Category Archives: Consumer Finance

Problem: Open trade jobs with no applicants

Problem: Open trade jobs with no applicants

All the kids graduating from high school are going straight to college and the pool of skilled trade talent is running dry. Like sheep following a shepherd high school seniors graduate and march off to college in the fall because that is what everyone else does. Meanwhile, there are housing booms around the country and not enough skilled trade workers to get the jobs done. There are open trade jobs with no applicants, a considerable problem and missed opportunity for many.

When people can learn skilled trades and vocations in less time than it takes to earn a liberal arts degree, it can be easier to retrain people for the new lines of work needed in a variety of industries, not only construction.

A shortage of plumbers and air conditioning repair technicians is a real problem when the need exceeds the available skilled workers to solve homeowners’ emergencies.

College tuition is expensive, and the loans can be gigantic

When it costs $15,000 and more per year to attend a state school in Illinois the student loans can multiply quickly. Especially when many students borrow more than the money for tuition, books and fees and maximize their loans to also include rent and living expenses, the total cost of a four year degree can easily reach $100,000.

With a $100,000 student loan an average interest rate of 5.7% a student will pay $1,095 a month on a 10-year repayment plan and make combined total payments in the amount of $131,424. The interest alone would be enough to buy a dependable vehicle or a down payment on a home.

The earlier you start working, the earlier you build net worth and gain assets

A couple years out of high school, an iron worker in Seattle is earning more than $50,000 a year with no college degree required. His name is Morgan and he makes $28.36 an hour working on a jobsite with Pacific Northwest Ironworkers shop. He is already earning great benefits and a pension. Meanwhile all his high school friends went off to college and someday they will make as much as he does at age 20.

Because Morgan doesn’t have large student debt burdens he is able to save for a house and his retirement much earlier than his peers who went to college and want to continue to graduate school. Surely many of them will do well, but it will take them many more years to get into the red where they are getting out of debt and accumulating assets.

Joseph Wrobel wants you to make smart financial decisions and get a head!

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. (312) 781-0996.

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

New IRS “verify call” scam

New IRS “verify call” scam

The IRS recently published a warning on their website about a new scam where criminals use technology to manipulate the phone number on your caller id. When calling, the “verify call” scammer will tell you they are with the IRS and calling from your local Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC) office and are calling making a demand for a payment for taxes. If you were to question whether the call was legitimate, they would tell you to make a note of their phone number on your caller id and then look it up on IRS.gov to verify it was a legitimate call.

What you might not have known was that criminals can use technology to change the appearance of their phone number on your caller id. They used technology to make it look like they were really calling from the local TAC office.

The IRS does not usually call people, they send letters first.

If the IRS wants some information from you, they use written correspondence and send you several letters they call “notices” in the mail. The IRS will never call you on the telephone and demand payment by a credit or debit card, that is not how the IRS does business.

The IRS does not take any of these actions:

  • Demand a specific type of payment such as a credit card, prepaid debit card or wire;
  • Require you pay taxes without the opportunity to appeal or get more information about the amount you are said to owe;
  • Threaten you with law or immigration enforcement;
  • Threaten to take your drivers or business license.

When the IRS wants payment, they provide instructions for making and sending payments to the United States Treasury as you prefer.

What should you do if you are contacted in a similar scam?

First, the IRS warns to be aware and alert about tax scams not only during tax season and before the annual filing deadline, but year-round. Second, if you receive a phone scam or any IRS impersonation scam, contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at the IRS Impression Scam Reporting website or email phishing@irs.gov with “IRS Phone Scam.” In the subject line. Third, share this blog article with others on social media to warn them about the phone scam.

New IRS “verify call” scam
Helping people get out of debt with dignity and respect for over 40 years.

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. (312) 781-0996.

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

Choosing an affordable college

Choosing an affordable college and creating an employable foundation is a key to success. In 2017 there is one thing that seems certain and that is change. The rise and fall of professions and the volume of applicants for certain jobs can put a college graduate in a rough spot. Especially if you have a specialized education in a competitive and sometimes saturated market, it can be difficult to compete with others who have even more education and connections. The concept of earning a degree and being due a job in your field is yielding the right of way to making smarter and arguably safer choices and choosing an affordable college.

Bankruptcy Attorney Joseph Wrobel earning a degree and being due a job in your field is yielding the right of way to making smarter and arguably safer choices with your time and money.
Bankruptcy Attorney Joseph Wrobel

Will the career you are going to school for exist in 20 years when you are still paying off student loans?

Consider careers in nursing versus computer programming. While the programmer may be easier to train in new IT careers, the specialized degrees may not be as valuable in the future, especially when you consider technology and how quickly things change. For tech lovers choosing an affordable college, there are many local community college programs offering certificate programs in the foundation skills a tech industry worker needs to be able to continue learning and training on new technology as it develops.

Nursing, however, will always be necessary. For anyone committed to a nursing career, the time and money spent on a reputable college nursing degree may be worth your resources. That said, what if you decide down the road that nursing is too stressful, and you want to make a career change. Ask yourself what your base education is worth in other careers and industries and will you need to go back to school for more education and training?

Do you need to work full time, or can you take more time to pursue your education while keeping food on the table? Choosing an affordable college sounds like a smart idea. 

When some people go to school full time they take on extra student loans to pay for housing and living expenses because they are not working during college. While some students are living on their parent’s support and have the luxury of not working and not taking additional student loans, they not be better off if they do not maintain a job and work ethic while in school. For many students, the flexibility of part-time and online course alternatives makes it easier to work and go to school. It may take longer to finish your education, but you can help pay towards your tuition while you are going and will have significantly less student loan debt when you graduate.

Know what you are getting into when you take financial aid and student loans to avoid buyer’s remorse.

Have you ever read the fine print when buying a car? You may nod your head and just sign on the dotted line. When you do this with student loan financial aid packages you might be putting yourself in the path of a bad deal and significant consequences if for some reason you are unable to make your regularly scheduled loan payments.

We recommend reading this CNBC article, How to pick a college that won’t leave you with a mountain of student loan debt to read some of the alarming facts and figures that might prompt you to play closer attention to what may seem like free money at the time.

At Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., we want everyone to take control of their financial future and success by sharing smart financial information and helping people working to reach their financial goals.

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. (312) 781-0996.

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

What would you do with the worst car loan known to man?

A young professional recently learned he had one of the worst car loan deals in history when he found out some extensions on his loan pushed the loan maturity date farther into the future than he expected.

The companies who make loans when others might decline the buyer

When people have struggling credit, or are financing a vehicle with considerable negative equity (they owe more than their trade is worth) there might be fewer options for conventional financing. Alternatively, there are companies who will make the loans to people who otherwise might not be approved. Unfortunately for the buyer, the companies who make the higher risk loans are not always the most honest and ethical.

The fine print and details in the terms of car loans is confusing, especially the information about how interest is calculated and how much of the payments are applied to the principal balance of the loan. Too often people need the new vehicle so bad that they are willing to sign just about anything to get the deal done and the keys in their hands.

Here’s what to watch out for if you have a high-risk car loan:

  • When do you make your payments?

Your car loan servicing company to whom you make payments can tell you exactly when you are supposed to make your payment. If you make it early, you could run into fines if that makes the next payment not made early occur more than 30 days after the first payment. Sounds confusing? There are all kinds of deadlines and time frames to watch out for to make sure your payment is made and received on time and the most amount of money possible, if any, is applied to the principal loan balance.

  • Allowed payment skips adding payments later:

Beware of the option to skip a payment this month and add it to the end of the loan. When you do this, you may be paying fees and interest that totals to a large amount of money many times more than your monthly payment. People who found out the hard way expected their loan payoff date to be very different than what the loan servicer was then saying. The way they calculate interest when you extend your payments is what can cost you so much more money.

  • Dealing with foreign-owned loan companies:

Many people believe they will be able to contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Better Business Bureau or a local attorney to help them with a problem they are having on a difficult car loan. If the company is foreign and not based in the U.S. you may have fewer options as to who can do something to help you. In some cases, you may be at the mercy of the foreign company who owns your car loan.

The young professional we mention at the beginning of this article encountered all the problems listed above and wonders if he is stuck paying a $20,000 car off to the point it becomes more than $40,000 worth of payments? How is that possible? It happens too often.

Bankruptcy may be an option if he wants to consider the impact of the bad car loan considering his entire financial picture. The bad deal might be an inconvenience, or it might be a deal breaker to the point a Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy looks rather appealing.

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!

New Credit Reporting Rules: Many may find relief from reports of tax liens and civil judgments

New rules provide credit score relief for some people who have tax liens and civil money judgments against them. Errors on consumer credit reports have been a problem for a long time and many people have incorrect information on their credit reports. New credit reporting rules take effect July 1 and change the way Trans Union, Experian and Equifax verify data regarding the reporting of tax liens and civil judgments. Now, the three credit reporting agencies must verify the individual’s name, address and either social security number or date of birth. Since so many companies omit social security numbers for privacy concerns, there may be a large group of people who will no longer have tax liens and civil judgements appearing on their credit reports. This should also help prevent future instances of information appearing on the wrong person’s credit report.

The purpose of credit reporting and monitoring

From applying for a cell phone account or utility to buying a car or home, our credit rating is used to determine where we stand on the scale of credit risk. With great credit, we present a low risk of not making our payments in full and on time. The volume of credit data and computer systems processing and sharing information open the door to error. If we do not check our credit scores frequently, someone else’s negative information could prevent you from being accepted for a mortgage loan or a new credit card. Imagine finding out your credit score was damaged by another person’s tax lien or the civil judgement entered against them.

How errors happen and how prevalent they may be

With tax liens alone, some estimates suggest that half of the tax lien information reported to the credit bureaus has ended up appearing on the wrong person’s credit report. When social security numbers are available to the individuals reporting tax liens, one missed number could cause the wrong person to receive a negative mark on their credit report.

Even if someone checks their credit frequently, or pays a few bucks every month for a credit monitoring service, the effort it can take to correct the mistake can be staggering.

How the new rules apply to tax liens and civil judgments

The rule change for reporting information to the credit bureaus about tax liens and civil judgements will require the verification of three pieces of vital information, the individual’s name, address, and either their social security number or date of birth.

By requiring three sets of identifying criteria be matched before receiving credit reporting data about tax liens and civil judgments, the likelihood of mismatches is significantly reduced.

The new rules take effect July 1. This article in USA Today has more information about the new rules and how they might apply to you.

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!

 

Tips on creating new rewards by playing the money saving game

Saving money is just as easy as spending money when you save a little at a time. Have you ever considered making a budget and thought you had more money to save until you realized that you spend more on gas, food and extras? Spending and saving money are simple habits that we develop. The same way we get in the habit of stopping for coffee on the way to work, we can just as easily get in the habit of making coffee at home and taking time to read the newspaper before leaving the house. There are many articles written on theories and plans for budgeting money. As you consider them, you may find something that speaks to you and makes sense. However, you decide to budget and save to get ahead, doing something is better than nothing and every big goal is reached by many small steps.

Budgets and discretionary spending money

Discretionary spending is supposed to be the use of money on little things we want here and there after our primary financial needs have been met. When you write out a monthly budget of your primary financial needs, do you include money to be stashed away for savings or a rainy-day fund? If not, you might think again about calling “extra” money “discretionary” when you have no savings.

How much do you need to save for unexpected and future expenses such as retirement? It all depends on what you really need to live. The people who maintain high standards of living in luxury will require significantly more money in savings and retirement, than do those who live conservatively. One budget does not fit everyone, but there are a few guidelines, including how much money you might consider spending on your housing, for example.

Tips on budgeting and creating saving habits

In the article, How to Budget Your Money With the 50/20/30 Guideline, there are tips and examples of budgets that consider your goals and help you get ahead.

Habits and reinforcers, are they key to many smart personal savings plans. Just as we form habits of getting our coffee from our own machine or at a coffee shop on the way to work, we can form habits of stashing money away instead of spending to get a reward. When we spend money buying things and consuming we trigger the reward center in our brain. What if instead of instant rewards, we look closer into the reward of instantly increasing our power to buy something in the future?

Spend money investing in yourself. We all get bored and may want a distraction from time to time. These are the moments when we spend money doing something to entertain ourselves or take our minds of other things. Instead of running out and spending money on something you don’t need, spend the same amount on yourself by putting that money into a savings account. The next time you want to spend some money and earn a reward, take a drive to the bank and deposit some more money to your savings account. Your teller receipt will keep showing your growing balance.

Reinforcing positive spending habits and being proud of yourself

Ask yourself, would you rather have that money building in your savings or the other thing or activity you would have spent the money on? Even if you only save money every other time you want to spend money, you may choose to save more often than you spend.

As you continue finding little ways to save more money here and there you can watch your savings continue increasing, and that gives you the same reward sensation as buying or consuming something you like. Just as you can plant a garden, watch it grow and enjoy its benefits, you may feel very protective and proud of that money you were able to save.

Next, ask yourself how you can find some more money in your budget to add to your savings. By spending a little time and energy you can negotiate reduced rates for your household and utility bills – there may be easily be $100 or more you can find to save by simply reducing your monthly bills. As you continue finding more ways to cut spending and increase savings, you are reinforcing good habits and giving yourself a greater reward.

Spending and saving money are habits and after a bankruptcy, you can create some fantastic new habits that can lead you directly to financial success!

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!

 

 

Amnesty Week, collection fees waived in Cook County April 17 through 21

Want to save money? This coming week is Amnesty Week at the Circuit Court Clerk’s office. From this Monday the 17th of April through Friday the 21st your collection fees will be waived when you pay your fines in person or by phone.

For more information visit www.cookcountyclerkofcourt.org

Clerk Dorothy Brown April 2017 Amnesty Week flyer

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!

How well do you know reverse mortgages?

By now, anyone who watches TV has likely seen advertisements for reverse mortgages. Targeted towards senior citizens who own their homes free and clear. Ads highlight that the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) insures over 98 percent of all the reverse mortgages in United States. A reverse mortgage loan allows a home owner, at least 62 years of age, to convert the equity in their home into cash. Some people take monthly payments, lines of credit as well as lump sums of cash as needed. The loan against the equity in the home is secured by the home itself.

When the owner passes away the loan becomes due in full and is often taken from the proceeds of the sale of the home. In other cases, a life insurance policy may be used to repay the loan if home and other property is given to others in a will. The lenders offering reverse mortgages charge fees and surcharges along the way. These fees and the terms of the loan are a function of the life expectancy of the home owner, the value of the home and other factors.

Doing your research is important. The more you can learn about the pros and cons of reverse mortgages, the better decisions you and your family can make.

As the reverse mortgage ads suggest, the children of aging parents can be involved in the process of researching reverse mortgage loans and the lenders. Even if your parents are well-able to manage their financial affairs, it is always helpful to get another opinion, especially when there are so many new financial opportunities for seniors budgeting for and funding their retirement years. While researching, pay attention to credible alerts and warnings published online. Be careful because in the sea of information there is plenty of what looks like news but is really advertising telling you that reverse mortgages are risk free and there is never a need to look any further.

The loans are only as good as the lenders. Homeowners considering reverse mortgages should be notified by their lender that while the reverse mortgage is in place, the homeowner must still pay taxes and insurance on the property and that is not something covered by the lender. Lenders may also charge high fees on loans and get away with it when working with seniors who may have less bargaining power in negotiating the terms of the loan. It is important to know what financial terms are reasonable in the current time and market. Knowing what the competition is offering makes it easier to negotiate a fair reverse mortgage loan.

Beware of what you are risking with reverse mortgage loans and be vigilant. If you must, hire a professional to help you negotiate a better deal and avoid the awful stories told by several loan victims.

Read these stories at Center for American Progress: Treasury Secretary Nominee Steve Mnuchin’s Bet Against Seniors:

  • Only press coverage stopped the eviction of a 103-year-old grandmother on a technicality
  • 92-year-old widow evicted for 27-cent shortfall
  • Foreclosure actions that defy common sense

At Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., we help get our clients a fresh start at financial success. We feel strongly that everyone should be financially successful when they have the right tools and knowledge to make the best deals that protect their savings and help grow for the future.

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!

 

Credit repair tips: Secured credit cards, limited balances and OptOutPrescreen.com

There are many misconceptions out there about which path is the right one to financial freedom and success. One thing to always ask yourself is, “Who has something to gain by the decision I make?” If you are researching whether bankruptcy or a debt repayment plan is going to work, you will likely hear a variety of things from people with a wide range of opinions regarding the best route to a good credit score. If you have bad credit because you fell on hard times, it can be fixed. People who file bankruptcies typically qualify for conventional home loans with competitive rates within four years of filing bankruptcy. In a bankruptcy, you can discharge some or all debt you cannot repay. After the bankruptcy, when you are not suffering from all that debt, it is easy to get a secured credit card or two and follow a few credit building rules if you want to qualify for a good mortgage.

How does credit scoring work, generally?

Your credit scores all vary slightly among the three major credit reporting bureaus, TransUnion, Innovis, Equifax and Experian. While it may seem like a mystery calculation behind the magic curtain, there are a few basic rules that make logical sense. Your credit scores reflect the amount of risk a lender is taking by giving you a loan, mortgage or credit card. The better the score, the more likely you are to pay your bills and loan payments on time. If you owe less debt and don’t have a dozen minimum monthly credit card payments, you likely have the money to pay your bills – this is your DTI – debt to income ratio. You want your income to be enough that after you pay your bills you have extra spending money to save for a rainy day. If that is you, you are less likely to default on your bills and loans.

Regarding credit cards, there is a similar calculation of how much credit you have and how much you use. The information on your credit report indicates how high your balance may be and the amount of your credit limit you use. A significant portion of your credit score is an equation of how much credit you have available and how much you use. People looking to get into a new mortgage are often told to never use more than 20 percent of the available balance on a credit card. So, if you get a credit card with a $300 limit, don’t charge more than $60 a month. Always make the payment on time but do carry a small balance instead of paying it off in full – because if the credit card company is reporting zero balances it looks like you have credit cards you are not using and that can hurt your score.

You can always get a secured credit card even if you don’t qualify for a regular credit card yet.

Secured credit cards are easy to obtain. Most local banks offer them. You pay a $200 deposit, for example and your secured card will have a $200 limit. You can use it to pay a small monthly bill or two, like Netflix, every month, and you are now boosting your credit score. If you fail to pay the credit card bill, the company cancels the card and you forfeit the deposit. If there are more charges you can be on the hook for them as well and a collector will hurt your credit score and call and harass you until you pay up. If you are working on credit to apply for a mortgage, use the same rules that apply to conventional credit cards, and always keep your balance due somewhere between 10 and 20 percent of the available balance on the card. Again, avoid maxing out the card, even if you pay it off every month in full or always make the minimum payments on time. Just like the debt to income ratio, your available to used credit is important to monitor.

The easiest thing to boost your credit may take only five minutes on OptOutPrescreen.com.

The credit bureaus encourage consumers to be educated about credit offers and opportunities with good interest rates. As your credit score starts rising you will start receiving pre-approval letters in the mail. The credit reporting companies share your improving credit information with these companies. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is the federal law that imposes rules and restrictions on credit companies. The law gives you the right to “Opt Out” of receiving credit offers. Did you know that taking advantage of your opportunity to opt out can raise your credit score, by 25 points in many cases?

Why does Joseph Wrobel Ltd. care about your credit score?

Our Chicago bankruptcy law firm has been around for decades and we have a solid reputation. We don’t put people into bankruptcies simply to earn a fee and move clients through a big law factory like some of the big bankruptcy firms. Instead, we focus on teaching potential clients about the options they have and how they can best fix their finances. We know that the bankruptcy will show up on your credit score and it may take a little while to be approved. What matters is not the bankruptcy or what lead to it, what matters is what you do after the bankruptcy. Following simple credit use tips and maintaining control over your finances can help you get back to a very good credit score much quicker than you realize. While we are not a credit score repair business, we do know a few things and have credit repair professionals who can help.

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!

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!