February 26, 2020

Middle Class Debtors Often Victims of Falsehoods and Misrepresentations

Man shoutingLast week, a former client called and tried to refer me a new Chapter 13 client who was facing foreclosure.  While I appreciated the referral, I could not take the case because the potential client was calling from out of town at 5pm on the Monday before his house was schedule to be sold at a foreclosure sale on the courthouse steps.  The potential client did not have a credit counseling certificate and because he had filed before twice, the automatic stay would not go into effect even if he did file.

During our conversation, the potential client told me that he had been negotiating with his mortgage company and that until that Friday, he was led to believe that a modification and restructuring of his loan was likely.

I hear the same story from vehicle owners who have fallen behind by two or more payments but who are talking to the customer service reps at their lenders.  I remember one case involving a woman who had never had any credit problems before but was struggling to pay her car note because of a job layoff.

She explained that while she was talking to the customer service agent, her conversations were friendly and the agent assured her that the lender wanted to work with her.  Two days later, after the car was picked up, the agent’s tone became much more hostile and my client was told that she would need to pay the entire balance 1 or her vehicle would be sold at auction.  We ended up filing a Chapter 13 and used a Complaint for Turnover to get the vehicle back.

My point is this: if you have led a respectable middle class lifestyle, there is a good chance that you have had minimal contact with loss prevention personnel employed by vehicle lenders or mortgage companies.  You tend to believe that most people – especially employees of major corporations – are going to tell you the truth.

It may not have occurred to you to think that a mortgage company representative would lie to you about a modification to prevent you from taking action (i.e., Chapter 13) to stop a foreclosure or that a vehicle lender would lie to you about a payment plan so that your vehicle would be easy to find by the repo man.

Unfortunately when you are facing debt, especially on big ticket items like houses or cars, the company representatives will out and out lie to you and there is not much you can do about it.

Yes, we can stop, but not “undo” a foreclosure. We can get your car back after repossession if you act quickly.  But you are much better off acting proactively than reactively.

So if you are like a lot of my clients – someone who has always paid his bills and has never had to deal with late payment or collection phone calls – do not allow yourself to be victimized by company representatives who stretch the truth (lie) about your payment options.  Instead, call a bankruptcy lawyer like me to gain perspective about what you are really facing.  I am happy to help you – my number is 770-393-4985 or you can reach me by email as well.

  1. This is what is known as an acceleration clause in the contract.
About Jonathan

Jonathan Ginsberg represents honest, hardworking men and women in the Atlanta area who need personal bankruptcy protection. In practice for over 25 years, Jonathan teaches bankruptcy law and practice at legal continuing education seminars and he is a founding member of the Bankruptcy Law Network. Jonathan lives with his wife and children in Atlanta.

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