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Find an Affordable Bankruptcy Attorney • Benzinga

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A bankruptcy attorney serves as your advocate and specializes in helping you through the confusing process of filing for bankruptcy and other legal issues.

To find a local bankruptcy attorney, you can consult your friends or relatives for trustworthy attorneys. If you can’t swallow your pride, you can find attorneys in your area on websites like the American Bar Association (ABA) and Legal Services Corporation.

To match with a bankruptcy attorney, you will need to present your case depending on your legal issue. This article explains what type of case you could fall under.

Bankruptcy Cases

The most common financial bankruptcy issues include collections, consumer bankruptcy, consumer credit, contested wills or probate and income tax.

Read on to learn about what each case means, how long it will take to settle and what documents you will need to present to your lawyer. 

Collections

Creditors go through a process called debt collections to get money from uncooperative debtors. This is a legal process that a debt collection agency has to abide by to collect your due payment. 

In case the debt collection agency violates your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by way of harassment in the form of abuse, threats, false information, wrong representation or repeated contact, you have every right to sue the agency in a state court.

You could handle the matter yourself as in small claims courts. The process is faster but the compensation for damages is usually limited. Hiring an attorney to represent you is a better option. If you suffered damages such as lost wages or medical bills, you can collect damages as much as $500,000 through the lawsuit.

You will have to present all the records you have of harassment to your attorney. The records of evidence to a judge or jury could include a log of phone calls received, text and voice messages, and letters with persuasive messages. You could prove a pattern of communication of harassment.

Consumer Bankruptcy

Consumer debt is when you’ve accumulated debt on personal expenses. When you file for this type of personal bankruptcy, your goal is to reduce consumer debt.

There are 2 types of consumer bankruptcy (bankruptcy code) — Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. 

Chapter 7 bankruptcy refers to “straight” bankruptcies, wherein your debts are liquidated under bankruptcy law. Most of your property is sold and used to pay off your debts. It typically takes 3-5 months to get a discharge. Although you’ll lose your assets, you will be able to quickly discharge most debts and get a fresh start.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is when you set up a repayment plan to resolve your debt. This type of bankruptcy is meant for people who have stable income or the ability to pay back all or some portion of their debts. Unlike Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your property will not be sold as long you successfully complete the court-mandated repayment plan (usually 3-5 years).

To file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, there is a series of documents you will have to present that includes a list of your assets. For Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will need to prepare a repayment plan, which will have to be approved by a court-appointed trustee.

Consumer Credit

Consumer credit is a personal debt taken by you without collateral to purchased items. A typical example is your credit card.

If you misuse your credit card, you can ruin your credit score. Your credit score is a metric used by lenders to determine your creditworthiness. If you have a bad credit score, you may not be qualified for loans to buy a home or car in the future. Even if you do get qualified, you might be charged with heavy interest.

When you have consumer credit debt, your creditors might take certain steps to get their money back that may not be legal. For this reason, it might be difficult to tackle consumer credit issues on your own.

A finance attorney can help you know what protections you may have from creditors under state and federal laws. They can also negotiate with your creditors and possibly file for bankruptcy or even help you pen down a plan to repay your debts optimally.

Contested Wills or Probate

A will is a legal document that a person creates to declare how they want their property distributed and to whom after they are deceased. 

Probate is a legal process that establishes the legal validity of a will so that the assets are rightly distributed and to the correct beneficiaries. It also establishes a plan for paying off any taxes or debts owed by the deceased.

If you have an issue with the contents of the will, you can contest it — provided you and the reason for contesting the will meet the proper legal standards to be heard in court. 

The process of contesting a will is challenging. Although you can file a claim without the help of an attorney, it is recommended that you keep one because of the complicated probate laws and nature of the case. 

Income Tax

Income tax is a percentage of your paycheck that is given to the government. The percentage varies depending on factors like your total earnings, source of earnings, etc. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) collects your taxes.

Tax evasion schemes are often used to avoid paying taxes. This can be done in multiple ways but the IRS often becomes aware of a potential tax evasion scheme after performing a civil audit. If the government finds out that you aren’t paying your taxes, they will demand money and can even put you in jail.

Tax laws are difficult to understand and change every year. If you haven’t paid your taxes for several years, an attorney can help you overcome your income tax problem. 

An income tax attorney can protect your rights and assist you by negotiating with the IRS. They employ tax evasion defense methods to reduce charges, lessen penalties and even dismiss your case.

Do You Need a Bankruptcy Attorney?

It is possible to tackle legal matters on your own but having an attorney is the safest route if you want to succeed. 

A good bankruptcy attorney should provide you with an initial consultation to get an overview of your case. They will then offer advice on your available options and what type of bankruptcy to file and will complete the necessary paperwork. When you go to court they will represent you and defend your case.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the main differences between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy?

A: Chapter 7 bankruptcy is what most people probably think of when considering filing for bankruptcy. You will likely lose property and the negative mark on your credit report will remain for 10 years. But, the amount will be discharged and there’s no repayment required. If you get into debt again, you won’t be able to file for bankruptcy again under this chapter for 8 years.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy works if you are able to repay some or all of your debt. Since you can retain some assets, it is considered a more favorable option when compared to Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Another reason why it’s favorable is that Chapter 13 bankruptcy will fall off your credit report after 7 years and could file under this chapter within 2 years. 

Q: Does bankruptcy fall off after 7 years?

A: Bankruptcy falls off your credit report depending on the chapter you filed. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is deleted after 7-10 years while Chapter 13 bankruptcy is deleted within 7 years since you will be required to make at least a partial payment.

Q: What should I do if a creditor demands payment of a debt after I file my case?

A: Debt collectors are not allowed to collect on debts that were discharged in bankruptcy. Even if the bankruptcy is pending in court, collectors cannot continue collection activities.

You must let the debt collector know that you are represented by an attorney so that the debt collector can contact your attorney instead of you.



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Bad Credit

Can I be denied a job due to bad credit?

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Can I be denied a job due to bad credit?
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People often worry about their credit history when it comes to applying for a new credit card, a mortgage or a car loan. If you have poor credit, should you also be concerned about finding work? Can you be denied a job due to bad credit?

Let’s examine the facts.

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What is bad credit anyway?

Bad credit is basically a negative assessment of your finances based on your history of borrowing. Bad credit implies that you have a bad track record with lenders. This is most likely because you have a pattern of not paying your bills on time or defaulting on your loans.

Is it legal for employers to check my credit report?

Law and finance firms are legally required to perform credit checks on potential employees. However, other kinds of employers can also conduct credit checks on you before they hire you. But they must ask for your permission before they do so.

In many cases, a credit check will be performed by a company if the role you are applying for involves dealing with large amounts of cash.

Why might employers want to check my report?

There are many reasons an employer might want to check your report. For example, they might want to ensure that:

  • You are who you say you are.
  • You have a good track record of managing money.
  • It’s not too much of a risk to let your manage money.
  • Your financial behaviour will not affect your work performance.

Could you be rewarded for your everyday spending?

Rewards credit cards include schemes that reward you simply for using your credit card. When you spend money on a rewards card you could earn loyalty points, in-store vouchers airmiles, and more. MyWalletHero makes it easy for you to find a card that matches your spending habits so you can get the most value from your rewards.

Can an employer deny me a job due to bad credit?

Yes. According to credit reference agency Experian, if your prospective employer feels that your current financial situation could impact your ability to perform well in the role, or if your credit history shows poor financial planning, they may decide not to hire you.

Generally speaking, however, employers are more likely to be concerned about serious ‘red flags’ in your credit history, like bankruptcy rather than the odd missed payment.

In any case, employers only get access to your ‘public’ credit report. This contains your electoral roll information and any major red flags such as bankruptcies, individual voluntary arrangements and county court judgments.

They will not have access to your detailed credit repayments or your credit score.

How can I keep my credit history from affecting my ability to get a job?

If a prospective employer runs a credit check on you, ultimately you have no control over what they do with the information, including denying you a job due to bad credit.

The best thing you can do to minimise the impact of your credit on your chances of getting a job is to review your credit report beforehand.

You have the right to one free credit report per year from each of the three credit agencies (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax). Before you apply for a job or attend an interview, request your report and review it for any errors so that you can have them corrected ahead of time.

Even if there are no errors, knowing what is on your credit report puts you in a good position to answer any questions that may arise during the hiring process.

Indeed, if there’s something in your report that employers might consider a ‘red flag’, don’t panic. Instead, begin preparing an explanation to give to them. If it was, for example, caused by financial hardship beyond your control, the employer may take this into account.

Alternatively, you can contact a credit reference agency and request that a notice of correction be added to your report. This is a brief note of up to 200 words in length that explains circumstances that a lender might otherwise question.

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Refinancing Your Subprime Auto Loan

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Refinancing is a wonderful way to save money on your monthly car loan payment – but it can cost you more in the long run if you’re not careful. Refinancing when you have a subprime auto loan isn’t always as easy as refinancing a vehicle when you have good credit. Working with the right lender can help, though.

What Is Refinancing?

Refinancing is when you replace your existing car loan with a different one for the same vehicle, which may have either a lower interest rate, a longer loan term, or both.

Qualifying for a lower interest rate is optimal for getting a lower monthly payment and saving money overall. If you only extend your loan term without getting a lower rate, you actually end up paying more in interest charges over the term of your loan.

Auto loans typically use a simple interest formula, meaning your interest charges add up daily. The longer your loan term, the more you pay the lender – it’s wise to choose the shortest loan term you can afford. If you only extend your loan term you may end up paying more than the vehicle’s value!

Refinancing can typically be done with your current lender or with another one. It’s a good idea to shop around for the best possible rate before going with the first offer you receive. When you shop for the same type of financing with multiple lenders in a two-week timeframe, it’s called rate shopping. When you do this only one credit inquiry impacts your credit score instead of multiple, minimizing the negative impact that hard pulls can have on your credit score.

Options for Bad Credit Borrowers

Taking out a subprime auto loan is a great way to improve your credit, so, if you’ve kept up with your loan to this point and just need a little wiggle room in your budget, refinancing could be for you. Your credit is an important factor in refinancing your auto loan because refinancing is typically reserved for people with good credit.

However, when a borrower already took out a subprime car loan, many refinancing lenders are willing to work with them as long as they’ve made improvements to their credit over the course of the loan. Better credit alone doesn’t qualify you for refinancing, though.

In order to qualify for refinancing, you, your vehicle, and your loan all need to meet the requirements of a lender. These vary, but in order to refinance your car you typically need to meet these qualifications:Refinancing Your Subprime Auto Loan

  • Have a better credit score than when you began the loan
  • Have had your auto loan for at least one year
  • Have an acceptable loan amount
  • Have no more than 100,000 miles on your vehicle
  • Car can’t be more than 10 years old
  • You must be current on your payments
  • There can’t be negative equity in the vehicle

Lenders that refinance typically prefer cars that are in good condition, that aren’t too old, and have lower mileage. Some lenders may not want to refinance a vehicle that’s at risk for breaking down or is depreciating quickly.

They’re generally looking for a loan that isn’t too new, or too close to being paid off as well. And, refinancers may also require that you haven’t missed a payment on your original car loan. A borrower whose current on their loan gives a lender confidence you’ll manage the new loan well.

Alternatives to Refinancing Your Subprime Auto Loan

If you’re not able to refinance your vehicle, you typically still have the option to trade it in for something more affordable. Even if you’re still paying on a loan, all you have to do is pay off the loan to release the lien on the car.

Even if it’s years from the end of your loan term, you may have a good chance at trading in your vehicle, especially now. Due to fluctuations in the auto market, used cars are in high demand currently, which means that dealerships may be willing to pay a higher price to get your used vehicle on their lot – even if you’re a bad credit borrower looking to trade-in.

If you still owe on an auto loan this gives you a better chance at selling your car for the amount you owe to the lender. It may even give you enough cash left over to put toward your next, more affordable vehicle!

Ready to Get Started?

If you think refinancing your subprime auto loan is the way to go, you can check out our resources, here. But, if you think that finding an affordable, used car with a lower monthly payment is the right choice for you, we want to get you started toward your goal today!

At Auto Credit Express, we’ve got a coast-to-coast network of special finance dealerships ready to work with borrowers who are struggling with credit challenges. To get connected to a dealer in your local area that’s signed up with subprime lenders, simply fill out our auto loan request form. It’s fast, free, and never carries any obligation.

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It’s Time to Break Up With Your First Credit Card

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©Shutterstock.com / Shutterstock.com

©Shutterstock.com / Shutterstock.com

Many of us got our first credit cards when we were either in college or in our early 20s. We likely did not have a full-time job with a steady salary, and if we did, it’s also likely we weren’t rolling in dough.

See: 13 Credit Cards That Every 30-Something Should Consider
Find: Surprising Uses for Your Credit Card Rewards

Given these circumstances, the first credit cards offered to us were probably of a particular kind: low credit limits, no prior credit history required, high annual percentage rate and overall easy to get. While these cards served us well as a way to build up our credit — and probably learn some lessons about money the hard way — it’s time to let go for a couple of reasons.

The Benefits of Upgrading Your Card

When you upgrade your card, it’s likely you will also upgrade the benefits. Some companies, like Discover, Credit One and Capital One, are popular choices as a first credit card. However, these companies have better options as you, and your finances, mature.

The Wall Street Journal suggests asking for an upgrade. “Customers need to phrase it as a ‘product change’ when they call the card company. A product change involves getting a new card with the same card provider and it typically allows a cardholder to keep everything else the same, including the account number and available credit.”

See: 10 Credit Cards That Have Gotten Better During the Pandemic
Find: Old-School Money Advice You Shouldn’t Follow Anymore

This could be a good idea for those who are not ready to jump ship from their first credit company just yet. It also removes the hassle of having to find a different provider, and probably the largest benefit of all — no hard credit check needed.

A “hard” credit check is when your credit is thoroughly examined, and it results in an inquiry showing up on your credit report. These are always necessary for opening a new line of credit, like a credit card or a mortgage, but too many inquiries can count against you and negatively affect your credit. A “soft” credit check, on the other hand, will not affect your credit score and is usually done for verification purposes, such as when you apply for new employment. Soft checks also happen with preapprovals.

See: Soft vs. Hard Credit Check — What’s the Difference?
Find: 30 Things You Do That Can Mess Up Your Credit Score

If you ask for a product change on a credit card, you won’t need to have that hard inquiry because the company already has a solid picture of your credit and has done an inquiry before. But it’s important to confirm that your credit history will be rolled over to the new card.

Switching credit institutions all together can be beneficial, depending on what you’re trying to achieve. While the rules of credit apply whether you have, for example, a Credit One or Chase credit card, it’s not a secret that certain credit cards have certain reputations — or that credit bureaus take notice.

For example, the Credit One Bank Visa card is “one of the most popular credit cards for people with bad credit, largely because it’s one of the few unsecured cards that applicants with poor credit scores can get approved for,” according to WalletHub.

See: Biden Wants to Shut Down Credit Bureaus – What Would That Mean for You?
Find: 10 Credit Score Myths You Need to Stop Believing

In contrast, American Express credit cards are best for people with credit scores over 700 and require at least “good” credit for approval, WalletHub adds. A good credit score is one that’s between 670 and 739, according to Fair Isaac.

So while both cards function the same way, the profile of those who own these cards might be different — or at least be perceived as such.

Theoretically, the same person could own both cards, but your money works for you more with an American Express vs. a Credit One. If you have a Credit One card but qualify for American Express, it might make sense to leave your old credit card behind. In addition to the immediate financial benefits, upgrading for a credit card company that has a reputation for being exclusive to those with good credit could help when you apply for a mortgage or apply for credit cards at specific stores.

See: This Is How Many Credit Cards You Should Have
Find: Credit Cards With the Best Incentives to Open in 2021

The first question you should ask yourself is, “What is my card doing best for me?” If the answer is helping you build your credit, getting you out of bad credit or allowing you to have credit when you otherwise would not be able to, then sticking with the same card, or at least the same credit card company, makes sense.

This allows you avoid a new credit inquiry on your credit report while still building and increasing your credit. Asking for a credit limit increase on your credit card if you’ve been with the same company for a while, you’ve been routinely paying off your card and you’re in good standing, is a good idea.

See: Expert Tips to Fix Your Credit on a Limited Income
Find: What Is a Credit Limit?

If you are shopping around for a new card that gives you rewards or benefits based on your purchases, starting small is paramount. It wouldn’t be prudent to go straight for a card that has a yearly fee, for example.

Start small, and start smart with credit limits, too. Going from a limit of $2,000 straight to a limit of $15,000 while your salary remains relatively unchanged is not always a good thing. Having a higher credit limit doesn’t necessarily mean that you are now richer or more responsible — it only means that you now have a greater risk of putting yourself into serious debt. Slowly increasing your credit limit makes your debt more manageable — and makes you look more responsible to credit bureaus.

Breaking up is hard to do, but if your finances have matured, it might be time to get a card that helps you reach your goals with cash-back rewards and points you can use for travel, groceries and other other items. Shopping around for a lower interest rate and a slightly increased credit limit can also help you move forward.

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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: It’s Time to Break Up With Your First Credit Card

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