Archive for May, 2012

Don’t File Bankruptcy!

Monday, May 21st, 2012

article  Bankruptcy Law Network

by Douglas Jacob

That’s the cry of the  “debt settlement” industry. They claim that they will help you rid yourself of debt without bankruptcy. If you avoid the  out-right crooked companies, can they do it? Sure…

But at what cost?

There are two types of these companies. One, simply takes a portion of your monthly income, negotiates with your credit card companies to stop or lower interest, and, in return, makes a monthly payment to each company. After several years of those payments your debts will be gone. Assuming, of course that you can make all the monthly payments to the credit negotiator and assuming you don’t incur any new debt. Oh yes, you’ll pay them a percentage of your income to do this – often several hundred dollars or more a year.

The other type of company takes a monthly payment from you and saves it. They notify your creditors that they are working to get them paid. Then, once they have 50% or more of the balance owed a credit card company; they negotiate to pay off the card in full for that percentage. This usually works although it’s nothing you can’t do yourself; and you are paying a monthly fee to allow the company to do this for you. Since it can take several years to raise enough money to do this and the negotiating company is being paid monthly this can be quite costly. And, of course, if you miss a payment or two, you’ll still be liable for the credit card balances.

Meanwhile, whichever of the above programs you use, your credit score won’t improve until everything is paid off.

Don’t be fooled by the claims of “nonprofit” companies. These credit negotiators may not be a “for profit company,” but you’ll still pay for the service at a hefty monthly amount.

Now let’s compare those programs with a simply bankruptcy. You’ll pay your attorney  a one-time fee – often less than $2,000 – and your debts will be gone in 3 to 4 months.

And you’ll start rebuilding your credit right away.

Carolyn Secor is a Clearwater bankruptcy attorney and Clearwater foreclosure attorney serving Palm Harbor, New Port Richey, Oldsmar, Tarpon Springs, Seminole, St. Petersburg and the Tampa Bay area.

If you would like more information on our practice, please consult our website at:

www.bankruptcyfortampa.com
or call (727) 254-1704.

Repo Alert: Are You at Risk?

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

article by Jonathan Ginsberg, Attorney
Bankruptcy Law Network

Last year, a potential client called me to say that her automobile had been repossessed and that she needed help. I explained that one option would be to file a Chapter 13, then a Complaint for Turnover as a means to get the vehicle back.

We would argue to the bankruptcy judge that my client’s vehicle was necessary for her to fulfill the terms of her plan, and thus the judge should order the lender to “turn over” the vehicle immediately.

In this case, however, I felt that  Chapter 13 might be premature. Instead, I called the lender’s customer service number and after being transferred from department to department, I finally spoke to someone in the default department. I explained that I was an attorney who was prepared to file Chapter 13 on behalf of my client and I suggested that everyone might be better off if the bank returned the vehicle voluntarily in exchange for my client’s payment of all missed payments + finance charges.

The default department representative agreed and within a matter of days, my client tendered certified funds for the outstanding balance and she got her car back.

Now, fast forward to this past week. My client called again, reporting that she was 3 days late in making her payment and the bank has repossessed her vehicle. Again, I called the default department to try to work out a deal, but this time, the bank’s representative would not agree to a non-bankruptcy workout. Instead, he advised me that the bank’s policy was to refuse to voluntarily return a vehicle if it had been repossessed more than one time in any 12 month period of time.

Our only choice, as a result, is to pursue the Chapter 13/Complaint for Turnover route, which hopefully will result in the return of my client’s vehicle.

What can you take away from this story? First, recognize that every bank or lending institution has its own policy about returning a repossessed vehicle voluntarily. Second, recognize that what they do the first time you fall delinquent may be very different than what they do the second time. In this case, repossession #1 did not happen until my client was more than 30 days over due, while repossession #2 occurred when she was 3 days past due. Third, banks will sometimes negotiate, but you have to ask. Fourth, you should not jump into bankruptcy until you have eliminated all other options.

Contact an attorney that  can help you through this type of situation if one should arise.

Carolyn Secor is a Clearwater bankruptcy attorney and Clearwater foreclosure attorney serving Palm Harbor, New Port Richey, Oldsmar, Tarpon Springs, Seminole, St. Petersburg and the Tampa Bay area.

If you would like more information on our practice, please consult our website at:

www.bankruptcyfortampa.com
or call (727) 254-1704.