones in closing out your affairs when the time comes. While your creditors are allowed to contact your heirs about collecting on debts when you retire, they must follow the guidelines set out the the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Protecting Assets in Bankruptcy

Many people believe that bankruptcy is a sign of hitting rock bottom but they would be wrong.  Bankruptcy is a tool in the law that can be used to actually protect assets and wealth from creditors.  Many famous and wealthy people have filed and survived bankruptcy with many emerging from bankruptcy and building an even greater net worth than they had prior to filing. While you may not be a celebrity or even extremely wealthy, bankruptcy bankruptcy can be a useful financial tool to help you get back on track. Yes, being financially depleted and bankruptcy often go hand in hand but It doesn’t have to be that way.  In other words, you don’t have to wait till you’re broke in order to file bankruptcy. In fact, it would probably be a better financial decision to file before you hit rock bottom.

Don’t wipe out your savings to stave off bankruptcy

Nearly 60 percent of Americans have saved less than one thousand dollars for an emergency. It is a side effect of the rising cost of living and the stagnation of wages in this country. If you’re one of the lucky people who actually do have a savingings, it would be highly advisable to file for bankruptcy before you wipe that savings out. In many cases a good bankruptcy lawyer will be able to find a way to protect most or all of your savings, especially savings you have in retirement accounts.  Any payments you make to creditors that would otherwise be discharged in a Chapter 7 are effectively just a donation to that creditor. Beyond that, even if you wanted to pay your creditor, any payments made to a specific creditor within a certain period of time of a bankruptcy filing can also be “clawed back” by a bankruptcy trustee which negates what you were doing to begin with.

DO NOT use your retirement funds

Your retirement account is a nest egg that you and/or your spouse has been building for decades. There are extremely few circumstances where it would be advisable for you to use your retirement account to pay down short term debts.  Virtually every retirement account in use today can be exempted from the bankruptcy which means you get to retain the value of that account for its intended purpose, your retirement.  Generally speaking, it makes much more financial sense to file bankruptcy to liquidate your retirement savings.

Don’t sell off your assets

The majority of Harmon and Gorove’s clients are able to keep most or all of their assets. Harmon and Gorove’s attorneys work hard to protect your assets from the trustee and creditors. Selling your assets to pay off creditors isn’t something that you have to do in most cases.  The attorneys at Harmon and Gorove work hard to make sure that your assets stay your assets. Protecting your assets in bankruptcy does require a good deal of expertise and planning, especially if you have a good deal of assets. If you have a significant number of liquid assets or rarer assets like a cash value life insurance policy or a pending lawsuit in which you could recover money, talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. Timelines are important in bankruptcy and anything you do to delay could cause you to lose irreplaceable assets. You should always be upfront with your lawyer about what assets you have, knowing beforehand is imperative to your ability to retain your assets.

Don’t ever give up

Bankruptcy provides many people with a clean slate.  Scrambling to sell off your assets or using up your savings isn’t using your money wisely, it’s panicking and making decisions that can change your life for the worse. Most people can see the need for a bankruptcy on the horizon. The warning signs are usually there long before people hit rock bottom. If you’re facing debts that seem insurmountable you should consider speaking with an experienced bankruptcy attorney before you get to the end of your rope. The staff of Harmon and Gorove are highly trained in exemption planning and asset protection.

Don’t wait

When your Bankruptcy is concluded, you will want to have as many tools to restart your financial life as possible. Keeping your retirement account, cash savings, homes and automobiles will provide you a new and fresh means of getting ahead after a bankruptcy. If you wipe out your assets before you file bankruptcy, the fresh start that bankruptcy provides won’t be as effective and won’t give you the advantages you need to get ahead.  Contact the attorneys at Harmon and Gorove today to see how we can help you get rid of your debts and get you started down a new path to financial success.