April 3, 2020

How to Protect Yourself from Vehicle Repossession In Case of Coronavirus Layoff

If you have lost your job due to the coronavirus crisis, you are likely in survival mode. Your immediate goal should be to “shelter in place” to protect your health and that of your family. Beyond that, whatever funds you have need to be allocated to food and shelter.

But what about transportation? Is your vehicle at risk of repossession even in a time of national emergency? What steps can you take to protect your car or truck?

Your first course of action should be to find out how your vehicle lender intends to handle what is likely to be an increase in delinquencies. If you have not done so already, visit your vehicle lender’s website to see if they have any “coronavirus” relief programs in place. Currently, for example, Ford Motor Credit, GM Financial, Toyota Financial Services, Hyundai Finance and others have plans available. [Read More…]

What Can You Do if Your Lawyer Failed to Ask for a Reaffirmation Agreement from Your Mortgage Company?

Recently I received an email from a woman who filed bankruptcy several years ago and who recently discovered that her lawyer had not requested or filed a reaffirmation agreement. She has been current on her mortgage before, during and after her bankruptcy but because there was no reaffirmation agreement filed, the mortgage lender is not reporting her on-time payments to the credit bureaus.

She would like to rebuild her credit and believes, correctly, that on-time mortgage payments would be a big help to improving her credit score. However, her case has been closed for almost three years and she doesn’t know if she has any options.

She saw one of my videos where I suggested that refinancing her mortgage could be an option but she is concerned about “rocking the boat” with her mortgage company and possibly losing her house to foreclosure.

She is asking me what she should do. [Read More…]

How do You Protect Yourself Financially During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

How can you best protect yourself when the national and local economies are rocked by unexpected disruptions?

Almost overnight, the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus has decimated dozens of industries – food service, hospitality, retail, transportation, education, government and any business that relies on face to face interaction.

While the government is promising some relief and some creditors are offering short term deferments, the likelihood is that business will not return to normal anytime soon and that we have entered into a “new normal.”

So how do you respond? [Read More…]

How Should You Deal With Creditors If You Lose Income Due to the Corona Virus?

How should you handle your creditors if you experience an unexpected drop in income, a layoff or loss of that part time job that was keeping you afloat?

In March, 2020, the economy in Georgia and throughout the United States took a huge hit with the spread of the COVID-19 corona virus. Over the course of a week, the narrative from Washington changed from “we have this under control” to “do not leave your home.” Professional sports leagues have shut down, restaurants have discontinued in location seating, airlines have parked airplanes and just about every type of business was and is being affected. [Read More…]

What Should You Do About a Surprise Wage Garnishment?

unexpected wage garnishmentIn my Atlanta area bankruptcy practice I sometimes get calls from a very anxious man or woman who tells me that their payroll office has received a wage garnishment order but the employee has no idea why or where it came from. What should they do? Here is how I would approach this problem.

First, understand that you have to move quickly. If your employer receives an order of continuing wage garnishment, they have to honor it within 45 days – here is what the summons looks like.

If your employer does not honor the garnishment and withhold wages, your employer can be “punished” for not obeying the order by having the entire judgment held against the employer. debt. Needless to say, your employer does not want to get stuck paying your debts.

Who is the Plaintiff?

Your first step should be to find out who the plaintiff (creditor) is in your case and the basis of their claim. If the holder of the garnishment order is a student loan creditor or a taxing authority, different rules apply and you need to speak to a lawyer immediately.

If the claim is from a collection agency, there is a good chance that this debt has been sold multiple times by creditors and collection agencies so you may not recognize the name of the collection agency.

For example, if you owe a debt to Chase Bank for a credit card, Chase may have sold that debt to Allied Systems, who may have sold it to LVNV or some other agency. Do not assume that the claim is bogus simply because you do not recognize the name of the plaintiff. [Read More…]

Can You be Thrown in Jail for Not Paying Your Credit Card Debt?

“Can I be thrown in jail for not paying my credit card debt?” What about other unsecured debt like a broken apartment lease, a car repossession deficiency, medical bills or personal loans?

jailed for contempt of court

The short answer to this question is “no,” there is no debtor’s prison in the United States and an unsecured creditor like a credit card company cannot contact your local police department and have you picked up and thrown in jail.

[Read More…]

Do You Want to Give Money You Don’t Owe to a Credit Card Company?

This is not a trick question.

I received this letter today from American Express regarding the balance owed by one of my Chapter 13 bankruptcy clients whose case was dismissed.  The letter acknowledges that because of the age of the debt, Amex cannot sue my former client, nor can they report the unpaid balance to the credit bureaus.  Yet they are giving him the opportunity to “settle” this debt for 45% of the balance.

Can you think of any reason why anyone would pay Amex anything on this stale account?  I can’t.  But I wonder how many people agree to make payments and possible waive the statute of limitations bar to collections.  If you get a letter with a notice that the debt is stale, don’t even think about making a payment.

Can You File Bankruptcy if You Have Been the Victim of Identity Theft?


If you have been a victim of identity theft, you can file bankruptcy but you need to be prepared for potential complications.

Identity theft is a big problem in 2018 and a number of large retailers and even credit bureaus have been hacked. Personal and financial information about millions of Americans is available for sale on the “dark web” and criminals use this stolen data to open credit card accounts, sign for personal loans, and even buy houses and cars. You will not know that there was a problem at all until the bills start to arrive.

I have personally been a victim of identity theft twice. One time, a thief got hold of my credit card number and charged $5,000 to a custom suit maker in Hong Kong. In another instance, a fraudster hacked my American Express account and purchased (and picked up) a high end desktop Mac. In both of these situations the credit card company accepted my fraud report and canceled all charges. [Read More…]

How the Georgia “Wildcard” Exemption Can Save You Thousands When You File Bankruptcy

When you file either a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you are allowed to declare certain property as “exempt.” Exempt property does not count as an asset for bankruptcy calculations. This is why you will not have to give up household items like your clothes, kitchen utensils and furniture when you file bankruptcy.

Exemption analysis can be one of the more confusing parts about filing bankruptcy. The Bankruptcy Code says that every state has the option of creating its own list of exemptions or state legislatures can defer and use a list of exemptions set out in the Bankruptcy Code.

The Georgia legislature has chosen to “opt out” of the federal scheme and the Georgia legislature has passed a list of exemptions which can be found at the Official Code of Georgia, section 44-13-100. [Read More…]

Why You Must Pay Your Mortgage Directly After Filing Chapter 13

If you are behind on your mortgage, you can use Chapter 13 to stop a pending foreclosure and repay missed payments over the 5 year term of your Chapter 13 plan. However, filing your Chapter 13 case is only the first step in saving your home.

In Atlanta area Chapter 13 cases, your repayment plan will include a section which says that you agree to send in your regular mortgage payments as they come due during the term of your Chapter 13 plan. Your Chapter 13 trustee payment includes payments to the mortgage company to repay missed payment. Ongoing, future payments, must be paid directly to the mortgage company outside your plan.

Making your mortgage payments directly to your mortgage lender is part of your plan obligations.  Both your mortgage payment obligation and your obligation to pay your trustee start immediately after you file your case.  In fact, you will not be able to get your Chapter 13 case confirmed (approved) by the judge if your post-petition mortgage payments are not up to date. [Read More…]

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