Financially Fit & Sexy

 What your Creditors Don’t Want you to Know
By Sharon Choi Stuart

 Who hasn’t heard of the financially wise mantra of “pay your bills on time,” “put money aside for a rainy day,” and “stick to a budget.” But for those folks who are already experiencing financial difficulty, these are lofty goals to build up to, as they have to climb out of the hole of financial debt that has accumulated. 

Several changes during the past year have made getting back on your feet almost impossible. The minimums on credit cards have doubled, in most instances. Foreclosures have skyrocketed, and, not surprisingly, the bankruptcy law changes have confused everyone. 

Jim Caher, an Oregon Lawyer who authored, “Bankruptcy for Dummies,” believes that people who are in desperate need of a fresh start are not getting the relief they need because debt collectors (i.e., creditors) are lying to people. While taking calls for a client of his who felt especially harassed, he caught several bill collectors in outright lies.

One creditor said that his “investigation” of the bankruptcy laws shows that he was not eligible for bankruptcy under the new law. When asked why, the creditor told him he could not disclose that information as it was confidential….(Sound fishy to you?)

Another bill collector said to just believe him that “filing bankruptcy for this guy under the new law would be a big, big mistake.” This creditor also refused to tell him why it would be a big mistake. He also threatened to report him to the “proper authorities” if he chose to file bankruptcy and then hung up before Mr. Caher could ask who the proper authorities might be. 

The third bill collector said that his client was not eligible for bankruptcy under the new law. Now remember, all of these statements were outright lies. However, what is noteworthy is that all three seem to be reading from the same script. 

If this is the type of calls that people are receiving on their delinquent debts, it is not surprising that bankruptcy filings have dropped. Being threatened that they will be reported to the “proper authorities” or that they have been “investigated” and were found to be ineligible for bankruptcy would deter many good people from claiming their legal right to a fresh start through bankruptcy. 

Remember, just because a creditor says something is true, doesn’t necessarily make it true. Contact a lawyer who can advise you of your legal rights. Don’t depend on the creditor to tell you your legal rights.

Studies have shown that the number of bankruptcy filings has dropped, but what concerns me is that the reasons behind filing bankruptcies have not been resolved. Loss of income from illnesses, layoffs, and divorces are still an on-going problem. Couple these existing conditions with skyrocketing foreclosures, credit card minimums doubling, and the changes in the bankruptcy laws, and you set the stage for financial disaster for a class of people who are already in desperate financial need.

 

~Sharon Choi Stuart; bankruptcy lawyer with the Boleman Law Firm in Richmond, VA. Send questions or comments to: sstuart@bolemanlaw.com.  

 

 

Copyright © 2007, Average Girl, The Magazine.  All rights reserved