FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Debt Collection Lawsuit Defense
Yes, definitely. The debt collectors and creditors that file collection lawsuits count on people ignoring a case (about 90%) or trying to represent themselves (about 8%). The company suing will either automatically win convince a defendant to agree to a payment plan if they do show up. The 2% of people that hire an experienced attorney can either get the case dismissed or settled for a fraction of the amount.
With a Default Judgment a debt collector can freeze your bank accounts and take money out, garnish your wages, and put a lien on any property you have. In Illinois they can also charge 9% interest until the full amount is paid. Debt collectors count on a Default Judgment since 90% of people don’t show up in court and have a Default Judgment entered against them.
A Default Judgment could be entered against you. A Default Judgment means the case is over, the debt collector wins.
In Cook County, collection lawsuit trials are either in front of a judge (bench trial) or with a jury or your peers.
An Appearance is a document you file with the court to let it know you are going to participate in the lawsuit. You file the Appearance after you’ve been served with a lawsuit before the Appearance Date or Return Date deadline. You have an option of making a Jury Demand which we almost always recommend doing.
No. This is probably the most common misunderstanding about a lawsuit. The Appearance Date or Return Date is a deadline to file an Appearance and Jury Demand. It is not a court date and you don’t have to go to court.
Yes. Debt collectors are required to stop debt collection when you file bankruptcy and the phone calls and letters will stop almost immediately as well. If a debt collector contacts you after you file for bankruptcy, or the debt is discharged in bankruptcy, you may be able to sue them for a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act violation.
Contrary to what you probably heard, student loans can be discharged in bankruptcy.. Certain requirements must be met and the case is often litigated to achieve reduction or discharge of the loans.
Bankruptcy will prevent these, even if just temporarily. It may give you the opportunity to stop a foreclosure and begin mortgage payments again. You may also be able to keep making car payments or give up the car and get one that is more affordable. You will also be able to stop garnishments and lawsuits against you will be dismissed.
While you may see different prices advertised by bankruptcy law firms there’s really only one generally accepted price. This is because it is either the acceptable market value for a Chapter 7 case, or a stated price for a Chapter 13 case where the bankruptcy trustee will not challenge the fee.
It’s usually just marketing a lawyer may advertise for $995 but there’s probably fine print for extra fees that others will include in a flat fee. We have a flat, up front fee so there are no surprises.
Most people already have a low credit score by the time they file bankruptcy so the damage to their credit score is minimal. What most people don’t realize is that most people’s scores rise after bankruptcy because they’re either debt free or able to make payments to debt that wasn’t wiped out, such as a mortgage or car loan.
More importantly, when a strategy is followed someone that has filed for bankruptcy can get to a very good or excellent credit score within 6 to 24 months.
No. While your spouse may want to file bankruptcy as well, depending on the types of debts both of you have, they are not required to.
While bankruptcy is technically part of the public record, someone would need to know how to search court records and specifically search for you.
A Chapter 7 can eliminate most or all of your debts and you usually don’t need to pay anything to creditors. Chapter 13 requires a payment plan where you pay creditors over 3 or 5 years.
Bankruptcy and Student Loan Discharge
We work on contingency. That means that if we don’t save you money you don’t pay anything. If we do save you money we’re paid 12% of the amount saved which is broken into affordable payments of $299 a month.
No. There are a variety of factors that go into analyzing a case to see if there’s a chance of winning. For example, if your loans aren’t that high compared to your income, or you just graduated school, it would not be a good case.
To get your student loans discharged in bankruptcy you have to prove what’s called “undue hardship”. To do this you have to demonstrate 3 things:
1) a current inability to repay their student loans,
2) a future inability to repay their student loans, and
3) a past good faith effort to have repaid their student loans.
It’s still possible to have your student loans discharged. Your case would have to be reopened for the purpose of litigating the student loans.
Yes. Both federal and private student loans can be litigated and either discharged or settled in bankruptcy.
Can I really have my student loans discharged or reduced in bankruptcy? I heard it’s not possible to discharge student loans in bankruptcy.
It is possible, but not automatic. It can be done through litigation if you can show that the student loans are an undue hardship. If they are private loans, you may have other ways to get those loans reduced or discharged.
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
Under the FDCPA statute you can get up to $1,000 in damages. If there are what’s called “actual damages” you can recover those also. Actual damages could be out of pocket costs and emotional distress damages, among other things.
We can also force debt collectors to follow the rules, such as correct false reporting on your credit reports.
The FDCPA has what’s called a “fee shifting” provision. It’s what allows the little guy to get into court and sue the big companies and win. In a fee shifting FDCPA case if you win the defendant has to pay your attorneys’ fees and costs.
Debt collectors, debt buyers (companies that buy defaulted debt for pennies on the dollar then try to collect), and even law firms that try to collect or sue people for defaulted debts can all be sued under the FDCPA.
Business debts, taxes, speeding and parking tickets, municipal fines such as building or code violations and child support
Consumer debt is covered which is defined as debt for personal, family or household purposes. This mostly consists of personal debts such as credit card debt, personal loans, auto loans and in some cases mortgages.