I'm a consumer protection lawyer in Oregon, working with people in Klamath; Lake; Jackson; Josephine; Curry; and Deschutes County. I speak regularly on bankruptcy and consumer protection issues nationwide.

 

Author: Karen Oakes, Esq.

25 Oct Bankruptcy Filings Decrease: Why? Shelter, Food, and Necessities of Life

Bankruptcy filings continue to decrease according to a report by Epiq Systems in a recent article at Credit Slips by Bob Lawless. According to the blog, bankruptcy filings are down more than 17% from 201o at the same time last year. This trend was reported in an earlier article at the New York Times. Since unemployment rates are still high and foreclosures continue to rise (up 23% from 2008), one might wonder why the decrease in bankruptcy filings? My colleague Cathy Moran recently wrote about investing in bankruptcy as a tool to regain control of a debtor's financial future. Cathy is absolutely right -- when the time is right. My recent experience with folks coming in for consultations is that folks are too broke to even consider filing for bankruptcy--their unemployment has run out, the mortgage company isn't foreclosing, and there is nothing for creditors to seize, even if a lawsuit is filed--no property, no money in bank accounts, no valuable assets, no wages, no land. My advice to these folks is
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26 Sep Bankruptcy and Identity Theft: Protect Your Confidential Data

Bankruptcy and identity theft? How can this be an issue if someone is discharging debt? There are debtors who file for bankruptcy protection due to someone having stolen their identity. There are bankruptcy debtors whose identity is stolen and the thief files for bankruptcy. Then, there are those folks who worry about their identity being stolen while in bankruptcy due to creditor's who treat confidential information casually. When creditors release confidential data in public records, identity theft risk increases dramatically. What can the average person do to protect themselves, whether in or out of bankruptcy court?

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24 Aug Foreclosed Homes Bulldozed by Bank Of America, Wells Fargo, and Chase

Stephen Gandel, senior writerover at Time Magazine, discussed the recent news from Bank of America of BOA's plans to donate lots after bulldozing 100 foreclosed Cleveland homes. The lots will be donated to local government authorities. That donation adds to earlier donations of...

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31 Jul Consumer Wins Big FDCPA Verdict!

InsideARM, a accountsreceivablemanagement blog reported today that during the past week, a consumer was awardeda $1.26 Million verdict in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) lawsuit in New Mexico. The consumer, a "Lucinda Yazzie", had brought the lawsuit after the debt collector had attempted twice to garnish wages for a debt that the consumer had disputed with the debt collector.
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22 Jun Debtors Can Lose The Lease In Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. Why?

My colleague, Kurt O'Keefe, of Michigan, recently wrote regarding the difference between reaffirming a lease and reaffirming a secured loan on a vehicle. He stated throughout his article that a lease was a different type of animal -- neither secured or unsecured and a lease can be assumed or rejected. His final point was that assumption of a lease did not mean that a debtor was again personally liable on the debt (the opposite of what would happen in a secured loan situation). However, there is more to the issue. Whena Chapter 7 bankruptcy is filed, one of the forms filed with the court is a Statement ofIntention.
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22 May Will A Bankruptcy Affect My Military or Security Clearance Status? Two Opinions

Recently in an article in the Army Times, writer and attorney Matthew Tully reported that bankruptcy (he did not mention any difference between filing a Chapter 7 versus a Chapter 13) would affect a servicemember's security clearance. Later in his article, he advised in his article that a bankruptcy would have an impact but then explained that each servicemember's case is examined on a case-by-case basis. Then, he advises that folks with good reasons for money troubles would have those reasons taken into account. "Often, it is not the action (bankruptcy) that hurts an applicant, but the situation surrounding it (running up a credit card tab gambling in Vegas, for example)." My experience differs from Mr. Tully's and I couldn't disagree more with the way the problem was presented.
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