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17

Jun 2010

After bankruptcy mortgage loan modification saves house

Posted by / in After Bankruptcy / 6 comments

Got an email this morning from Bill and Brenda (not their real names) letting me know they had gotten approved for their mortgage loan modification.

They first came to talk to me about filing bankruptcy in Virginia in November 2008. They really wanted to keep their house, but at that point their income was really low.  Bill was paid by commission, and it had gotten really slow during the worst of the panic.

They couldn’t get approved for a loan modification, because the mortgage company thought couldn’t afford any house payment at all.

So, the mortgage company set a foreclosure sale date on May 15.   Bill filed bankruptcy on May 14–to take care of his credit cards and stop the foreclosure.

They applied again for a loan mod, but got no where.

A new foreclosure sale was set for October 2, after the mortgage company got permission to foreclose from his bankruptcy judge. We filed Brenda’s bankruptcy on October 1, just in time to stop them again.  (The bankruptcy also took care of her credit cards at that point, too.)

By the time the mortgage company got permission again to foreclose, Bill’s income had improved.   This time the mortgage company would consider a loan mod.

And yesterday the loan mod was approved. That was twice bankruptcies were filed within two days of scheduled foreclosures, and now they have saved the house.  Bill and Brenda’s hard work staying in touch with the mortgage company was one reason this worked.  Good timing on the bankruptcies made it possible.   Commissions getting back to normal on Bill’s job helped a lot, too.

It doesn’t always work out that well, but when it does, I’m really happy.  Bill and Brenda really are, too.

I’ve seen several clients get mortgage loan modification offers after bankruptcy when they couldn’t get one before.   This is the one I’m happiest about today.

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16

Jun 2010

Bankruptcy and Will Rogers "Never Met a Man I Didn't Like"

Posted by / in Weekly Posts / No comments yet

Eighty years ago today, June 16, 1930, Will Rogers‘ most famous quote first appeared in print.  “I never met a man I didn’t like.”

Probably, he’d said it before, because the Boston Globe had Rogers saying he’d be proud to have that on his tombstone.  “I can hardly wait to die so it can be carved,” he added.

I was reminded about that last Friday by one of the people who came to see me about bankruptcy.  Fellow said that he had been really frightened about coming to see me.  He had seen one lawyer about bankruptcy before “and I could feel right away he didn’t want me as a client.”

He knew we were different when he met with my paralegal, Vicky.  And he really appreciated the time I took with him to understand his problem.

I’m a Virginia bankruptcy lawyer.  I’m glad to be able to help people who have been knocked down by life.  And who are doing their best to get back up.  That’s all I do.

The chance to get a second chance is one of the great things about America.  And I’m proud to use bankruptcy law to help people get the second chance they deserve.  They are good people.

Lots of people who need to file for bankruptcy feel bad, but you shouldn’t feel bad around your bankruptcy lawyer. You don’t need to feel bad around me.

I don’t want it on my tombstone;  but I’ll put that same thing on my website.  I hope to be able to say, like Will Rogers, “I never met a man or woman I didn’t like.”

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05

Jun 2010

After bankruptcy: depression and getting back on your feet

Posted by / in Weekly Posts / No comments yet

As a bankruptcy lawyer,  I see a lot of people who have been knocked down by life.  Filing bankruptcy can get you back on your feet financially, but other problems might still hold you down.

One of those problems can be depression.

When life knocks you down, there can be changes in the chemistry of your brain. When things get better–when filing for bankruptcy stops the financial pressure–the brain is still damaged.

I’m a lawyer.  My law degree is from the University of Maryland.  It’s called a Juris doctor.   That Latin means I’m a “doctor of justice.”  I’m a bankruptcy lawyer, not a medical doctor.  I’m not a good place to go for medical advice.

But I think its my job to speak up when I think people need to go for medical advice.    If you have medical insurance, my advice is simple.  Go talk to your doctor.

If you don’t have insurance, that’s tougher.  The prescription anti-depressant medications can be very expensive, without insurance.   What can you do?

I’m told that the county mental health clinics clinics can help you get low cost of free medications if you don’t have insurance.  The website for Prince William county is here:  http://www.pwcgov.org/default.aspx?topic=010009000890000647

There is also an herbal remedy.  Studies, especially in Germany, show that St. John’s Wort works as well as many of the expensive prescription anti-depressants.  And with fewer side effects.  (Studies in other countries have not been as positive, so the popularity of St. John’s has dropped in recent years.)

The advantage is that you can buy it in the vitamin section of any of the pharmacies or grocery stores around here.  It’s about $20.00 for a months supply.

I know a number of people who say they have been really helped by it.   This includes bankruptcy clients, and members of my family.

OK, that’s it.  Talk to your doctor.  I’m a bankruptcy lawyer.

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30

May 2010

Before bankruptcy, does Navy Federal violate Virginia law?

Posted by / in Before Bankruptcy, Virginia Bankruptcy / 3 comments

Before you file bankruptcy, once you have a lawyer, you should tell your creditors when they call, “call my bankruptcy lawyer.”  The law assumes that most companies with a good name will leave you alone at that point.

In my experience that’s true of just about everybody, but not Navy Federal.

Navy Federal’s collection department says they will keep calling you day and night, until the bankruptcy is filed with the court.  And they do.  (Some people told us Navy Federal calls almost hourly until the bankruptcy is filed.)

I think this is a violation of Virginia law.  Code of Virginia § 18.2-429 makes it a class 3 misdemeanor to cause someone’s phone to ring with the “intent to annoy.”  And the law expressly says that it can still be illegal even if there is also an “intent to communicate.”

The punishment in Virignia for a class 3 misdemeanor is a fine of up to $500.

I think its pretty clear that when Navy Federal calls four or five times a day, after being told, “I can’t pay, call my bankruptcy lawyer, I have to file bankruptcy”–that’s calling with the intent to annoy.

This spring, we helped one of our clients sue Navy Federal to get them to stop violating Virginia law.  We didn’t get far.  Just because something is a criminal law violation,  does not mean a private citizen can sue to enforce it.

So, the judge made it clear we would lose, unless we dropped the case.  (Which we did.  We are going after them under Florida law, but that’s for another day.)  But the judge suggested, here on page 13, that we could “bring it back as a criminal offense.”

My before-bankruptcy clients seem to have fewer complaints about Navy Federal than they did this time last year.  Maybe that’s because they have gotten nicer.

Maybe it’s because their lawyers were listening to that judge.  I hope so.

PS October 2016, CFPB slams Navy Fed

Saw in this morning’s Washington Post that the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau went after Navy Fed.  Hit them for $23 million to unfair collection procedures.  I was really glad to see it.  You can read the Post story, here: Navy-Federal-to-pay-23-million.

PPS  January 2018, Navy Fed suddenly polite.

The last week of January brought a nice letter from a now very polite Navy FCU.  

NFCU was writing to tell me that Woodbridge resident “Stevie” asked them to stop calling her, and that they’d do it!  That’s a big change. 

Thank you Navy Federal.  I take back half the bad things I’ve said about you.

 

Here’s the polite letter

Here’s a sample of the polite letter Navy Federal sends now, when you tell them to “call my lawyer.”

 

 

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30

May 2010

Debt Collector Midland buys debt for nickel on a dollar

Posted by / in Weekly Posts / 2 comments

Debt collector and debt buyer Midland Credit Management pays an average of less than five cents for each dollar of debt they buy.

That means if Midland is harassing you for a $7000 old account, they probably paid less than $350 for it.

That’s what I saw when Midland’s parent company, Encore, announced their first quarter results last Thursday.    They paid $82 million to buy $2.1 billion worth of debt.  Actually that’s more like four cents on the dollar.

Many of my bankruptcy clients are people who faced months of harassing calls or even garnishment on debt owned by Midland.   Those people, when they first got into trouble, often asked the credit card companies or banks to work with them.  And got little or no help.

Those same banks then turned around and sold the account for less than five cents on the dollar.

If the banks had been willing to settle for even 25 cents on the dollar, these folks would not be filing bankruptcy.

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27

May 2010

Filing bankruptcy in Virginia to stop garnishment? You have rights.

Posted by / in Virginia Bankruptcy / No comments yet

Many people keep hoping they can avoid filing bankruptcy in Virginia, until they get a garnishment.   If filing bankruptcy is a last resort, garnishment tells you that you’ve arrived.

Garnishment law is one of the few places where Virginia law is better for the consumer than most other places.  (Well, better than most places that allow garnishments.  In North Carolina, for example, they can’t garnish your pay at all.  Except for taxes, child support and that kind of thing. )

Virginia garnishment law

Virginia garnishment law is one of the few areas where people have more rights in Virginia than in many other states.

Virginia garnishment law is better because of the “return date.”  In many states, a garnishment starts and just keeps running until they have squeezed the whole debt out of you.   If your being garnished for say an $8,000 credit card, that could take a long time.  Virginia garnishment law is not like that.

A Virginia garnishment usually runs for six to twelve weeks, and it ends on the return date.  (When you first get the garnishment, you might think the return date is the start date.  It’s not,  it’s the stop date.  For more information on garnishments generally, see my website on Virginia garnishment law.)

If you file bankruptcy in Virginia, before that return date, you can get that money back.  Everything they have taken during that six to twelve week period comes back to you.  (As long as you haven’t used up your $5000 Virginia “homestead exemption.”)

If you need to file bankruptcy in Virginia, but can’t get it done before the return date, here’s what to do.   Your lawyers can give you a homestead deed, to record in the county where you live.  (There’s a $21.00 filing fee.)

Then you can take the recorded homestead deed to the return date on your garnishment, and get your money back yourself.

I help two people a month get back their garnished money that way.  Then they usually use part of what they get back to pay for filing bankruptcy.

Virginia garnishment law is one of the few areas where Virginia gives rights to the consumer, better than a lot of places.

 

PS  I’m attaching some of the leading cases on this area of the law.  My thanks to Linda Jennings, a bankruptcy lawyer in Colonial Heights, for these cases.

In re Wilkinson.  In_re_Wilkinson[1]

In re Banks.  In Re Banks. WDof VA

Wilson v VA Nat. Bank  Wilson vs. VA Nat. Bank

Here’s more info on why filing bankruptcy stops a Virginia garnishment.

 

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NORTHERN VIRGINIA BANKRUPTCY LAW OFFICES