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18

Feb 2017

Navy Fed does the Right Thing; Wells Fargo Makes More Excuses

Posted by / in After Bankruptcy, Weekly Posts /

After Bankruptcy Mistakes: Navy Fed does the Right Thing; Wells Fargo Makes More Excuses.

Everybody makes mistakes. Banks do, too. When you file bankruptcy, the banks you owe money to don’t always do what they are supposed to do. This is a true story of Navy Fed admitting their mistake and fixing it. Wells Fargo making excuses and more excuses

After Bankruptcy, Navy Federal Hit Rob’s Credit So He couldn’t Buy a House.

Rob, not his real name, and his wife Daisy, filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy with me in summer of 2011. One of the debts that was partially paid and mostly discharged—wiped clean—was a third mortgage to Navy Federal for $39,157. The chapter 13 was paid off in July 2014. 

By the fall of 2016, Rob and Daisy are back to good credit. They sold their house to buy a new one. In fact they signed a contract to have a house built.

That’s when they find out Navy Fed is still hitting Rob’s credit. Rob’s Experian credit report shows that years three years past due on now $39,000 to Navy Fed. Rob called and complained to the credit reporting department. He was told the credit report was right. Rob called Jeremy in the Navy Fed bankrutpcy department. Jeremy said he agreed with Rob (!) but he couldn’t change credit reporting. Rob went to the branch. That did nothing.

Finally, someone at Navy Fed whispered to Rob that he should talk to his bankruptcy lawyer.

We Ask Navy Fed to Tell It to the Judge

January 6, 2017 I filed papers with the bankruptcy court. We asked the Navy Fed to come to court on February 2, and explain to the judge why they were still trying to collect a discharged debt. 

It didn’t get that far. I heard first from Jeremy, in the bankruptcy department, and then from Emily, their lawyer. Most importantly, they sent a correction over the Experian, and the other credit bureaus, too.

(Rob wondered why this problem showed up only with Experian. Each credit bureau’s computer programs are slightly different, so a small mistake might show up with one, but not the others. But, I don’t think that’s the problem here. Under the Terri White class action settlement, the credit bureaus are supposed to show your debts are discharged in bankruptcy—even if the creditor keeps reporting them as late. My best guess is that Navy made the mistake with all three credit bureaus, but only Experian let is slip past.)

February 1, 2017, we were able to confirm with each of the three credit bureaus that the Navy Fed loan was now showing “discharged in bankruptcy.” That fixed his Experian credit score, his loan was approved, and Rob and Daisey will be moving into their new house in a few weeks.

As a tangible apology, Navy Fed also agreed to make a small payment—we agreed to keep the amount secret—for Rob and Daisy’s sleepless nights and for my legal work. Although they had given Rob the run around, Navy Fed was all over it when they heard from me. So we did not squeeze them to make a big settlement.

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Wells Fargo takes 9 months to fix their mistake, while Veronique drives on expired tags.

Wells Fargo Won’t Let Veronique Renew the Tags on Her Car

Veronique, not her real name, filed Chapter 13 with me in April 2016. We needed to prevent the repossession sale of her car. (Veronique traveled to two or three different job locations every day. She had to have a car.)

Wells Fargo stopped the repo sale, and gave Veronique her car back, exactly like they were supposed to. But, when she went to renew her tags in June 2016, Veronique was in for a shock. Wells Fargo had taken her name of her title, so she couldn’t renew her tags.

This was no ordinary screw up

I thought this screw up could be easily fixed. After all, Wells Fargo has four million car finance customers. They know how to fix a car title. Wrong.

She updated me on June 20. Still not fixed. July my office started calling. No luck. August, Wells Fargo insisted that the title was right. Not true. September they asked for a power of attorney for us. Then they told us it had expired. How could this be? they just needed to correct her car title.

Finally, September 30 we drew up paper to take this problem in front of the bankruptcy judge. Called them again on October 3. “Can’t you get this fixed; we’re suing you because you can’t fix this lady’s car title.” Transferred all over the place. Four hours! on the phone. No results.

Wells Fargo Tell the Judge They Fixed it: Two months Before They Really Do

October 17 2016, Wells Fargo files a copy of what they claim is Veronique’s title with the bankruptcy court. I tell Veronique to take it to the DMV and see if that works. It doesn’t. “Wells Fargo invalidated this title back in April,” we’re told.

On November 8 Wells Fargo’s lawyer went in front of the Judge and told the court that Wells Fargo had done everything possible to fix Veronique’s title. The Judge believed them. (I didn’t.) 

Finally, January 18 2017, Veronique’s title as fixed. She was able to renew her tags.

It took Wells Fargo, the world’s second largest bank, with four million car loan customers, nine months to correct their mistake on Veronique’s car title. 

Wells Fargo Promises a $10,000 Settlement Payment—So Far, No Check

Wells Fargo also offered in January, to pay Veronique $10,000 for her trouble—hours on the phone, multiple pointless trips to the DMV, and driving eight months on expired tags!

We agreed to accept the $10,000. They said they’d send it as soon as we submitted her W-9. That’s been three weeks ago. Still no check. 

 

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26

Jan 2017

Holly Gets Hired after Bankruptcy and Gets a New Credit Card

Posted by / in After Bankruptcy, Weekly Posts /

Holly Gets Hired After Bankruptcy and Gets a New Company Credit Card

Holly was at the end of her rope. She’d been out of work for two years; she kept getting interviews but no offers; and she was feeding partial payments to her creditors, to try to keep them off her back. She believed she was losing job offers because of the late payments on her credit. She was doing everything possible, borrowing from family and friends, to stay close to current.

Finally, she gave up

She came to see me about bankruptcy when she finally got court papers; she assumed she’d never be able to get hired after bankruptcy in the tech field. I told her she would be fine.

After bankruptcy, the opposite of what she expected

We filed Holly’s bankruptcy case September 1; it was discharged—approved and done—December 12. On January 22, she got a job offer. She was offered Chief Technology Officer of the small business. She was excited to get hired after bankruptcy.

But still had a big concern. What would happen when she applied for a corporate Amex Card for business travel. She would be so embarrassed—might even lose her job offer—if Amex turned her down.

Check your credit score, I told her. “It’s 688,” she said, amazed. Of course she got the company card.

Everybody’s case is different.

Everybody’s case is different. Employers look for different things; and your credit score is based on very complicated and secret formulas. But I can say this. For many people, once you’ve started struggling with late payments, bankruptcy can be the quickest (and easiest) way to get your credit score back up.

Many employers are hesitant to hire someone who is struggling financially. They don’t want employees who

Easier to Get Hired After Bankruptcy

When she was dragging around bad credit, Holly got interviews but no offers. She got hired after bankruptcy—in only six weeks.

don’t sleep at night because of bills. They don’t want the sheriff bringing garnishments to the payroll office. (And maybe they don’t want people who are too dumb to take advantage of the laws in their favor.)

That’s why some people find it’s easier to get hired after bankruptcy. 

 

For most people, bankruptcy works.

Every month I see people who have put off bankruptcy for years in order to “protect their credit.” They aren’t protecting anything. Like Holly, they think they are “protecting their credit” but actually just making things worse.  

 

 

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21

Jan 2017

Short sale tax forgiveness has expired

Posted by / in Weekly Posts /

Short sale tax forgiveness has expired.

If your house is “under water” you need to read this.

The general rule of tax law is that debt forgiveness is income—if I lend you $1,000 and then say you don’t have to pay me back, you’ve made $1,000. And you’re subject to tax on that.

That matters in a big way when there’s a short sale. You could be taxed for the amount the sale is “short.” That tax was repealed for the duration of the housing crisis.—2007-2016. But that repeal is now expired.

So if you need to unload a property that’s “under water,” from a tax viewpoint bankruptcy is lots better. (There’s no debt forgiveness tax on debts wiped out by law in a bankruptcy.)

If you owe $340,000 on your house and get approved for a short sale at $300,000, you’ll get a $40,000 1099-c at the end of the year. And owe something like $15,000 in taxes.

If you file bankruptcy and give up the house in the bankruptcy, no tax.

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Starting in 2017, you can get hit with the debt forgiveness tax on a short sale. You’ll get a 1099-C on the amount the short sale is “short.” And the IRS will expect you to pay taxes on that.

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