Category: Bankruptcy

Protecting Yourself From Common Bankruptcy Scams

If you are facing the pressure of mounting bills, creditors calling your home all day, and compounding interest payments pulling you more and more underwater, hiring a bankruptcy attorney might be your best option, but beware of bankruptcy scams!
Filing for bankruptcy can be a tricky process, and seeking the help of a bankruptcy expert is not a bad idea. Still, know that some unscrupulous companies will try to take advantage of your financial stress. Knowing what to look for will help you avoid these bankruptcy scams.
Some dishonest companies target people who are undergoing a bankruptcy. But instead of offering legitimate services, these bankruptcy scams profit from the desperation of people in the throes of financial crisis. These companies usually advertise on the Internet, in the newspaper, or directly contact people whose bankruptcies are indicated by public-record notices.
Some companies may charge you for services that you can do yourself. For example, these companies may charge you for finding a lawyer, something you can definitely do on your own.  Click here for an introduction to a bankruptcy attorney that we work with.
Even worse, many disreputable companies might make unlikely promises. For example, some will promise to remove your bankruptcy by working out a compromise with your creditors. You pay them a chunk of cash, which they promise to distribute to your creditors. When and whether they pay those bills is up for question. And more importantly, no one can remove a bankruptcy from your record!
The number one sign of bankruptcy scams is when the offer sounds too good to be true. There is no magic cure for bankruptcy. If the company is over-promising by saying they can make your bankruptcy disappear, they are not disclosing the full truth.
Also beware of any company that takes your money without informing you of your rights. These might be fly-by-the night bankruptcy scams who will disappear with your cash in their pockets. Call around and ask for referrals from bankruptcy attorneys and industry experts before settling on a bankruptcy company. You will likely have much more luck if you do the research rather than waiting for the company to find you.

Rebuilding Credit After Bankruptcy

Like a lot of folks who start trying to rebuild credit after bankruptcy, you might be thinking of wiping your hands clean of credit. And it might make sense that the fastest way to move past the bankruptcy is to stop relying on the loans and credit cards that precipitated the bankruptcy.
But contrary to popular belief, using credit appropriately in the wake of a bankruptcy is the best way to rebuild credit after bankruptcy. Of all the bankruptcy facts, this one might be the most important. Indeed, you might be able to build your score to 720 within a couple of years of declaring bankruptcy if you follow a smart plan to re-establish credit.
This twofold plan to learn how to fix credit starts by opening new lines of credit and concludes with paying your bills on time and in full.
Rebuilding Credit After Bankruptcy Rule #1: Open new lines of credit!
You might hear claims that you can have a bankruptcy wiped from your record. Beware of these claims! There is no legal way to wipe a bankruptcy from your credit report. That said, time does heal. The credit-scoring bureaus—Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian—are more concerned with your recent behavior than they are with your past behavior. The trick, then, is to persuade the bureaus to pay more attention to your recent good behavior than to your past behavior. By establishing new credit and using it responsibly, you can prove to the bureaus that you are a new person—that the bankruptcy forced you to change your habits and establish smarter financial strategies.
After you have declared bankruptcy, open three new credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, or American Express) and one installment loan as part of your plan to rebuild credit after bankruptcy. Taking out a car loan is not advisable, in part because of the high interest rates you would assume, but also because of the debt you would add to your credit report. Instead, buy a new appliance, piece of furniture, or electronic using an installment loan. Then pay the loan off within six months.
Keep the credit cards active by using them at least every other month. Make only small charges (preferably less than 10 percent of the limit), and pay the balances in full.
Of course, with both the credit cards and installment loan, be aware of high interest rates. Because of your bankruptcy, you will likely not qualify for the best interest rates, which is why I stress the importance of paying the balances in full as quickly as possible.
Another note about opening new accounts: Insomuch as it is possible, open these accounts all at once and as soon as possible after the bankruptcy. The credit-scoring bureaus respond best to accounts that have been open for long periods of time. Your future credit score will benefit best if you open the accounts now.
By opening these new lines of credit, you can begin to rebuild your credit after bankruptcy by giving the credit bureaus new information on which they can judge your creditworthiness. Show them you have changed your patterns of behavior.
In this way, you can immediately begin proving to the credit bureaus that the bankruptcy allowed you to turn over a new leaf and change your payment behavior.
Rebuilding Credit After Bankruptcy Rule #2: Never, never make a late payment!
After a bankruptcy, the credit-scoring bureaus will have an eye on you, even as your score begins to climb. If you make a payment that is even one day late, the bureaus will assume you are back to your old ways, and your progress will be for naught.
To best rebuild your credit after bankruptcy, you must pay your bills immediately every single month. This means that you must live within your means. Be sure to read our article about how to create a budget, find money, and establish habits that best afford you to bounce back after a bankruptcy.