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Who is The Best Bankruptcy Lawyer in Georgia?

“Brian R. Cahn is the best bankruptcy lawyer in Georgia” according to a recent client, A. Hulsey, of Cartersville.

According to attorney John Mroczko:  “Brian Cahn is one of the brightest legal minds that I know! I have never met a better bankruptcy attorney. He is thorough as they come. I highly recommend him to all of my clients looking for a bankruptcy attorney.”

Reviews from other clients throughout North Georgia –

Brian, we received our discharge paperwork today. We wanted to thank you again for all your help and advice. You are a really kind and good person who does more than a “job”. We learned so much and value your hard work. We wanted to make certain you know how much you are appreciated. Please also thank your staff as they are amazing and we could not have accomplished this without their help as well. With gratitude, Marc and Kerri

When we visited the law office of Perrotta & Cahn, we were very much in need of professional assistance. We had no idea what our options would be. Mr Cahn looked at the information we provided, he gave us his professional opinion, but most of all Mr. Cahn answered our questions. He made us feel very at ease through our situation and his staff is always available to answer questions. Mr. Cahn continued answering our questions and made us feel at ease throughout the entire process which included office visits and court appearances. We have and will continue referring our friends and family members to Perrotta & Cahn. Darin & Donna B, Paulding County, GA

Perrotta & Cahn is a top tier law firm with a friendly, easy going way of taking care of business. Brian Cahn has been our go-to guy for personal and now our business legal matters since 2003. He is a pro. GHH – Hiram, GA

I cannot say enough about the law firm of Perrotta & Cahn, specifically my attorney, Mr. Brian Cahn. I was referred to Brian Cahn through a close friend who used his services earlier.

Unfortunately, I was experiencing severe financial difficulty, and I needed to inquire about the possibility of declaring bankruptcy. I was already upset and embarrassed that I was in this situation. However, upon meeting Brian, and explaining my situation to him, I began to feel comfortable and reassured. Brian explained that he would work hard to provide the best outcome for me. He is also an excellent strategist.

Brian was always readily available whenever I had questions or concerns. He is a consummate professional who I felt was extremely dedicated to my case. The services provided to me by Brian Cahn have been invaluable. I also felt his prices were reasonable and fair. The office staff was also very professional and courteous.

Should anyone I know need the services of an attorney, without hesitation, I will always highly recommend Mr. Brian Cahn, of Perrotta, Cahn. Dominic R. – Atlanta, GA

At the darkest time of our lives a very good friend recommended Brian Cahn to help us. We were scared, unsure of how to proceed and unfamiliar with the process. Brian treated us with respect, led us each step of the way and answered all of questions and concerns. He stood beside us and for us in a way that we will never forget. He represented us with integrity and consideration. To say that we highly recommend him is an understatement. We recommend only him and it is our privilege to do so. Pam and Tony W. – Canton GA

My family and I found ourselves in a situation that was unique for us and required a swift decision. Working with Mr. Stephens and Mr. Cahn proved to be efficient, professional, and reliable. The peace-of-mind this law firm gave my family was priceless.”

Good luck and best wishes. We owe you a debt of gratitude – but that’s the only debt we have left!! (pardon the pun). KK and RK

My husband and I have referred many of my friends to Brian Cahn’s firm. They helped us and stayed right with us through the bankruptcy process. They went out of their way to ensure we were taken care of. Very kind and concerned as we were going through a very rough time in our lives and it helps when you have people like these guys willing to take the time to make the process a little easier. Thanks guys for all your hard work and always being there for us through a very diffucult time in our lives. Thanks to you we are back on track with our financial situation. J and J, Cartersville, GA

I would like to say Brad Stephens and all the folks in the law office treated me with respect and kindness. The kind of treatment a friend would give. My business was carried out just as Brad explained it. Every time I had a question he was emailing or returning my call. AAA+++. Thank you Brad for taking a difficult time in my life and handling business!!! J, Cartersville, GA

Thanks so much fots. You and your team helped me to get a fresh jump-start on life. You are absolutely going to be my first call for any legal needs in the future. RDR, Bartow County, GA

For a FREE CONSULTATION with Brian Cahn, call the office: (770) 382-8900

E-mail Mr. Cahn: brc@perrottalaw.com

Perrotta & Cahn

http://www.NorthGaBankruptcy.com

Cartersville | Dallas | Calhoun | Dalton

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“Best Bankruptcy Attorney in Georgia” is Brian R. Cahn…

according to one of his colleagues, a well-known lawyer from Cartersville:

“Brian Cahn is one of the brightest legal minds that I know! I have never met a better bankruptcy attorney. He is thorough as they come. I highly recommend him to all of my clients looking for a bankruptcy attorney.”

Reviews from some of his clients –

Brian, we received our discharge paperwork today. We wanted to thank you again for all your help and advice. You are a really kind and good person who does more than a “job”. We learned so much and value your hard work. We wanted to make certain you know how much you are appreciated. Please also thank your staff as they are amazing and we could not have accomplished this without their help as well. With gratitude, Marc and Kerri

When we visited the law office of Perrotta & Cahn, we were very much in need of professional assistance. We had no idea what our options would be. Mr Cahn looked at the information we provided, he gave us his professional opinion, but most of all Mr. Cahn answered our questions. He made us feel very at ease through our situation and his staff is always available to answer questions. Mr. Cahn continued answering our questions and made us feel at ease throughout the entire process which included office visits and court appearances. We have and will continue referring our friends and family members to Perrotta & Cahn.  Darin & Donna B, Paulding County, GA

Perrotta & Cahn is a top tier law firm with a friendly, easy going way of taking care of business. Brian Cahn has been our go-to guy for personal and now our business legal matters since 2003. He is a pro.  GHH – Hiram, GA

I cannot say enough about the law firm of Perrotta & Cahn, specifically my attorney, Mr. Brian Cahn. I was referred to Brian Cahn through a close friend who used his services earlier.

Unfortunately, I was experiencing severe financial difficulty, and I needed to inquire about the possibility of declaring bankruptcy. I was already upset and embarrassed that I was in this situation. However, upon meeting Brian, and explaining my situation to him, I began to feel comfortable and reassured. Brian explained that he would work hard to provide the best outcome for me. He is also an excellent strategist.

Brian was always readily available whenever I had questions or concerns. He is a consummate professional who I felt was extremely dedicated to my case. The services provided to me by Brian Cahn have been invaluable. I also felt his prices were reasonable and fair. The office staff was also very professional and courteous.

Should anyone I know need the services of an attorney, without hesitation, I will always highly recommend Mr. Brian Cahn, of Perrotta, Cahn.  Dominic R. – Atlanta, GA

At the darkest time of our lives a very good friend recommended Brian Cahn to help us. We were scared, unsure of how to proceed and unfamiliar with the process. Brian treated us with respect, led us each step of the way and answered all of questions and concerns. He stood beside us and for us in a way that we will never forget. He represented us with integrity and consideration. To say that we highly recommend him is an understatement. We recommend only him and it is our privilege to do so.  Pam and Tony W. – Canton GA

My family and I found ourselves in a situation that was unique for us and required a swift decision. Working with Mr. Stephens and Mr. Cahn proved to be efficient, professional, and reliable. The peace-of-mind this law firm gave my family was priceless.”

Good luck and best wishes. We owe you a debt of gratitude – but that’s the only debt we have left!! (pardon the pun). KK and RK

My husband and I have referred many of my friends to Brian Cahn’s firm. They helped us and stayed right with us through the bankruptcy process. They went out of their way to ensure we were taken care of. Very kind and concerned as we were going through a very rough time in our lives and it helps when you have people like these guys willing to take the time to make the process a little easier. Thanks guys for all your hard work and always being there for us through a very diffucult time in our lives. Thanks to you we are back on track with our financial situation. J and J, Cartersville, GA

I would like to say Brad Stephens and all the folks in the law office treated me with respect and kindness. The kind of treatment a friend would give. My business was carried out just as Brad explained it. Every time I had a question he was emailing or returning my call. AAA+++. Thank you Brad for taking a difficult time in my life and handling business!!! J, Cartersville, GA

Thanks so much fots. You and your team helped me to get a fresh jump-start on life. You are absolutely going to be my first call for any legal needs in the future. RDR, Bartow County, GA

For a FREE CONSULTATION with Brian Cahn, call the office: (770) 382-8900

Perrotta & Cahn

http://www.NorthGaBankruptcy.com

Cartersville | Dallas | Calhoun | Dalton

Under Chapter 13, what is notice of transfer of claim?

If you’re in a chapter 13 bankruptcy plan, your creditors don’t get paid unless they file a proof of claim.  The proof of claim form gets filed with the court at the beginning of the plan.

Debts, notes and receivables are frequently sold from one creditor to another.  For example, if you owe a debt to Capital One for a credit card, Capital One may file a proof of claim in your chapter 13 plan.  However, if Capital One sold your debt (the receivable) to a collection agency (usually at a discount to the collection agency, not you), the collection agency files the proof of claim.  The filing of your chapter 13 does not prevent the collection agency from selling the receivable to yet another collection firm.

Some collection firms, such as “B-Line” or “E-cast,” seem to specialize in buying receivables that are in chapter 13 bankruptcy plans.  I’m not exactly sure how it works, but I suspect that B-Line and E-cast are buying the receivables for pennies on the dollar.

When one collector buys a receivable that’s in chapter 13 from another collector, they’ve got to notify the trustee and the court.  If they didn’t, the disbursements from your chapter 13 plan would continue to go to the original claimant.  Therefore, they file a NOTICE OF TRANSFER OF CLAIM.  The Notice tells the court and the trustee that the receivable was sold and instructs the trustee to remit future disbursements to the new entity.

How does the transfer impact you or your case?  The answer is simple: it doesn’t.  No need to worry.

Of course, it’s always a good idea to review the claims filed in your chapter 13 with your attorney.  I’ve seen many erroneous claims: some claims were duplicates of others, some claims were filed in the wrong case, some claims were barred by the applicable statute of limitations, etc.  If you suspect a problem with one or more claims in your case, you’re entitled to object.  If your objection is sustained, the claim may be reduced, re-classified, or even disallowed.

If you’d like to discuss the details or implications of chapter 13 or chapter 7 bankruptcy, shoot me an e-mail or give me a call.  The consultation is always free.

Brian Cahn,

Senior partner with Perrotta, Cahn & Associates

Perrotta, Cahn & Associates represents clients throughout Georgia and the Southeastern United States.  We have offices conveniently located throughout Georgia.  To schedule a free consultation with a lawyer at our firm, call us toll-free at 866-382-8900 or visit us online at www.northgabankruptcy.com.

We have offices in: Cartersville, Calhoun, Dalton and Dallas

Serving clients in: Bartow, Floyd, Paulding, Cherokee, Polk, Whitfield, Douglas, Cobb, Fulton, Chatham, and all of Northwest Georgia.

It is possible to eliminate a second mortgage through bankruptcy

Things can get tricky when filers have second mortgages or home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) when they file for bankruptcy. And thanks to the housing market that collapsed in 2007, many Americans currently do have multiple mortgages or loans attached to their homes.

A common misconception is that mortgage liens can not be removed through bankruptcy. In fact, 2nd mortgages (and HELOCs) CAN be stripped and/or discharged through bankruptcy.

Here’s how they’re treated by the bankruptcy court:

  • A HELOC in Chapter 13 bankruptcy: In Chapter 13, filers are required to make payments to their primary mortgage lender and to the bankruptcy trustee. The trustee distributes these payments among priority debtors. After the case concludes, the HELOC may be eliminated (discharged). The lender will have gotten a percentage of trustee payments during the case.
  • A HELOC in Chapter 7 bankruptcy: Chapter 7 may cancel the debt on a home equity credit line, but it cannot cancel the lien that creditor has on the house. In fact, a HELOC lender may still be able to foreclose on a filer’s house after bankruptcy is over (though if there’s no equity in the house, this would be unlikely). One way to avoid post-Chapter 7 foreclosure is to reaffirm payments to a HELOC lender in during bankruptcy.
  • Second mortgages in Chapter 13: Second mortgages that are no longer secured by a home’s value can be discharged in Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Underwater homes may have second or third mortgages that are not secured any longer by the house’s value (that is, the amount of the loans totals more than what the house is currently worth). However, discharging a second mortgage will not affect what a bankruptcy filer owes on a first mortgage.

Brian Cahn,

Senior partner with Perrotta, Cahn & Associates

Perrotta, Cahn & Associates represents clients throughout Georgia and the Southeastern United States.  We have offices conveniently located throughout Georgia.  To schedule a free consultation with a lawyer at our firm, call us toll-free at 866-382-8900 or visit us online at www.northgabankruptcy.com.

We have offices in: Cartersville, Calhoun, Dalton and Dallas

Serving clients in: Bartow, Floyd, Paulding, Cherokee, Polk, Whitfield, Douglas, Cobb, Fulton, Chatham, and all of Northwest Georgia.

Repeat Filings: How Often Can You file, or Re-File, Bankruptcy?

 How Often Can You File Bankruptcy?

If you have filed for bankruptcy before and received a discharge then the bankruptcy code specifies when you can file bankruptcy again and obtain a discharge. If you did not get a discharge in your previous bankruptcy case then you can file for bankruptcy again without consideration of the time limits described below. You can file for bankruptcy twice or even three times, even if you have received a discharge. The key is that you will often have to wait a certain period after you have filed and have received a discharge, to file for bankruptcy again and get a full discharge. If you file for bankruptcy again prior the the time limits, then you will not be entitled to a discharge, and your remaining debts will survive the bankruptcy.

Can I File for Bankruptcy Twice?

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy – If you have previously filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and received a discharge in your previous case then you can file for bankruptcy again and you can be entitled to another discharge in the following situations:

  • Chapter 7 Bankruptcy– If you need to file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy after you have filed a previous Chapter 7 bankruptcy and received a discharge, then you need to wait 8 years from the date you filed your previous Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you file prior to the 8 years, then you will be denied a discharge. If you are denied a discharge, then you will still be legally responsible for your debts. You start to count the 8 years from the date you filed your previous Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you filed your previous Chapter 7 bankruptcy in  July of 2000, then you are eligible to file again and get a discharge in July 2008.
  • Chapter 13 Bankruptcy – If you need to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy after your have obtained a discharge in a previous Chapter 7 bankruptcy then you will need to wait 4 years to obtain a complete discharge. In order to discharge your credit card debts, medical bills and personal loans you need to wait 4 years from the date you filed your Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you file within 4 years of your previous Chapter 7 bankruptcy then your unsecured debts will not be discharged. This time limit only applies if you obtained a discharge in your previous Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The 4 year period begins to run from the date you filed your previous Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This means that if you filed in February of 2000, then  you would be eligible for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy discharge in February of 2004.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy – If you have previously filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy and you received a discharge in your previous Chapter 13 bankruptcy then there are time limits for filing another Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You can file for bankruptcy again, but there are time limits in order for you to obtain a full discharge of your debts.

  • Chapter 7 Bankruptcy – If you received a discharge in your previous Chapter 13 bankruptcy and you need to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy then you will need to wait 6 years from the date of filing your Chapter 13 bankruptcy to receive a full discharge. You can obtain a full discharge of your debts in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, even if you file within 6 years, but you must have paid your unsecured creditors 70% or more during your previous Chapter 13 bankruptcy. If you did not pay your unsecured creditors at least 70% during your previous Chapter 13 bankruptcy, and you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy within 6 years of filing Chapter 13, then you will not be entitled to a discharge. You must wait at least 6 years from the date of filing your previous Chapter 13 bankruptcy, to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and receive a discharge (unless the exception applies).
  • Chapter 13 Bankruptcy – If you have received a discharge in a previous Chapter 13 bankruptcy and need to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy again, then you need to wait at least 2 years from the date of filing of your previous Chapter 13 bankruptcy. If you file within 2 years of filing your Chapter 13 bankruptcy then you will not be entitled to a discharge in your new bankruptcy case.

It is important that you understand whether your previous bankruptcy affects your ability to obtain a complete discharge of your debts in your new bankruptcy case. Make sure you inform any bankruptcy attorney of your previous bankruptcy case, so that they can assess whether you can file for bankruptcy and obtain a full discharge of your debts.

If you’re still not sure if you qualify for another bankruptcy, please contact our office for a free consultation with one of our experienced lawyers.

Brian Cahn, senior partner with Perrotta, Cahn & Associates

Perrotta, Cahn & Associates represents clients throughout Georgia and the Southeastern United States.  We have offices conveniently located throughout Georgia.  To schedule a free consultation with a lawyer at our firm, call us toll-free at 866-382-8900 or visit us online at www.northgabankruptcy.com.

We have offices in: Cartersville, Calhoun, Dalton and Dallas

Serving clients in: Bartow, Floyd, Paulding, Cherokee, Polk, Whitfield, Douglas, Cobb, Fulton, Chatham, and all of Northwest Georgia.

 

Should you sign a reaffirmation agreement?

One of the benefits of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, is the ability to keep (or “reaffirm”) debts secured by property the debtor needs for his or her fresh start.  Typically, clients need their vehicle and house and reaffirming the loans on those items seems like the right thing to do.

Maybe.  Maybe not.

More often than not, I will advise clients NOT to reaffirm their mortgage loan, especially under the following circumstances:

  • (1) if there is a 2nd mortgage;
  • (2) if my client is self-employed or has fluctuating pay; or
  • (3) if the property has little or negative equity.

Under the new bankruptcy laws, a mortgage company could foreclose on the property if a reaffirmation agreement is not signed, even if the debtor is current with their mortgages (I will blog about ipso facto clauses in the near future).   However, in 17+ years of bankruptcy practice, I have never seen a mortgage company attempt to foreclose when a reaffirmation is not signed and the debtor remains current.  The chances are very slim that the mortgage company would want to foreclose when the loan is current, especially in today’s real estate market.  By not signing the reaffirmation agreement, the debt would be discharged and would show up on the credit report as being discharged.  But as long as the debtor continues making regular mortgage payments, there is a great chance that they would be able to keep the property, and own it outright at the end of the loan.  There is no guarantee, but chances are very good that the mortgage company would never foreclose if the account remains current.  And in two to three years after the bankruptcy, the borrower could qualify to refinance their house!

Another debt that most individuals may want to reaffirm is a car payment.  I will typically advise my clients to reaffirm their car payment IF they’re one-thousand percent certain they can afford the payment; the car is worth at least what’s owed; and the account is current.   If a debtor wants to keep their car through the bankruptcy, they probably need to sign a reaffirmation agreement.  Car creditors, unlike mortgage companies, can and do repossess collateral (the car), even if the payments are current, but a reaffirmation agreement is not signed!  Why?  The new bankruptcy laws gives the creditor this remedy.  Why are they doing it?  It could be to go ahead and cut their loses?  Or, as I believe, it could be a way for them to scare debtors into signing the reaffirmation agreement.  Some debtors may need to sign a reaffirmation to keep their car, but usually most individuals can and do qualify to purchase another vehicle soon after their bankruptcy is over.  Therefore, one should really think twice before signing a reaffirmation for their car.

Other secured debts that my clients like to reaffirm are furniture loans, or loans for jewelry or a computer (typically Dell Financial).  Again, I also advise them NOT to sign reaffirmation agreements for these items.  If a reaffirmation is not signed on a furniture debt, the debt is discharged and the only recourse for the creditor is to pick up the furniture.  What are the chances that the creditor will pick up their furniture.  Very, very, very slim.  The reason is simple.  Most furniture depreciates as soon as you take it out of their store.  Further, the creditor can not sell used furniture for more than what it would cost them to pick it up.  So, the best course of action is to NEVER sign a reaffirmation for a furniture debt and take the chance that they do not come and pick up the furniture.

What about loan companies that made you pledge everything of value as collateral for the loan?  Do NOT reaffirm this loan.  The Bankruptcy Code gives us the ability to avoid the finance company’s lien on your household items.  Yes, we can eliminate the loan, and you keep your household items.  I will explain the details to you at your free consultation.

All in all, the only two debts that consumers should ever consider reaffirming are their house or their car.  The main objective is to avoid biting off more than you can chew.  Sure, reaffirming the debt helps your credit and will guarantee that the lender won’t take your car or home as long as you stay current.  But the risk of future financial problems frequently outweighs the benefit of reaffirmations.

Brian Cahn, senior partner with Perrotta, Cahn & Associates

Perrotta, Cahn & Associates represents clients throughout Georgia and the Southeastern United States.  We have offices conveniently located throughout Georgia.  To schedule a free consultation with a lawyer at our firm, call us toll-free at 866-382-8900 or visit us online at www.northgabankruptcy.com.

We have offices in: Cartersville, Calhoun, Dalton and Dallas

Serving clients in: Bartow, Floyd, Paulding, Cherokee, Polk, Whitfield, Douglas, Cobb, Fulton, Chatham, and all of Northwest Georgia.

When declaring bankruptcy, where do you start and what do you bring?

There’s a right and wrong way to handle any situation. For example, this is the wrong (but hilarious) way to declare bankruptcy.

If you’re getting calls from collectors, falling behind on mortgage or car payments, or just curious about your legal rights to eliminate or manage your debt, the right thing to do is GET A FREE CONSULTATION FROM AN EXPERIENCED ATTORNEY. The starting point is a phone call.

The lawyers with Perrotta, Cahn & Prieto offer free consultations. Our phone number is (770) 382-8900. We can meet with you at your convenience in any of our offices. We have offices located in Cartersville, Calhoun, Dallas and Dalton.

Make sure to bring a list of bills, or the bills themselves. If you’ve been sued, bring the lawsuit.

We have a worksheet that you can print and fill-out. The worksheet covers almost every question and issue that we need to guide you in the right direction.

Finally, make sure to bring your last-filed tax return, and all pay stubs you and your spouse have received in the past 60 days.

Your consultation is confidential and free. We give you INFORMATION and OPTIONS. We help empower you to protect your property, and get the fresh start you deserve.

Brian Cahn, senior partner with Perrotta, Cahn and Prieto, P.C.

Perrotta, Cahn & Prieto represents clients throughout Georgia and the Southeastern United States.  We have offices conveniently located throughout Georgia.  To schedule a free consultation with a lawyer at our firm, call us toll-free at 866-382-8900 or visit us online at www.northgabankruptcy.com.

We have offices in: Cartersville, Calhoun, Dalton, Atlanta and Dallas

Serving clients in: Bartow, Floyd, Paulding, Cherokee, Polk, Whitfield, Douglas, Cobb, Fulton, Chatham, and all of Northwest Georgia.

Rebuilding your credit after bankruptcy

A bankruptcy discharge is the formal order entered at the successful completion of the case.  The discharge is your ticket out of bankruptcy and the beginning of a fresh financial start.

Building and maintaining good credit after bankruptcy is critical to a fresh start. The higher your credit score, the lower your interest rate on credit cards, mortgages and auto loans.

No sooner than 4-months after receiving your discharge, but no later than 9-months after discharge, your first step should be to secure a copy of your credit report to see where you stand. You are entitled to one free credit report per year from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, and you can get it easily by going to www.annualcreditreport.com or calling 1-877-322-8228.   Beware of other web sites that sound “free,” because they probably require you pay a fee or enroll in a monitoring service at a cost.  The only service that I’m aware of that’s absolutely free (no strings attached) is www.annualcreditreport.com.

Once you get your report, check it for accuracy: you will be surprised how often mistakes show up.  The bankruptcy case should say “Discharged” (not “Dismissed”).  Each account that was discharged should say “Discharged in Bankruptcy.”  Conversely, any account that was reaffirmed should say “Account in Good Standing” if you’re current.  Verify that each creditor listed is actually one you either use or have used in the past, and dispute any errors – including old or outdated addresses.

Tips to rebuilding and maintaining good credit

  • Open a checking or savings account. Having a financial history will help you secure a loan.
  • Pay your reaffirmed or post-bankruptcy bills on time; take advantage of auto-pay to avoid late-fees.
  • Keep balances as low as possible on “revolving credit” (i.e., credit cards).
  • When possible, pay off debt instead of transferring it to low-interest rate cards.
  • Don’t open lines of credit you don’t need.
  • Protecting your credit from identity theft is another pro-active way of maintaining good credit; if your identity is stolen and fraudulent charges appear, it will take some time to straighten it all out.

Tips on protecting your credit

  • Guard your mail from theft by shredding it before discarding it – especially mail containing personal information, including charge receipts, credit offers and applications, insurance forms, doctor’s statements, discarded bank checks and statements, and expired credit cards.
  • Be protective of your personal information.
  • Be cautious when giving out your credit card number, address, or other personal information. When possible, only share this information with reputable organizations.
  • Never carry your Social Security card. Leave it in a secure place at home or in a safe deposit box if you have one.
  • Use secure online purchases (https://) whenever possible, and look for graphic images of a lock and key at the bottom corner of your browser or the words Secure Sockets Layer (SSL).
  • Avoid using your card as identification. Thieves can use this information to assume your identity and open bank accounts, make purchases – even get a job or apartment using your identity. Only use your credit card at recognized and reputable merchants.
  • If you suspect fraud, contact the bank that issued your card and have them put a “credit freeze” on your account. A credit freeze will flag your account and make it difficult for would-be-thieves to open a new line of credit under your name.

Tips if you are a victim of identity theft and fraud

  • If you suspect fraud, the first thing to do is place a Fraud Alert on your credit file. This alert will stay in place for 90 days and will require creditors to verify your identity before issuing credit in your name.
  • If you have already been a victim of fraud, fill out an Identity Complaint Form with the FTC and have them place an extended fraud alert on your credit file which requires all creditors to actually speak with you before issuing credit. The extended fraud alert stays on your file for 7 years.
  • Repairing your credit will take time. It’s similar to building your credit from scratch – but more challenging since the blemishes from the past will be on your file for a while.

Tips on improving or repairing your credit

  • Pay your bills on time. The length of time you’ve paid your bills timely impacts your credit score.
  • Get current on all your accounts. If you are behind, creditors will send your accounts to collectors and this will negatively impact your credit file.
  • If you fall behind on payments, contact the creditors or see a credit counselor and let them know your situation. This will give you a chance to work something out with the creditors – possibly delaying reports of delinquencies to the credit agencies.
  • Get your credit report a few times a year to monitor your progress. Although it takes time to raise those scores, watching them rise should serve as motivation to reinforce these new habits.

Disputing Errors on your Credit Report

If your credit report does not accurately reflect accounts discharged in bankruptcy, or other material information, it’s important to send a dispute letter to all 3 bureaus ASAP.   Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the credit bureau is required by law to correct any disputed items within 30-days.  Here’s a sample dispute letter:

Date Your Name Your Address Your City, State, Zip CodeComplaint Department Name of Credit Bureau Address City, State, Zip Code

Dear Sir or Madam:I am writing to dispute the following information in my file. The items I dispute also are encircled on the attached copy of the report I received.This item (identify item(s) disputed by name of source, such as creditors or tax court, and identify type of item, such as credit account, judgment, etc.) is (inaccurate or incomplete) because (describe what is inaccurate or incomplete and why). I am requesting that the item be deleted (or request another specific change) to correct the information.Enclosed are copies of (use this sentence if applicable and describe any enclosed documentation, such as payment records, court documents) supporting my position. Please investigate this (these) matter(s) and (delete or correct) the disputed item(s) as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

Your name

Enclosures: (List what you are enclosing)

Brian Cahn, senior partner with Perrotta, Cahn and Prieto, P.C.

Perrotta, Cahn & Prieto represents clients throughout Georgia and the Southeastern United States.  We have offices conveniently located throughout Georgia.  To schedule a free consultation with a lawyer at our firm, call us toll-free at 866-382-8900 or visit us online at www.northgabankruptcy.com.

We have offices in: Cartersville, Calhoun, Dalton, Atlanta and Dallas

Serving clients in: Bartow, Floyd, Paulding, Cherokee, Polk, Whitfield, Douglas, Cobb, Fulton, Chatham, and all of Northwest Georgia.

How do I pick a bankruptcy lawyer or attorney?

How do I pick a bankruptcy lawyer or attorney?

“You want an experienced attorney.  You don’t want somebody that just started practicing bankruptcy law.   There has been so much change and there is so much information under the umbrella of bankruptcy law that you need someone that’s been doing it for a while.  I can say I’ve been a bankruptcy lawyer, doing exclusively bankruptcy work, for over 17 years now.  I think I’ve seen almost every aspect that a case could present so I know how to deal with problems; I know how to see them before they come up and take measures before the case is even filed to prevent the case from being contested or a problem case.”

Brian Cahn, senior partner with Perrotta, Cahn and Prieto, P.C.

Perrotta, Cahn & Prieto represents clients throughout Georgia and the Southeastern United States.  We have offices conveniently located throughout Georgia.  To schedule a free consultation with a lawyer at our firm, call us toll-free at 866-382-8900 or visit us online at www.northgabankruptcy.com.

We have offices in: Cartersville, Calhoun, Dalton, Atlanta and Dallas

Serving clients in: Bartow, Floyd, Paulding, Cherokee, Polk, Whitfield, Douglas, Cobb, Fulton, Chatham, and all of Northwest Georgia.

Carterville Bankruptcy Lawyer: 523(a)(16) Conundrum – Strategies to minimize clients’ exposure for post-petition homeowners association (“HOA”) dues

In recent months, many chapter 7 debtors and their attorneys have struggled with the harsh consequences of newly-enacted 11 U.S.C.  523(a)(16), which excepts from a debtor’s discharge, any post-petition “fee of assessment that becomes due and payable” to a homeowners association (“HOA”), as long as the debtor maintains a “legal, equitable, or possessory ownership interest” in the subject property.

With the unprecedented volume of foreclosures associated with the nationwide mortgage crisis, mortgage lenders frequently take months, or even years, to finalize foreclosure sales.  Since the debtor technically maintains a legal or equitable ownership interest in the property (even in the absence of a possessory interest), the debtor could remain liable for HOA assessments accruing for many months, or even years after leaving the property while the lender finalizes the foreclosure process.

Such liability, through no fault of the debtor, frustrates the debtor’s good-faith effort to secure a fresh financial start.  Until the Bankruptcy Code is corrected to address this glaring injustice, debtors and their attorneys must be proactive to mitigate the harsh consequences.  What are the options?

One option is to simply wait until after the foreclosure is concluded before filing the chapter 7 bankruptcy.  In practice, however, waiting months or years to file chapter 7 is simply not feasible.

Perhaps the best option (being used by my office and many of my peers) is for the debtor to vacate the property upon filing, and at the same time, execute and record a deed transferring ownership back to the mortgage lender, or even the HOA.  Although this option is not perfect, it is – in my opinion – the best way to protect chapter 7 debtors from the harsh (perhaps unintended) consequences of § 523(a)(16).

Brian Cahn, senior partner with Perrotta, Cahn and Prieto, P.C.

Perrotta, Cahn & Prieto represents clients throughout Georgia and the Southeastern United States.  We have offices conveniently located throughout Georgia.  To schedule a free consultation with a lawyer at our firm, call us toll-free at 866-382-8900 or visit us online at www.northgabankruptcy.com.

We have offices in: Cartersville, Calhoun, Dalton, Atlanta and Dallas

Serving clients in: Bartow, Floyd, Paulding, Cherokee, Polk, Whitfield, Douglas, Cobb, Fulton, Chatham, and all of Northwest Georgia.