Fighting Back Against Harassing Calls from Debt Collectors

If you have ever been behind on your bills, you have no doubt experienced the collection call.  If you have ever been really far behind in your bills, these calls are a regular part of daily life…sometimes too regular.
In addition to their frequency, collection calls have quite an unsavory reputation for content.  In many ways, this reputation is well deserved.  In these difficult times collection agencies are being particularly aggressive in pursuing debtors.  After all, they are usually paid according to what payments they bring in. 
How would you like to turn the tables on those abusive debt collectors, and make them pay you instead of you paying them?  Debt collectors are strictly regulated in how, when and with what they can contact debtors.  Unfortunately, violations of those regulations are rarely pursued because many debtors do not know their rights.  But, finish reading this post and you will learn a little about the FDCPA. 

Who Will Represent You?

Filing bankruptcy is a complicated process.  In fact, it’s complicated before you even start because you have to make some initial decisions about whom will represent you.  Here are your four options:
1. Represent Yourself
As in most legal proceedings, a party is entitled to represent his own interests in a bankruptcy.  This is called pro se or pro per representation.  Some people are successful in doing a bankruptcy this way if they do not have a complicated case and if they have the time and ability to research the law and procedure for bankruptcy.  However, even in a successful pro se case, the debtor often misses subtle items that could ultimately cost them more time and money than they would have spent on a lawyer.  And, if the case begins to unravel, you will end up seeking out a lawyer and probably paying more than you would have if you had started out with a lawyer in the first place.
Pros: Low initial cost (just the $299 filing fee), learn about legal system, sense of accomplishment
Cons: Risk, potential high long term costs, anxiety of not knowing the process

Who's Who in a Bankruptcy Case

Bankruptcy can be a confusing and overwhelming process.  In addition to dealing with all the forms, the deadlines, the costs and the laws, there are many people involved in this process that you may be unfamiliar with.  Here is a basic Who’s Who of Bankruptcy:
Debtor: This is the person filing for Bankruptcy protection.  Saddled with debt beyond the ability to pay, this person is asking the court for a clean slate or a manageable reorganization and payment plan.  Ideally, this person is represented by an attorney.

Secured Creditors: These are parties that have lent money to the debtor in exchange for a security interest in the property of the debtor.  The classic example is the home mortgage lender or your car loan holder.  If the debtor defaults on these loans, the Secured Creditor has a right to foreclose on the house or repossess the car that the debtor loaned the money against. In Bankruptcy, these creditors have a higher priority over an Unsecured Creditor.

Why You Shouldn't Feel Guilty About Filing for Bankrutpcy

Consumer spending, one of the primary indicators of economic health and growth, is made possible by readily available credit to consumers.  Unfortunately, the ease with which consumers can get credit for goods and services also makes it very easy to get into unmanageable debt.  While many good, hardworking people can maintain their debts, it only takes a trip to the hospital or family emergency or loss of work to miss a payment and send that debt spiraling out of control.
An unmanageable debt is a terrible burden to bear.  Debtors often feel ashamed at their inability to pay, indignant towards their creditors, fearful of legal repercussions and powerless to solve the issue.  Such a situation makes going about daily life extremely difficult, puts strains on families and hinders the debtors’ ability to find help and a solution.  Bankruptcy law exists to remedy these problems. 

Pinal County Bankruptcy Filings

Recently, I've had a number of great clients from the City of Maricopa, Apache Junction, Florence, and South Queen Creek, AZ.  These towns and cities are all located in Pinal County.  Pinal County is in a different Division of the Arizona Bankruptcy District than Maricopa County.
So what?  All it means is that if you live in Pinal County, your meeting of creditors will be in Florence instead of in downtown Phoenix.  The meeting is held at the Pinal County Superior Court building in Florence.