Featured News 2018 Common Bankruptcy Myths: Are You Being Fooled?

Common Bankruptcy Myths: Are You Being Fooled?

Bankruptcy is a charged word. And like any charged word, it's packed with images and fears that may not be true—but they certainly feel true.
  • "Filing for bankruptcy is difficult!"
  • "I'll have to give up all my possessions."
  • "I'll never own a home if I file."

These are just a few of the many, many myths and misconceptions about bankruptcy told by creditors throughout the country. Creditors also know how bankruptcy is associated with being irresponsible, poor, or stupid. They've cultivated that image because it keeps people from filing. The truth is, creditors don't want you to file for bankruptcy for a simple reason: their checks come from your loans. They know how bankruptcy benefits people and relieves debt. You should too.

The following are several of the most common myths of bankruptcy (and the truth):

Myth #1: A debtor will lose all of their property by filing for bankruptcy.

False. In fact, most states have implemented laws within the bankruptcy code that prevents certain types of property from being repossessed by a creditor. Laws require that any liquidation bankruptcy leave the debtor with shelter, a way to work, and heirloom possessions to be left alone by creditors. With the right attorney, people who file for bankruptcy can walk away with most of their most important assets intact.

Myth #2: Only irresponsible people file for bankruptcy.

This statement could not be further from the truth. In many cases, bankruptcy is the result of a traumatic life event, such as a car accident, divorce, death in the family, or a job loss. In the current economy, any person is susceptible to overwhelming loads of debt. Being hit with a major financial setback has little to do with someone's character.

If that doesn't convince you, declaring bankruptcy puts you in the same company as:
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Walt Disney
  • Henry Ford

Myth #3: Only people without a job can file for bankruptcy.

As one of the common misconceptions associated with bankruptcy, many people believe that a person must first lose or quit their job before hitting the point of bankruptcy. Contrarily, a person with a job may find that their option to file bankruptcy is greatly expanded – many can file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, depending upon their income. To file for Chapter 13, however, a debtor must have a job to qualify.

Myth #4: Laws make it extremely difficult to file for bankruptcy.

Rather than making it impossible to qualify for bankruptcy, new laws were enacted to help people determine which chapter in the bankruptcy code would better suit their debt relief needs. A "means test" must be passed to file Chapter 7. However, when a person does not qualify for Chapter 7, they are often eligible for Chapter 13.

Myth #5: A debtor cannot open a line of credit after filing.

This is untrue. In fact, many banks and creditors are more willing to lend to consumers who have started on a clean slate after bankruptcy. Many lenders will recognize that you took responsibility for the debts and that you no longer have many financial obligations to other banks and creditors. Although interest rates may be high, responsible spending and repaying of your credit will eventually loosen these rates. The only debts with a statutory waiting period are mortgages—you'll have to wait 3-5 years before buying a house.

Myth #6: Creditors will still call a debtor even after they have filed bankruptcy.

100% false. In fact, if you obtain a bankruptcy lawyer to file your petition, a creditor is no longer able to contact you directly – it's the law. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a creditor cannot speak to or try to contact a debtor who is known to have legal representation. Using bankruptcy as a weapon against your creditors may be one of the most beneficial moves to make.

Myth #7: Bankruptcy is not legal.

Many people often ask in regards to bankruptcy, "What's the catch?" If you are one of the many people who does not understand the bankruptcy process, you may not know that it is an entirely legal process that provides debtors with the relief they deserve. Unlike that sales pitch that may have led to your unwanted debt, there is no catch, just benefits.

Myth #8: People can find out when their friend or coworker files bankruptcy.

This statement is false to a certain extent. When a person files for bankruptcy, their petition is public record. However, due to the large volume of bankruptcy filings throughout the nation, a person's name in the bankruptcy records will immediately be covered by the next person filing for bankruptcy.

Myth #9: A debtor will never be able to rebuild his or her credit.

As stated before, many creditors are willing to provide loans and credit lines to debtors who have cleared their name financially. Over time, if a consumer continues to pay bills on time and manages their spending habits, their credit will begin to increase.

Bankruptcy Is Just a Tool

In the end, bankruptcy shouldn't be associated with shame. Bankruptcy, like any other tool, is neutral—if you need it, use it. You shouldn't feel bad about using bankruptcy to relieve debt any more than you should feel ashamed of using a jack to help change your tire, or using a screwdriver while doing home repairs.

Now that you are aware of just a few of the myths of bankruptcy, you are one step closer to achieving a debt-free future. Whether you are interested in filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 petition, you'll need an attorney to walk you through filing. Do not wait to involve your local bankruptcy attorney to start your journey to a debt free future!

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