Steps to Take When You are Unable to Pay a Debt or it Goes to Collection 10.13

Circumstances such as a job loss or other financial hardship may arise causing you to default on your debt. When this situation occurs, there are some steps you can take to avoid a debt from going to collection in the first place such as calling, emailing or writing to the creditor and making payment arrangements. The creditor may be able to allow you to skip a full payment or two and just pay the interest or make a partial payment and then catch up later, lower the interest or re-adjust your payments making them more affordable for you.  It does not hurt to ask. If they won’t work with you, then you should speak with an Indiana credit counseling attorney for legal assistance.


Collection Practices 

A debt typically goes to collection after you fail to pay the creditor within 60 to 90 days after the initial due date. Once the debt has gone to collection, under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, the creditor must send you written notice of the attempt to collect the debt. You then have 30 days to respond from the time you receive the notice to dispute the debt, pay or settle the debt and request that they remove the debt from your credit. You can also dispute the debt with the three major credit agencies, Equifax, Experience and TransUnion, and they will contact the creditor. If the creditor does not respond to the creditor bureaus within 30 days, then the creditor bureaus must remove the debt from your credit report permanently. However, this does not relieve you of the liability to pay the creditor or collection agency if you owe the debt.


What Happens if You Ignore a Collection Notice or Lawsuit Against You?

If you ignore the collection notice, the collection agency can sue you and get a judgment against you if you do not respond to the collection notice within the 30 day time period. Under Indiana law, a creditor can sue you for any oral or written contract concerning the payment of money or a promissory note within 6 years from the time you incurred the debt. If you make a promise to pay, the the statute of limitations starts running from the date of your promise. The collection agency can obtain a default judgment against you if you do not respond to the lawsuit. Or if you lose the case in court and obtain a judgment against you, they can also put a lien on your home or other property or attempt to garnish your wages or bank account to collect the debt.

A judgment can be enforced for 10 years under Indiana law, unless your creditor renews the judgment for an additional 10 years. It is much harder to get judgments removed, and you will need the assistance of an Indiana credit counseling attorney to help you. The attorney may be able to file a motion to vacate the judgment during the statutory time allowed to do so if you can prove you were sued by mistake, or you paid the debt and have a cancelled check or other receipt to reflect the payment was received by the original creditor or collection agency.


Indiana Credit Counseling Attorney

An Indiana credit counseling attorney can help you negotiate debt settlement with your creditors or help you fight an attempt to collect a debt against you such as judgments and garnishment orders. The attorney can represent you in court and assist with other debt matters, including filing for bankruptcy if you have a lot of debt and are unable to pay your creditors.

Making the Choice to File for Bankruptcy 10.13

Sometimes situations arise in people’s lives when debt becomes overwhelming and unmanageable. When this happens, it is recommended you speak with an Indiana bankruptcy attorney to find out what options you have available to get out of debt. Filing for bankruptcy is usually used as a last option by most people when they have more debt than they can pay and need to start over or reorganize their debt. There is nothing to be ashamed of when filing for bankruptcy. The good thing about bankruptcy is that it gives you chance to start over without debt or reduced debt if you opt to enter into a court-approved reorganization bankruptcy plan with your creditors.


Advantages of Filing for Bankruptcy


Millions of people find debt relief by filing for bankruptcy. The biggest advantages of bankruptcy is that it prevents your creditors from collecting a debt against you so you don’t have to worry about them calling you or filing a lawsuit or getting a judgment against you. You get to eliminate your debt or restructure it depending on which bankruptcy Chapter you file under.


Before you file, you should consult with an experienced Indiana bankruptcy attorney. The attorney can review you financial situation and make suggestions for all options that can help you get out of debt and relieve your stress. In some instances, you may be able to negotiate a settlement of your debt with your creditors such as debt reduction. If you are underwater on your home mortgage, you may qualify for a mortgage modification or a refinance with a lower interest rate. Since everyone’s financial situation and debt is different, the Indiana bankruptcy attorney will be able to structure a plan that works for your individual financial situation.


Disadvantages of Filing for Bankruptcy


Bankruptcy negatively affects your credit a bankruptcy remains on your credit of 10 years. However, the biggest negative impact occurs immediately after you file. You may be denied credit for a short time or have to pay higher interest rates for a few years and wait a couple years before you can take out a new mortgage. The good thing is credit improves over time.


Deciding Which Chapter to File Under?


If it turns out that bankruptcy is the right choice for you, your Indiana bankruptcy lawyer can help you decide which bankruptcy Chapter to file under that will provide the best solutions to your debt problems.  If you do not have a lot of assets, a Chapter 7 complete liquidate may be the best alternative. Keep in mind that you may not have to liquidate all your assets under Chapter 7. There are bankruptcy exemptions and homestead exemptions that allow you to keep some of your property such as your home or car.


If you have a business or you have substantial assets that you want to keep, then a reorganization plan Under Chapter 11 or Chapter 13 may be a better solution. With a Chapter 11 or Chapter 13, you can keep all your assets because you enter into a court-approved repayment plan for a period of approximately five years. Once you complete the plan, your unsecured debt will be discharged as well.


Indiana Bankruptcy Attorney Help


By talking to an Indiana bankruptcy attorney you will become informed about your legal rights and options in order to make the right decision to eliminate or reduce your debt.

Does Debt Settlement Work? 9.13

How Effective is Debt Settlement?

If you have debts that you are unable to pay, you have choices that you can make to reduce your debts. One such option is debt settlement. Debt settlement consists of negotiating reduced debt with your creditors such as your credit card company. You may be able to reduce your debts between 20% and 80% by using debt settlement.  Debt settlement may also be able to save you from having to file bankruptcy.


However, most consumers are intimidated with the thought of having to call their creditors and negotiate a settlement with them. Using an Indiana debt counseling lawyer to help you settle your debts with your creditors is an effective way to get your creditors to reduce your debt because they know that if you are working with an attorney, you are serious about resolving your debts with them.


How Debt Settlement Works


Your Indiana debt counseling attorney can help you negotiate reduced debt with your creditors. However, in most instances, you will need to pay the reduced debt off in full. So if you do not have the full amount to pay off your creditor, debt settlement may not be the best option for you. Also, keep in mind that debt settlement may have a negative impact on your credit score. However, paying your debts late or not at all, impacts your score even more.   Also, the amount of forgiveness exceeding $600.00 is subject to federal income taxes so it is a good idea to talk that over with your Indiana debt counseling attorney first or your tax adviser before deciding to negotiate debt settlement with your creditor.


Debt Settlement vs. Bankruptcy


Another option to ridding yourself of debt is to file for bankruptcy protection. The difference between debt settlement and filing bankruptcy is that debt settlement allows you to keep your assets, does not have as much impact on your credit score and does not involve filing a proceeding with the court. However, filing for bankruptcy protection means your creditors can no longer try and collect a debt against you, sue you or obtain a judgment.


If you file for a complete liquidation under Chapter 7, you can eliminate your unsecured debts and start fresh again. If you have substantial assets, you may want to consider filing under Chapter 13, which is a reorganization plan that you enter into with your creditors reducing your debt. The debt is paid over a 3 to 5 year period. After you complete the court-approved repayment plan, your unsecured debts are discharged.


Seek Advice from an Indiana Debt Counseling/Bankruptcy Attorney


Making the choice to file for bankruptcy or use debt settlement is a complex one and should be discussed with an Indiana debt counseling/bankruptcy attorney.   Also, working with an Indiana debt counseling/bankruptcy attorney gives you the peace of mind that you are making the right financial choices and that someone is looking out for your best interests.



Finding an Indiana Bankruptcy Attorneys 8.1

Finding an Indiana Bankruptcy Attorney


Choosing to file for bankruptcy is a big step. You will also need to receive credit counseling from an authorized Indiana legal counseling agency within a six month period prior to filing. Bankruptcy laws are complex and representing yourself is not advisable because you may jeopardize your rights. You need to make sure that the right forms are filed and you file in the right federal court jurisdiction. Your first step should be to consult with an experienced Indiana bankruptcy attorney.


Where to Find the Attorney


The best way to find an Indiana bankruptcy attorney is through a referral from a friend, family member or another attorney. You can also call the Indiana State Bar and get a name of a bankruptcy attorney or visit their website. The Bar Association has a list of pro bono attorneys and attorneys that volunteer their legal services that you may be able to get legal help from in Indiana at reduced fees on their website at:


Interviewing Your Attorney


It is a good idea to interview a few attorneys. At the initial consultation, you can get to know the attorney and ask questions.  Here are some questions that you should ask:


  • How long your Indiana bankruptcy attorney has been practicing?


  • Does the attorney’s practice consist of mainly bankruptcy law or what percentage of their practice covers bankruptcy?


  •  How many other attorneys are in the practice and what other practice areas does the firm handle?


  • What type of services will be performed?


  • What are the fees and costs involved?


  • Who will be performing the work, associates, paralegals, legal assistants, etc.?


  • How long will it take to file and complete the bankruptcy discharge?


  • How often does the attorney communicate with clients and in what manner?


  • What type of technology does the firm use?


  • General questions about the bankruptcy process.


If you are concerned about the fees and costs, you may qualify for legal aid assistance from the legal aid society or attorneys that offer pro bono services. Try and ask as many questions as you can during the initial interview process so you can educate yourself about the process and determine if you like the attorney and can work with that person.


Determining the Right Indiana Attorney to Hire


An important factor in choosing the right bankruptcy attorney is to hire an Indiana attorney that specializes in bankruptcy matters. Bankruptcy is a highly specialized practice area. You may not want to jeopardize your rights by using someone who is not familiar with the bankruptcy laws in Indiana and in general the federal bankruptcy laws. The second important criteria in choosing a bankruptcy attorneys is to determine whether you can get along and work with the attorney and whether you have trust and confidence in their ability to get the job done and obtain the results you want.


Chapter 7 Straight Bankruptcy vs. Chapter 13 Reorganization 7.13

Chapter 7 Straight Bankruptcy vs. Chapter 13 Repayment Plan

Filing for bankruptcy protection protects you from creditors trying to collect a debt, suing you and obtaining a lien or judgment against you or your property. Basically, bankruptcy stops your creditors from contacting you and harassing you. After your debts are discharged in bankruptcy, if a creditor tries to collect against you, they would be in violation of the law and subject to fines and/ penalties.

Keep in mind though that bankruptcy may not be the right option for everyone. Bankruptcy is usually a last resort option when debts have become unmanageable for individuals and businesses, who want to either start over debt free or reorganize and reduce their debts by taking advantage of bankruptcy protections.  Before making any decisions to file for bankruptcy protection, it is recommended that you discuss your financial situation with an experienced and knowledgeable Indiana bankruptcy attorney.

Chapter 7 vs. Chapter 13


There are different bankruptcy Chapters that individuals can file under including Chapter 7 and 13 under the Bankruptcy Code. Businesses may file under Chapter 7 or Chapter 11.  An Indiana bankruptcy lawyer can explain the differences to you, and will assist you in deciding which Chapter gives you the best protections and which you are qualified to file under.


Chapter 7


Individuals or businesses who have very little assets and no longer want to stay in business can take advantage of filing for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 7. Filing under Chapter 7 gives you the most benefit because you can start over without debt. There are certain debts that cannot be discharged under bankruptcy such as:


  • Child and spousal support
  • Student loans
  • Taxes
  • Debts owed as a result of fraud, embezzlement or larceny
  • Debts you failed to disclose on your bankruptcy schedule
  • Debts for willful and malicious injury
  • Fines or penalties owed to the government
  • Judgments against you for a wrongful death or personal injury lawsuits
  • Condominium or homeowner association fees or assessments


In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your assets, except those which are exempt under the Indian bankruptcy laws, are sold to pay off your creditors.  Indiana married couples who file for joint bankruptcy may double the exemptions amounts.


Exemptions available to Indiana residents filing for bankruptcy include:

  • A homestead exemption for your personal residence up to $17,600. Also, any interest that a debtor has in property held as a tenant by the entirety is considered exempt
  • Other real estate or tangible personal property up to $9,350
  • Intangible personal property, including bank accounts and cash up to $350
  • Professionally prescribed health aids belonging to the debtor or debtor’s dependent
  • Interest in a retirement plan regarding contributions made on behalf of the debtor or debtor’s spouse
  • Disability payments
  • Social security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits, VA benefits
  • Workers compensation benefits
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Contributions made by debtor to educational savings plans, as defined in Section 530(b) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 made at least one year prior to filing bankruptcy or in excess of $5,000
  • Medical care savings or health savings accounts established pursuant to Section 223 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.
  • The debtor’s interest in a tax refund or credit under Section 32 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (the federal earned income tax credit) or IC 6-3.1-21-6 (the Indiana earned income tax credit).


If you wish to keep your car loan and/or your home mortgage, you can reaffirm those debts. If you default, your creditor has the right to repossess your car or foreclose on your home. You must also pass the Indiana means income test, which your Indiana bankruptcy attorney can determine for you. Any unsecured debts will be discharged by the bankruptcy court.


Chapter 13

Chapter 13 is used by individuals with substantial assets that wish to keep their assets and reorganize their debts. You must enter into a court-approved repayment plan with your creditors, which is to be paid over a period of three to five years. After you complete your plan, your remaining unsecured debt will discharged. Your Indiana bankruptcy attorney can assist you with negotiating reduced debt with your creditors.  Non-dischargeable debts are the same as those listed under Chapter 7 above.


Businesses may also file for reorganization under a Chapter 11, which is similar to Chapter 13. The advantage for the business to file under Chapter 11 is that company can remain in business, reduce their debts and get rid of their unsecured debts.

Indiana Bankruptcy Attorney

Since federal and Indiana bankruptcy laws are complex, hiring an Indiana bankruptcy attorney to represent you is recommended. An Indiana bankruptcy attorney can advise you of the advantages and disadvantages of filing for bankruptcy protection, represent you in negotiations with your creditors and in bankruptcy court and advise you of other options available to you if you decide not to file for bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy Lien Stripping 7.13

How You Can Take Advantage of Bankruptcy Lien Stripping and Eliminate Your Second Mortgage


Many Indiana homeowners are upside down on their mortgages as a result of declining home prices over the past five years. By filing for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 13, upside down homeowners can keep their homes and all their other assets.  Once you file for bankruptcy protection, your creditors cannot try and collect a debt against you. Bankruptcy stays any foreclosure actions by your lender. It gives you more time to negotiate with the lender and your other creditors to reduce your debts, including get rid of a second mortgage on your primary residence by using a lien stripping strategy.


However, you should not rush into bankruptcy before weighing other options. It is recommended that you first speak with an Indiana bankruptcy attorney before making any final decisions.  Federal and Indiana bankruptcy laws are complex. The attorney will be able to explain the laws to you and your legal rights and obligations and go over other options with you if you decide that bankruptcy is not the right strategy for your financial situation.


Qualifying for Chapter 13

Individuals who file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection must show that they have sufficient income to repay their creditors. Chapter 13 is a reorganization and restructuring of your debts which is accomplished by negotiating debt reduction with your creditors, including lien stripping with your mortgage lender, and then entering into a court-approved repayment plan over a three to five year period.  With lien stripping, you also get rid of your second mortgage. An Illinois bankruptcy attorney can help you negotiate debt reduction with your lender by restructuring your debt.   This means that you will be able to get out from underwater on your mortgage when you owe more than your home is worth.


How Lien Stripping Works

Lien stripping basically works in the following manner.  You and your first lien holder will enter into a court-approved repayment plan. Your Indiana bankruptcy attorney will negotiate a modified loan with your lender, which will make your mortgage payments more affordable. Your second mortgage goes away so you no longer have to worry about repaying the second. When you complete your repayment plan, the second mortgage and your unsecured debts (except for non-dischargeable debts, including spousal and child support, student loans, taxes and other non-dischargeable debts, which your Indiana bankruptcy attorney can explain to you) are discharged by the bankruptcy court.


Consult with an Indiana Bankruptcy Attorney

Filing bankruptcy is serious and should be discussed with an Indiana bankruptcy attorney. Since bankruptcy is typically used as a last resort when debts are unmanageable, your Indiana bankruptcy attorney can also advise you of any other options that may be available to you such as a mortgage modification, reinstatement, forbearance, short sale, debt settlement and other options.

Improving Your Credit By Disputing Negative Credit Items 6.13

In addition to paying your credit card and other bills on time, disputing negative credit items on your credit report is an effective way of improving your credit and raising your credit score. However, most consumers either do not know how to go about doing it or are intimated at the thought of having to contact a creditor or consumer reporting agency. That is where the assistance of an Indiana debt counseling attorney can be extremely helpful. The attorney can advise you of all your legal rights and options and help you sort through your credit report to determine which negative items are disputable.


Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you are allowed to dispute errors and mistakes on your credit report by contacting the three major credit reporting agencies, TransUnion, Equifax and Experian, online or by writing to them. Be sure to look at the guidelines posted at each credit bureau’s website. Always include your name, address, social security number, the name of the creditor and the account number, reason for the dispute and sign the dispute form or letter. Keep in mind though that each of the major three credit reporting agencies, may have files with different information depending on which of your creditors report to which agency. Many creditors report to all three, but some choose to report to just one.


If you are unsure about what your credit files contain, it is a good idea to order your annual free credit report to review for errors or identity theft from all three agencies. You can order the report online by going to and request the three reports. Once you receive the reports, you should review them carefully. After making your dispute, if your creditor does not respond within 30 days, then the reporting agency must permanently remove the item from your report.


Under the FCRA, consumers are also allowed to contact a creditor directly to dispute any mistakes or incorrect negative items. If you write to your creditor directly, the creditor must provide you with an accounting reflecting your late payments, or they are in violation of the FCRA. They must report the corrected and accurate information to the credit reporting agencies. If they do not, you can ask the credit reporting agencies to permanently block the incorrect negative information, or you can sue the creditor by hiring an Indiana debt counseling lawyer.
Getting Legal Help

While you can try and contact the creditor reporting bureaus or your creditors on your own, you may have a higher degree of success by hiring an Indiana debt counseling attorney to help you with your endeavor. In addition, an Indiana debt counseling attorney can successfully help you negotiate debt reduction and debt settlement, or assist you with other options such filing for bankruptcy.

How to Stop Debt Collectors from Calling and Harassing You 6.13

Many Indiana consumers are unaware of their rights when it comes to stopping debt collection practices against them. Your creditors will typically send your account for collection to a collection agency or a collection lawyer after about 90 days if you have not paid your account. However, debt collectors are refrained by law and cannot harass or threaten you. Many debt collection agencies violate federal and state consumer laws because they know that most consumers are not knowledgeable about the laws.


The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) protects consumers and enforces The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which regulates what debt collectors can and cannot do to collect a debt against you. If a debt collector violates the FDCPA, they are subject to receiving fines and penalties. However, the act does not apply to your original creditor. The State of Indiana also has consumer protection laws against illegal debt collecting practices.


If you are being harassed by a debt collection agency or debt collection attorney, you should contact an Indiana debt counseling and bankruptcy attorney or debt settlement agency to help you. The Indiana debt counseling and bankruptcy attorney is the only person who can legally represent you. The attorney will be able to explain the Indiana state and federal laws and advise you of your legal options and obligations.


Practices that Debt Collectors May and May Not Engage in:

• Cannot make phone calls to you before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m.
• They must clearly identify themselves and that they are attempting to collect a debt.
• They can only speak to the person they are attempting to collect a debt from
• They cannot disclose any information about your account to any third parties
• They may not engage in threatening or harassing behavior
• They cannot engage in unfair practices such as trying to collect interest, a fee or other charges on your debt unless your contract with the original creditor allows such fees or it is legal under Indiana state law
• They cannot accept and deposit a post-dated check from you
• They cannot threaten to take your property unless they have obtained a legal judgment against you for the amount owed
• A car repossession company cannot repossess your vehicle if it is parked in your home garage because that is private property. They would be trespassing, and you could call the police


Measures You Can Take to Stop Debt Collection Practices

Under the FDCPA, by sending a certified letter to the debt collection company advising them not to contact you, you can prevent them from calling you at home or work. However, debt collection attorneys are exempt from this rule and may still continue to contact you. There are a few other exceptions to the law. The debt collection agency or attorney can call you if the status of your account changes, to tell you that they are no longer attempting to collect the debt or they are going to sue you. However, there is a good chance that the debt collection company will stop contacting you after you make the request to them in writing. You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission or your local Indiana Attorney General’s office if you believe that your creditor has violated the FDCPA.


Filing for Bankruptcy Protection and Other Options

Once you file for bankruptcy protection, your creditors are barred from contacting and trying to collect a debt against you while your bankruptcy case is pending and after it has been discharged. Bankruptcy stays all collection practices by creditors against you. If your creditors do contact you, they are in violation of the law and subject to fine and penalties. Since filing for bankruptcy is serious and usually used as a last resort when debts are no longer manageable, you should speak with an Indiana bankruptcy attorney. The Indiana bankruptcy law attorney can advise you of your legal options.


Other options besides filing for bankruptcy may include debt consolidation by consolidating your debts and using one lower interest credit card to pay them off or obtaining a line of credit from your bank secured by your home. Or another option is to have your Indiana debt counseling and bankruptcy attorney negotiate debt settlement with your creditors. Your bankruptcy lawyer may also be able to negotiate a mortgage modification with your lender if you are behind on your mortgage or owe more than your home is worth in the current market.


Contact an Indiana Bankruptcy and Debt Counseling Attorney

When you are being faced with debt collectors calling and harassing you, there are ways you can protect yourself against debt collection and get your life back. By contacting an Indiana bankruptcy and debt counseling attorney, you can find out what your legal options are and make an intelligent decision as what course of action is the best for you to take.