Chapter 5When should I file bankruptcy?
Chapter 6What do I lose if I file bankruptcy?
Chapter 8What can bankruptcy do for you?
Chapter 9What Does Bankruptcy Cost?
Chapter 18What About My Car in Bankruptcy?
Chapter 19What Happens to My House in Bankruptcy?
Chapter 20When Will Creditors Stop Bothering Me?
Chapter 23When do I stop paying my creditors?
Chapter 24Gas, cable, electric and phone bill
Chapter 26What Bankruptcy won't solve
Chapter 27Chapter 13 Debt repayment Plans
Chapter 28Will I be able to get credit again?
Chapter 29Bill Consolidation Loans
Chapter 30Bill Consolidation Scams
Chapter 31Wage Assignments, Deductions and Levies
Chapter 32Student Loans
Chapter 33Can I get rid of Taxes
Chapter 34NSF Checks, Traffic & Parking Tickets
Chapter 35Surrendering Real Estate & Time Shares
Chapter 36Business Bankruptcy
Chapter 37Professional Persons
Chapter 38Do you ever "Not Get" a Discharge?
Almost all "debt settlement" or "bill consolidation" schemes aren't schemes, but scams. Consumer counseling organizations have been formed by the creditors themselves to make you feel guilty enough to pay them what you cannot afford. Scam artists have set up websites to get your debit or bank account information and steal from you.
Just put in 'debt settlement scam' or 'debt negation scam' and read what happens. Don't fall for it. Even lawyers are selling such nonsense. The largest scams like "Legal Helpers Debt Resolution" and "Morgan-Drexen" have went out of business after state and federal regulators caught them stealing millions. Watch out for goofy made-up names like these!
I often advise people to do other things than file a bankruptcy. But bill consolidation companies that are private companies are a bad idea, because those companies are motivated solely by profit. They are not run by attorneys who have an ethical duty to advise you properly. I have had many people come to me for bankruptcy work after they have made payments to a private bill consolidation company, only to have creditors still bother them, and to have no idea where the money they paid has gone. I have not had that experience with charitable organizations who do credit counseling, although some of them advise people to see a bankruptcy attorney when it is obvious that credit counseling is not the answer, or when creditors will not agree to any forbearance.
Some credit counseling agencies are even run by the creditors, so they are actually just bill collectors whose job it is to protect the creditors that pay their salaries, and they may give you incorrect advice to get you to pay them, when you would be better off with a bankruptcy.
Generally, if your bills are less than $5,000.00, you might benefit from credit counseling, and an informal bill consolidation through a not-for-profit credit counseling service. If your bills are over $5,000.00, generally it will take about $200.00 per month or more to pay the bills in a reasonable period of time, and if your bills are very much more than that, it will take so long to pay them, that an arrangement with creditors is useless. You may want to consider starting fresh with a bankruptcy, and perhaps just keeping your car or house payments only, instead of making things difficult for yourself for years by trying to pay everyone, unless you are sure that you will be able to.
The problem for the past 7 or 8 years has been that salaries are not keeping up with living expenses. Next year, your rent, food, and just about everything else, will cost you more than they did today. If your salary does not go up as much as those costs, you will have less to spend on paying creditors. If you start to repay them, and then find out that you really can't afford to do it, you have just wasted any money you gave them.
When I see people in my office, I work out a budget for them and try to determine in advance, what their job prospects are, whether they are getting 10% raises every year, and whether or not they have excess income available to pay their bills. If they do, I advise them to do so. If they don't, Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a good way to get rid of bills and concentrate on just living.
I like people who are reluctant to file a bankruptcy to go to a "bill consolidator" first. That way, they know how high their payments will be if they don't get bankruptcy relief. However, some bill consolidators tell lies about the Federal Bankruptcy Code. That is because they get a kickback from the credit cards and finance companies if they convince you to "consolidate."
In fact, the parent organization of the outfit called Consumer Credit Counseling is directed by creditors and major credit card operators like Citibank. So you are going to the same people who profit by keeping you in debt. That is like the chicken asking the fox for advice!
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