Top Ten Bankruptcy Myths

There are lot of myths and misinformation regarding debtors’  rights to file bankruptcy.  In my practice, I see a lot of debtors who seek to file Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, who have heard a lot of rumors and incorrect information with respect to their rights and obligations when they file for bankruptcy relief.  The following is a compilation of the typical questions, and correct answers to the questions I frequently hear from the debtors.

1.  I will not be able to buy a house for ten years since I will not be able to obtain a mortgage.

Although Chapter 7 Bankruptcy will appear on your credit report for a period of ten years, you will be able to buy a house again much sooner than that, because the bankruptcy is likely to improve your credit rating.  Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is likely to improve your credit sooner and is likely to disappear from your credit report much sooner as well.

2.  I won’t be able to buy a car for ten years since I will not be able to obtain a car loan.

Although Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is likely to be on your credit report for a period of ten years, you will be able to borrow money to purchase a car again because because the bankruptcy is likely to improve your credit rating.

3.  I won’t get a credit card or a good credit score for ten years.

Both Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy are  likely to improve your credit rating.  In my experience, although I do not recommend it, the debtors are able to obtain credit cards again within 1 to 2 years.

4.  I won’t be able to get a student loan for myself or my children.

Since guaranteed student loans must be repaid, and cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, therefore, there is little concern that student loans will not be paid back.  Any private lender may deny a student loan based on the debtor’s credit score, however most student loans are government backed.

5.  My employer will fire me because I filed for bankruptcy.

While bankruptcy information is available as a public record, employer, or prospective employer, is not allowed to discriminate against you based on debtor’s decision to file Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.  If a prospective employer asks you for a copy of your credit report, questions you about bankruptcy, most employers are prefer to know that the debtor no longer has any financial issues which may affect work performance.  Discharging the debt is preferable to an employer as opposed to a situation where the debtor is receiving phone calls at work from collectors or a credit report that shows a pattern of irresponsibility. Further, in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, employers are not notified of the filing.  In Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, the employer is likely to be aware of the filing since here in Rochester, New York, the Bankruptcy Court requires a wage deduction order that is sent to the debtor’s employer and requires a portion of the wages to be remitted directly to the Chapter 13 Trustee.

6.  I don’t qualify for chapter 7 bankruptcy because I own a house.

You can file for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy even if you own a home.  Most states, including New York, allow a homeowner a certain amount of equity in their residence.  In New York, pursuant to its homestead bankruptcy exemption, a single filer can have $50,000 worth of equity in their residential property, and joint filers (husband and wife) can have $100,000 worth of equity in their property.

7.  I will lose my car if I file for bankruptcy.

If the debtor has a financed car, and can afford the payments, the bankruptcy court will not take away the car, unless the amount of equity in the vehicle is considerably greater than New York’s vehicle exemption.  Further, the lender is likely to ask the debtor to reaffirm the car loan.  Most Chapter 7 Bankruptcy filers who have car loans, tend to reaffirm them.

8.  I am not a citizen, and therefore I can’t file for bankruptcy protection.

You can qualify to file bankruptcy even if you are not a United States citizen.  If you have the right to reside in the United States, have a social security number, and have filed income tax returns, you can file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy protection.

9.  Bankruptcy can’t help because I have unpaid federal and state taxes.

Under appropriate circumstances, even taxes can be discharged in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.  Chapter 13 Bankruptcy can reduce debtor’s monthly payment to the IRS or New York Department of Taxation and Finance and allow for payments over the life of the plan, as long as five years, without interest.

10.  My creditors tell me they will still sue to recover the money owed to them.

Once the bankruptcy is filed, the automatic stay, imposed by the bankruptcy law, protects you from any further attempts to collect a debt or any pending or future lawsuits.  While secured creditors may ask for their property back if you do not continue to make payments, they must seek consent of the bankruptcy court before attempting to recover the property.

If you contemplating filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, or are dealing with debt problems in Western New York, including Rochester, Canandaigua, Brighton, Pittsford, Penfield, Perinton, Fairport, Webster, Victor, Farmington, Greece, Gates, Hilton, Parma, Brockport, Spencerport, LeRoy, Chili, Churchville, Monroe County, Ontario County, Wayne County, Orleans County, Livingston County, and being harassed by bill collectors, and would like to know more about how bankruptcy may be able to help you, contact me today by phone or email to schedule a FREE initial consultation with a Rochester, NY, bankruptcy lawyer.

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