Before reaching debt collection defense described below, you may have documentation regarding a direct dispute with a merchant or service provider. In that case, send PDF documentation to the merchant or service provider. If unresolved, follow any available appeals process. If still unresolved then the following steps apply:
- Get a “free credit report” to see if the creditor has reported or if any accounts are in collections.
- “Dispute” all inaccurate credit report entries with PDF documentation. Close unused accounts. (Dispute all incorrect entries on your credit reports online: Experian Disputes Equifax Disputes Transunion Disputes)
- If unresolved, follow any available appeal process.
- If still unresolved and the account is sent to collections, dispute it, then proceed with the steps below.
There are steps that increase your chances of favorable resolution to debt issues:
- Ignore all calls and emails from creditors. Block them. Do not engage. Hang up.
- Respond by mail with a “cease and desist letter” to each collection letter you receive. Include the letter received.
- “Freeze your credit” , adjust tax withholding, file returns on time and get an “IPIN for your tax return”.
- Evaluate your income sources and assets. If you receive SS, a pension, unemployment, disability, and do not own a home or other assets, then you are collection proof. Stop here – there is no reason to attempt to settle or file bankruptcy.
- If not, then Calculate your “Debt-to-Income Ratio”. If over 35% consider bankruptcy. If under consider global settlement by offering a pro rata share of your payment amount or lump sum to all creditors.
- Calculate the “Median Income for your Your Family Size”. If eligible for Chapter 7 tell all creditors in cease and desist letters when contacted or in a settlement letter. File Chapter 7 if sued. If not eligible for Chapter 7, evaluate Chapter 13.
Be aware that even after all of these things are done, creditors’ counsel could still choose to sue you in which case interest, fees, and costs, would be added to the Judgment. There is risk in delaying resolving issues with creditors both in terms of having to eventually pay more, delinquent credit reporting to credit bureaus, and of being sued and a Judgment being entered (an even bigger negative than a delinquency).
If you are struggling to pay your bills each month and are overwhelmed by debt, it is time to learn the truth about bankruptcy.
The Truth About Bankruptcy From An Experienced Attorney
Being responsible does not always mean continuing to pay creditors no matter what. There is strength required to face the fact of being unable to pay all of one’s creditors in full, and responding by filing for bankruptcy protection. There is no honor in continuing to pay creditors in a futile effort at repayment, especially if it means not meeting the basic needs of your children or yourself.
I am like a teacher who teaches the same grade in school for years. I am always at the change point in people’s lives. We only went through each grade in school once. The teacher went through that grade with students many times. My goal is to be like your favorite teacher in one of the hardest grades of your life. Like a teacher who doesn’t want you to flunk, and have to repeat a grade, I want you to never have to do bankruptcy again. I want all of my repeat clients to be estate planning clients.
I recommend freezing your credit reports with all three bureaus if you are contemplating bankruptcy. The reason is that you should not be applying for credit or even using credit in at least the six months immediately preceding filing. This step also makes identity theft less likely after your discharge. You can lift the freeze to get one credit card and then refreeze.
Below are the links:
Doing so will make filing a false tax return on your behalf less likely.
The word bankruptcy comes from translated Italian words meaning broken bench. It referred to a money dealer who ran out of money, and so his bench would be broken and he could no longer deal money.
We have progressed from “debt slavery” and “debtor’s prisons” to the modern approach of a “fresh start.” The term was first used in a 1934 Supreme Court Case – Local Loan v. Hunt. The fresh start has been the subject of scholarly analysis.
One of the most commonly held bankruptcy myths is that you will lose all of your assets if you file for Chapter 7. In reality, there are exemptions under federal law or Washington state law that allow consumers to keep most or all of their property, and still discharge debt.
Bankruptcy discharges personal liability. It is a permanent injunction against collection from an individual. Liens are not affected. A Judgment is valid for 10 years and can be renewed for another 10 years (RCW 4.56.190).
A Judgment become a statutory lien on property. That means property can can be foreclosed upon or repossessed after a bankruptcy Discharge has been entered.
Consumers who pursue bankruptcy should work with a skilled lawyer to ensure they use exemptions as favorably as possible, avoiding pitfalls.
You can get a free credit report after your bankruptcy discharge to see that all discharged balances are reported as zero even if your credit is frozen.
You have options for secured credit cards to rebuild credit after bankruptcy.
If you do choose to file for bankruptcy protection under either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 you are required to do Credit Counseling online for 90 minutes before filing and Financial Management online for 120 minutes after filing.
If you think you may need to file, you can enter information into this website to assist with petition preparation. Start Your Questionnaire
What you will need:
- Recent pay stubs from all jobs
- Credit card statements
- Mortgage documents
- Loan and lease documents
- Any papers relating to prior bankruptcies
- Separation or divorce papers
- Letters from lenders or collections agencies
- Letters from attorneys
- Foreclosure documents
- Repossession notices
- Deeds to real estate
- Inventory of your personal property, including household furnishings
Before you Begin…
These instructions will guide you step-by-step through the questionnaire and will give you tips and helpful hints for completing it successfully.
You can also watch the ‘Getting Started’ video we’ve prepared. It will help you gain a better understanding of how MyCaseInfo works and why it’s an important part of the bankruptcy process.