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Category: Consumer Law

Help, a creditor took money from my bank account after I filed for bankruptcy!

Posted by Ryan Blay on September 23rd, 2013 in Bankruptcy, Chapter 13, Chapter 7, Consumer Law, Wisconsin

Sam and Sally were victims of payday loans in Wisconsin.  The payday lenders were sucking large sums of money from their bank accounts every month. Lakelaw filed bankruptcy for Sam and Sally to stop the payday lenders. The automatic stay for bankruptcy in Wisconsin serves as a legal stop sign.  If a creditor tries to collect a debt even after we file a chapter 7 case in Wisconsin or even a chapter 13 case in Wisconsin, Lakelaw can sue that creditor for damages and attorneys fees to make them stop.

Bankruptcy stops payday lenders from collecting.  Bankruptcy stops payday lenders from taking money from peoples’ bank accounts.  But Sam and Sally’s payday lenders ignored the law.  They took money from Sam and Sally’s bank account after Lakelaw filed their bankruptcy.  Sam and Sally got hit with bank fees and overdraft charges.

Lakelaw informs creditors after a bankruptcy filing our client has filed a bankruptcy case, whether under chapter 7 or chapter 13.  This way, the creditor can’t complain they didn’t know about the case.  If they keep collecting anyway, it’s a willful violation of the automatic stay.  We also tell our clients to stop any automated withdrawals from their bank account.  We frequently tell our clients to close their bank accounts and open new ones so the creditors can’t get their hands on their money.

Most honest creditors stop collection right after we file the bankruptcy case.  But Lakelaw will sue and collect from those who insist on doing the wrong thing,

Creditors with no notice of filings might not be willingly ignoring the bankruptcy stay when they act, but if they get notice and still refuse to correct their behavior, a court can rule they were liable for their actions after getting the notice.

Lakelaw helps our clients recover money taken from them after filing, even if it means extra time on the phones and fax lines.  It’s part of completely representing our clients from start to finish and providing them with true debt relief.

Lakelaw also protects people after bankruptcy taking advantage of consumer protection laws such the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Telephone Collection Practices Act and by enforcing the discharge injunction.  After a bankruptcy is complete,  creditors can’t collect on claims which arose before the bankruptcy. Lakelaw insists that such creditors stop.  And if they don’t we sue them and collect for our clients.

We also help our clients restore credit after bankruptcy by reviewing their credit reports and correcting errors.

When facing financial crisis, whether in Wisconsin or Illinois, let Lakelaw fight for you.  Remember, Lakelaw is your financial life-saver ™.  We help people with bankruptcy and foreclosure in Illinois and Wisconsin.


Can I go to Jail for Not Paying a Debt?

Posted by Ryan Blay on April 16th, 2012 in Consumer Law, Debt Settlement, Illinois, Legal, Wisconsin

Debtors' Prison


Yes…well, sort of.  But you should never go to jail for a debt.

When you don’t pay a debt for too long, it goes into “default”. In almost all contracts, once a default happens, the creditor has certain rights to collect on the debt. One of these options is going to court and getting a judgment for the amount of the debt plus attorney’s fees and costs.

That part is simple.  You aren’t going to debtor’s prison for failing to pay your credit card bill.  The United States eliminated those a long long time ago.  Unless you intentionally took out a large sum of money and knew you couldn’t pay it, or lied to get it, you aren’t going to be charged with a crime like fraud simply because you tried your best and couldn’t pay.

But after getting a judgment, a creditor has the right to try a wage garnishment or take some unprotected property to pay the judgment down.  Which assets?  How much?  Well, that depends on where you work, where you live, and what you own.  These are questions the creditor has the right to insist you answer in writing.  This form is usually called a Financial Disclosure Form or Citation to Discover Assets.

If you ignore the writing, or if your writing is confusing, or you don’t back it up with paystubs, bank statements, tax documents, and so forth, you might get a letter in the mail informing you of a “supplemental examination” in front of a “court commissioner”.  When the creditor uses the power of the court to insist you appear, you must show up – it’s a big deal.  And if you can’t make it for any reason, call the creditor’s lawyer and the court commissioner.  The court doesn’t care much about the debt but it cares a lot about you not showing up, even if you don’t have money to pay the debt.

This problem is easy to avoid. When you are called to court Just Show Up! You can explain to the creditor why you can’t pay the debt. Maybe you have only social security or unemployment income.  It may seem like a waste of your time to go to a commissioner’s office for 10 to 15 minutes, but it’s not.  By failng to show up, the court can hold you “in contempt” and fine or even jail you for insulting the court and ignoring their rules.

If you have any questions about the possibility of going to jail for a debt, or any other questions related to your financial life give the professionals at Lakelaw a call. We take pride in our work and strive to always treat clients with Care, Kindness, Courtesy, Respect, Professionalism and Dedication.

This post was co-authored by Lakelaw Associate Nicholas D. Strom

How do I get my creditors to stop calling me?

Posted by David Leibowitz on March 17th, 2009 in Consumer Law, ,

You don’t need to file a bankruptcy to get your creditors to stop calling you.  Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, if you hire a lawyer, or a law firm, like Lakelaw, your creditors can no longer call you.  Of course, you have to tell your creditors to stop calling you and to call your lawyer instead.  You should tell them in writing.  You can tell them by mail, fax or email.  But you do have to tell them.

You could hire Lakelaw to try to negotiate a settlement with creditors.  

Or you could ask Lakelaw to defend against credit card debt that you don’t own.  Maybe you’re not liable on the credit card.  Maybe the credit card company can’t prove that it owes you money.  Maybe the credit card debt is for a relative of yours who died.  Or maybe the credit card claim is long past the statute of limitations – a so called “zombie debt.”  Or maybe you dispute the amount owed or the interest rate or late charges imposed.  Lakelaw defends people against credit card claims.

Maybe you are planning to file a bankruptcy case.  If so, Lakelaw can make people stop calling you just because we represent you.

If the creditors or collection agencies keep calling you, they are violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  And then Lakelaw can sue the creditors and recover damages and attorneys fees for you.

After your bankruptcy, creditors must stop bothering you.  If they don’t they are violating the automatic stay of the bankrutpcy code.  Lakelaw can recover damages for wilful violations of the automatic stay in the bankruptcy court.

Keep good records.  Find out who called you, where they are calling from.  Document when they called and what they said.  More information is available  about Fair Debt Collection Practices Act at Lakelaw’s Consumer Law pages

New Notices to Homeowners in Illinois Foreclosure Cases

Posted by David Leibowitz on January 4th, 2009 in Consumer Law, Foreclosure - Saving Your Home, Legal, Real Estate, ,

A new Illinois statute, effective January 1, 2009, requires that lenders give homeowners special notices in forclosure cases, both in English and Spanish.  Click here to read the Illinois Mortgage Foreclosure Law.  These notices must inform the defendant that:

  • As lawful occupants, they have the right to live in the home until a judge enters an order of possession
  • The homeowner continues to own the home until the court rules otherwise
  • Homeowners can get professional guidance from a lawyer or certified housing counsellor but should PROCEED WITH CAUTION when dealing with others who say that they are offering help
  • The mortgage company doesn’t really want to foreclose on the house if there is any way to avoid it

In addition, the name of the mortgage lender must be set out in large type.  The lender must provide a pay-off statement at no cost.  If the lender wilfully fails to deliver an accurate statement within 10 days, the lender is liable for actual damages or statutory damages not less than $500.

This statute gives borrowers important rights.  We at Lakelaw are ready, willing and able to help Illinois homeowners protect their rights and save their homes.


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