Category Archives: Bankruptcy Beyond The Basics

May 2017 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 the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustee take my IRS refund?
  • Will a prior credit counseling certificate work for my new bankruptcy?
  • How long can a creditor in Illinois file a lawsuit against you?
  • Am I responsible for my wife’s credit card debt?
  • Is it possible to vacate a dismissed bankruptcy?

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.

Using credit cards and boosting your credit score after bankruptcy

 

After a bankruptcy discharge of those pesky debts you don’t miss, your available cash flow is increased and you should have more spending power. Your credit score is a function of several variables, not a mean person sitting in judgment of you. As you have more cash flow and spending ability, the decision to extend credit to you is easier because you are more likely to pay the bills when you can afford to. Once you get new credit cards there are a few things you should do to maximize your opportunity to boost your credit score.

Your credit score is determined by a variety of financial factors:

  • Credit card utilization
  • Payment history
  • Derogatory marks
  • Age of credit history
  • Total accounts
  • Hard inquiries

When you use credit cards and are working on boosting your credit score to qualify for a new home, many credit advisors will tell you to use your credit cards but not more than 30 or 40 percent of the available credit rating. It’s a good idea to pay your fixed expenses such as phone or internet with the credit card. Since you know you must pay that bill anyways, why not build your credit?

The next step with the credit cards is setting up automatic minimum monthly payments to be made by your debit card or checking account so you never have to worry about a late payment. When you pay your bill, which is easy to do now on apps on your phone, do not pay the entire balance. It is better to leave a few dollars on your balance so that it appears you are actively using the card – once a month the credit cards send a report to the credit bureaus and if your balance is zero it may look like you are not using the card and that can damage your credit score.

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!

March 2017 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:

  • How can I keep my car when I file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy?
  • How can my bankruptcy come off my credit reports but still shows up in public record searches?
  • What happens to my house if I file bankruptcy and my name is on the deed but not the loan?
  • I surrendered my car in my bankruptcy but the finance company hasn’t picked it up, now what?
  • What does it mean if a creditor has written off debt that’s included in my Chapter 13 plan?

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.

January 2017 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:

  • What happens when my cosigner files for bankruptcy and I am still making loan payments?
  • Is filing bankruptcy the best option when there is a significant lawsuit filed against you?
  • Do I still have to pay when a credit card company writes off a debt as a charge off?
  • Can my tollway fines, and other tickets be included in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy?
  • Can I file bankruptcy to reduce or remove past child support obligations?

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.

7 situations leading people to take advantage of bankruptcy laws

Despite our best efforts at living responsible lives, paying our bills on time and saving for the future, bad things happen to good people. Instead of being saddled with debts you cannot pay and bill collectors hounding you, consider wiping the slate clear of misfortune and getting the fresh start you need with a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. These laws exist to level the playing field and help people out in the face of economic disaster. Most people who are fearful of bankruptcy report that after they filed for bankruptcy, the process was easy, painless, and led to a speedier economic recovery.

The following is a list of realistic situations that lead many people to seek bankruptcy protection:

  1. Your company went out of business.

In the news, we watch reports of manufacturing facilities and companies closing their doors for a variety of reasons. Many people who may have worked for these businesses, some for most their working life, have difficulties finding a new job with similar pay and benefits. Too often people take one or two jobs to make up lost income. In the meantime, bills can go unpaid or underpaid, and when it is your mortgage that falls behind to the point of foreclosure, bankruptcy may be the only way to save your shirt, and your home.

  1. You lost your ability to do work.

Injuries happen and may be nobody’s fault. A slip and fall at home shoveling a snowy and icy driveway can be enough to put you out of work. Ideally you can seek proper medical care and find a way to keep your job. When the inability to work cripples your finances and you risk losing it all, you can save yourself with bankruptcy protection. If injured at work you may be pursuing a worker’s compensation claim or a disability claim with Social Security regardless of where you were injured. These cases can take time and you may not be able to wait it out as the bill collectors become more aggressive and the bank or landlord is threatening foreclosure or eviction.

  1. An uninsured driver hit you and caused injuries.

Despite having your own insurance policy to protect against uninsured or under-insured motorists, there can be problems when insurance companies fail to pay or do not pay enough money to sustain your financial needs if you are injured, unable to work or have significant unexpected expenses. Being admitted to the hospital can be very expensive. It can also be expensive trying to pay a high deductible for health insurance if you are forced to seek recovery for injuries on your health insurance when drivers’ insurance fails to cover expenses. Suing the person who hit you without sufficient insurance can be a zero-sum game if the person has no assets. Bankruptcy may be your only way out from behind the financial eight ball.

  1. A divorce makes it impossible to pay old debts.

When things move from I do to I want out, the financial landscape changes very quickly. If you and your spouse were already barely making ends meet, the extra money for divorce lawyers and the additional expenses of supporting a spouse with temporary alimony, as well as court ordered child support can cripple an individual’s ability to keep up with debts and expenses. Divorce may trigger a good reason to use bankruptcy to wipe out credit card debts and old bills in collections. Please understand however, you may not use bankruptcy to eliminate your duty to pay child support or alimony.

  1. An investment or business deal failed.

Television shows about greedy swindlers and crooks show us how easily some people can lose their life savings in failed investment deals and scams. Whether the loss is a result of a swindler or simply an investment that failed to produce returns, your banks and creditors want their money and are not likely interested in your excuse of a failed business or investment deal that prevents you from keeping up with your bills. Bankruptcy may be the best option for you to eliminate debts you cannot repay after a financial loss.

  1. Missed and late payments affected payment arrangements.

In many payment arrangements, there is an acceleration clause stating that if you miss a certain number of payments during a period, you may be responsible for paying the full amount due. Collection companies may file suit against you to obtain a money judgment and try to seize your assets or garnish your wages. Depending on your finances and the amount you owe, a bankruptcy can stop this type of collection activity when you qualify for a Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy.

  1. You are sued and found liable for a wrong you cannot afford to right.

In a similar situation to a failed payment arrangement, a lawsuit and money judgment entered against you can also involve attempts to collect the amount of the judgment using asset and income seizures. When people are sued, the role of the court is to decide whether the plaintiff is owed money and how much. If you are the defendant and are sued and lose, all the plaintiff has over you is a court judgement. While that judgment would allow them to collect on the judgment, you have every right to get rid of it using bankruptcy. The court knows you have a right to use the bankruptcy laws and there is nothing a civil court judge can do if you chose to seek relief through bankruptcy laws.

When you for bankruptcy protection, the Automatic Stay provision kicks in and the collectors must cease and desist the phone calls and collection activity. You have an initial court appearance at the Notice of Creditors meeting and after that, most wait for further instructions, if any, from their bankruptcy attorney. The process can be accomplished in only a few short months in many cases, making bankruptcy one of the more efficient legal processes.

To learn more, call us at Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. to learn how we can help you. (312) 781-0996.

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!

 

November 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:

  • When I file Chapter 13, will the judge go over the credit card statements?
  • Can you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in another state from where the debt came from?
  • If I declare bankruptcy for my medical bills, will my wife be accountable for my bills?
  • What can I anticipate as the amount of Chapter 13 payments on a certain amount of debt?
  • Can I file for bankruptcy before an inheritance check comes in?

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.

5 ways to save money as business activity picks up now that the elections are over

Business and the economy generally, tend to slow down during election cycles. People are not spending as much money in retail stores and they seem to not make large purchases when the media tells them various reports about the state of the world and our country. It is also common for employers not to be hiring as many new employees during the tail end of an election cycle. Why does everything slow down? Humans do not like uncertainty. In a world of uncertainty, the natural reaction is to hold onto what you have and wait out the doubt. When the dust settles, and it always does, business and the economy picks up again and people have more money.

Here are a few things you can do to have a positive attitude to lead to new financial success:

  1. Apply for a new job.

Even if you are doing well, you can look for a job that makes more money. The most employable people are the ones who are happily employed. Of course, keep your job hunt quiet, don’t jeopardize your current position. If you are unemployed, remind yourself that the election is over and companies are going to start hiring again. Keep a positive attitude and you will find the perfect job you love.

  1. Start your own business.

While you keep your primary job, find a way to make some new money with a side business, assuming your employer allows it. You could do something as simple as making bird houses in the garage and sell them online. There are all kinds of work from home small business opportunities that require little to no startup money or inventory.

  1. Refinance your home.

There are more and more new finance companies finding new and creative ways to refinance your mortgage and save some money. When it comes to refinancing, we often assume the answer will be negative or it will take too much time and hassle. It is a good idea to ask your friends on social media for referrals to financial professionals who can help you work on refinancing.

  1. Do a credit cleanup.

There are credit repair companies, not to be confused with debt consolidation companies, who use sophisticated methods to dispute zombie debt and incorrect negative information on your credit reports. For less than the cost of a vacation, you can pay a professional to help boost your credit score so you can save money and have the credit available when you need it.

  1. Renegotiate your utilities.

You never know when your electric companies, cell phone and Internet providers have special deals. All you must do is call and ask a customer service person if there is any way you could save money on your bill. Sometimes people end up paying late and end up with increased rates and never realize it. The more you talk to the people at the utilities, the better you can learn how they charge and how you can save money.

When we focus on thinking positively and taking small steps towards financial success, we can start achieving our goals. Sometimes it is slow making progress, but when you set reasonable goals and start seeing results, it reinforces your willingness to keep at it, until you have whatever you want in life.

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!

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!