Being prepared to avoid scams and identity thieves

The beginning of November is a real kickoff to the holiday season. Along with the holidays comes identity theft. Is it because we are all so busy that we let our guard down? Is it because the increase in spending means there is more data to hack and grab? In addition to identity theft, scammers are also working to lighten your wallet and drain your bank account. There are habits you can learn and put into place to protect yourself during the holidays and all year round.

Step 1: Find a “techie” person who can research and spot the wolves in sheep’s clothing

Do you get phone calls from telemarketers who have the most amazing offer that will change your life? Maybe the person is selling gold currency or reverse mortgages. How do you know if they are scamming you? A good rule of thumb is when you want a product or service, you should do your research and find it locally. If you inclined to answer telemarketer calls, take down all the information and do some research on the legitimacy of the offer and the organization contacting you. If you do not feel comfortable in your investigation skills, find a family member who can help you out. It’s better to put your pride aside and ask for help than allowing yourself to be scammed or have your identity stolen.

Step 2: Get back to using cash or gift cards when you can

Remember the big chain stores having problems with credit card information being stolen? How about getting gas at one of the gas stations with the card skimmers? The volume of credit and debit card activity is significant around the holidays, and that means there can be a greater risk of identity theft. Maybe cash is not your preferred payment method and you want to swipe – find a gift card you can put money on and use for holiday shopping. It’s better than someone getting your debit or credit card and cause you undue burdens and stress.

Step 3: Learn about how the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau helps identify theft victims

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is an excellent source of information about identity theft and consumer scams. You can report scams and identity theft right on their website. They also share the laws that protect us from consumer fraud. Your credit rating is an asset and if the credit reporting bureaus fail to restore your credit rating after identity theft, you can sue them. We can connect you with a consumer law firm specializing in just that.

Step 4: Make it a habit to write down and log all your incoming phone calls

If you are receiving robo calls from telemarketers or bill collectors, you can act against them and will need to list the dates, times and what was generally said on the call or voicemail. When you answer the phone and someone on the other end has the deal of a lifetime to offer you, ask for their name or operator identification number. If they don’t tell you who they are you have good reason to disconnect the call and make a note that they called and refused to identify themselves. Information is power and the more you take control of these situations, the more empowered you may be to do something about it.

Step 5: Bolster your expectations of privacy and be vigilant with your personal information

For a few years people became lazy about expectations of privacy. Many assumed the banks and merchants would protect us and nothing bad would happen other than the loss of a few bucks we could get back easily. What happens when the identity thief gets a driver’s license in your name and kills someone in a DUI hit and run, with license plates in your name? Instead of giving out information like your social security number, take the extra time to use a different way to identify yourself. The damage a crook can do to your credit and identity is significant and well worth an ounce of prevention.

About us: Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., works with clients to find out if they qualify for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, and their options and rights under the law. The firm will also advise and assist clients with questions and concerns about the collectors and their rights to pursue you.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start.

Don’t forget to keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Avvo, where you can read client and peer reviews!

 

PODCAST: September 2016 Chicago Bankruptcy Question and Answer Podcast with Joseph Wrobel

Chicago bankruptcy and consumer credit attorney Joseph Wrobel shares news and updates in bankruptcy law as well as business and consumer financial matters. It has been documented that financial troubles can cause all sorts of ailments, the most common of which is sleeplessness. Joseph Wrobel helps clients alleviate their anxiety created by the inability to pay bills and the embarrassment of financial distress. Click/tap here to listen to this podcast interview anytime.

Sample questions answered in this 30-minute show:

  • Can I stop a debt consolidation and file bankruptcy instead of continuing to make payments?
  • As a foreign resident in the U.S., can I also file for bankruptcy protection without being citizen?
  • Can I file for bankruptcy to discharge personal tax liability to the state in which I live?
  • I am facing an eviction and worried about the money I may owe, should I file for bankruptcy?
  • Can I file for bankruptcy if a creditor threatens to revive a money judgement against me?

Joseph Wrobel has been a practicing attorney since 1973 and has experience in a wide variety of law relating to legal matters for individuals and families. Wrobel helps clients get out of debt and get a fresh start. He is an active member in several bar associations and the Bankruptcy Panel of Pro Bono Program of the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services. After serving the U.S. Army Reserve 363rd Civil Affairs Unit, Wrobel earned a B.A. in Psychology from Northwestern University and in 1973, he earned a JD from DePaul University Law School.

Don’t forget to keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Avvo, where you can read client and peer reviews!

Visit our Chicago Bankruptcy website online for more about the firm or call for more information at (312) 781-0996 or e-mail at JosephWrobel@ChicagoBankruptcy.com.

Can my college transcripts really be withheld if I owe the school money?

At various times in life we may be asked to produce our college transcripts for a new job or an application to a program or further education. This issue arose in a question covered in the Chicago Bankruptcy Update podcast series where real questions are asked and answered by Chicago bankruptcy attorney, Joseph Wrobel. The individual seeking guidance needed a copy of their college transcript and the school refused their request, stating that an outstanding amount of $3,000 was still owing for tuition.

In this case the individual seeking their college transcripts filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and received a discharge. The short answer to the question as to whether the school may withhold the transcripts is a function of the automatic stay provision in the Bankruptcy Code.

When you file for bankruptcy, the automatic stay provisions protect you from collection activity.

The automatic stay takes effect when the petition for bankruptcy is filed with the bankruptcy court. The automatic stay provision prohibits creditors from engaging in collection activity while a bankruptcy case is active and until the case is over. While Chapter 7 discharge cases can be completed in a matter of months, a Chapter 13 reorganization case, involving payments to the trustee to catch up on debts, can be structured with three to five years of scheduled payments, thus the automatic stay is effective for a longer period of time.

The school’s refusal to tender the college transcripts is a collection activity. If the student does not pay the outstanding tuition, the school may refuse to offer the transcript. If, however, the request for the transcripts is made during a period when the automatic stay is active, the school is prohibited from collection activities and would be required to turn over the transcript.

You may be able to obtain a discharge of your duty to pay a debt, but the creditor may still want payment and in this case, can continue withholding the transcript, even after bankruptcy.

As soon as the bankruptcy case were to end and the automatic stay naturally terminates, the school could resume the position that they will not tender the transcripts until payment is made. Understand that the bankruptcy discharge may have the effect of terminating the school’s legal right to collect the debt, the debt still exists insofar as the school may still want the debt repaid before they tender the transcript.

A word to the wise: it is a good idea to keep copies of academic transcripts just in case a situation like this were to happen to you. While most people never plan to file for bankruptcy protection, financial emergencies and other bad things can happen to good people.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., works with clients to find out if they qualify for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, and their options and rights under the law. The firm will also advise and assist clients with questions and concerns about the collectors and their rights to pursue you.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start.

Don’t forget to keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Avvo, where you can read client and peer reviews!

 

Aging parents and questions about bankruptcy and finances

Many of us have aging parents and as adult children we find ourselves in the position to advise and assist our parents when they have financial troubles they might not be able to handle on their own. For purposes of this article we are focusing on the scenario involving a question we received and addressed on our recent monthly Bankruptcy FAQ podcast show – click/tap here to listen to the program.

Our hypothetical parent is your widowed mother who does not work but collects Social Security. She has some cash savings but not so much a creditor is likely to sue her to collect and try to enforce a money judgment. Mother obtained a reverse mortgage and the current equity in the home is less than its fair market value in the real estate market. Over time mother has almost $25,000 in credit card debt and fell behind on payments after she had an unexpected and expensive car repair. Mother was researching bankruptcy online and learned that filing for bankruptcy can stop the annoying creditors from calling during her favorite programs. Mother does not have cable recording or DVR so she cannot pause her favorite programs when the phone rings. What can we do to help her?

Note that you have some concerns about mother’s capacity to handle a bankruptcy case own her own and you are afraid she is going to need your help if she decides to file for bankruptcy.

You may need to be a court-appointed guardian if you want to help mother.

Most of us on a good day are nervous hiring lawyers or appearing in court for something like a bankruptcy case. The good news is that unlike some other types of court actions, a bankruptcy does not require the petitioner to attend frequent court appearances. Once you meet with your bankruptcy lawyer and they file the case, you must appear at one court appearance and that is all. Of course there could be more required appearances if the case ends up in contested litigation; not a concern for most people.

If mother cannot sign the documents or appear in court, you may be appointed by the court as a guardian to represent your mother’s interests as the bankruptcy petitioner. The guardianship appointment is an additional step, but it is not a difficult process.

Mother might be considered judgement proof and may not need to file for bankruptcy.

Creditors take action against debtors, suing and collecting money judgments when there is a likelihood of successful collection. The amount of resources necessary to sue and collect a judgement from someone who does not have money to collect simply does not make sense for most creditors. If mother does not have wages to garnish or significant assets, it is unlikely mother will ever get sued on the outstanding credit card debt; more likely the creditor may write it off as a loss.

With the reverse mortgage and mother’s house being worth less than the fair market value there is nothing for a creditor to pursue. Also, in many instances it may be difficult for a creditor to sue to foreclose on a property to collect a debt, especially with a reverse mortgage in place to be repaid before any following creditors.

Even if mother qualifies for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it might not be necessary, although it can stop those annoying phone calls.

Depending on the equity in the home, mother may or may not qualify for a Chapter 7 discharge – the means income testing might show that she only qualifies for a Chapter 13 reorganization bankruptcy where she repays the credit card debt over a three to five-year payment plan. Even based on the facts set forth in this situation, the bankruptcy attorney may need additional information to determine which chapter, 7 or 13, would be available to mother.

Mother is probably judgment proof and does not need to file a bankruptcy. She may tell you she wants to file one anyways, simply to stop the credit card companies from calling during her shows. At her age, you might just want to indulge her wishes and help however you can.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., works with clients to find out if they qualify for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, and their options and rights under the law. The firm will also advise and assist clients with questions and concerns about their aging parents.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start.

Don’t forget to keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Avvo, where you can read client and peer reviews!

 

July 2016 Chicago Bankruptcy Question and Answer Podcast with Joseph Wrobel

Chicago bankruptcy and consumer credit attorney Joseph Wrobel shares news and updates in bankruptcy law as well as business and consumer financial matters. It has been documented that financial troubles can cause all sorts of ailments, the most common of which is sleeplessness. Joseph Wrobel helps clients alleviate their anxiety created by the inability to pay bills and the embarrassment of financial distress. CLICK/TAP HERE TO LISTEN NOW!

Sample questions answered in this 30-minute show:

  • Must all my debts be included in my bankruptcy filing?
  • What are some of the dangers of filing bankruptcy without an attorney?
  • Ex-husband filed for bankruptcy, am I stuck with the debt?
  • How can I keep my house if I file for bankruptcy protection?
  • I am newly married, can I file for bankruptcy and not include my wife?

Joseph Wrobel has been a practicing attorney since 1973 and has experience in a wide variety of law relating to legal matters for individuals and families. Wrobel helps clients get out of debt and get a fresh start. He is an active member in several bar associations and the Bankruptcy Panel of Pro Bono Program of the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services. After serving the U.S. Army Reserve 363rd Civil Affairs Unit, Wrobel earned a B.A. in Psychology from Northwestern University and in 1973, he earned a JD from DePaul University Law School.

Don’t forget to keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Avvo, where you can read client and peer reviews!

Visit our Chicago Bankruptcy website online for more about the firm or call for more information at (312) 781-0996 or e-mail at JosephWrobel@ChicagoBankruptcy.com.

Taking the sting out of bankruptcy: You may be surprised how liberating it can be

There are many people who consider filing for bankruptcy for a while before they finally decide it is time to go ahead. Some of the common fears people have is that everyone will find out about the bankruptcy and shun them or talk behind their back. In all likelihood, the people you think may be doing so well may also be considering a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. It is important to remember that a bankruptcy does not mean failure – a bankruptcy means you are smart enough to take advantage of the law to protect you and give you a fresh start. People may be hesitant to file for bankruptcy because a friend told them incorrect information about the trustee coming to take and sell everything they own; this is a false myth. Credit scores are another concern many have, and they fear they will never get credit again, when in reality many lenders may look more favorably on you after you no longer are buried under a mountain of debt. While it is not the most common topic of conversation, many will tell you the relief they experienced after they filed for bankruptcy and got the mountain of debt and creditors off their back.

People are not likely to find out about your bankruptcy unless you tell them.

In years past, there may have been a more negative stigma to bankruptcy and small town newspapers published names and cases, possibly for the benefit of any creditors and providing them notice. In reality today, there are so many bankruptcy filings, especially in major cities like Chicago, that the newspaper would be massive if bankruptcy filings were posted. Unless you decide to tell people, your friends and neighbors will never know you filed for bankruptcy protection. There is a federal bankruptcy website where you can look up your own bankruptcy information and it will appear on your credit report and on background checks. Do now worry however, as more people have bankruptcies than you may realize and they still find new jobs, buy homes and cars.

It is not an immoral or unethical decision to take advantage of financial laws like bankruptcy.

Say you are sued by a creditor and they obtain a court judgement against you for $50,000. Yes, you can list that money judgment in your bankruptcy and wave goodbye to paying that off. For many people, the threat of a judgment being collected by wage garnishments and asset seizures is enough for people to decide to file for bankruptcy. Some people worry that the judge or court may be mad at you, but that is of no concern. A money judgment is just a court order to pay someone. The obligation to pay a debt can be discharged in bankruptcy – the whole point is to eliminate debts you cannot afford to pay so you can have a fresh financial start.

You can keep your car, house and belongings despite filing for bankruptcy.

There is a qualifying financial test called the Means Test and a bankruptcy lawyer can review your financials and advise you whether you qualify for a Chapter 7 discharge, the traditional bankruptcy most of us think about, or a Chapter 13 reorganization, in which you can make payments to catch up on your debts over a three to five-year period. If your vehicle is financed, you can sign a reaffirmation agreement and keep making payments despite the bankruptcy. You are allowed to keep a certain amount of equity in your home and personal belongings and assets up to a certain exemption value, despite filing for bankruptcy.

One of the best things about a bankruptcy filing is that by law, the automatic stay provision of the bankruptcy laws kicks in when you file your petition for bankruptcy – creditors and collectors must stop all collection activity and they can no longer call you while you are in bankruptcy. The stress relief of the automatic stay provision alone may bring you to a major sigh of relief.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., works with clients to find out if they qualify for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, and their options and rights under the law. The firm will also advise and assist clients with best credit repair options.      

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start.

Don’t forget to keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Avvo, where you can read client and peer reviews!

 

 

 

Gas tank getaways and overnights from Chicago: Get out and enjoy yourself!

The 4th of July weekend is here! Are you bummed because you don’t have a fancy lake house to go and spend the long weekend on your boat, grilling steaks and lobster? Do not worry, you too, can and should get out of the house and do something fun this weekend, and this summer generally. Life is short and we never know when some turn of events makes it more difficult to take weekend trips and gas tank getaways. The average price of gas in Illinois is $2.40 which is lower than recent weekends, and pretty good for the summertime generally. Here are some tips on fun weekend destinations and activities that will not break the bank. Remember, it is not how much money you have that matters, it is how smart you are at getting more for your hard earned buck.

5 great gas tank getaways and weekend trips from Chicago – click on the titles to visit the links:

  1. Starved Rock State Park

100 miles west on I 80 just before I 39 you will find one of Illinois’ best state parks, full of hiking, fishing and boating with canyons, trails and log cabins. Someone who visited last week and must have camped, had this to say in a Google review, “Awesome. Trials are outstanding, delivering the most beautiful views, and being very well maintained ! Campground was good as well. Hot and reasonably clean showers, very nice sites.”

Travel tip: bring good hiking shoes, the trails are fun, but not in flip flops.

  1. Chicago Museums and Navy Pier in Chicago

Don’t want to drive or don’t have a car? Hop on the Metra or a CTA train to the Loop and museum campus just to the south of Grant Park. You can visit museums that are “donation only” or have affordable deals on tickets, especially during the summertime and holiday weekends when tourists are in town. The Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, and the Museum of Science and Industry should be on the top of your list. Maybe do one per adventure because there is so much to see. When you’re done at the museum, walk or take a cab to nearby Navy Pier to grab something to eat and enjoy all the entertainment and people watching you desire. If you’re daring, look for one of those Jet Ski rentals at Navy Pier or ask someone there where you can get your hands on one.

Travel tip: bring a backpack with essentials, maybe snacks and waters.

  1. Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

75 miles north off I 94 you will be able to Escape to Wisconsin without driving all the way up to Door County and worry about all those fine members of Wisconsin law enforcement. If you want to go camping or stay at a nice bed and breakfast, you can find just about whatever you are looking for in the Lake Geneva area. Many people recommend the Lake Geneva Canopy Tours – zip lining, starting at $30 for an unbelievable ride and views. After you recover from thrill-seeking, fishing, boating or simply laying around, there are great places to eat. From Annie’s Burgertown ($) to BJ Wentkers ($$$) Triangle Bar & Grill, Lake Geneva has options for every taste and budget.

Travel tip: clean off your camera lens and start snapping for Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

  1. Six Flags Great America in Waukegan

You are never too old to go to Six Flags! It shouldn’t take more than an hour to get there from just about anywhere in Chicagoland. Take your kids or take yourself and spend a day getting back to your childhood and take in the Americana that is a big roller coaster theme park. Of course there are all sorts of things to do there if the big coasters are not your thing. You certainly won’t have a hard time finding treats to eat and souvenirs to bring home. If you are sticking to a budget, but still want to go on the best rides and get your money worth, get the FLASH Pass and walk right up to your short VIP line instead of waiting in the sometimes very long lines for the popular and newer rides.

Travel tip: sunscreen will be your best friend because you can get burned easily when having fun.

  1. Summerfest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

If you really need to take a break from work, daily life and chores, consider indulging in one of the concert events of the season – Summerfest, in Milwaukee. Also 100 miles and just short of two hours depending on traffic, Milwaukee is much closer than most of us realize. And if there was ever a place to walk around listening to great music and enjoying a few beers, Milwaukee should be at the top of the list. Some people take the Amtrak train from Union Station and save money on gas, parking and worry about driving after drinking those beers. The music lineup at Summerfest is always impressive and you can catch major acts as well as some more local bands.

Travel tip: study the map of the grounds before you go and use the buddy system; it’s easy to get lost or mixed up with a crowd of fun people.

We hope everyone has a fun and safe 4th of July weekend. If any of these day or weekend trips are fun, let us know. And even if you stay home, you can close your eyes and go on imaginary trips wherever you want!

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., works with clients to find out if they qualify for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, and their options and rights under the law. The firm will also advise and assist clients with best credit repair options.      

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start.

Don’t forget to keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Avvo, where you can read client and peer reviews!

 

Don’t believe the hype: Get the real truth about bankruptcy, ignore the rumors

Among the options for researching and gathering information about bankruptcy, there are some wrong sources of information. Asking your mother, neighbor, or someone in line at the grocery store about bankruptcy law is not a good idea for several reasons. First, the bankruptcy laws change over time and what could have been true at one point could be different later. Second, every individual’s financial circumstances are unique; what conditions of bankruptcy apply to one, may not apply to another. Third, there are so many variables in bankruptcy law that anyone who is not an experienced bankruptcy lawyer could overlook significant details that could seriously affect the outcome of a bankruptcy filing, when someone attempts for file for bankruptcy on their own and without a lawyer. Experienced bankruptcy lawyers hear most if not all of the myths or “old wives’ tales” about divorce. The following is this week’s top 5 list of dispelled bankruptcy myths.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. Top 5 Bankruptcy Myths: Setting the Record Straight:

  1. Your financial future will forever be ruined and you’ll never be able to finance anything again.

Wrong! Many people are able to obtain credit cards, home and auto loans within a few years of a bankruptcy filing. Lenders look at your ability to make payments. If you owe everyone under the sun the chances are higher that you may default on your obligations. If however, you went through a bankruptcy and were able to reorganize or wipe out your regularly serviced debts, you may have more money to pay bills, which makes you a better candidate to be given credit to finance house hold items, cars and homes.

  1. The bankruptcy trustee is going to come to your house and take everything and the kitchen sink.

Wrong again! Every state has exemption laws that allow you to keep a certain amount of personal property, vehicles and even equity in your home. In Illinois, for example, you may keep money you receive in child support or alimony. You may also keep any money ordered to you in restitution for being a crime victim. Home equity may also be kept, up to $15,000, so if you owe more than your home is worth or do not have more than $15,000 you may be able to keep your home. Of course there are differences between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings, but in many cases people are able to keep their cars, homes and personal property, up to a certain dollar value. So you will not have to run out and beg on the streets for shirts and pants because you file for bankruptcy.

  1. You will be better off if you suck it up and pay off the debts you owe; until the day you die.

Nope, incorrect. The financial emergencies, whether sudden or developing slowly over a period of time, could put you so far behind the starting line that you will never be able to get ahead. Imagine you earn $50,000 a year and have a debt from a lawsuit judgement or medical emergency and owe $500,000 or more. You could make minimum payments of $1,000 for the rest of your life and never pay off more than a small fraction of that debt. This is exactly why we have insurance and bankruptcy laws. Even if your debt is $50-100,000, your ability to save for retirement may be greatly diminished or extinguished by outstanding debt. Taking advantage of the bankruptcy laws can give you a fresh start.

  1. Bankruptcy will wipe away all your debts including taxes, student loans and court obligations.

Don’t believe the hype. While Chapter 7 may help you eliminate most debts, assuming you qualify financially, Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be your better or only option to reorganize your debt and get caught up on a monthly payment plan for several years. First, forget about discharging your student loan debt. It is virtually impossible to prove the hardship necessary as a matter of law, and on the bright side, even if they garnish your wages, they can only take a certain limited amount and not the majority of your paycheck. Child support and certain court orders in family law are non-dischargeable, as opposed to civil money judgments which may be eliminated in bankruptcy. Taxes, utilities and other debts may or may not be dischargeable depending on their age and whether they meet certain conditions, which an experienced bankruptcy lawyer can explain.

  1. If you file for bankruptcy, you have to admit you are a failure and are personally flawed.

Do not be silly. Just about any situation can occur, such as a car accident rendering you incapacitated for six months or more; that would wipe almost anyone out financially. If you cannot work to pay your bills and spend down your savings you may have a bankruptcy in your future. Face it, bad things happen to good people, and that is another reason the bankruptcy laws exist, to help us with a fresh start when we need it the most. Furthermore, do not feel that you are going to be in big trouble with the court if you discharge a money judgement against you in bankruptcy. The bankruptcy laws are bigger than the court order to pay off a money judgement against you in most civil cases.

This list is hardly a complete account of all the misinformation and misunderstandings about State and Federal bankruptcy laws, and if you have any questions, even if you think they are “dumb” questions, do not hesitate to reach out and ask us. We’ll set you on the better track.  

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., works with clients to find out if they qualify for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, and their options and rights under the law. The firm will also advise and assist clients with best credit repair options.      

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start.

Don’t forget to keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Avvo, where you can read client and peer reviews!

 

How many ways can credit scores cost me money? What can I do about it?

The Consumer Federation of America “(CFA) is an association of non-profit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization’s Board of Directors.[i]” The CFA studies consumer behavior and uses focus groups to follow economic trends and how public policy can affect consumers. The use of credit and the cost to consumers when they have low credit scores is a particular area of inquiry for the CFA. Creating pro-consumer policies and increasing communication and awareness about credit issues is a focus of this service organization.

The recent survey and release of findings on credit scores and the costs to consumers

The CFAs sixth annual survey of credit scores today, was released June 13, 2016. The survey findings indicate that over 80 percent of consumers do not understand some basic facts about their credit scores. The following are highlights of the survey as reported in the CFA press release:

  • Credit scores are used by mortgage lenders (88%) and credit card issuers (87%).
  • Key factors used to calculate credit scores are missed payments (91%), personal bankruptcy (86%), and high credit card balances (85%).
  • Ethnic origin is not used to calculate these scores (believed by only 12%).
  • 700 is a good credit score (81%).[ii]

The findings show that the Millennial generation have less an understanding of the credit scoring system when compared to Generation X.

What consumers do not know, can cost them money

A low credit score can affect many aspects of a consumer’s day to day life. Not only is your credit score used to determine the percentage rate you would pay on a car or home loan. The insurance rates you pay can be significantly higher than your neighbor with the higher credit score. When the insurance companies consider a consumer with a low credit score (something under 620) they figure that individual is more likely to file multiple insurance claims, and the statistics back it up.

Many people with low credit scores have more difficulty financing a home and renting is their only option. More bad news for renters with low credit scores – expect to pay a higher security deposit when renting a home or apartment. The assumption is that people with low credit scores have a hard time paying their bills, so the rental owner wants more money on deposit in case the renter with the low credit score cannot pay their rent.

Today is the day you can start learning more about credit and how to maximize yours

By reading this article and the CFA press release, you will know more about credit than many others out there. Here’s something else to be aware of, advocates for reform want more protection for consumers so their lives are not determined by credit scores. If you do some research on the Internet, you can learn how to write your local legislative representatives and tell them you want them to take better care of consumers with protection laws that prevent big companies from charging you more money due to your credit score.

Next steps in repairing, boosting and making your credit score bulletproof

Well, we can’t really make your credit rating bulletproof, but there are several ways you can improve your score and keep it there. If you are underwater on all your payments and your scores suffer every month with negative reports, a Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy can help you wipe out the debts you cannot pay and give you a fresh start. Rebuilding your credit is much easier when you are not behind the eight ball. We can connect you with credit repair companies who use advanced systems to wipe out negative debt and “zombie” debts that may be hurting your score. When you also consider secured credit cards, credit unions and more, you can really take control of your credit, save money and live the way you deserve!

 Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., works with clients on consumer issues including bankruptcy and they can offer additional information to find out if you qualify for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, and your options and rights under the law. The firm will also advise and assist clients with best credit repair options.   

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start.

Don’t forget to keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Avvo, where you can read client and peer reviews!

 

 

 

[i] Consumer Federation of America, website, About CFA

[ii] Consumer Federation of America, 6th Annual Credit Score Survey Reveals Large Majority Know Credit Score Basics But Don’t Understand Important Details, Jun. 13, 2016 press release.

Beware of IRS scams in several forms, report the “bad guys!”

Most people born and raised in this country know how the IRS works, and that an IRS agent calling themselves “officer” does not call you on the phone one day and extort a payment under threat of an arrest warrant. Sounds too amazing to be real? Guess again. Just one of the scams the “bad guys” are using involves demand of full or partial payment of an overdue balance to the IRS, with the promise (or threat) that law enforcement may be speeding to your door at any minute to arrest you and toss you in IRS jail until you cough up the money they’re demanding. The story sounds like something out of a bad movie about tourists being scammed abroad in countries where the police cannot help.

In the real world, police actually are here to help you, when it comes to your reporting IRS scammers.

Tax time is a perfect time for scammers who know you may have recently filed your IRS tax return and either expect a refund or to make your tax payment(s). Many of these “bad guys” conducting the scams are calling non-native Americans and commonly targeted minority groups, hoping they find someone who does not know how the IRS really works, or worse, is fearful of being deported in the event they are not in the country legally.

One day, however, the “bad guys” called a realtor, very aware of these types of scams, and the realtor fired back at them, calling the local ABC television station to help them warn viewers about IRS refund scams. The realtor said the man who called him had a noticeably foreign accent and very quickly determined the person he was talking to did not work for the IRS.

The IRS issued responses and advisory statements to the public in light of these and other scams.

In a recent announcement the IRS stated that, “Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain a major threat to taxpayers, but now the IRS is receiving new reports of scammers calling under the guise of verifying tax return information over the phone.[i]

The IRS will never call and ask you to verify personal information over the phone. Everything that happens with the IRS is done with paperwork and they will send field agents to your home before calling you. If you ever receive a call from someone who says they are an IRS agent, call the IRS directly or your local police department if you suspect a scammer. The realtor who received a phony phone call from one of the “bad guys” notified his local police department, who told him they were receiving several calls from people telling similar stories about scammer phone calls.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., works with clients on consumer issues including bankruptcy and they can offer additional information to find out if you qualify for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, and your options and rights under the law. The firm will also publish notices and warnings about consumer fraud scams to keep you aware of the “bad guys.”  

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start.

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[i] IRS, Consumer Alert: Scammers Change Tactics, Once Again