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 .

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

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

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

Sinking Incomes No Help for Underwater Homeowners

In discussing the thousands of Illinois homeowners needing foreclosure help throughout the week, we concluded on Wednesday by noting the benefits of filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy for homeowners who are underwater on their mortgages. However, we noted that individuals need to have the income necessary to make Chapter 13 repayment plans work. Many recent reports suggest that households throughout Illinois are struggling to keep up with their bills after seeing declines in their incomes.

On September 20, 2012, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the Census Bureau estimated that the median household income of Chicagoans was $43,628 in 2011. This figure was nearly $7,000 less than the national figure of $50,502. According to the Chicago Tribune, the 2011 median household income was “$4,000 less than in 2009 and part of a steady decline over the past three years.”

While these realities make it difficult for many homeowners to have the income necessary to enter a Chapter 13 repayment plan, the good news is that individuals who are underwater on their mortgages and have lower incomes may still be able to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy . Unlike Chapter 13, individuals filing Chapter 7 will not be able to save their homes. However, they can use Chapter 7 to walk away from the house owing nothing. Also, individuals filing Chapter 7 will be able to live rent-free for a few months and discharge most or all of their unsecured debt.

If you are uncertain whether Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 is the best option for you and your family, our Chicago bankruptcy attorneys can help when you fill out the form on this page or contact our firm at (866) 930-7482.

Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy lawyers

Illinois AG Calls Attention to Foreclosure Assistance Programs

This astonishing interactive map from WNYC uses data from real estate information company RealtyTrac to display foreclosure rates by county across the United States. You can press play to see how the foreclosure rate increased between January 2007 and July 2012, with the darker colored dots signifying higher rates of foreclosure. If you zoom in on Illinois, you can see a significant increase in the number of dots statewide during the five years, but you will also notice that the colors in the Chicagoland area are the darkest for nearly every single period.

On October 4, 2012, the Chicago Sun-Times published an op-ed by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan entitled, “How to find foreclosure help .” “As Illinois attorney general, tens of thousands of Illinois borrowers have reached out to my office for help navigating the bewildering and frustrating experience of trying to save their homes,” Madigan wrote. “Sadly, thousands more never call for help.”

Noting that “legitimate help won’t come looking for you,” Madigan said homeowners in foreclosure or trying to prevent it should be aware of the following options:

  • Housing counseling agencies certified by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) – “Housing counselors can help you understand your options and work with you and your bank to achieve the best outcome,” Madigan wrote.
  • Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) – This federal program offers loan modifications and other forms of assistance to homeowners who are employed and behind on their payments.
  • Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) – Another federal program, which helps homeowners refinance into a new loan with more affordable payments if they are current on payments but unable to secure traditional refinancing because they are “underwater.”
  • Illinois Hardest Hit Fund – A program providing payment assistance to homeowners who lost their jobs and are behind on their payments.

Foreclosures remain a problem for thousands of homeowners throughout Illinois, and we will continue to discuss this issue throughout the week. If you are facing foreclosure, you should know that another option is filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy . You could delay the process by filing Chapter 7 , or a Chapter 13 repayment plan may even be able to help you save your house. Our Chicago bankruptcy attorneys can help when you complete the form on this page or contact our firm today at (866) 930-7482.

Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy lawyers

New Tool Helps Consumers Manage Credit Card Debt, Save Interest

Holiday shopping will be here before you know it, which could make some new tools on one website particularly helpful for thousands of families. The New York Times reported on October 1, 2012, that the website CardHub.com introduced calculators that help consumers decide the best option for paying down their credit card debt .

The website features a “credit card payoff calculator” that lets you enter the amount of debt you aim to pay off, the card’s regular interest rate (plus any introductory rates) and the length of time over which you would like to pay off the debt. The Times reported that the calculator not only tells you how much you will need to pay each month, but how much you will pay in interest as well.

According to the Times, the tool also recommends other credit cards that could have more favorable terms than your current card. CardHub Chief Executive Odysseas Papadimitriou told the Times that “it might make sense to seek the best deal you can get and pay off your debt in the most cost-effective way,” but cautioned against applying for a new card just save on interest if you expect to apply for significant credit in the near future, such as a mortgage.

The tool can also be beneficial if you plan to incur some debt and simply want to evaluate the best way to pay it off. According to the Times, “two other versions of the tool let you compare different credit cards, and another takes into account any balance-transfer fees you might pay.”

Are you overwhelmed with credit card debt? You should know that you may able to discharge your unsecured debt by filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy , or you could end up paying back a fraction of what you owe through a Chapter 13 repayment plan. If you wanted to see whether you qualify for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 , contact our firm now at (866) 930-7482 or use the form on this page to have our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers review your case.

Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorneys

American Express Will Pay $112.5 Million For Deceiving Customers

The Associated Press reported on October 1, 2012, that American Express has agreed to pay $112.5 million in refunds and fines after a multiagency investigation of the company revealed the company “charged unlawful late fees and deceived customers to pressure them to pay off old debts or buy extra credit card services.” In addition to $27.5 million in civil fines, American Express will refund $85 million to about 250,000 customers.

The settlements were announced by four federal agencies, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Utah Department of Financial Institutions.  The AP reported that the agencies said American Express violated federal laws prohibiting deceptive practices by using false statements to get customers to settle old debts, including falsely telling customers that remaining balances would be forgiven if they agreed to settlements to partially pay off their debts.

CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a statement that American Express violated consumer protection laws “at all stages of the game – from the moment a consumer shopped for a card to the moment the consumer got a phone call about long overdue debt,” according to the AP. The company charged late fees on some credit cards based on a percentage of the debt owed, unlawfully discriminated against consumers applying for new card accounts on the basis of age and failed to report customer disputes over billing to the consumer credit reporting agencies.

This news will certainly be welcome for the many victims of American Express’ unethical practices. If you are currently dealing with calls from creditors and struggling to make monthly payments, you can get relief from substantial credit card debt by filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy . You may be able discharge your unsecured debt in Chapter 7 , or you could pay back a fraction of what you owe through a Chapter 13 repayment plan. To see how our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers can help, fill out the form on this page or contact our firm today at (866) 930-7482.

Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy lawyers

Nearly One in Five Households Carrying Student Loan Debt

This CBS News video discusses the increasing number of Americans that are struggling with student loan debt. The Chicago Tribune reported on September 27, 2012, that a Pew Research Center analysis of government data found nearly one in five of households are burdened by school loans. According to the Tribune, the 19 percent of households affected by school loan debt in 2010 is more than double the share from two decades ago, when 9 percent of households in 1989 owed money for education.

Furthermore, the Tribune also noted that student loan payments are equal to nearly a quarter of the income for individuals with incomes in the lowest fifth nationwide. The Tribune reported that young people and poorer Americans are especially hard hit, as four in 10 households headed by someone younger than age 35 have student loan debt. Overall, the Tribune said student loans now make up 5 percent of all debts, whereas they comprised 3 percent just five years ago.

Barring an extreme hardship, student loan debt is very rarely discharged when an individual files Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. However, filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy could allow you to discharge other certain debts, such as credit card or medical bills. Freeing up this additional income could not only help you make your student loan payments, but it may also help you pay off the education balance sooner. 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

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