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Recent Blog Posts

A New Beginning: 5 Tips for Life After Bankruptcy

 Posted on September 20, 2019 in Bankruptcy

Your bankruptcy case is complete and you've received a full discharge-what now? Declaring bankruptcy gives you a clean slate, but you have to approach this time with the right mindset and goals. Here are a few tips to set yourself up for success.

1. Check Your Credit Report

Through each of the three credit bureaus, you have the right to a free credit report once per year. Around 90 days after you've received your discharge, pull your credit report from each bureau. Verify that your discharge is marked on your credit report and that none of the discharged debts are still listed on your report.

2. Write Out Your Financial Plans

It's crucial to think about your long-term financial goals and how you plan on achieving them. Being mindful of your finances helps you avoid slipping into the habits that led to bankruptcy. Think about your savings goals, how you plan on rebuilding your credit, and what long-term purchases you want to make. Consider reflecting on previous financial mistakes and coming up with ways to avoid them.

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5 Tips for Improving Your Credit Score Following Bankruptcy

 Posted on August 20, 2019 in Bankruptcy

You've filed bankruptcy and eradicated the debt that's been hanging over you for months or years. Now it's time to start planning for the future. While bankruptcy does offer the chance for a fresh start, it also causes an immediate hit to your credit score. With time and careful management of your resources, you can help your credit bounce back.

1. Secured Credit Cards

Some people have difficulty finding lending opportunities after bankruptcy. Creditors may be unwilling to take a chance on someone with a recent bankruptcy on their record. A secured credit card could be the solution. When you get approved for a secured credit card, you make a cash deposit to the lender. The deposit is typically the same amount as your credit limit. You get your deposit returned after making on-time payments for a set amount of time. Secured cards often have high-interest rates, so use them as a credit-building tool and keep a low balance.

2. Make All Payments on Time

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7 Illegal Debt Collection Practices to Watch For

 Posted on July 20, 2019 in Debt Collection

There's a reason that debt collectors have such a bad reputation-they are aggressive and often blatantly disregard the law in their attempts to get a payment from a debtor. Even worse, most consumers do not know their rights or are too ashamed of their financial situation to advocate for themselves. Even if you are behind on payments, you do not deserve to have your rights ignored. If a debt collector tries these practices, they could be in violation of state or federal law. Companies that break debt collection laws may have to pay the victim a fine for each and every violation.

1. Calling After Being Asked to Stop

If you do not wish to receive calls anymore, you can request that all communication regarding your debt be done in writing. You should make this request in writing and send it via certified mail. If the collector continues to call after receiving this letter, they are violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

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5 Possible Foreclosure Defenses

 Posted on June 20, 2019 in Foreclosure

For many, there's no greater accomplishment than owning a home. On the same note, losing your home through foreclosure can be demoralizing and embarrassing, leaving families in financial ruin. If your North Carolina home is at risk of foreclosure, there are several defenses you may pursue to avoid it.

1. Loan Modification

Loan modification is an option to explore as soon as you know that foreclosure is on the table. This requires the lender and the borrower to come to an agreement regarding new loan terms. You may be expected to present proof of your budget, how much you can afford, and your ability to pay moving forward. The process can take several months, which is why it's crucial to apply as soon as possible.

2. Reinstating the Mortgage

If you hit a financial rough patch but you're confident in your ability to continue making your current payment going forward, you may be able to reinstate the mortgage. This involves bringing the mortgage current by paying all past-due payments, as well as all fees and administrative costs. This right is not guaranteed under North Carolina law, so it's important to check the terms of your home loan before putting thousands into a past-due loan.

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Owe Money to the IRS or North Carolina Department of Revenue? How Bankruptcy Can Help

 Posted on May 20, 2019 in Bankruptcy

Can Bankruptcy Resolve Tax Debt Matters?

No one likes thinking about their debt, but there's something about tax debt that makes it even more threatening and overwhelming than other obligations you may have. Mail from the IRS or North Carolina Department of Revenue can cause a knot in your stomach and lead to serious financial consequences down the road. If some or all of your debt comes from back taxes, find out how bankruptcy could help you get some breathing room.

Are Taxes Dischargeable in Bankruptcy?

In some cases, money owed to the IRS or North Carolina Department of Revenue can be discharged through bankruptcy, however, there are some factors that may affect your ability to discharge tax debt. There are also some types of tax debt that cannot be written off. This is why it's important to consult a bankruptcy attorney near you. If you find out immediately that your debt is nondischargeable, you can make an informed decision whether or not bankruptcy is worth it. Payroll taxes, fraud penalties, and non-income taxes cannot be discharged.

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Bankruptcy and Your Credit Score

 Posted on April 20, 2019 in Bankruptcy

Many people worry about their ability to secure loans, find housing, or apply for jobs in certain industries if they have a bankruptcy affecting their credit score. Knowing what to expect can help you make an informed decision.

A Sudden Decrease in Your Credit Score

Don't be surprised or panicked if you notice a sudden drop in your credit score at one or multiple bureaus. Bankruptcy is a derogatory mark on your credit report, and it can significantly decrease your creditworthiness in the eyes of lenders. This is especially true if your accounts are current or only slightly delinquent, as your credit score may not have been seriously impacted by your growing amount of debt. While it is hard to accept a decrease in your credit score, don't worry. There are many ways you can strengthen your score over time.

When Bankruptcy Can Help Your Credit Score

In some cases, bankruptcy may only have a brief minimal negative effect on your credit score, followed by a rather speedy recovery. If you waited until bankruptcy was unavoidable, you may have many delinquent accounts, accounts in collections, and defaulted accounts. If that is the case, keep in mind that a credit score can only go so low - 300 in the case of a FICO score. But when your debt is discharged in bankruptcy, all of these negative marks are quickly removed from your credit report, and your debts are reported as being discharged. Therefore, even with the impact of a bankruptcy on your credit report, your credit score can improve rather quickly.

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Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Process Explained

 Posted on March 20, 2019 in Bankruptcy

When you have more debt than you can handle, it can take over your whole life and rob you of your peace of mind. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is one way to discharge eligible debts, give yourself a fresh start, and work toward a more secure financial future. Unlike Chapter 13 bankruptcy, there is no 'payment plan' in Chapter 7. Instead, your debts are simply 'wiped out' upon receiving a discharge. The Chapter 7 bankruptcy process in North Carolina is relatively straightforward for individuals with modest income and assets, and we explain it in this blog.

Are You Eligible?

The court system uses a means test to determine whether or not an individual qualifies for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The means test analyzes your income and compares it to the state median income. If your income is above the median, you may still file Chapter 7 if you are unable to pay at least $6,000 over the next five years to your creditors. If you can afford more than $6,000 but less than $10,000, you may qualify if you are unable to pay at least 25% of your unsecured debt. A bankruptcy attorney can help you sort this out.

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What You Need to Know About the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

 Posted on February 20, 2019 in Debt Collection

We've all heard horror stories about debt collectors going to extremes. Many agencies call debtors multiple times a day, pretend to be family members to get the person to answer their phone at work, and leave obscene and harassing voice messages. Some collectors even tell their victims that failure to pay a debt is a criminal offense when in reality the collection agency is the one breaking the law.

What is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA, is a consumer protection law that was passed on September 20, 1977, after aggressive debt collector actions were connected to a steady rise in consumer bankruptcies. It imposes guidelines on how third-party debt collectors may communicate with consumers and prohibits the use of deceptive and abusive business practices.

What is a Third-Party Debt Collector?

A third-party debt collector is not an original creditor, such as a bank, hospital, or car dealership. Instead, it collects debts on behalf of others. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit recently held that the FDCPA also applies to debt buyers who purchase portfolios of old or non-performing accounts and attempt to collect them.

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Bankruptcy 101: The Advantages and Disadvantages of a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

 Posted on February 15, 2019 in Bankruptcy

If you are an individual or small business owner who is struggling to stay afloat financially, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be able to help you restructure your finances and pay off debt without losing assets. This blog will look at the benefits of a Chapter 13 filing.

Eligibility

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is available to individuals and sole proprietors who can include their business debts in a repayment plan. Unlike other options, there are debt limits under this chapter, which are (as of 2019) $394,725 for unsecured debt and $1,184,200 for secured debt. Chapter 13 isnot an option for partnerships, corporations, LLCs, and joint ventures, so you will need to consider a different chapter if your business is organized under one of those entities.

Chapter 13 Advantages

Chapter 13 is sometimes referred to as the 'wage earner's bankruptcy' because one of the key criteria for approval is a steady income. You repay most, if not all of your debt over a three-to-five-year period in exchange for keeping your assets. Your trustee assumes responsibility for distributing payments to your creditors so you don't have to directly contact them. Chapter 13 has a number of advantages, which include:

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