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.

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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23 Apr Bankruptcy Basics: After Bankruptcy, Learning to Budget Means Financial Freedom

Often when I finish talking to a potential client about bankruptcy, the person will ask: "How will my credit score be affected? Will I be able to purchase anything on credit again EVER?" I tell them it is up to them how their credit score is rebuilt after a bankruptcy. My clients receive a information packet at the end of their case which offers suggestions for rebuilding credit. Also, in that packet is a list of websites
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22 Mar Oregon Attorney Disciplined Due To FDCPA Violations

An Oregon attorney, Derrick McGavic is being disciplined for FDCPA violations as announced by theOregon Attorney General's Office this week. Derrick McGavic, a Eugene, Oregon attorney whose law firm sued consumers for credit card companies and debt collectors, agreed to submit his resignation to the Oregon State Bar. In addition, McGavic & Finney, P.C., the law firm under which McGavic practiced, is to be closed with McGavic's partner, Kristan Finney, allowed to continue to practice, but with restrictions under a stipulated agreement with the Oregon AG's office. McGavic will also pay a $70,000.00 fine.
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22 Feb Uniform Bankruptcy Law? Your State Does Matter!

As explained by Professor Daniel Austin of the Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, Mass. in the December/January 2011American Bankruptcy Institute Journal,the U. S. Constitution in Article 1, the Bankruptcy Clause, authorized Congress to establish uniform laws regarding bankruptcy throughout the United States. However, as Prof. Austin acknowledges, the reality is far from uniform. Each state has their own state laws which impact bankruptcy as well as variations on how the particular state's bankruptcy courts or appellate courts interpret bankruptcy law. Also, each federal district court has the ability to implement local rules which also affect how bankruptcies are administered. And as each state has attempted to "interpret" the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 over the past five years, the states are even more divided on how bankruptcies are administered as explained by my colleague, Susanne Robicsek from North Carolina.
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12 Feb Tell A Debt Collector Where To Put It

This past week, I had a consultation with a frantic debtor who really did not want to file bankruptcy. She was facing a garnishment of her wages and did not understand the garnishment. Back in 2003, a debt collector had sued her and obtained a judgment for approximately $1100.00. No payments were made from 2003 to 2007. However, in January 2008, the debt collector discovered where she worked and sent a writ of garnishment to her employer. Since under the law, a debt collector may seize 25% of wages, this garnishment meant a serious reduction in income. The debtor contacted the debt collector and negotiated a lower payment to be made, out of each paycheck through a voluntary wage assignment. After costs and interest had been added in, the judgment amount was $2045.00. No written wage assignment was provided to the payroll department; the employee just directed payment to the debt collector.
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24 Dec Bankruptcy Basics: Bankruptcy Fraud can lead to Truth or Consequences

In earlier posts, two bankruptcies filed by debtors appearing in Bravo Television reality shows were discussed. Terese Giudice who appears on Real Housewives of New Jersey and Sonja Morgan who appears on Real Housewives of New York City each filed banruptcy. Ms. Giudice filed a chapter 7 bankruptcy (consumer bankruptcy); Ms. Morgan filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy (for high income consumers or bigger businesses). My opinion was that Ms. Morgan chose wisely and that perhaps Ms. Giudice had not. The events since the filing demonstrate the importance of filing accurate and thoroughly complete schedules. On June 30, 2010, the Chapter 7 Trustee filed an adversary proceeding, objecting to the discharge of debts for the Giudices. The Chapter 7 trustee alleges that assets were concealed or withheld by the debtors and that as a consequence, their debts should not be discharged. On August 3, 2010, the Giudices answered the lawsuit, denying that they had concealed any property or withheld any information from the court. On September 2, 2010, the United States Trustee filed an adversary proceeding in the Guidici case in New Jersey.
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