New Bedford MA

New Bedford Massachusetts Bankruptcy Lawyers Anthony Bucacci and Robert Simonian (508)673-9500

WHAT BILL COLLECTORS CAN AND CANNOT DO

Bill collectors can be very persistent while trying to collect money, as many may know. However, people may not know that The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act extends substantial protection to people from collectors by making certain practices illegal in Massachusetts and the rest of the United States.

Many people do not know their rights under the law, but having an understanding of your rights can protect you from harassment and intimidation. Below is a list of many things that bill collectors cannot do while trying to get money for a bill, and what you can do if you believe that your rights have been violated. Also listed below is what bill collectors cannot do while trying to collect money.

What Collectors Cannot Do

  • Collectors cannot call after 9 p.m. or before 8 a.m.
  • Collectors cannot call many times a day about the same bill.
  • Collectors cannot contact a person if the person sends the collectors a letter that says the person does not want to be contacted again regarding the bill.
  • Collectors cannot call the person’s job if the person asks the collectors to stop.
  • Collectors cannot show up at a person’s job.
  • Collectors cannot harass people who owe money.
  • Collectors cannot threaten the people who owe money. This includes: using inappropriate language, threatening violence, threatening to take property away illegally, or threatening to have someone arrested.
  • Collectors cannot threaten to sue without meaning it.
  • Collectors cannot lie about which company the collector works for. Collectors cannot pretend to be attorneys, the government, or to work for a credit bureau.
  • Collectors cannot lie about the amount of money that is owed.
  • Collectors cannot say a form that was sent was a legal document if it wasn’t.
  • Collectors cannot publicize the fact someone owes money. Collectors cannot tell anyone besides the person who owes the money, the person’s spouse, and the person’s attorney about the money owed.
  • Collectors cannot publish the bill’s existence somewhere that someone else may see it, including on a post card.

If a collector does anything which violates the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, the person may contact the state’s attorney general, the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or an attorney for help.

However, there are many things that a collector can do to try to get the money owed.

What Collectors Can Do

  • Collectors can call daily, in between the hours of 8 am and 9 pm.
  • Collectors can send frequent letters.
  • Collectors can try to find out a person’s current contact information by calling family and friends.
  • Collectors can sue for the money.
  • Collectors can call a person’s workplace until the person asks the collector to stop.
  • Collectors can try to get the money owed even if too much time has passed for the collector to sue the person.
  • Collectors can sell the money owed, and another collection company may take over.

Being pressured by collectors can be extremely stressful and you may want to consider filing for bankruptcy. Even if the collectors are acting lawfully, their contact can still be annoying and disruptive. It can also be hard to tell when a collector crosses the line from legal to illegal territory. Contacting a bankruptcy attorney can take care of a lot of the stress from the collector, and the person who owes the money can be certain that their rights are being protected and advocated for. If you are being contacted by a collection agency and looking to erase your bills by filing for personal bankruptcy, please contact the Law Office of Bucacci and Simonian at 508-673-9500 for your free and confidential bankruptcy attorney consultation.

The Facts About Filing Bankruptcy

Based on CBP data, we find that people are living longer in the financial stress sweatbox before filing bankruptcy than they have in the past.

Two-thirds of people who file bankruptcy reported struggling with their debts for two or more years before filing for bankruptcy.

One-third of people reported struggling for more than five years, double the frequency from the CBP’s survey of people who filed bankruptcy in 2007.

For those people who struggle for more than two years before filing — the “long strugglers” — we find that their time in the sweatbox is marked by persistent debt collection calls, the loss of homes and other property, and going without healthcare, food, and utilities just to make minimum payments on only some of their bills.

There is no need to live like this. The longer you wait means the longer your road to recovery. Although long strugglers do not file bankruptcy until long after the benefits outweigh the costs, they still report being ashamed of needing to file.

It is often much better to end the stress and anxiety and not delay repairing your life. The longer you wait the longer your relationships with others suffer and the more unhealthy stress and anxiety builds up.

Bankruptcy is for the most part a confidential process and your friends, family and neighbors will not know unless you tell them that you filed for bankruptcy. You should not feel ashamed to file for bankruptcy and it is not a sign of failure or defeat.

Most people need a fresh start in life at least once in their life. From start to finish, no one you encounter in the bankruptcy process will make you feel guilty or ashamed.

At Bucacci and Simonian we are not judgmental of your situation. We are here to help you.

Every year we have to meet with and file bankruptcies for our friends, family members of friends, colleagues, business associates and people we have know for many years. The best way to look at your situation is that it is no different than going to the doctor when you are too sick to recover on your own and you need professional help.

Call us today for a free confidential bankruptcy consultation.

We are Massachusetts bankruptcy attorneys who have been helping people with their financial problems for well over 25 years. Call Bucacci & Simonian at 508-673-9500 for a free and confidential consultation today.

Debt is Threatening Retirement Dreams

Many Americans are bringing more than just their bucket lists with them into retirement. According to a recent analysis by MagnifyMoney, a growing number of Americans are carrying burdensome debt into their 50s and beyond.

The biennial MRRC study surveys more than 20,000 Americans 50 and older on a range of financial topics. MagnifyMoney found the latest results revealed a number of debt trends that threaten to undermine the retirement goals of many older Americans.

Debt On the Rise

Both the percentage of older Americans carrying debt and the amount of debt they’re carrying are on the rise. As recently as 1998, roughly 37 percent of Americans age 56 to 61 carried debt, with an average debt load of $3,634 in 2012 dollars, according to MRRC research. By comparison, today, 42 percent of Americans that age carry debt and with an average debt load of $17, 623.00.

The trend isn’t explained away by higher mortgage costs, either.

According to MagnifyMoney’s analysis, almost one-third (32 percent) of older Americans carry non-mortgage debt on a month-to-month basis, with an average of $12,490. Of that, $4,786.00, on average, is credit card debt, represents its own significant challenge for Americans as they near retirement.

Credit Card Debt Weighs Heavily

Some 40 percent of older Americans have at least $5,000 in credit card debt,; 22 percent owe more than $10,000 — an amount exceeding what most of them have in their checking accounts.

Saving For Retirement

When you are caught in the trap of using your paycheck to pay credit card or debt minimum payment and they find yourself using the available credit to buy essentials like food, gas and medicine you start to get on an endless treadmill and accumulate no saving for your retirement. Many American stop contributing to their 401(K) plans and retirement plans so they can have extra money in their pay check and make minimum payments on debts that never seem to go down.

Consider Filing for Bankruptcy

If you are approaching retirement within 15 to 20 years and find yourself on the endless treadmill of paying minimum payments and not saving for your retirement you may want to consider filing bankruptcy. You can get a fresh financial start in life, get you feet on the ground and your head above water. Call us today for a free, confidential, no obligation bankruptcy consultation today.

Your Bankruptcy Discharge

Your bankruptcy discharge is more than a document from the bankruptcy court.  It is a federal court order prohibiting creditors from collecting the discharged debt from you. The important part here is discharged debt. Although you receive a discharge that does not mean all debt was discharged for example student loans and some taxes.

When creditors ignore a federal court order, it can have serious consequences for them.

Discharge applies to most creditors

All creditors who got notice of your bankruptcy are subject to the discharge injunction, with a few exceptions. That’s why it is very important to list everyone who thinks you owe them money in your bankruptcy schedules. It is better to be safe by listing anyone you may owe money to and anyone who may think you owe them money. If the creditor was properly listed and properly notified of the bankruptcy filing they will have little or no excuse as to why they attempted to collect on a discharged debt. You may have a good cause of action against the creditor if they harass you or attempt to collect on a debt after receiving the discharge.

When collector calls after bankruptcy

Whether it’s a debt buyer or the original creditor occasionally you will encounter a collector after your bankruptcy case is over. If that happens, make sure you tell the collector about your bankruptcy discharge, give them your case number and your attorney’s name and phone number.  To have a legal remedy for the violation of the discharge, you will need to prove that the collector knows about the discharge. You should keep notes about who called, the date, time, the person you spoke to, etc. If they call more than once after you informed them of the discharge, case number and attorney’s name it is important to call your bankruptcy lawyer immediately

Suing creditors to enforce the discharge

If a creditor is ignoring the bankruptcy discharge you may be able to sue them in bankruptcy court and recover damages and attorney’s fees. The amount of your recovery will depend on many factors including: the amount of stress and anxiety they caused you, if you were denied credit because of their actions, if you need to seek medical treatment due to the stress, if your credit score drops because of their actions and any other damages you can prove and demonstrate.

You can enforce the discharge against your creditors

If creditors who were discharged in your bankruptcy case continue to harass you, call your bankruptcy lawyer immediately.  Save all the evidence about how the creditor harassed you. You should not ignore attempts to collect a discharged debt. Take careful notes or all contact they have made with you including all phone calls and save all letters, emails and texts that you receive. If you suffer damages it is important to document all damages. This will help your bankruptcy attorney if the matter goes to court.

How to Handle Bankruptcy and Divorce at the Same Time

Divorce and bankruptcy are among the most stressful and emotionally fraught experiences anyone can endure, and dealing with both at the same time can seem overwhelming.

If you’re facing that prospect, it may be hard to take comfort in assurances about new beginnings (however true they are), but maybe it will help to know others have made it through the ordeal, and to learn some proven strategies for making the processes go as smoothly as possible.

Is It Wise to File for Bankruptcy Before Getting Divorced?

Before putting divorce and bankruptcy into motion, you should understand that it’s unlikely the two proceedings can truly take place simultaneously. You can file legal motions at the same time, but in most jurisdictions one case will take precedence over the other. If both cases are pending simultaneously, bankruptcy is typically suspended until the divorce court apportions marital debts and assets to each party.

Juggling the two legal actions will only complicate your situation, so for simplicity’s sake, you may want to consider filing for divorce before tackling bankruptcy. Certain circumstances, however, can make it more desirable to file bankruptcy first, and then address divorce.

Deciding the best order in which to handle divorce and bankruptcy will depend on your financial situation and the laws that apply in the jurisdiction where you live. You should consult legal counsel before starting either process to determine which makes the most sense for you. In a nutshell, here are the advantages to handling divorce before bankruptcy, and vice-versa.

When Does It Make Sense to File for Bankruptcy Before Divorce?

A main advantage to filing bankruptcy before divorce is the potential for cancelling joint marital debts that would otherwise have to be divided up as part of divorce proceedings, and then tackled separately in each spouse’s bankruptcy. A joint bankruptcy filing requires cooperation between the spouses, but it can significantly streamline the divorce process, reducing legal fees and time commitment for both parties.

In many states, a couple filing for bankruptcy can keep a larger portion of their assets than they would when filing for bankruptcy individually, after a divorce.
When Does It Make Sense to File for Divorce Before Bankruptcy?

The main case for filing for divorce before bankruptcy has to do with meeting the qualifications in your state for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In contrast with Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which cancels certain types of debt but requires negotiating with creditors to structure a yearslong repayment plan, Chapter 7 cancels qualifying debts altogether. To meet the qualifications for Chapter 7, your income must fall below than that of the median for your state. In households where one spouse earns most or all of the income, completing a divorce before filing for bankruptcy can enable both parties to qualify for individual Chapter 7 bankruptcies.

What Happens to Your Credit After Divorce?

Whether you pursue divorce or bankruptcy first, it’s important to know going in that it may not be possible for either process to completely disentangle your finances from your soon-to-be ex-spouse’s.

For example, Chapter 13 plans on marital debt may leave both parties legally responsible for repayments. There are also categories of debt that bankruptcy cannot discharge (student loans, for example), and if you or your spouse cosigned on such a loan, you may be equally responsible for seeing to it that those debts are paid, even after divorce and bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy has severe, long-lasting negative consequences for individuals’ credit scores and eligibility for loans or credit cards. While divorce doesn’t directly affect individuals’ credit, the aftermath of divorce can lead to circumstances that bring down credit scores as well. Those situations—and the long road to recovery from the credit impact of bankruptcy—will only be complicated if either party withholds payments or otherwise uses joint debt to spite the other party.

Getting through bankruptcy and divorce is never easy, but with a sound strategy and some good faith on the part of both spouses, it’s possible to move on from them and start regaining a solid financial footing within a few years.

Things to consider about Bankruptcy and Divorce

Should you file before or after divorce? 

This is a question many divorcing couples ask and the answer depends upon what joint assets and debts you have and what assets you intend to keep after the divorce. For most couples, this question is answered by whether or not you own a home, have equity in it, and one of you intends to keep it and who is residing in the home. In most cases, it is advisable to file bankruptcy jointly before the divorce. You should always consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney when you first consider divorcing. Most often it is better to jointly resolve your debt issues before the divorce as it is one major component of divorce that can be quickly resolved and leave one less issue to argue over.

It is always best if both spouses can work together before the divorce is filed. It is important to rationally discuss the financial issues and come to a joint decision when possible. When communication breaks down and the parties cannot discuss matters together it often hurts both parties. An experienced bankruptcy lawyer should be able to discuss this with both spouses and make a recommendation that is in both parties interests.

Bankruptcy, child support and alimony.

Generally speaking, as a matter of public policy, both child support and alimony are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. However, by filing Chapter 13, a spouse obligated to pay support can pay the past due support in their chapter 13 bankruptcy plan and pay them over three or five years. Also, having the other debts discharged in bankruptcy and having one lower monthly payment can often make support payments more manageable.

Should you file bankruptcy jointly or individually?

The answer to this question depends mostly upon the nature of your relationship. For most divorcing couples, it is best to file jointly if at all possible; however, not every couple going through a divorce has the ability to work together on a joint filing.

Filing bankruptcy jointly means doubling your bankruptcy exemptions, increasing the amount of property and assets that can be protected in bankruptcy and from your creditors. If you own a home and one of you intends to retain it after the divorce, you can apply for the homestead exemption and protect the equity from your creditors.

If one of you files bankruptcy prior to divorcing and the other does not, the non-filer will be responsible for all joint debt that is discharged as far as their creditors are concerned. This often causes a problem for the spouse who did not file for bankruptcy and can become an issue in the divorce. The spouse who did not file will be responsible for the formerly joint debt.

Again, there are some instances where filing individually can be beneficial and you should always consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney in the early stages of the divorce. Your divorce attorneys should work together with your bankruptcy attorney to achieve the best result.

The division of assets in a divorce and the effects on bankruptcy.

If you file bankruptcy after your divorce, the division of assets in your divorce property settlement agreement will control what assets you must exempt from your bankruptcy estate. Assets that you are to receive in the future may or may not be exempt. All of your assets provided for in the property settlement agreement must be disclosed in your bankruptcy petition. Also alimony and child support will count as income for the person receiving it and will count as an expense for the person paying it.

12 Reasons For Filing a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Reasons For Filing a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy1. There is a lot more flexibility when you file a chapter 13 bankruptcy. You can dismiss the case voluntarily at any time or convert it to chapter 7 bankruptcy at any time. You can modify your plan if your income changes if income changes or you decide to give up a house or a car. You can refinance or sell a house during the plan.

2. A chapter 13 bankruptcy can stop or prevent a foreclosure when you are behind on mortgage payments. You will have to pay the past due payments and continue paying the regular monthly payments going forward.

3. You can strip off and remove a second mortgage, reduce the mortgage balance of an investment or multifamily home and you can reduce the loan balance of an automobile loan.

4. More debts can be discharged in a chapter 13 bankruptcy as opposed to a chapter 7 bankruptcy such as alimony and divorce payments and money owed for malicious and willful acts.

5. Attorney’s fees can be incorporated into the bankruptcy plan. You will not have to come up with a lot of money at first and usually the attorney’s fees only reduce what the creditors receive and do not increase your payment.

6. You do not have to reaffirm an automobile loan in order to keep a car.

7. You can solve a tax problem in a chapter 13 bankruptcy and pay back at a rate that you can afford and stop tax levies.

8. You can solve a child support arrears problem in a chapter 13 bankruptcy and pay the past due amount over time, usually 36 to 60 months.

9. You can protect property that is not exempt in a chapter 7 bankruptcy and keep everything you own.

10. If an automobile loan payment is too high, you can stretch out your loan balance over 36 to 60 months and lower your monthly payment.

11. If you have filed a chapter 7 bankruptcy within the last 8 years and are not eligible to file another one until 8 years have passed you can file a chapter 13 bankruptcy and make a small monthly payment and still receive a discharge from you new debts.

12. You can protect a co-debtor from collection activity while the chapter 13 bankruptcy is pending.

This is not an exhaustive list of reasons where a chapter 13 bankruptcy may be a better choice over a chapter 7 bankruptcy. You should consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney for a full evaluation of your case.

The Three Biggest Bankruptcy Fears

Maybe you’ve been thinking about it. You know that your life might just get better if you do it. But, like most people, you’re downright scared of filing bankruptcy.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Bankruptcy doesn’t have to be a last resort, but it is a serious step, and it does carry consequences.

That said, most of the dire predictions people hear (on the Internet and elsewhere) about the “tragedy” of filing bankruptcy, or the inescapable complications they’ll face, just do not materialize. Let’s explore why. . . .

Never Qualifying for a Mortgage (or a Car Loan or a Credit Card) Again

Of course, you will be able to buy a house or a car or get a credit card again, and it will happen much sooner than you would probably think. Most people believe that they can’t get any credit for seven or 10 years, based on the length of time a bankruptcy will appear on their credit bureau report. In reality, you’ll be able to get credit very soon after your case is concluded and your debts are discharged.

How can that be? After all, didn’t you just wipe out a bunch of credit balances? Who would want to take a chance on you? As it turns out, plenty of lenders will. There is no law that would prevent a creditor from extending credit to you. In fact, there are creditors who market to people who recently completed bankruptcy cases. These creditors know that your future bankruptcy options are limited for 4 years, so their chances of losing money on you through bankruptcy are very, very small. Plus, these lenders can use your recent financial circumstances to justify charging you a higher interest rate. Add to that the fact that you’ve just freed up resources by getting rid of debt and suddenly you’re a person they want to extend credit to.

Companies offer secured and unsecured credit cards to recent bankruptcy filers. Many debtors also report that local car dealerships send them letters offering to help them re-establish credit with new and used car deals. In fact, many borrowers can qualify for an FHA or VA loan just one year after a Chapter 13 bankruptcy or two years after a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

No doubt you’ll probably pay more for your credit immediately after a bankruptcy, but within about two years or so, with a clean record and good payment history, your credit score could rise to a very respectable level that will allow you to obtain good, if not excellent credit rates very quickly.

I Will Lose All My Property

In less than 10% of personal bankruptcy cases will individual debtors be required to turn over any property or assets to the bankruptcy trustee. For most filers, their personal property and the equity in their real estate will be exempt and protected. Each state either has its own exemption scheme or makes use of the scheme included in the federal bankruptcy laws. For the most part, these exemptions will be generous enough to cover your property.  In Massachusetts you have a choice of either federal or state exemptions and the exemptions are quite generous.

My Friends, Family or Coworkers Will Find Out I Filed For Bankruptcy!

What our friends and family think of us is a powerful motivator. The fear that our bankruptcy filing will become public knowledge can be paralyzing and overwhelming. For many, the stress of dealing with obnoxious bill collectors pales in comparison to the possibility that someone we know will find out about our bankruptcy case and that you have money troubles.

Bankruptcy cases are public court records, but generally, the information on an individual bankruptcy case is not published unless it is newsworthy. The filer’s creditors are notified by mail, along with certain government agencies, but the days of publishing a bankrupt’s name in a list in the legal notices of the local newspaper are long gone in Massachusetts. The chances of your acquaintances finding out are very low unless you tell them yourself or they go to the Massachusetts Bankruptcy Court’s clerk’s office to research your name.

It may ease your mind a little bit to know that about one in 10 adults will file bankruptcy sometime over the course of their lives. It is a lot more common than you believe. So, next time you’re in church or at a family gathering, think about how there’s a good chance someone sitting near you has or will file bankruptcy. You’re not alone at all.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy vs. Debt Consolidation

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy vs. Debt Consolidation. When is Bankruptcy Better than Debt Consolidation

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the situations in which bankruptcy may be the best option as opposed to debt consolidation.

When is Bankruptcy Better than Debt Consolidation?

Debt consolidation doesn’t work for everyone and is usually very situation specific. If someone doesn’t have enough income to pay the loan payments in addition to their living expenses, then even if they qualify for a loan they’ll likely end up in the same situation in a short period of time afterwards. Many people need to get a fresh start and put the financial distress behind them. This can be achieved quickly through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which wipes all debts except a few non-dischargeable debts like taxes, child support or student loans. Debt consolidation is essentially getting a new larger loan to clear up all existing debt. This now requires you to make a larger payment to one lender. If you find yourself using your paycheck to pay the loan payment and now relying on the credit cards for living expenses such as gas and food you really did not solve the problem. In fact, you may make the problem worse by ending up with a lot more debt than when you started. A fresh start can also be achieved in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy after completion of a repayment plan that pays a smaller portion of un-secured debts and discharges most of the rest. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy you no longer have interest and late fees so it really begins on a certain date and ends on a certain date.

If creditors are suing or threatening to sue a debtor to obtain a court judgment and begin garnishing wages or bank account funds, a debt consolidation loan will do nothing to stop those lawsuits or collection efforts until the loan goes through and those debts are paid. That can take several weeks or more. Depending on where things are in the process, the debtor may not have time to secure a consolidation loan before the judgment is entered or the garnishing begins. Often when you are at the point where you are being sued by your creditors your credit is not good enough to get a loan large enough to pay the creditors. However, a bankruptcy’s automatic stay requires all creditors to immediately stop collection efforts and court actions until the stay is lifted, the bankruptcy is discharged.

Bankruptcy has many other advantages. These options should be discussed with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer and debt management attorney before deciding on the proper course of action. Your attorney’s experience and familiarity with debt issues can save you a great deal of money, resources and valuable time.

In Massachusetts bankruptcy attorneys Robert Simonian and Anthony Bucacci can assist in identifying a workable and advantageous solution to your debt issues and help you take action towards the right resolution.

Debt Consolidation vs. Debt Management Programs

It is easy to confuse a debt consolidation loan with a debt management program. A debt management program does not eliminate your many debts. Instead, your single payment is divided among your creditors by the debt management agency, who also takes a portion of your payment. Some programs are ok, especially non-profit and government agency sponsored programs, but many private sector programs are nothing more than scams in which the management firm is the only one who gets paid and debtors often end up in worse shape than before. It is very important to consider what the proposed monthly payment is and if you can actually afford that amount. Be very careful of a company that does not ask that first because they probably do not have your best interest in mind. Many debt management companies are a little deceitful by leading you to believe they are somehow affiliated with a government agency. Often this is not true and people blindly send money to the company only to find out they are doing little or nothing for them except taking your money. Also a lot of debt settlement companies use high pressure sales tactics and do not tell you about the tax consequences of debt settlement and you will end up owing the IRS for the forgiven debts. In bankruptcy there are no tax consequences and you truly get a fresh start. With debt management you may end up not saving any money at all between their fees, the accumulating interest and the tax consequences. If you cannot meet with a person face to face it is probably not a good idea to do business with them.

When is it Time to File Personal Bankruptcy?

Most people don’t like the idea of filing for bankruptcy, even when debt issues are growing and growing, causing them to lose sleep, affecting their relationships with others and threatening their mental and physical wellbeing. It is common for people in debt to think they just aren’t trying hard enough or that if they can just get that better job or get a particular debt paid off they’ll be in better shape. Meanwhile, past due balances and high interest rates, penalties and fees continue to grow and grow and cause the problem to get worse and worse.

It’s often difficult for people to see that it’s time to file for bankruptcy. People in debt may think of filing bankruptcy as giving up (which is simply not true) or think it’s not bad enough to consider bankruptcy just yet. Often they may be afraid of losing important assets like their home or car which is almost always not true. Often people take advice from family and friends and search the internet for answers and get more and more confused. However, when bankruptcy is in order it’s important to get it done before the situation gets worse. Below is a list of indicators that strongly suggest that bankruptcy should be considered as an option and a consultation with a Massachusetts bankruptcy lawyer may be beneficial.

Indicators that it may be time to file for personal bankruptcy

Financial problems are like an illness or a disease. The more symptoms a debtor suffers the greater likelihood that filing for bankruptcy is in order. It is really no different than going to a doctor when your symptoms start becoming more and more serious. Most individuals and families who can benefit from filing for bankruptcy experience several of the following:

  • The financial hardship keeps getting worse and worse — interest rates and penalty fees and other factors exceed the payments you make and cause your debt load to increase in month rather than decrease
  • Can’t afford payments that will pay off debt within three years (36 months) — if payments are too low, interest rates and penalty fees can keep a debt going on forever so a debtor can’t get out from under it; debtors should be sure to include future interest when calculating how much it will take to pay a debt off in three years
  • Borrowing to make debt payments — this is like trying to put out a fire by throwing gasoline on it, yet many debtors resort to this just to get aggressive creditors to go away even if it’s just temporarily
  • Can’t afford to pay minimum payments on all credit cards, loans and other debts — sometimes it’s not the size of any one debt or the size of the required payment for a single debt but rather the impact of many debts piled together; failure of a debtor to make minimum payments on all his/her debts will cause penalty fees and interest to accrue until the debt load is out of control. Paying on some debts while ignoring others is a strong sign that bankruptcy might be an option
  • Paying debts with retirement funds — the closer a person is to retirement the worse of an idea this is, yet seniors, who can least afford to jeopardize their retirement income, are those most likely to do so to avoid bankruptcy because of the stigma this generation traditionally puts on bankruptcy. Retirement money is protected in bankruptcy for a good reason which is that you will need it someday. Using retirement funds usually on puts a Band-Aid on the situation and only provides temporary relief. The stigma of bankruptcy is all but gone. No one will really know that you filed unless you tell them
  • Others will suffer if situation continues — the more dependants a debtor must provide for, the less they can afford to make payments to credit cards and other unsecured debts rather than save money for emergencies or pay for health insurance; if any single symptom can indicate a need for bankruptcy, this one is it, yet trying to continue making those payments could result in foreclosure or eviction and everyone ends up without a home. When you feel as if you are one financial problem away from disaster you should consider a free consultation with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer
  • Creditor collection calls threaten employment — if a creditor calls to garnish wages for a judgment and upsets your employer, the debtor may be in jeopardy of losing his/her job, which will make it impossible to keep up with any of their debts. It is common for employers to get nervous about your employment at their company if you start receiving collection calls at work. Your employer could look to the person with financial trouble if money or property is missing
  • Other options are not available, practical or helpful — insufficient income, poor credit scores and other factors put options like debt settlement programs, consolidation loans, negotiating with creditors, loan modification, lifestyle changes, or gifts from relatives out of reach, but they should be considered before filing for bankruptcy. People in debt can only cut back so much. When a person in debt starts buying less food and having insufficient insurance on their vehicles to save money it is an indicator that bankruptcy may be an option.
  • Upside down on their home with a second mortgage and/or equity line of credit — many debts secured by real property will survive a foreclosure and the debtor will still owe any remaining balance after the property is sold and proceeds subtracted from the balance; bankruptcy, however, can completely discharge these debts

The Next Step Is To Call A Bankruptcy Attorney For A Free

Anyone who suffers any of the above symptoms, or a combination of 2 or more, should strongly consider filing for bankruptcy. The next step is to consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney who can help the debtor confirm that bankruptcy is the best solution. If it is, the attorney will file the case in court and notify creditors, which will put a stop to all collection efforts until the bankruptcy process is complete or the bankruptcy court lifts the stay.

In Massachusetts, bankruptcy and debt solutions attorneys Robert Simonian and Anthony Bucacci can assist in identifying the best options and solutions for your situation and put a plan into action that will resolve your debt issues and get you back on your feet. Call our office at 508-673-9500 to schedule a free consultation today or visit us at www.massbklaw.com