Articles Posted in Debt Settlement

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If you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must attend a 341 Meeting of Creditors at the federal courthouse. This is a hearing with the trustee, and any creditors are invited to attend, though usually they decline to. You will be put under Oath and asked to produce a photo I.D. and social security card. Then the trustee will ask you some questions. Here are some sample questions that a trustee might ask.

1. Are you personally familiar with the information contained in the petition, schedules, statements and related documents? To the best of your knowledge, is the information contained in the petition, schedules, statements, and related documents true and correct?

2. Are all of your assets identified on the schedules?

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As is most legal processes, bankruptcy can be a difficult thing to maneuver. There is a lot of misinformation out there, you need to be careful to get your information from a trusted source. Here are some myths regarding bankruptcy:

Myth 1: If I file for bankruptcy, everyone will know.

Like most legal proceedings, most bankruptcy documents are public record. Since I work at a law firm in the bankruptcy department, I search these records all the time. I even have a special username and password that allows me access online. However, how many times do you think your friends, family, or co-workers search through federal court records? The truth is that while your bankruptcy documents will be public information, it is unlikely that those you know would search to find them.

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Florida Judgment Statute of Limitations 20 YearsThe Florida District Court of Appeals shed light on how Florida’s Statute of Limitations functions as to Judgments in their recent decision in Corzo v. West.

In Corzo, the creditor, Corzo Trucking Corporation, had obtained a judgment against the debtor, Bob West in 1984. Corzo had been unable to locate West for twenty-one years, but since the debt owed by West was so large, ($120,223.80 in principle plus $297,933.61 in interest, totaling $418,157.41), an attempt was made and he was located in the state of Georgia. Suit was brought in 2006 in an attempt to force West to “make good” on the 1984 judgment. West did not file any papers or attend hearing in 2006 and a default judgment was obtained against him. In 2009, when Corzo attempted to enforce the new 2006 judgment, West replied the action and the judge dismissed the case. Corzo appealed this decision and brought about the new case.

The District Court of Appeals explained that the 2006 judgment is a distinct and different judgment from the 1984 judgment. Despite being based on the prior judgment, the new one had it’s own case number and was enforceable once obtained for another twenty years. What West should have done was appear to court when summoned in 2006 and brought up the defense of the statute of limitations then. At that point the new judgment wouldn’t have been entered and the old judgment would have been unenforceable, but because he didn’t bring up the defense at that time, the court considered it waived. Now he has to deal with nearly half a million dollars in debt.

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Two bankruptcy petition preparers in Wisconsin are in big trouble with the Court, facing possible criminal charges. Jennifer Abbott, who is a disbarred attorney, was cited with contempt by a bankruptcy judge. The Court said that she has violated bankruptcy Court Orders repeatedly and she refused to obey a subpoena issued by the U.S. Trustee’s office. Abbot has also been convicted of felony theft for stealing from a client.

The second bankruptcy petition preparer, Gaynor Morrison, is in trouble for failing to appear in bankruptcy Court when ordered to do so. Also, he was alleged to have been overcharging clients and failed to return fees to clients after being ordered to by the Court.

Bankruptcy petition preparers are non-attorneys who help people file for bankruptcy. Courts and trustees often comment that the petitions or other required documents are flawed when drafted by a bankruptcy petition preparer. If this happens and the case gets dismissed without discharge, people could lose valuable assets or have to pay additional filing fees. Not all bankruptcy petition preparers are unprofessional, but it is best to have a licensed attorney with knowledge of the complexities of the Bankruptcy Code prepare your bankruptcy documents. To contact a Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorney today, call 904-685-1200.

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In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, some of your debts must be paid through a Chapter 13 Plan. This plan lasts up to 5 years. A part of filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy is that all of your monthly disposable income is committed to your unsecured creditors. Without proper budgeting, this may not leave money for unexpected expenses, like your car breaking down, unexpected medical bills, or needing to fly to California last-minute for a funeral. It is not uncommon for debtors to fall behind on their Plan payments on occasion. So what happens if you do?

If payments are a month or more behind, the Trustee will typically file a Motion to Dismiss your case for Failure to Make Plan Payments. If this is your first time missing a payment, the Court will enter an order giving you a specific amount of time to make up your payments, usually 60 or 90 days. The Order will state the date by which you need to be current.

One great way to make sure and not get behind on your payments is to have the money taken directly from your paycheck and given to the trustee. In the Jacksonville, Florida Middle District, we can have a judge sign an order for direct withdraw of those funds. This makes it much more difficult for debtors to get behind.

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Yes, you can still file for bankruptcy. However, a very important part of every bankruptcy case is your exemptions. Exemptions allow you to keep your real and personal property. There are federal exemptions, but most states have adopted their own exemption laws. To use Florida exemptions in your bankruptcy, there are residency requirements. If you have lived in Florida for the 730 days prior to your filing, you can use Florida’s exemptions. If you have not lived here for that long, then your exemptions will be those of the state in which you resided for during the 180 days prior to your filing or the federal exemptions, whichever your prior state’s law indicates.

Florida is often seen as having a liberal homestead exemption, as it allows you to keep your home despite unsecured creditors. However, to use the Florida homestead exemption, you must have owned the home for 1215 days, otherwise you can only protect up to $125,000 in equity. Since nearly half the homes in Florida are underwater on their mortgage, it is a rare circumstance that anyone has more equity that the federal system allows. If you are unclear what exemptions you are allowed to use, contact a Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorney today to discuss your specific case and what exemptions would be best for you.

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The U.S. House of Representatives introduced a new bill, the Mobile Informational Call Act of 2011, that would allow businesses to dial consumers’ cell phones using an automatic dialing system. This practice is oftentimes called “robo-calling”. This means that the operator does not have to manually dial each number. Rather, the computer system can dial the numbers and play a prerecorded message on many phones at once. The current law is that operators have to manually dial the numbers (unless the customer consents to robo-calling), which is not very profitable for many collection agencies.

The down side to this bill would obviously be that creditors would be able to start robo-calling your cellphone. This does not sit well with many consumers. But some creditors say that the current regulations have not kept up with the technology of today, and that a lot of people do not have home phone lines anymore. Creditors are wanting robo-calling access to cell phones.

The upside to the bill, however, is that an airline company could robo-call passengers if a flight was cancelled or is running late. Or your credit card company could set up a system to automatically call you if they think someone is fraudulently using your card. Or your bank could robo-call with a message that someone changed the address or PIN number on your account.

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Jeffrey Summers, of Taft, California, and Stafan Miller, of Santa Clara, California, perpetrated a scam upon multiple creditors. They formed Maxwell, Turner & Associates, a collection services company who employed around 20 people. From February 2009 until May 2010, their company did not deliver on their promises to clients. Summer and Miller would provide false information about legal proceedings and tell their creditor clients wrong contact information for debtors. Also, if the company did collect any money from debtors, it would not pass this money along to the appropriate creditor. Instead, the two would pocket the money. The scheme took in more than $2.7 million.

Summers was convicted for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and sentenced to 8 years in federal prison. Miller was ordered to serve 6 years and 9 months for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering. The two have also been ordered to repay $1,311,700 in restitution to the victims of their fraudulent scheme.

If you feel that you have been defrauded in any financial situation, you should speak with a Jacksonville Consumer Law Attorney to see if a remedy this available for you.

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Filing for bankruptcy can be very confusing for those trying to go it alone. As an in-depth legal process, it is greatly beneficial to have a Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorney to help you navigate your way through a successful bankruptcy. Here are some reasons why:

1. There are many calculations that must be done correctly. To file for bankruptcy, you must first know which Chapter you qualify for, a Chapter 7, 13, 11 or 12. One step to figuring it out is by completing a Means Test. This is complex thing to do. You must know things which deductions you can use for food, clothing, personal care, health care, housing, and many more. You’ll need to how the allowances for vehicles work and what involuntary deductions you can take. You must know how to list future debt payments correctly. And the list goes on and on. Without the proper knowledge and skill, this can be very difficult to do right the first time. If you do not do this correctly, the court could dismiss your case without a discharge, penalize you with fines or in rare cases, even send you to jail. Hiring a Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorney would be beneficial because someone with knowledge and experience would be handling these issues, taking the stress off of you.

2. Another daunting task is drafting a Chapter 13 Plan. This Plan is very important, as it outlines your responsibilities over a three to five year period. You must know which creditors get paid, how much is required to go to unsecured creditors, and how to allocate the Trustee’s portion. You want to make sure that you get all the benefits you can through your Plan. It is not the job of the Court or Trustee to watch out for your interest, it is there job to be sure that the code is being applied properly.

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Is your credit card company driving you crazy? Think they are trying to rip you off or aren’t taking your complaints seriously? The Dodd-Frank Act created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), an agency to whom you can voice concerns regarding your credit card companies. Since their opening in July 2011, the office has fielded more than 5,000 consumer complaints. Some of the most common complaints dealt with collection practices, debt protection services, account closures, identification theft, fraud, and fees.

After a complaint is filed, the CFPB acts as a go-between in order to resolve the issue between you and your credit card company. So far, approximately three quarters of the complaints have been either partially or fully resolved by the credit card company. The rest are either still under review or there was no relief found.

Consumers can submit their complaints either online with Consumer Finance’s Government Site or by calling 855-411-CFPB (855-411-2372). In the near future, CFPB will be fielding complaints for all kinds of consumer financial products, including mortgages and other loans.

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