Skip to Content

Blog Archives

Will My Employer Know If I File For Bankruptcy?

We understand that many people feel shame and embarrassment in regard to financial problems or bankruptcy. For this reason, we’re committed to treating every person who walks through our doors with dignity and respect.

If you’re struggling with feelings of shame or embarrassment, please read our article Filing for Bankruptcy is Not Shameful. You’re Not Alone.

That being said, we understand that you may be concerned that if you file for bankruptcy people will find out about it. You may be particularly concerned about your employer or boss finding out. The first thing we want to tell you is: if you do not tell people about your bankruptcy, it is unlikely that they will find out about your bankruptcy.

While unlikely it is possible. Bankruptcy petitions are filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court and are public record. People who know how are able to access your paperwork; however, few people know how to access bankruptcy records and realistically nobody in your personal life would go searching to see if you file for bankruptcy.

That being said, of course there are a few caveats. There are situation where your employer may find out if you file for bankruptcy. Further, there may be situations where future employment opportunities are affected by a bankruptcy filing. The most likely scenarios involve wage garnishment, security clearance, and background checks.

Wage Garnishment

In general your current employer will not find out about your bankruptcy filing. However, in cases where wages are already being garnished, the employer receives notification of the bankruptcy because they must put an end to the wage garnishment.

If you wages are being garnished, your employer has already been notified of the judgment against you because the payroll department had to set up the wage garnishment. While you may feel embarrassed, consider that filing for bankruptcy demonstrates that you’re taking appropriate measures to deal with your debt problems.

Security Clearance

Jobs that require security clearances may be affected by filing bankruptcy. If your job requires a security clearance, then your boss may find out about your bankruptcy filing or you may have a duty to disclose a bankruptcy filing. Employment opportunities requiring security clearance include those working for the armed forces, or employed by the CIA, FBI, or other government agency, or private companies that contract with the government.

However, it is unlikely that a bankruptcy filing puts your security clearance at risk. In fact, bankruptcy is often viewed as taking appropriate measures to deal with debt problems. This is viewed more favorably than carrying outstanding debt and missing payments.

No employer is allowed to discriminate against you based on filing for bankruptcy, nor are they allowed to fire you based on filing for bankruptcy.

Background Checks

In some cases, future job application may be affected by filing for bankruptcy. In a nutshell: while the government is not allowed to consider a bankruptcy filing when deciding whether or not to hire you, this rule does not apply to private employers. This is of particular concern if you plan to apply for jobs that require you to handle money or finances.

If a potential employer asks you for permission to run a background check, understand that this likely includes running a credit check. In this instance, consider getting in front of a potential issue by being candid about your previous bankruptcy filing. You can explain that you had past financial struggles, but that you took the steps necessary to properly handle it by filing for bankruptcy. Your prospective employer may appreciate your honesty and candor.

You deserve a financial fresh start, and we’re here to help you achieve it. We offer free consultations and affordable payment plans. Contact us today!

We proudly serve the people of Savannah, GA and the surrounding areas.

 

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

READ MORE

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Explained

Choosing to file for bankruptcy can be a difficult decision, but living under the weight of debt can be debilitating. Further, bankruptcy can be a confusing area of law and there are many myths and misinformation floating around about bankruptcy.

Here at the Law Offices of Barbara B. Braziel we help hundreds of families, just like yours, file for bankruptcy protection every year.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Explained

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy eliminates credit card debts, medical debts, and other types of debt. In fact, Chapter 7 eliminates most unsecured debts. Unsecured debts are debts that are not backed by anything. Meaning they do not have property attached as collateral.

It is our mission to ensure that you understand the power and benefits of Chapter 7 bankruptcy. We’re here to answer all of your questions. Call us right now (912) 351-9000 to schedule a free consultation.

Benefits of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

  • Erases most unsecured debts: including credit card debt and medical bills.
  • Stops all collection action.
  • Stops harassing phone calls from creditors.
  • Stop wage garnishments and bank levies.
  • Stops lawsuits filed by creditors.
  • Depending on your specific situation you will most likely be able to keep your car and your home. It is more likely that you can keep your car or home if your payments are current and there is not significant equity.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy might be the solution to your debt problems. However, depending on your specific case, you may still owe on some debts after bankruptcy, such as newer tax debts and student loans. Also, Chapter 7 cannot help you catch up on mortgage arrears or missed car payments (though Chapter 13 bankruptcy can).

Filing for bankruptcy will adversely affect your credit score in the short term; however, if you have already fallen behind on paying your debts, your score has likely already decreased.

Qualifying for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Qualifying for Chapter 7 bankruptcy was made more difficult in 2005 when congress passed the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA). To qualify for Chapter 7 debtors must have an income below the state median for their household size, or if above the median, must pass the Means Test.

When you hire us to represent you, it is our job to determine if you are eligible for bankruptcy relief.

Costs of Filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Those costs of filing for Chapter 7 include: court filing fees, mandatory credit counseling fees, and attorneys fees.

When we meet for a free consultation, we will go over all of the costs together. There will not be any surprise fees or costs down the road.

After Filing for Bankruptcy

At the conclusion of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy you will not be buried under the weight of debt. You will no longer receive harassing phone calls from creditors. You will have a fresh start. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to learn how bankruptcy can help you and your family.

The Law Offices of Barbara B. Braziel proudly serves Savannah, Richmond Hill, Hinesville, Pooler, Port Wentworth, Tybee Island, Clyo, Ellabel, Midway, Ludowici, Springfield, Pembroke, Brooklet, and Garden City, GA.

 

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

READ MORE

Student Loans are Not Erased in Bankruptcy

In 2011 our nation’s student loan debt passed the $1 trillion mark. Student loan debt has exceeded credit card debt since 2010. A number of financial experts say that we’re in a student loan crisis. Many students leave school saddled with a debt load that isn’t affordable on their entry-level salaries.

As the law stands, student loans are nondischargeable in most cases and are not erased in bankruptcy. This means that students loans must be paid back even after successfully filing for bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy May Still Help You If You’re Struggling with Student Loan Payments

If you’re struggling to make your student loan payments on top of credit cards, medical debt, and other monthly living expenses, bankruptcy may help you be able to better afford your student loan payments.

Bankruptcy can erase your unsecured debts, including your credit card and medical debts. Although bankruptcy may not erase your student loans, it can free up funds. The money you were using to pay monthly credit card and medical bills can then be directed toward your student loan payments.

Students Loans Have Repayment Options

If you’re struggling with monthly student loan payments, we encourage you to reach out to your lender(s)! Many student loan lenders offer options to lower monthly payments or pause payments for a short amount of time.

We encourage anyone with student loans to explore income based forgiveness programs for government backed loans.

Also, federal student loans have the options of deferment or forbearance that allows you to temporarily postpone or reduce your monthly payments. Be mindful to understand how these options will impact your overall repayment plan and interest rate. Consider too that your total amount owed will increase, typically including compounded interest fees.

We Offer Free Consultations

To discuss your financial situation and whether or not bankruptcy is the right choice for you contact us for a free consultation!

Follow the Law Offices of Barbara B. Braziel on Facebook for money saving tips and information on getting out of debt!

 

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

READ MORE

Filing for Bankruptcy is Not Shameful. You’re Not Alone.

We’ve been practicing bankruptcy law for over 35-years. One of the things we hear most from our clients is that they feel guilty or ashamed about filing for bankruptcy. They want to pay back their debts, and they feel badly that they are not able to do so. In our experience, the majority of debtors truly deserve the benefits of bankruptcy. Few people actually want to file for bankruptcy and fewer still are taking advantage of the system.

If you file for bankruptcy, you are not alone.

Across the nation, nearly 1 million people filed for bankruptcy protection in 2015. The previous year, well over 1 million people filed for bankruptcy protection.

In Georgia, 50,344 people filed for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection in 2015.

By these numbers, you can see that bankruptcy is not uncommon.

There are many reasons why people file for bankruptcy. Prior to filing many people experience a job loss, divorce, death in the family, a costly medical emergency, or another unavoidable situation. The types of debt that cause the most problems are medical debts and credit card debts.

There is a common misconception that everyone who files for bankruptcy is bad with money. That is simply not true. Often it is an unavoidable and unforeseeable situation that leads to bankruptcy. Consider too that many successful people have file for bankruptcy. If you file for bankruptcy, you’ll be in the likes of Walt Disney, Billie Joel, and Mark Twain.

Filing for bankruptcy is not shameful.

As we discussed in our article Living With The Stress of Debt vs. Bankruptcy, living with the weight of debt affects more than just your credit score. Financial stress has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, ulcers, diabetes, migraines, and sleep disturbances.

You do not deserve the financial and emotional stress of trying to pay back debts you cannot afford. Filing for bankruptcy is not shameful. It does not make you a bad person, and it does not mean that you’re a failure.

Filing for bankruptcy is your legal right.

You deserve a financial fresh start, and we’re here to help you achieve it. We offer free consultations and affordable payment plans. Contact us today!

We proudly serve the people of Savannah, GA and the surrounding areas.

 

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

READ MORE

Why Debt Consolidation Rarely Works

If you’re living under the weight of financial struggles, debt consolidation may seem like the answer. Unfortunately, debt consolidation is rarely the solution to debt problems. Many of our clients who ultimately file for bankruptcy tried debt consolidation first. The truth is many of these people would have been much better off if they had filed bankruptcy from the start.

Know that we are not in the business of talking people into bankruptcies they don’t need. We are in the business of helping people get out of debt and getting the fresh financial start they deserve.

The Two Main Debt Consolidation Options

1) Hiring a debt consolidation company. They will collect a monthly fee from you and attempt to make settlement deals with your creditors. Generally, these companies are paid by taking a percentage of your monthly payment off the top. They keep the rest of the funds until there is enough in the pot to make a lump sum payment on a settlement deal, one creditor at a time.

2) Taking out a sizable loan. The loan is used to pay off creditors. Then one payment is due on the loan each month.

The Risks of Hiring A Debt Consolidation Company

At first blush, hiring a debt consolidation company may seem like a good idea. However, there are a host of things that can go wrong.

What we typically see is that people make their monthly payment to the debt consolidation company, but ultimately none or only a few of their smaller debts get settled. Leaving them out all of the money paid to the debt consolidation company, and ultimately filing for bankruptcy anyway.

Here are a few other things that can (and do) go wrong:

  • You are sued by your creditor. This can ultimately lead to wage garnishment or bank levies.
  • Even if you settle one debt, your other creditors will still continue collection efforts against you.
  • Your credit score is continuing to drop, and each missed monthly payment is reporting on your credit report.
  • Interest fees and penalties are still accruing – you’re getting deeper into debt.
  • Many creditors refuse to work with debt consolidation companies.
  • It may not provide an overall solution to your debt problems (many debt consolidation companies only deal with credit card debts).

Further, if you end up filing for bankruptcy your case may be made more difficult. Both debt settlements and payments made to a debt consolidation company will be heavily scrutinized by the bankruptcy trustee.

Debt Consolidation Companies Are Not Doing Anything You Can’t Do For Yourself

  • You can settle your debts with you creditors on your own. In fact, once you fall far enough behind on your payments, your creditors will begin to send you settlement offers in the 40-60% range. You can make a counter-offer with a lower amount.
  • Instead of paying them a monthly payment, you can put a lump sum into savings each month until you have enough to settle your own debts.
  • While the debt consolidation company may get your creditors to stop calling you, but they have not done anything to actually help you handle the debt. Know that you have the power to stop creditor phone calls yourself.

If you’re considering debt consolidation, we encourage you to meet with us first for a free consultation to learn about all of your debt relief options.

The Risks of Taking Out A Loan

Taking out a lump sum loan to pay off your creditors may be tempting. However, this option too comes with a host of things that can go wrong.

  • This option often creates a “rob Peter to pay Paul” situation. If you can’t make the monthly payment on your loan, you have not solved your debt problem.
  • Interest rates on debt consolidation loans can be astronomical.
  • Your credit score and credit report are every bit as harmed by this option than by filing for bankruptcy.
  • If you take out a home equity loan and you cannot make the monthly payment, you risk losing your home to foreclosure.
  • If you ultimately need to file for bankruptcy, paying off creditors or taking out new loans prior to bankruptcy can cause serious problems with your case.

If you’re considering taking out a big loan to consolidate your debts, we encourage you to meet with us first for a free consultation to learn about all of your debt relief options.

Follow us on Facebook to learn more about how to stop collection action and get out of debt!

If you have questions about debt consolidation or bankruptcy call us today at (912) 351-9000 or contact us via the web to schedule a free consultation. We are here to help you get out of debt and gain the financial freedom you deserve.

For over 30-years we have proudly served the people in Savannah, Richmond Hill, Hinesville, Pooler, Port Wentworth, Tybee Island, Clyo, Ellabel, Midway, Springfield, Pembroke, Brooklet, Garden City, and Ludowici, Georgia.

 

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

READ MORE

Our Law Office Offers Affordable Payment Plans

We understand that you are coming to us because you are struggling with debt. The last thing you want is another bill to pay.

When we meet for the free consultation, most people are worried about how they are going to pay for bankruptcy. Rest assured that we will work with you to give you the opportunity for a fresh start.

 

The Costs of Filing for Bankruptcy

The costs associated with filing for bankruptcy include: attorneys’ fees, a bankruptcy court filing fee, and the cost of mandatory credit counseling and a debtor education course. Below we will cover each cost in detail.

Many of our clients are making monthly payments on debts that will ultimately be erased in their bankruptcy, so they choose to reallocate those funds toward paying for their bankruptcy. At our free consultation we can explore this option together.

 

Chapter 7 Attorneys’ Fees

We charge a flat fee to file your bankruptcy case. We make sure our clients are never surprised with an unaffordable or outrageous bill.

Before you retain us as your bankruptcy attorney, we will go over the flat-rate attorneys’ fees and what is covered by those fees.

Attorneys’ fees are paid in full before we file your case. We require full payment in advance because as soon as your case is filed, your creditors are not allowed to attempt to collect from you, including us. This means that if we do our job right, we would never be able to collect the attorneys’ fees from you.

 

Chapter 13 Attorneys’ Fees

In the Southern District of Georgia, the Chapter 13 bankruptcy Attorneys’ fees are set by the court. This is called a “no look” fee. However, unlike with a Chapter 7 filing, we do not collect the attorneys’ fees up front.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy creates a repayment plan of debts, so you are able to pay all attorneys’ fees after your case is filed. Our office can be paid from the monthly payments you make in your repayment plan.

 

Court Filing Fee

The court filing fee is set by the Bankruptcy Court. Currently the fees are:

  • $335 for a Chapter 7 filing
  • $310 for a Chapter 13 filing

 

Mandatory Credit Counseling & Personal Financial Management Course

The U.S. Bankruptcy Code requires that every person who files for bankruptcy complete two courses. The first is credit counseling, that must be completed before filing. The other is a course in personal financial management, that must be completed after filing, but before the Court grants your bankruptcy discharge of debts.

Many of our clients are concerned about these courses. Please know that these courses do not take very much time, and both can be completed online. We will provide you with a list of approved organizations that offer these courses at a reasonable cost.

At our free consultation we will review all of the fees associated with filing for bankruptcy. You will never get a surprise bill from our law office. Call us right now at (912) 351-9000 or use this online form to schedule a free consultation!

The Law Offices of Barbara B. Braziel is located centrally in the Savannah, GA area.

 

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

READ MORE

The Power of the Automatic Stay and How It Helps You

As soon as you file for bankruptcy, all collection action against you must stop.

The automatic stay puts an end to collection phone calls, a mailbox stuffed with overdue bills, law suits, wage garnishments, and any other debt collection action against you. The automatic stay is powerful.

The automatic stay is a provision in the U.S. Bankruptcy Code that makes it illegal for creditors to attempt to collect on debts from a person who has filed for bankruptcy protection. There are only a few exceptions to the automatic stay.

 

The Automatic Stay Begins As Soon As Your Bankruptcy Case Is Filed

As soon as you file for bankruptcy your creditors must stop calling you, billing you, or taking any measures to attempt to collect money from you. Any repossession or foreclosure action must stop immediately as well.

 

The Automatic Stay Is Effective For the Life Of Your Bankruptcy Case

With few exceptions, the benefits of the automatic stay remain in effect throughout your bankruptcy case. At the conclusion of a successful bankruptcy, you receive a bankruptcy discharge. The bankruptcy discharge is a court order that says your debts are discharged. This means you are no longer personally liable to pay back your debts. Once you have your discharge, your creditors cannot legally attempt to collect any discharged debts from you, and the automatic stay is no longer necessary.

In rare cases the bankruptcy judge will lift the automatic stay at the explicit request of a creditor. In such cases, the creditor must file the appropriate paperwork and you must be given the opportunity to fight it.

 

Creditors Must Cease and Desist from All Collection Action

The automatic stay is a powerful right granted to debtors. Once you file for bankruptcy protection, your creditors are not allowed to:

  • Call you or send you bills
  • Garnish wages
  • Levy bank accounts
  • Sue you for unpaid debts
  • Move forward with a pending law suit
  • Repossess your car (at least not right away)
  • Foreclose on your home (at least not right away)

 

Exceptions to the Automatic Stay

There are a few rare exceptions to the automatic stay. These exceptions are enumerated by Congress in the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The automatic stay exceptions include family law proceedings relating to divorce or parenting, collection on ERISA-qualified pension loans, IRS tax audits, demands for tax returns, or assessment of tax liabilities. However, the IRS must cease and desist from collection action for tax debts while the automatic stay is in effect.

 

The Automatic Stay Does Apply to Co-Debtors In Some Instances

The automatic stay may apply to other people who may have co-signed a loan with you.

If you have a loan or line of credit with someone else, the creditor is not allowed to continue collection action against an individual co-signer without court approval in most instances.

Note that if you file a joint bankruptcy petition with your spouse, the automatic stay will stop tax collection action against both of you. However, if only one spouse files for bankruptcy, collection action by the federal or state government for tax debt may legally continue against the non-filing spouse.

 

What Happens If A Creditor Violated the Automatic Stay

Any continued collection action against you is a violation of federal law. If you’ve filed for bankruptcy and a creditor continues to attempt collection, or even contacts you to attempt settlement, contact your bankruptcy attorney immediately.

Make sure to keep excellent records of the dates, times, names of people with whom you spoke, and any other evidentiary support. You may be able to make a recovery against a creditor who willfully continues to violate the automatic stay.

Follow us on Facebook to learn more about how to stop creditor harassment!

We are here to stop creditor harassment, get you out of debt, and help you gain the financial freedom you deserve. Call us today at (912) 351-9000 or contact us via the web to schedule a free consultation.

The Law Offices of Barbara B. Braziel proudly serve people in Savannah, GA and the surrounding areas.

 

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

READ MORE

The Differences Between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

The two most common types of bankruptcy filed by individuals or married couples are Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy erases all or most of your debts, without a repayment plan, and in general allows you to keep most or all of your personal belongings. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a reorganization of debts, creates a three to five year repayment plan, and also allows you to keep most or all of your personal belongings.

 

The “chapters” come from the United States Bankruptcy Code. There are benefits and drawbacks to both Chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcies. And in fact, both chapters offer many of the same benefits.

 

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 eliminates credit card debt, medical debt, and most unsecured debts. Unsecured debts are debts that are not backed by anything. Meaning they do not have property attached as collateral. Generally, it is the simplest and quickest form of bankruptcy. And takes roughly four to six months to complete.

 

The benefits of Chapter 7 bankruptcy include:

  • Erases most unsecured debts: including credit card debt and medical bills.
  • Stops harassing phone calls from creditors.
  • Stops wage garnishments.
  • Stops lawsuits filed by creditors.
  • Depending on your specific situation you will most likely be able to keep your car and your home. It is more likely that you can keep your car or home if your payments are current and there is not significant equity.

 

The drawbacks of Chapter 7 bankruptcy include:

  • Chapter 7 Bankruptcy cannot help you catch up on mortgage arrears or missed car payments (though Chapter 13 Bankruptcy can, see below).
  • Filing for bankruptcy will affect your credit score – however, if you have already fallen behind on your debts, your score has likely already decreased.
  • Student loan debts are not generally discharged.
  • Depending on your specific case, you may still owe on some debts after bankruptcy, such as tax debts.

 

 Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Chapter 13 bankruptcy creates a three to five year repayment plan. The repayment plan gives you a chance to catch up on mortgage arrears, missed car payments, back taxes, and other debts. To qualify, you must have a steady source of income, such as from a job, self-employment, a business, retirement income, or social security.

 

Chapter 13 has many of the same powers as Chapter 7, plus additional powers.

 

The benefits of Chapter 13 bankruptcy include:

  • Stops wage garnishments, stops lawsuits filed by creditors, stops harassing creditor phone calls, and stops automobile repossession.
  • Can stop foreclosure and allow a homeowner to catch up on mortgage arrears.
  • In some cases, allows a homeowner to “lien strip” or eliminate a second mortgage.
  • Creates an opportunity to catch up on missed car payments.
  • Creates an opportunity to catch up on other missed payments, such as back taxes or child support payments.
  • At the conclusion of the Bankruptcy, any remaining credit card debt, medical bills, or other unsecured debts, and some tax debts, are discharged.

 

The drawbacks of Chapter 13 bankruptcy include:

  • Requires monthly payments to the Bankruptcy Trustee. We all understand that unforeseeable things happen. If a plan payment cannot be made, there are processes to address it.
  • You cannot take out a loan while in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy without prior permission from the Bankruptcy Court.
  • Student loan debts are generally not discharged.
  • Depending on your specific case, you may still owe some debts after bankruptcy, such as tax debts.

 

Bankruptcy is a Powerful Tool

Both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 are powerful tools to stop harassing phone calls, stop collection actions against you, and help you get out of debt.

At the Law Offices of Barbara B. Braziel we file hundreds of Chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcy cases every year. But our clients are never just a number. You will not be left in the hands of a paralegal. You will have access to your attorney throughout your bankruptcy case.

We are here to give you the fresh start you deserve. Call us today at (912) 351-9000 or contact us via the web to schedule a free consultation.

 

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

READ MORE