Breaking Down Chicago Bankruptcy: Is Filing Your Best Option?

Individuals who are struggling to pay off debt have difficult decisions to make on a daily basis. If you do not earn enough income to pay off your debt and continue to pay your rent or mortgage on top of other bills and expenses, chances are you have to learn to go without luxuries, and maybe even necessities. Filing for a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy may allow you to regain control of your finances and your life. However, it is not a decision that should be made lightly, and there are many aspects to consider. Lets run through some pros and cons of filing a personal bankruptcy:

                Pros:

  • Will provide virtually instant debt relief
  • Will end intrusive phone calls and creditor harassment
  • Provide you with time and the ability to reorganize and pay back the debt you are able to

 

Cons:

  • You take a hit on your credit-the bankruptcy will remain on your credit history for 10 years
  • You will have difficulty getting a loan until you are able to re-establish your credit
  • Many employers run a credit check on prospective employees they interview

 

Individuals should take all these points into consideration when deciding whether or not to file, bu the first step is to contact an experienced bankruptcy attorney to discuss your options, every case is different. Please contact our office for a free consultation.

Benjamin Brand Services- Chicago bankruptcy lawyer .

Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcies

Personal bankruptcy is a difficult process for someone to go through, but many people are scared because they simply do not know what the process is like and how it will affect their lives. Gathering information about bankruptcy and what it would mean for you and your family helps to aleviate some of the uneasiness.

The two types of personal consumer bankruptcies are Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. In a Chapter 7, the debtors are able to discharge all or part of their debt. In a Chapter 13, debtors agree to a payment plan to repay part of all of their debt.

During a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will likely be required to liquidate assets and then turn them over to your creditors first. This includes money in your checking and savings accounts. Some of your assets may be exempt in the bankruptcy process for a Chapter 7-laws vary by state. Generally after you liquidate your non-exempt assets, they are divided between your creditors and the rest of your debt is discharged. However, in the majority of Chapter 7 bankruptcies, most of people’s assets are exempt and therefore do not need to be liquidated.

In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, individuals organize a payment plan to repay creditors. The individual will submit the plan to the court for approval and began making payments to the trustee, who then pays the creditors.

Bankruptcy is different for each individual, and there are many variables in each case. Please contact our firm for a free consultation.

Benjamin Brand Services- Chicago bankruptcy attorneys .

Four Things to Remember About FTC Rules on Debt Relief

According to an October 23, 2012 WVTM-TV article, it has been two years since the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) implemented new rules regulating the debt relief industry. WVTM noted that consumers are carrying $864.2 billion in revolving debt, and the average American with credit card debt owes more than $15,500. The Federal Reserve says the total household debt in the United States is $11.4 trillion.

While the FTC changes were good for the many consumers who need help with debt, WVTM pointed out four things to know when seeking debt relief:

  1. Know what debt settlement is – Debt settlement plans can sometimes reduce total principals owed by about half, and the programs generally take two to four years to resolve a consumer’s debt. While WVTM wrote that debt settlement “can be helpful for individuals who are unable to make minimum payments on credit card debt ,” consumers must remember that debt settlement companies often engage in abusive practices. These abuses led Illinois lawmakers to pass legislation in 2010 that banned charging upfront fees for helping consumers negotiate relief from creditors. In July, one Chicago based firm agreed to refund $2.1 million after Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said the lawyers were a “front” to collect hefty fees from desperate consumers.
  2. Understand the FTC rules – The FTC rules “require debt relief companies to renegotiate, settle or reduce the terms of at least one debt, with the consumer’s agreement, before collecting fees from the consumer.” (WVTM.) The FTC rules also define the advertising claims these companies can make. WVTM pointed out that debt settlement companies need to disclose how long it should take to see results, program costs and any negative consequences that may result.
  3. Know where to finding a debt settlement provider – WVTM noted that it remains legal for debt settlement companies and law firms that do not participate in telemarketing to charge up-front fees. The article recommended looking for a firm that is a member of the American Fair Credit Council (AFCC), which “enforces the strictest code of conduct in the industry,” according to WVTM.
  4. Proceed with caution – “Consumers should look for a firm that has an established, long-term record of successfully getting results for customers,” WVTM said. The article cautioned that impatient debt counselors, high-pressure sales tactics and claims that sound too good to be true are all “warning signs of firms that should be avoided.”

If you are among the many households carrying thousands of dollars in revolving debt, you should know that filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy may allow you to discharge all of your unsecured debt in a matter of months. You can also catch up on late mortgage payments or reduce your mortgage principle by filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy . Both chapters can be safer alternatives to debt settlement programs, and our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers can tell you which plan would work best for you when you contact our firm at (866) 930-7482 or fill out the form on this page.

Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorneys

Mayor Emanuel Critical of Governor Quinn Appointee Who Filed Bankruptcy

This Illinois Statehouse News video features Governor’s Office of Management and Budget spokeswoman Kelly Kraft, who Governor Pat Quinn chose to be executive director of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority-the state agency that operates US Cellular Field. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, however, said he wants a person with experience in managing finances to run the agency, the Chicago Tribune reported. Kraft’s personal history with finances became an issue when the Tribune reported on October 5, 2012, that Kraft filed for bankruptcy after owing more than $102,500, mainly in credit card debt .

Kraft is a former reporter for WFLD-TV who joined the Quinn administration as a budget office spokeswoman in 2009. She was later promoted to assistant budget director before being named Quinn’s top spokeswoman in July with an annual salary of $111,000, the Tribune reported.

“That board and that staff is the thin blue line protecting the taxpayers of the city of Chicago from paying, in case there’s something’s mismanaged,” Emanuel told WBBM-AM. “And I think we should find the best-qualified people for that, which is why I – given the board I inherited – replaced them, put in place a whole new board with backgrounds in financial management, and expect the staff to meet that standard.”

“I think we have a good person, a strong person, a strong woman who knows how to manage the budget, find economies and efficiencies, knows how to work with people,” Quinn told WBBM. “There’s a lot to be said with someone who can work with all kinds of folks, make sure we have diversity and fairness, and also a person who understands the world of finance and bonds and things like that, and I think that’s Kelly Kraft. … I think it’s time for the mayor to recognize that.”

Tribune columnist Eric Zorn correctly asked with the title of an October 10 blog post, “When, if ever, is personal bankruptcy a disqualifying entry on a job application?” As we have noted before in our blog posts about famous bankruptcies , many notable modern and historical figures also had to file bankruptcy before they became successful. The truth is that Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy are legal ways for people to reorganize debt when life delivers unexpected changes. Contact our firm at (866) 930-7482 or complete the form on this page to have our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers see if Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy might be able to help you turn your own situation around.

Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy lawyers

Which Workers Will Be Commanding Higher Incomes in 2013?

The Chicago Tribune reported on October 4, 2012, that technology, finance and administrative workers are among the professionals who are likely to be making more money next year. A report from staffing resource company Robert Half Management Resources (company profile in the video above) said mobile applications developers will earn an average of 9 percent more in 2013, technology employees can expect a 5.3 percent boost, and accounting and finance professionals will see an average 3.3 percent increase. The Menlo Pak, a California firm, also said administrative and office support positions will see a 3.5 percent pay boost, according to the Tribune.

A separate report issued in July by management consulting firm Hay Group predicted that American workers will see a median 3 percent pay raise, according to the Tribune. However, the group noted that salary increases between 3.5 and 4 percent were common before the recession, and the expected 3 percent median raise will not do much in the face of inflation.

The Commerce Department reported that personal income grew only 0.1 percent in August, the same amount as July. Furthermore, the savings rate slipped to 3.7 percent of after-tax income after reaching 4.1 percent the previous month, the Los Angeles Times reported.

If your income is not increasing enough to keep up with rising gas prices, mortgage payments and all of your other bills, you may be able to discharge you unsecured debt by filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy . You can use the form on this page to let our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers determine whether Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 works best for you, or you can contact our firm today at (866) 930-7482.

Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorneys

More Consumers Refuse to Be Cleaned Out by ‘Messy Business’ of Debt Collection

Dr. Chris DeRitis, a consumer credit expert at the economic research and consulting firm Moody’s Analytics, told the Times-Tribune of Scranton, Pennsylvania, that all debt collection is under the microscope. “A lot of this debt gets traded three, four or five times,” Dr. DeRitis told the Times-Tribune for the story published on October 21, 2012. “It’s a messy business.”

The Times-Tribune noted that many collection agencies that buy debt do not have all the documentation to support the original agreement, meaning many companies are filing debt-related lawsuits with “insufficient records, faulty documents and questionable claims.”

“Some companies are doing this more responsibly than others,” Dr. DeRitis told the Times-Tribune. “There are cases of fraud where unscrupulous debt collectors put charges on people’s accounts.”

Allegheny County Judge R. Stanton Wettick, who has presided over “hundreds of cases in which banks sold delinquent credit card accounts to debt buyers who filed litigation to recover the money,” told the Times-Tribune that sometimes the affidavits do not appear to be signed by the right people. The story noted that debt collectors frequently prevail in court because many defendants in credit card suits never contest the action. “If 100 get filed, 75 turn into default judgments,” Judge Wettick told the Times-Tribune.

However, the Times-Tribune also pointed out that because default judgments enable debt collectors to freeze a consumer’s bank account or garnish wages to recover obligations, more consumers are now challenging the evidence. “For a lot of companies now, if someone shows up and contests it, it may not be worth their while to pursue it,” Judge Wettick told the Times-Tribune.

If you are being harassed by debt collectors about your credit card debt , filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy will end those phone calls. You may be able erase your credit card bills and other unsecured debt by filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy , or you could pay back a fraction of what you owe through a Chapter 13 plan. Contact our firm at (866) 930-7482 or complete the form on this page to have our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers determine which plan would work best for you.

Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorneys

US on Pace for 70 Percent Increase in Foreclosure Rescue Scams in 2012

This is a 2008 documentary produced by the Northwest Justice Project about foreclosure rescue scams. Four years later, these schemes remain a real problem, as the Chicago Tribune reported on October 19, 2012, that the Treasury Department’s  Financial Crimes Enforcement Network said reports of foreclosure rescue scams rose during the first half of the year. “Nationally, if the reports of suspicious activity continue at their first-half pace, the total for 2012 could be as much as 70 percent greater than in 2011,” the Tribune reported.

Debra Olson, executive director of the DuPage Homeownership Center, told the Tribune that she thinks there are “plenty of incidents of scams that are never reported” because people are embarrassed. Olson told the Tribune that she believes that there are people who have been taken advantage of, but do not even know it. Many homeowners throughout the country in need of foreclosure help paid several thousand dollars to someone promising to help them save their homes, realizing too late that they were duped.

“By the time people come to us, more than likely they’ve been the victim of the fraud,” Olson told the Tribune. “The sad thing is by the time they come to us, they’re so much farther in arrearage.”

As the Tribune noted, “while authorities might be able to shut down bogus companies and order them to pay fines and restitution, it is often too late for victims.” Michael Dickman, an attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services in Chicago, estimates he is working on 150 cases. Dickman told the Tribune, “It’s truly like we’re standing behind a dike and we have 10 fingers and there’s 100 holes in the dike.”

If you are facing foreclosure, do not let a bad problem become worse by falling victim to one of these rescue scams. Filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be a legal way to stop foreclosure proceedings, end debt collector harassment and reorganize your finances. If you are facing foreclosure, it is in your best interest to contact our firm at (866) 930-7482 or complete the form on this page to let our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers see what Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy could do for you and your family.

Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy lawyers

‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ Author Files for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

This video shows Robert Kiyosaki’s appearance on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show in 2000 following the publication of his successful financial self-help book, “Rich Dad, Poor Dad.” On October 12, 2012, Business Insider reported that Kiyosaki filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection after losing a nearly $24 million court judgment to The Learning Annex, a private adult education school based in New York.

Business Insider described The Learning Annex as being “one of Kiyosaki’s earliest backers,” but the personal finance guru never paid Annex its rightful share after it arranged “the speaking engagements and platform that led to his massive success.”

“I took Kiyosaki’s brand and made it bigger. The deal was I would get a percentage, and he reneged,” Bill Zanker, The Learning Annex’s founder and chairman, told the New York Post. “We had a signed letter of intent. The Learning Annex is the greatest promoter….Oprah believed in him, and Will Smith believed in him, but he didn’t keep his promise to us.”

As Business Insider noted, Kiyosaki “probably won’t feel the pinch in his wallet” since “Forbes pegs his net worth around a cool $80 million.” However, we highlight famous bankruptcies like Kiyosaki’s to illustrate that many successful individuals experience financial hardships. If you are overwhelmed with debt because of late mortgage payments or astronomical medical bills, it is important for you to understand that you are not alone.

The good news is that filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy can help you get a fresh start. Contact our firm at (866) 930-7482 or complete the form on this page to let our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers see how we can help.

Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorneys

Layaway Looks Attractive, But Many Plans Can Cause Ugly Problems

On Monday, we discussed the increase in seasonal work this year that could help a lot of families in the Chicagoland area during the holidays. While that additional income could make a real difference, this 2011 video from WNXV-TV addresses another issue that can cause problems during Christmas shopping: layaway plans.

Chicago Tribune consumer news reporter Gregory Karp noted in a column published on October 12, 2012, that on its face, layaway “seems harmless enough.” However, Karp said layaway is “illogical” and wrote, “Almost nobody should use it for holiday gift purchases this year.”

While many fans and proponents of layaway claim that such programs allow consumers to save on the interest they would incur by using a credit card, Karp called that a “straw-man argument.”

“Credit cards are not the alternative to using layaway,” Karp wrote. “Paying cash is.”

Karp also noted the statement of New York’s US Senator, Charles Schumer, who demanded last year that retailers display the true cost of layaway fees in credit card terms. Schumer said a $100 purchase with layaway fees can have the same effective interest rate as a credit card charging 81 percent annually.

“These layaway programs are nothing more than hideaways for sky-high interest rates that consumers would never tolerate with a credit card,” Schumer said in a news release last year. “The holiday season is supposed to be about giving and not taking, but these layaway programs are taking advantage of people and charging them outrageous interest rates, under the guise of making it easier and more affordable to shop.”

Karp also addressed issues with initiation and cancellation fees that can create additional headaches. As thousands of families all over Illinois prepare for the holiday shopping season, we encourage you to read the fine print of any layaway agreement you might be considering. And if foreclosure or credit card debt is already creating problems, you could gain some peace of mind by filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy before the end of the year. Timing could be a critical element to successfully filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, so it is in your best interest to take action today. Contact our firm now at (866) 930-7482 or fill out the form on this page to see let our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers see how we can help.

Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy lawyers

Survey Shows Happy Holidays Ahead for Seasonal Workers

This September 2012 video from WPRI-TV and a story published in the Chicago Tribune on October 16, 2012, shared two observations: there will be more seasonal or holiday employment opportunities this year than in years past, but the time to be looking for these jobs is right now.

According to the Tribune, an annual holiday hiring survey by Snagajob, the nation’s largest hourly employment network, found that 63 percent of year-end hiring managers intend to add seasonal workers this year. That is up 12 points from last year and the highest percentage since before the recession started in 2007. Many of the nation’s largest retailers will be hiring tens of thousands of holiday workers, with “a 10 percent increase from last year for many,” according to the Tribune.

There is more good news, though. The Tribune reported that that the pay for these seasonal jobs is likely to be “a tad better,” increasing from an average of $10.60 an hour last year to $10.70 this year. Additionally, about half of the seasonal positions are expected to offer full-time hours. According to the Tribune, that is the highest share in the survey’s five-year history. The Tribune also noted that you can help your odds of getting a job by being willing to work nights and weekends.

Money becomes tight for thousands of individuals during the holidays, and the stress can be even more overwhelming for families that are already struggling to pay their bills. You should know that filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy could help you avoid foreclosure so you do not have to worry about where you will be celebrating Christmas. By filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy , you could erase unsecured debt like credit card bills.

However, timing is critical and it could be in your best interest to take action before making a bad situation worse by accumulating more holiday debt before filing. Our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers can help you determine when is the best time to file when you contact our firm at (866) 930-7482 or fill out the form on this page to let our Chicago firm review your case.

Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorneys

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