Credit being Properly Reported AFTER Bankruptcy? How to Find Out.

By Christopher C. Carr, Esq., Chester County Bankruptcy Lawyer,  After your Chapter 7 or 13 Bankruptcy Case is discharged, you will receive an Order of Discharge from the Courts in the mail. However, That does not mean that your credit is being properly reported to/by the credit bureaus.  Fixing any errors is up to you.  Here are the steps:

  1. 60-90 days after you receive the discharge, you should call the number provided on the www.annualcreditreport.com site and order your credit reports.  (Consumers are entitled to a free credit report every year or sooner when a negative decision is made by a creditor relying on a credit report.) You will see an option to download the report or to view it on the internet.  You should request your report be mailed to you by each of the three credit reporting agencies EquifaxExperian, and Transunion.   If you are married and filed a joint bankruptcy, both of the spouses must request their own reports.  There are many websites that will claim to be “free” but will typically start assessing a monthly fee after a trial period…don’t fall for it: www.annualcredi treport.com is the only such site authorized by federal law to provide truly free reports.
  2. You will also want to get additional reports from Telecheck, Early Warning Services, and Chexsystem if you have ever had a problem with a checking account or overdrafts.  These are the agencies that banks and credit unions rely on when the bank or credit union is making a decision about whether you can open an account with them.
  3. So, you are now up to six different reports and if married multiply this by 2.  However the review you will need to do is actually rather straightforward.  Look for a line under each of the creditors that indicates whether a balance is due.  That balance should read ZERO (unless it is a debt that is not dischargeable by law, like court ordered support, taxes, criminal fines or penalties).  There may or may not be a line saying “Chapter 7 Bankruptcy” or “Chapter 13 Bankruptcy”.  These statements refer to the reason why it is no longer a debt.
  4. If any of your creditors is still listing a balance, then the next step is to dispute the report of that creditor.  The Federal Trade Commission offers a sample dispute letter to consumers.  The sample is here.   You may alternatively use the form supplied with the report (usually found near the end of the report.)  Also send a copy of the letter to the creditor who is reporting inaccurate information.   And please, make and retain in your files two extra copies (one for your file and one for your attorney). Note that if more than one entity is reporting the debt improperly, they each must be notified separately.
  5. When a consumer disputes a credit report, the agency by law must investigate.  The creditor can either verify the accuracy, update or remove the information.   The credit reporting agency has deadlines for their response to the consumer. Generally the wrongly reported debt will now be off your report.
  6. However, if a creditor verifies the report (that is, wrongfully indicates the money is still due and owing), you should seek legal advice promptly. This is likely a violation of the discharge order of the bankruptcy court. There may also be a Fair Credit Reporting Act violation.  Your lawyer may suggest a lawsuit against the original creditor, the debt collector (if applicable) and/or the credit reporting agency.  Only a lawyer experienced in these kinds of cases can properly evaluate the situation and provide advice about your options.
  7. Just to make sure your credit is being reported correctly you may want to order your reports again in a year or whenever you are again eligible for a free report from www.annualcredi treport.com. Repeat the process above as needed.

Summary:

  1. Order your credit reports 60-80 days after your Order of Discharge
  2. Order additional reports for problem with checking account or overdrafts
  3. Carefully review  your credit reports
  4. Dispute any balances that are no longer owed with both the original creditor and the credit reporting agency.
  5. Review  responses promptly
  6. If the response says you still owe the debt, seek legal advice from an experienced attorney.
  7. Repeat in a year

This is but one of several steps I recommend you take after your bankruptcy is concluded.  For other actions you should take,  see my blog here 

Law Offices of Christopher C. Carr, MBA,  P.C., is a quality bankruptcy and debt relief practice, located in  Valley Township, west of Coatesville, Pennsylvania, where Attorney Christopher Carr, a Chester County bankruptcy attorney, who has over 30 years if diversified ;egal experience, concentrates on serving the residents of and businesses located within Western Chester County and Eastern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, including the communities in and around Atglen, Bird in Hand, Caln, Christiana, Coatesville, Downingtown, Eagle, Exton, Fallowfield Gap, Honeybrook, Lancaster, Lincoln University, Modena, New Holland, Parkesburg, Paradise, Ronks, Sadsbury, Thorndale, Valley Township, Wagontown & West Chester,  Pennsylvania. If you reside or do business in the area and need assistance with a legal issue, please call Mr. Carr at (610)380-7969 or write him at cccarresq@aol.com today!  

 

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341 Meeting Readiness

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By Attorney Christopher Carr, a Chester County bankruptcy attorney.

Tel: 610-380-7969 Email: cccarresq@aol.com WHAT IS THE 341 MEETING OF CREDITORS? Regardless of whether you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will be required to attend a “Meeting of Creditors” or a 341 hearing as attorneys call it. THIS IS A MISNOMER….IT IS NOT REALLY A HEARING! It has that name because it is held under oath (see below.) It is scheduled about 30‐45 days after your case is filed. Though it is called a “Meeting of Creditors,” creditors rarely attend. But the Trustee is there and HE represents the creditors! You, your attorney, and the trustee attend this meeting. It can seem quite intimidating if you do not know what to expect, but the 341 hearing is actually a fairly informal meeting designed to help the Trustee better understand what’s happening in your bankruptcy. A NOTE ON TIMING OF TRUSTEE PAYMENTS FOR CHAPTER 13 CLIENTS: Remember that your first payment to the Trustee is due THIRTY (30) DAYS AFTER YOUR PETITION IS FILED, irrespective of when the 341 is held.  WHAT TO EXPECT:  There will be a pile of Bankruptcy Information Sheets at the front of the room. Take one and read it.  You will be asked if you did (see below.) You will sit at a desk or table with your bankruptcy lawyer and the Trustee. Other people will be in the room with you, generally other bankruptcy filers and their lawyers. You will be asked first off to state your name and address and verify your identity by providing your social security card and drivers license. IF YOU DO NOT HAVE YOUR ORIGINAL SOCIAL SECURITY CARD AND SECOND FORM OF ID, THE MEETING WILL NOT BE HELD AND EVERYONE’S TIME WILL HAVE BEEN WASTED SO DON”T LEAVE IT AT HOME OR EXPECT A COPY TO DO. BRING THAT TATTERED ORIGINAL AND IF YOU DON”T HAVE ONE ORDER IT FROM THE SS OFFICE. The meeting will be recorded. The Trustee will start a tape recorder going. You will be sworn in; i.e. raise right hand solemnly swear and affirm to tell the truth. Dress is business casual for you. Be well groomed. I will be in my “lawyer suit” as will the Trustee, but you are not expected to wear one.  Be on time.  It may appear that I am running late but that is because I have a better idea of when the 341 will start than you do! Try to relax! WHAT CAN THE TRUSTEE ASK AT THE 341 MEETING? The trustee will ask you some basic questions about your bankruptcy.  Here are some of the common questions that trustees ask during the meeting. They are in no particular order. These are not all of the questions that the Trustee could ask, and he/she will not ask every question on this list. In other words, this is a very generic list. The items that are almost always asked are highlighted.

  • Did you sign the petition and the schedules your attorney is showing you?
  • Have you read the bankruptcy information sheet?
  • Did you review the bankruptcy petition and each of the schedules and the statement of financial affairs (SOFA). Is the information correct? The answer is always an assured “YES” because you will have typically signed the documents in my office and we will have gone over all of them in detail at that time.
  • Are there any corrections that need to be made to the Schedules?  There should be none.  See my piece on the importance of full disclosure within the Bankruptcy  Petition.
  • Did you list all income, assets, and debts on the Schedules? The answer is always an assured “YES” because you will have typically signed the documents in my office and we will have gone over all of them in detail at that time.
  • Have you filed all your taxes? Are the tax returns you supplied to the trustee true, correct and complete, including all schedules and W2s? (Typically we will have filed these beforehand.)
  • Are you entitled to any tax refunds?  This one is VERY popular around tax time. You and your Attorney should have discussed this one and its ramifications before the 341.
  • Have you previously filed bankruptcy? If so when?
  • Why are you filing bankruptcy?  You can be a bit creative here but see below.
  • Do you expect to receive an inheritance or property?
  • Are you a party to any law suits?
  • Do you have any domestic support obligations?
  • Have you have sold, transferred, or given away any property in the prior four years?
  • How long have you lived in Pennsylvania?
  • What do you plan to do with your house, cars, or other personal property?
  • Are you employed? What do you do?
  • How much do you earn?
  • Is your employment the same as when you filed?
  • Do you own your own home?
  • Do you own any motor vehicles? What are these?
  • Please provide appraisals for your cars and home. (Typically we will have filed these beforehand.)
  • Please provide insurance declaration pages for your home if owned and cars. (Typically we will have filed these beforehand.)
  • Do you have any retirement funds (IRA, Roth IRA, 401K etc.)?
  • Does anyone owe you money?
  • Is anyone holding money for you?

GENERAL TIPS AND CAVEATS: It is normal to be a bit nervous going into the 341 but just answer the questions put to you fully and honestly and be courteous to one and all! Do not over answer, the Trustee does not need to hear your life story. All of you financial information should be properly presented in the bankruptcy petition and there is no sense in trying to hide something from the Trustee. If you are uncooperative it may motivate the Trustee to investigate or scrutinize your petition further which will only mean more time and effort for you and your attorney. Always remember that the Trustee may act friendly but he is NOT your friend.  He represents the unsecured creditors and his job is to maximize their return from the bankruptcy (not your own). He gets paid a commission on assets he recovers from Debtors for them. I am on a first name basis with the Trustee but that does not mean we are friends! The time to report undisclosed assets, that big tax refund, debts to family or friends, that new job or the 1000 shares of Google.com or that partnership you forgot about is NOT at the 341. If you wear a big diamond ring to the 341 and didn’t disclose it, expect trouble! Other than that type of thing you have nothing to worry about! Should you have concerns about such matters you should be asking me about them NOW! See my piece on the importance of full disclosure within the Bankruptcy Petition.

 

Law Offices of Christopher C. Carr, MBA,  P.C., is a quality bankruptcy and debt relief practice, located in  Valley Township, west of Coatesville, Pennsylvania, where Attorney Christopher Carr, a Chester County bankruptcy attorney, who has over 30 years if diversified ;egal experience, concentrates on serving the residents of and businesses located within Western Chester County and Eastern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, including the communities in and around Atglen, Bird in Hand, Caln, Christiana, Coatesville, Downingtown, Eagle, Exton, Fallowfield Gap, Honeybrook, Lancaster, Lincoln University, Modena, New Holland, Parkesburg, Paradise, Ronks, Sadsbury, Thorndale, Valley Township, Wagontown & West Chester,  Pennsylvania. If you reside or do business in the area and need assistance with a legal issue, please call Mr. Carr at (610)380-7969 or write him at cccarresq@aol.com today!  

Not Legal Advice. Copyright © 2010, 2014 by Christopher C. Carr, Esq., All rights reserved. You may reproduce materials available at this site for your own personal use and for non-commercial distribution. All copies must include this copyright statement.

Web:westchesterbankruptcyattorney.orgBlog: christophercarrlaw.wordpress.com Member: National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, Phi Beta Kappa & Beta Gamma Sigma.*************************************** “WE SAVE HOMES”

This is a Federally Designated Debt Relief Agency which is proud to assist individuals in need in filing for bankruptcy protection.


[1] Up to ½ hour.

Prepared 2‐25‐2014.

When Should You Talk To A Bankruptcy Lawyer?

Attorney Christopher Carr, a Chester County bankruptcy attorney. Tel: 610-380-7969 Email: cccarresq@aol.com

In Chancery

In Chancery

Maybe the best approach to the question is to talk about when is not the best time to talk to a bankruptcy lawyer.  You were served with the foreclosure notice 6 months ago and the mortgage company has been refusing your payments and now your home is to be sold at a sheriff’s sale tomorrow.  Your car has just been repossessed and your job is now in jeopardy since you do not have transportation to work. These are bad times to be talking with a bankruptcy attorney.  Not because a bankruptcy attorney can’t still help you.  An “emergency” bankruptcy filing can still possibly help you save your home or maybe your car can be returned to you.  It is a bad time because had you consulted with a bankruptcy attorney sooner, a different plan to help you deal with your debt issues may have been available.  That is, while we may still be able to save your home in the short term, your bankruptcy may fail over the longer term whereas had you taken action earlier, a plan could have been devised to save it long term. So when should you talk to a bankruptcy lawyer?  HERE ARE SOME bASIC GUIDES: You know your finances are not what they should be.  You know that you are falling behind on your bills or are struggling to make ends meet each month.  You are juggling, you often have to choose between putting food on the table and paying your credit cards in full. You pay one card one month but not the next so you can pay another.   Or maybe you know that, even though you are current on your bills, there will be a  disruption in your income coming:  Maybe an operation that will require you or your spouse to be out of work for a time or a coming labor union strike. These are better times to be exploring options. Talk to an a compassionate, experienced, knowledgeable attorney who can look at your particular situation before absolute disaster strikes, before you are about to lose your home, car or possessions on the morrow! And it is important to recognize that ironically you must have money to file bankruptcy. If you wait till the axe has fallen, you likely will not have the funds to file:  As Max Gardner, Esq., a keen observer of trends in bankruptcy recently noted regarding the recent fall off in bankruptcy filings: A substantial number of consumers who need to file are simply too broke to file. And, those consumers who have lost homes to foreclosure during the Great Recession simply no longer care.  Simply stated, as many consumers who have lost hope for finding new employment have also lost the need for bankruptcy relief. A skilled bankruptcy lawyer can help you plan for a future filing before you reach this point of despair.  He or she can help you prioritize to help you keep things that are important to you. If the house is most important, then in order to afford the house, perhaps a vehicle can be surrendered and a less expensive vehicle obtained.  Or, the bankruptcy lawyer may tell you to stop paying your credit card or pre-Obamacare medical bills and use the money to make sure that your house payment is made.  This can ensure that you are current on your house for a bankruptcy filing so that you do not have to pay more money for mortgage arrears or that you can file a chapter 7 with a “walk through”. Forewarned is forearmed, as they say!  Merely talking to a bankruptcy lawyer does not commit you to a bankruptcy filing and many will talk to you initially for free or at a reduced charge What do you have to lose other than your current lack of knowledge?  It is not infrequently the case that we will either decide the timing is not yet ripe for a bankruptcy or that some other tool at our disposal is a better option for your particular situation.  While every case is unique, the bankruptcy lawyer will have had experience with cases like yours in the past that will have shown him or her pitfalls of various approaches both within and outside bankruptcy. For example, certain types of debt and liens which cannot be wiped out in a Chapter 7 can be discharged or removed as the case may be in a Chapter 13. Or perhaps he will guide you in the direction of combining bankruptcy with a mortgage modification to drive down your monthly payment to the mortgage company outside the bankruptcy perhaps even to the point where you ultimately can leave bankruptcy early. The alternatives to bankruptcy could include debt settlement; debt consolidation or even debt litigation. The debt settlement company (DSC) may promise over the radio that they can knock 50% off your debt but they cannot litigate or file a bankruptcy case for you. And they will not defend you if one or more of your creditors brings suit while you are in the settlement process.  A debt consolidation company may say that their solution is the most efficient  but they cannot litigate or file a bankruptcy case for you nor generally speaking can they even reduce your debt as can the DSC.  An attorney who litigates but does not file bankruptcy cases and does not have a financial background as do I may be extraordinarily skilled in the courtroom but is ill equipped to see your bigger debt picture and likely will say litigating a single debt (a costly alternative) is best when the debt could have been wiped out with a lot of other debt in bankruptcy.  An unbiased bankruptcy attorney will be part financial analyst and advisor and can lay out all avenues and recommend a path according to your needs. So, when should you talk to a bankruptcy attorney?  Many will hide their head in the sand but the early bird gets the worm…The clear answer is sooner as opposed to later.  Bankruptcy is not for everyone nor is it intended to be.  But if you have debts, and they seem out of hand, a thorough analysis of your finances should include a visit with an experienced bankruptcy attorney.

Law Offices of Christopher C. Carr, MBA,  P.C., owned and managed by Attorney Carr since 1997, a quality Chester County Bankruptcy Atttorney, with his practice located in  Valley Township, west of Coatesville, Pennsylvania, where Carr, who has over 30 years of diversified legal experience, concentrates on serving the residents of and businesses located within Western Chester County and Eastern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, including the communities in and around Atglen, Bird in Hand, Caln, Christiana, Coatesville, Downingtown, Eagle, Exton, Fallowfield Gap, Honeybrook, Lancaster, Lincoln University, Modena, New Holland, Parkesburg, Paradise, Ronks, Sadsbury, Thorndale, Valley Township, Wagontown & West Chester,  Pennsylvania. If you reside or do business in the area and need assistance with a legal issue, please call Mr. Carr at (610)380-7969 or write him at cccarresq@aol.com today!
Not Legal Advice.

©Christopher C. Carr, Attorney at Law 2013, All Rights Reserved.

 

THREE STRIKES AND YOU ARE OUT

By Christopher C. Carr, Esq. Chester County bankruptcy attorney.

 One mistake does not a bad faith petition make perhaps but 3 may well take you over the edge:  Rule of Thumb: 1 mistake is a mistake, but 2 mistakes is suspect, and 3 is concealment.  In fact, there is a great letter from Judge Jaroslovsky in the 9th circuit out of California, which was written to the debtor attorneys in his district.  The text of the letter is set forth below. He was trying to reign in some of the rampant petition amendment issues taking place due to the sloppy legal work going on in his district but his words and wisdom have general application.

So let’s stay out of trouble, please tell me EVERYTHING and let me decide.  As you can see below, I will almost always decide in FAVOR of disclosure but there are ways of dealing with such things that you don’t know about and I won’t either unless you “spill the goods” now not after it is too late. For more information see my blog on this topic HERE. An open letter for debtors and their counsel: I have noticed a disturbing trend among debtors and their counsel to treat the schedules and statement of affairs as “working papers” which can be freely amended as circumstances warrant and need not contain the exact, whole truth.  Notwithstanding execution under penalty of perjury, debtors and their counsel seem to think that they are free to argue facts and values not contained in the schedules or even directly contrary to the schedules. Some debtors have felt justified signing a statement that they have only a few, or even a single creditor, in order to file an emergency petition, knowing full well that the statement is false.  Whatever your attitude is toward the schedules, you should know that as far as I am concerned they are the sacred text of any bankruptcy filing.  There is no excuse for them not being 100% accurate and complete.  Disclosure must be made to a fault.  The filing of a false schedule is a federal felony, and I do not hesitate to recommend prosecution of anyone who knowingly files a false schedule. I have no idea where anyone got the idea that amendments can cure false schedules.  The debtor has an obligation to correct schedules he or she knows are false, but amendment in no way cures a false filing.  Any court may properly disregard subsequent sworn statements at odds with previous sworn statements.  I give no weight at all to amendments filed after an issue has been raised. As a practical matter, where false statements or omissions have come to light due to investigation by a creditor or trustee, it is virtually impossible for the debtor to demonstrate good faith in a Chapter 13 or entitlement to discharge in a Chapter 7 case.  I strongly recommend that any of you harboring a cavalier attitude toward the schedules replace it with a good healthy dose of paranoia. (my emph.)   /s/ Judge Alan Jaroslovsky U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Northern District of California, Santa Rosa Division.

Law Offices of Christopher C. Carr, MBA,  P.C., is a quality bankruptcy and debt relief practice, located in  Valley Township, west of Coatesville, Pennsylvania, where Attorney Christopher Carr, a Chester County bankruptcy attorney, who has over 30 years if diversified ;egal experience, concentrates on serving the residents of and businesses located within Western Chester County and Eastern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, including the communities in and around Atglen, Bird in Hand, Caln, Christiana, Coatesville, Downingtown, Eagle, Exton, Fallowfield Gap, Honeybrook, Lancaster, Lincoln University, Modena, New Holland, Parkesburg, Paradise, Ronks, Sadsbury, Thorndale, Valley Township, Wagontown & West Chester,  Pennsylvania. If you reside or do business in the area and need assistance with a legal issue, please call Mr. Carr at (610)380-7969 or write him at cccarresq@aol.com today!  


©Christopher C. Carr, Attorney at Law 2013, All Rights Reserved.

FIXING YOUR CREDIT AFTER A BANKRUPTCY DISCHARGE

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By Christopher C. Carr, Esq. Chester County bankruptcy attorney.

Tel: 610-380-7969 Email: cccarresq@aol.com Web: westchesterbankruptcyattorney.org

In my prior article on the topic of post discharge activities, I discuss 11 different areas for your attention.  Below, I focus in on just one of these: credit repair.

You have received an Order of Discharge from the Courts. That does not mean that your credit is being properly reported to/by the credit bureaus however.  Fixing any errors is up to you.  Here are the steps:

  1. 60-90 days after you receive the discharge, you should call the number provided on the www.annualcreditreport.com site and order your credit reports.  (Consumers are entitled to a free credit report every year or when a negative decision is made by a creditor relying on a credit report.) You will see an option to download the report or to view it on the internet.  You should request your report be mailed to you by each of the three credit reporting agencies Equifax, Experian, and Transunion.   If you are married and filed a joint bankruptcy, both of the spouses must request their own reports.  There are many websites that will claim to be “free” but will typically start assessing a monthly fee after a trial period…don’t fall for it: www.annualcredi treport.com is the only such site authorized by federal law to provide truly free reports.
  2. You will also want to get additional reports from Telecheck, Early Warning Services, and Chexsystem if you have ever had a problem with a checking account or overdrafts.  These are the agencies that banks and credit unions rely on when the bank or credit union is making a decision about whether you can open an account with them.
  3. So, you are now up to six different reports and if married multiply this by 2.  However the review you will need to do is actually rather straightforward.  Look for a line under each of the creditors that indicates whether a balance is due.  That balance should read ZERO (unless it is a debt that is not dischargeable by law, like court ordered support, taxes, criminal fines or penalties).  There may or may not be a line saying “Chapter 7 Bankruptcy” or “Chapter 13 Bankruptcy”.  These statements refer to the reason why it is no longer a debt.
  4. If any of your creditors is still listing a balance, then the next step is to dispute the report of that creditor.  The Federal Trade Commission offers a sample dispute letter to consumers.  [The sample is here. ] You may alternatively use the form supplied with the credit report (usually found near the end of the report.)  Also send a copy of the letter to the creditor who is reporting inaccurate information.   And please, make and retain in your files two extra copies (one for your file and one for your attorney). Note that if more than one entity is reporting the debt improperly, they each must be notified separately.
  5. When a consumer disputes a credit report, the agency by law must investigate.  The creditor can either verify the accuracy, update or remove the information.   The credit reporting agency has deadlines for their response to the consumer. Generally the wrongly reported debt will now be off your report.
  6. However, if a creditor verifies the report (that is, wrongfully indicates the money is still due and owing), you should seek legal advice promptly. This is likely a violation of the discharge order of the bankruptcy court. There may also be a Fair Credit Reporting Act violation.  Your lawyer may suggest a lawsuit against the original creditor, the debt collector (if applicable) and/or the credit reporting agency. . Only a lawyer experienced in these kinds of cases can properly evaluate the situation and provide advice about your options.
  7. Just to make sure your credit is being reported correctly you may want to order your reports again in a year or whenever you are again eligible for a free report from www.annualcredi treport.com. Repeat the process above as needed.

Summary:

  1. Order your credit reports 60-80 days after your Order of Discharge
  2. Order additional reports for problem with checking account or overdrafts
  3. Carefully review  your credit reports
  4. Dispute any balances that are no longer owed with both the original creditor and the credit reporting agency.
  5. Review  responses promptly
  6. If the response says you still owe the debt, seek legal advice from an experienced attorney.
  7. Repeat in a year

Law Offices of Christopher C. Carr, MBA,  P.C., is a quality bankruptcy and debt relief practice, located in  Valley Township, west of Coatesville, Pennsylvania, where Attorney Christopher Carr, a Chester County bankruptcy attorney, who has over 30 years if diversified ;egal experience, concentrates on serving the residents of and businesses located within Western Chester County and Eastern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, including the communities in and around Atglen, Bird in Hand, Caln, Christiana, Coatesville, Downingtown, Eagle, Exton, Fallowfield Gap, Honeybrook, Lancaster, Lincoln University, Modena, New Holland, Parkesburg, Paradise, Ronks, Sadsbury, Thorndale, Valley Township, Wagontown & West Chester,  Pennsylvania. If you reside or do business in the area and need assistance with a legal issue, please call Mr. Carr at (610)380-7969 or write him at cccarresq@aol.com today!  


I also provide HAMP, HAMP2 and other Mortgage Modification Services.

©Christopher C. Carr, Attorney at Law 2009, 2013, All Rights Reserved

More On Yo Yo Auto Sales (Auto Fraud)

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By Christopher C. Carr, Esq. Chester County bankruptcy attorney.

Tel: 610-380-7969 Email: cccarresq@aol.com

Website: westchesterbankruptcyattorney.org

I  work in autofraud relief for consumers and have posted previously here on YoYo’s.  Recently I answered the following question for AVVO:

Q: I bought a new car and 3 days later they said they made a mistake on the contract and need me to come back.

3 days after the contract has been signed with me giving them $10,500 as down payment with a 780 credit score. They said they made a mistake by stating the price of $31,129.00 . They said that was supposed to have been including $2,000.00 in rebates. On the contract is states $31,129.00 and then subtracting my down payment plus $2,000.00 in rebates. Do I have to give them more money and resign a new contract. It states on the contract that once both parties have signed it is binding. Hayden, Idaho

A: It sounds like you are facing a variant of what is called a yo yo sale, also called a “Spot Delivery”, which simply refers to the dealer putting a consumer into a car “on the spot”, to get the sale and take the buyer off the market, only to “yo-yo” them back at a later date to extract additional funds. This then is a variety of the old bait and switch. Played to perfection, a dealer can pocket thousands of extra dollars in unearned fraudulent gain out of a single unsuspecting buyer.

However, because your credit is virtually spotless the dealer cannot employ the usual tactic of stating that your credit was not approved to lure you back in to sign new papers.  (Your credit was good or the dealer would not have delivered the car to you at the price you agreed to pay.) That is, I believe that the dealer is doing more than simply trying to cheat you out of a rebate that was extended under a legally binding non conditional contract of sale, he is “yo yoing” you back to the dealership to pressure you to rescind the contract and adopt a new one undoubtedly with a much higher rate of interest. The “basis” would be that the contract has to be revised anyway to remove the supposedly erroneous rebate calculation.  This is of course illegal since you already have a binding contract but most buyers don’t know it, assume the dealer is right and go along with everything.

You do not need to stand for any of this because you already have you have signed papers and own the car, subject to making payments only, regardless of whether the vehicle has been financed or the dealer misstated the purchase price.  A finance document showing payments, rebates, deposit, interest rate and other financial items is a binding contract, giving you specific legal rights under the laws of your state. The dealer cannot change any of this legally once you have taken possession.

Yoyo sales are a national problem, involving dealer fraud. The usual fraud is making the consumer think the sale was complete, while at the same time the dealer sets it up so that the dealer can call it off, seize the car, and sell it to another purchaser or insist on dealer enhanced terms in a revised contract. A few states already prohibit conditional auto transactions outright, Idaho not being one of them as far as I can see, but even in the ones that have not taken that step, state contract law still protects the vigilant buyer.  In your case you were never told that the rebate was conditional, subject to being rescinded or the contract rewritten to change the price.  That is, you signed purchase documents and, I assume a registration application; obtained insurance; had a new license plate put on the car and/or had your old plate transferred, so the car belongs to you and the dealer is stuck with the deal they initially made. (The dealer may try the legal argument that the contract was formed based on a mutual mistake but I do not think that will work for reasons that are beyond the scope of this answer.)

Now you state that you have been called back to the dealership to sign certain papers; best not to go at all or if you do, do so in a car other than the one you bought, bring a friend with you if possible and be prepared to resist a browbeating. If the finance manager asks for your papers at any time for any reason, refuse! Keep these documents in a safe place, not in the car.  If you leave the papers they will also get them if they get the car. That leads me to my final point. You likely will need to retain a local lawyer with a good understanding of the laws of Idaho pertaining to auto sales to assist you.  I say this because your best strategy is to have counsel at the ready to take steps to enforce your legal rights against threats of repossession of the automobile or other dubious tactics to try and get the car back if you do not appear.  Best of luck to you and enjoy your new car.

 

Law Offices of Christopher C. Carr, MBA,  P.C., is a quality bankruptcy and debt relief practice, located in  Valley Township, west of Coatesville, Pennsylvania, where Attorney Christopher Carr, a Chester County bankruptcy attorney, who has over 30 years if diversified ;egal experience, concentrates on serving the residents of and businesses located within Western Chester County and Eastern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, including the communities in and around Atglen, Bird in Hand, Caln, Christiana, Coatesville, Downingtown, Eagle, Exton, Fallowfield Gap, Honeybrook, Lancaster, Lincoln University, Modena, New Holland, Parkesburg, Paradise, Ronks, Sadsbury, Thorndale, Valley Township, Wagontown & West Chester,  Pennsylvania. If you reside or do business in the area and need assistance with a legal issue, please call Mr. Carr at (610)380-7969 or write him at cccarresq@aol.com today!  

 

HOME SURRENDER: CAN THE MORTGAGE COMPANY BE FORCED TO TAKE BACK MY HOME IN A BANKRUPTCY (or why dispossession is not nine tenths of the law)

 

By Christopher C. Carr, Esq. Chester County bankruptcy attorney.

Using bankruptcy to rid oneself of a home that has become unaffordable and/or is now worth far less than it once was is called “surrender” in bankruptcy parlance and is governed by the US Bankruptcy Code.  This procedure is nearly as commonly used as is bankruptcy to stop a foreclosure so that a home can be retained.  We practitioners are using it much more frequently since the housing market is in decline.  Why is that?

Well, the question whether to keep a home when filing bankruptcy is usually answered by comparing the amount of the home’s monthly mortgage payments with the income the debtor is able to devote to housing payments.  Also key in today’s real estate market place is a comparison of the home’s appraised value[1] as compared with the amount still owed by the home owner. Where the home is worth significantly less than the amount owed, the home is said to be “under water”.  If the payments are no longer affordable and/or the property is under water, the debtor will likely choose to surrender the home as part of either a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing.

However, in practice property “surrender” is often more problematic for the homeowner[2] than it would at first blush seem.  Foreclosure means the involuntary transfer of a property in a public sale or what is commonly called in Pennsylvania and many other states a “Sheriff’s Sale” because the County Sherriff will typically sell properties by the hundreds at public auctions held in the Pennsylvania counties following advance notice of the sales published by these officials. The requirements for these notices are very precisely defined in the relevant state statutes. These sales are usually conducted monthly and the sale ENDS the legal ownership and responsibility of the debtor.  Sounds pretty straightforward does is not?  However, in reality, mortgage companies are often slow to foreclose on homes that are surrendered to the lender in bankruptcy, leaving the home vacant, and yet still technically under the ownership of the bankruptcy debtor, for months or even years after the bankruptcy was filed.  It is often said that “Banks are not in the business of owning homes” but like most generalizations this statement is not always true.  The mortgage company may prefer to retain the home in its “inventory” rather than to sell it and take a huge loss that it must report to its shareholders in its public filings, perhaps hoping for a “better day” when the housing market starts to show improvement and it can then sell at at least a breakeven. Not only that but during the hiatus it does not need to legally bear these costs and liabilities.  Rather the mortgage company or its serviather the mortgage company or its servicer can keep the unsuspecting homeowner paying long after he/she has moved on simply by “sitting on” the property virtually indefinitely.

Many homeowners (and even some bankruptcy lawyers, unfortunately) will intuitively believe that their real estate is now legally the property of the bank because it has been “repossessed” (and they have been disposed) even though no actual sale has yet occurred. They may drop or reduce important coverage’s or fail to insure the property at all and find themselves liable in a slip and fall case for example for the full amount of the damages with no insurance coverage at all.

The purpose of any bankruptcy is to provide to the debtor a fresh start but the slow-to-foreclose mortgage company will routinely create fresh liability for the homeowner/ debtor, who will be held liable for post-bankruptcy homeowners association fees, property assessments, other ownership related financial obligations (but not the monthly mortgage payments, the personal obligation for which the debtor was discharged in the bankruptcy), if and as applicable.  The debtor may even be cited and fined repeatedly by the municipality and/or other governmental agencies if the grass is not cut, there becomes an accumulation of junk or hazardous materials on the property (albeit without any participation by the debor), and so forth.

However, a ruling handed down by a Hawaii bankruptcy court this month approved one strikingly clever resolution to the problem.  This Chapter 13 decision, In re Rosa, No. 13-00630 (Bky. Hawaii July 8, 2013), approved over the objections of the trustee a Chapter 13 plan which contained a provision designed to force play the situation by in effect arranging to convey the home back to the first mortgage holder. That is, In the Rosa case, the debtor’s Chapter 13 plan ingeniously stated that title to the real estate “shall vest in City National Bank/OCWEN Loan Service upon confirmation, and the Confirmation Order shall constitute a deed of conveyance of the property when recorded at the Bureau of Conveyances.”    The Chapter 13 trustee objected, arguing that“surrender” under the bankruptcy law did not transfer ownership of the surrendered property until the lender actually foreclosed.

The court disagreed with the trustee and pointed out that here, the debtor had gone beyond merely “surrendering” the property in the Chapter 13 plan.  Rather, the Plan unequivocally stated that confirmation of the Plan by the court would automatically transfer ownership to the lender, and that the order confirming the plan could be recorded like any other deed or conveyance.  While the Plan was drafted by the debtor (or more likely his/her attorney), the lender had been properly served with this plan and it had the opportunity to and had not objected to the Plan in court.  The Plan was therefore confirmed giving effect to this provision.

The result of this strategy for this particular debtor was the complete avoidance of the ills caused by the foot dragging Mortgage Company and its servicer, noted above.  One would think that a majority of the bankruptcy courts and jurisdictions, when presented with this issue, will adopt the new Hawaii precedent as it tends to remedy such evils without placing any undue burden upon or depriving the lender of any of its due process rights, in the eyes of this commenter at least. Perhaps we will even see the Eastern District of Pennsylvania or one of its 3 subdivisions adopting the new rule.

©Christopher C. Carr, Attorney at Law 2012, All Rights ReservedLaw Offices of Christopher C. Carr, MBA,  P.C., is a quality bankruptcy and debt relief practice, located in  Valley Township, west of Coatesville, Pennsylvania, where Attorney Christopher Carr, a Chester County bankruptcy attorney, who has over 30 years if diversified ;egal experience, concentrates on serving the residents of and businesses located within Western Chester County and Eastern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, including the communities in and around Atglen, Bird in Hand, Caln, Christiana, Coatesville, Downingtown, Eagle, Exton, Fallowfield Gap, Honeybrook, Lancaster, Lincoln University, Modena, New Holland, Parkesburg, Paradise, Ronks, Sadsbury, Thorndale, Valley Township, Wagontown & West Chester,  Pennsylvania. If you reside or do business in the area and need assistance with a legal issue, please call Mr. Carr at (610)380-7969 or write him at cccarresq@aol.com today!  

I also provide Mortgage Modification Services.


[1] There are several on line services such as Zillow.com for example that purport to provide property values.

[2] Note that this term used in this context is not inaccurate or imprecise…these persons are still in the eyes of the law owners of the properties they once occupied.