Showing posts from 2020

Student Loan Debt and Consumer Bankruptcy: How a New Startup Plans to Help

If you are struggling with student loan debt and have been wondering if you could be eligible to have that debt discharged in a consumer bankruptcy proceeding, you are not alone. Debtors across Oak Park and throughout the Chicago area have substantial student loan debt that makes it difficult to or even impossible to live a comfortable life. For many people with student loan debt, even federal loans can be difficult to repay, and forgiveness programs are difficult to understand and to navigate. While you may be considering personal bankruptcy, you also may know that it has traditionally been quite difficult to have student loan debt discharged in a bankruptcy case. Debtors need to pass a test that shows they have made a good faith attempt to repay their student loans, and that continuing to have the student loan debt would create a great hardship.

Recognizing the difficulty of discharging student loan debt in bankruptcy—and the need to make this process easier—consumer advocates and so…

U.S. Supreme Court Will Hear an Automatic Stay Case

The U.S. Supreme Court recently granted certiorari to a bankruptcy case out of Chicago concerning the automatic stay. In other words, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, City of Chicago v. Fulton. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit most recently heard and ruled on the case, which involves a question about the automatic stay in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case. We want to tell you more about the case and to discuss its possible implications for consumers in Oak Park moving forward.

Getting the Facts About City of Chicago v. Fulton
The present case, involves a situation in which a debtor’s car was towed and impounded, and the vehicle was not returned to the debtor once she filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which is required under the automatic stay. Here are the basic facts of the case. Robbin Fulton, the debtor, had a citation for driving on a suspended license. The City of Chicago towed and impounded Fulton’s car in connection with that citation. Then Fulton filed …

Seventh Circuit Case Allows Consumer to Bring Second FDCPA Lawsuit

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently ruled in favor of a consumer in a case concerning the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), Horia v. Nationwide Credit & Collection, Inc. (2019). The Seventh Circuit’s decisions govern cases in Oak Park and throughout Illinois, so it is important for consumers to know how the Court ruled in this recent case. In short, the Court determined that a consumer was permitted to bring a second FDCPA claim against a debt collector for failing to notify a credit agency that the claim was disputed. Why is this case significant for debtors’ rights?

The consumer previously filed a claim against the debt collector for the same issue (but for a different debt), and the claim was settled and dismissed with prejudice. While the debt collector argued that the consumer was trying to obtain “multiple recoveries for a single kind of wrong,” the Court agreed with the consumer. We will tell you more about this case and its implications for …

Reconsidering Medical Bankruptcy and Bernie Sanders’ Plan

The topic of consumer bankruptcy is a significant one for a number of the Democratic presidential candidates, including Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Personal bankruptcy can allow debtors in Oak Park and across the U.S. to get a fresh start when they are struggling with a massive amount of consumer debt or can allow a struggling homeowner to prevent foreclosure with Chapter 13 bankruptcy. However, many of the Democratic presidential candidates contend that consumers should not even be grappling with much of this debt in the first place—especially medical debt. According to a recent article in Market Watch, Sen. Bernie Sanders has been focusing on medical debt and consumer bankruptcy, and the need to reconfigure the American healthcare system so that consumers are not considering bankruptcy solely as a result of medical debt.

What do you need to know about consumer bankruptcy and medical debt? We will tell you a bit more about how Bernie Sanders and other Democratic hopefuls are …

10 Things You Should Know About Consumer Bankruptcy

If you are thinking about filing for consumer bankruptcy, you probably have a lot of questions. Even if a friend or family member has filed for bankruptcy in the past and you have some knowledge of how the process works as a result, it is still important to learn as much as you can before you file. Regardless of how much you read about personal bankruptcy, you should always work with an Oak Park bankruptcy lawyer to ensure that you meet all requirements and that you remain eligible for a bankruptcy discharge at the end of your case. In the meantime, however, we want to provide you with some information. Here are 10 things you should know about consumer bankruptcy before you file.

There are Different Types of Consumer Bankruptcy
Different types of consumer bankruptcy exist under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Most often, consumers will file for either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, but in some cases, consumers also may file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Not Everyone is Eligible for All Types…

Consumer Credit Scores Could Change Soon

One of the reasons that so many consumers worry about debt and often wait to file for bankruptcy is that they are concerned about a possible hit to their credit score. Creditors do look at credit scores when deciding whether to extend credit to a consumer, and credit scores can have a major impact on a consumer’s ability to buy a car or a house, and sometimes even to be considered for a particular job. What many consumers do not realize is that personal bankruptcy does not always have a long-lasting effect on their credit score. Indeed, many people who file for bankruptcy bounce back quickly and see their credit scores rebound in much less time than they expect.

Yet we do not want to talk about credit scores in relation to consumer bankruptcy today. Rather, we want to say more about a recent NPR article discussing a change to FICO credit scores. According to the article, many consumers are likely to see a drop in their credit scores as a result of the changes. We will say more about ho…

Recent Student Loan Bankruptcy Case Could be Good News for Debtors

Debtors in Oak Park who are considering personal bankruptcy to discharge student loans should learn more about a recent bankruptcy case in New York. Although this case is not binding in Illinois, it demonstrates that bankruptcy judges are thinking about the “undue hardship” requirement in more flexible ways, allowing debtors to discharge student loan debt in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. According to a recent article in Forbes, this bankruptcy case involving the discharge of student loan debt could be a sign that bankruptcy courts across the country will begin looking at student debt a bit differently in Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases. Let us tell you more about the case.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case Involves Discharge of $221,000 in Student Loans
The recent bankruptcy case discussed in Forbes involved the discharged of $221,000 in student loan debt. Many debtors in Illinois and across the country have heard that it is difficult—and maybe even impossible—to discharge student loan debt in a bank…

How Race Affects Consumer Debt and Bankruptcy

When we think about consumer debt and personal bankruptcy filings, it is important to think beyond the socioeconomic bracket in which an individual or married couple falls. Indeed, according to a recent article in Forbes, many families who are struggling with consumer debt may be likely to file for bankruptcy in the near future, and race and ethnicity may be significant predictive factors. As that article explains, although white families have more consumer debt than non-white families, by and large, white families who are taking on consumer debt have more income and assets to cover what they are borrowing. However, for many African American and Latinx families with consumer debt, more borrowing could ultimately lead to bankruptcy as a result of underlying structural inequalities at work.

More Consumers are Borrowing
Similar to the late 1990s, more consumers are taking on debt as employment levels look promising. Yet the idea that this is a “good” kind of consumer borrowing may not be t…

Do I Need to Tell My Creditors When I File for Bankruptcy?

Whether you are thinking about filing for bankruptcy or have recently filed for bankruptcy, you may be wondering if you need to tell your creditors about your bankruptcy plans. Are there any benefits to informing your creditors about your plans to file for bankruptcy or the fact that you have already filed for bankruptcy? Are there any laws that require debtors to alert their creditors about consumer bankruptcy plans or filings? In short, a consumer is never required to get in touch directly with a creditor to alert them to bankruptcy plans or filings. However, it could be helpful in some scenarios to alert a creditor about a bankruptcy case.

If you have questions about your responsibilities as a debtor when you file for bankruptcy, it is important to have an experienced Oak Park bankruptcy lawyer who can assist you throughout your bankruptcy case.

Potential Benefits of Informing Creditors About Bankruptcy Plans Before You File
If you are considering bankruptcy but are also considering w…

How Elizabeth Warren’s Plan Would Change Bankruptcy Laws

If you are currently considering personal bankruptcy but have read news stories about some of the presidential candidates’ plans to amend U.S. bankruptcy laws so that they are more consumer-friendly, you may be wondering if it makes sense to wait until after the presidential election to file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. While there is a possibility that U.S. bankruptcy laws could change depending upon who fills the role of U.S. president in the coming years and how Congress handles consumer advocate concerns about personal bankruptcy issues, any kind of changes to the law might not happen quickly enough for you to wait. In other words, if you are struggling with debt and are thinking about bankruptcy, it may be in your best interest to speak with an Oak Park bankruptcy lawyer sooner rather than later.

At the same time, it is important to understand recent news surrounding proposed changes to U.S. bankruptcy law and how they could affect consumers in the future. According to …

What is an “Injury in Fact” for FDCPA Standing?

When an Oak Park consumer faces harassment or other unfair or deceptive practices from a debt collection company, that consumer might consider filing a claim under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The FDCPA prohibits certain actions by debt collectors and gives consumers the ability to file a federal claim in situations where a debt collector violates the law. Yet one of the requirements to have standing to sue under the FDCPA (and other federal statutes) is that the consumer must have suffered an “injury in fact” under Article III of the U.S. Constitution. Without an “injury in fact,” the consumer’s complaint can be dismissed for lack of standing. A 2016 U.S. Supreme Court case, Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins (2016), made clear that a consumer must have suffered an injury that is “concrete” enough to be considered an “injury in fact.”

In applying Spokeo, several circuit courts have concluded that the consumer did have standing. However, a recent case out of the Sixth Circuit Co…

Recent Illinois Bankruptcy Case Highlights Importance of Having Experienced Counsel

When you file for consumer bankruptcy, it is essential to have an experienced bankruptcy lawyer you can trust to assist with each stage of the process. The U.S. Bankruptcy Code is extremely complicated, and both Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy have a variety of complexities that can be difficult to navigate without the help of an attorney. A recent Illinois bankruptcy case emphasizes just how important it is to have an experienced and dedicated lawyer on your side throughout your bankruptcy case. In the case In re: Charles V. Cook, Sr., the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois found that the bankruptcy firm was liable for failing to disclose information in a consumer bankruptcy case.

At the Emerson Law Firm, we have years of experience providing experienced practiced representation to our clients in a wide variety of consumer protection matters. We want to discuss this recent case and to say more about how it underscores the need for an experienced…