Utilities, Cable, Phone Bills and Bankruptcy

Worried about a shut off? Bankruptcy could help!

Utilities, Cable, Phone Bills and Bankruptcy. With summer heat raging across the country, if you are behind on your electric bill and worried about a shut off – bankruptcy CAN help. Attorney Peter Geraci answers your questions about utilities, cable bills and those pesky cell phone balances.

Bills are Usually Dischargeable

Bills for utilities such as gas, electric, water, sewer and phone are what we call unsecured debts, and they are dischargeable under either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The only exception is fraud, such as where you hooked up the gas illegally.

When to List Utility Bills in Bankruptcy

In order to make it worthwhile to list a utility bill, calculate the average month utility bill, and multiply by three. So if your average electric bill is 140, three times is $420. So if you list a $420 past due electric bill in a chapter 7, you won’t have to pay it, but you’ll most likely have to put up a deposit of three times the average bill, or $420, and now you’re back to square one.

So the three times an average bill rule applies for gas and electric. And you’ll have to put up a deposit.

Avoiding Utility Shut-offs

Filing on gas and electric doesn’t make much sense unless you have run up a huge bill, and by now you have been shut off. What happens in cold states like Wisconsin, where they don’t shut off your winter gas until April, and then we get a rush of bankruptcies because it’s still cold enough to need gas and its off.

We also get a rush with people who have lived without gas all summer, and when it gets to be Halloween I need the gas back on. Those bills are usually several thousand, so putting up of $420 deposit isn’t too bad. Filing either Chapter 7 or 13 will require the utility to turn your electric or gas back on after you put up the deposit.

Water and Sewer Bills in Bankruptcy

Water and sewer bills are a little bit different. They usually aren’t very high, and in most cities, they are a lien on the real estate. So if you have a single-family home or multi-unit that you own, and you don’t pay the water and sewer bill, not only can they shut off the water, but there is a lien on the real estate. We don’t see too many water and sewer bills in bankruptcy but there treated pretty much the same as gas and electric.

Cable and Phone Bills in Bankruptcy

Cable and phone bills are a little different. Since so many people are disconnecting from cable TV, it’s not a real big issue if you’re three months behind on the $200 cable bill, and don’t particularly care for the service anyway. Otherwise they don’t have to give you credit again. Nobody has a land-line, so you’re talking about a cell phone bill, and those bills are never included in a bankruptcy because they cut you off after two months and now you have no cell phone service, which is something we rarely see.

In Summary

So in a nutshell, for gas or electric that is more than three months behind throw it in there, and as far as water and sewer pay it. Cable and telephone, either get a cell phone with a different carrier and a different cable service, or pay them to continue service.

Dial 1-800-CALL-PFG for a free phone mini-consultation, or make an appointment online 24/7 at www.infotapes.com.  Bankruptcy laws are in place to help you.  Who knows bankruptcy like Geraci Law?  Geraci Law has 30,000 5-star reviews 5starsince November 2016!

Read ALL ABOUT DEBT RELIEF at www.bankruptcybookbypeterfrancisgeraci.com.

So How Does Bankruptcy Work?

There’s a ton of information about debt, financial resources and bankruptcy. The B word can be intimidating and maybe it’s time to answer the question – How does bankruptcy filing work?

Attorney Peter Francis Geraci answers this question and reviews what you can expect when filing for bankruptcy.

Organize Your Debt

1. How MUCH debt do you have? Is it around $10,000 or more in debt you can eliminate, like medical bills, lawsuits, credit cards, personal loans, repossessions? Make a list of all your debt and what it is for. You can find a form at Infotapes.com. Remember, some debts don’t appear on credit reports, so gather your bills, and even old debts can chase you for 5 or 10 years or more

2. What KIND of debt do you have? So if you have $10,000 or more in debt, is it the kind you can get rid of, or the kind you want to pay, like vehicles or credit unions, or is it just government student loans?

So, you can make a short list, using our form, you can get a free credit report to see what your creditors are reporting to credit bureaus.

Consult with a Law Firm

3. Get a free phone mini-consultation. You will need competent advice on whether Chapter 7 or 13 is right for the type and amount of debt, and also for your income level. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can pick your Chapter, because you don’t know as much as Geraci Law’s highly experience attorneys.

4. Start uploading your documents. If we decide that we can help you, we’ll give you access to the Geraci Law Client Corner, run an Experian soft-pull, get a Kelly Blue Book value on your vehicles, estimate your house value if you have one, and more. You can then upload necessary documents to our Geraci Law Client Corner client portal, such as pay stubs, bank statements, contracts, bills and tax returns.

Meet with a Bankruptcy Lawyer for Free

5. Get a virtual or in-office interview and get your options, costs, and retain us, little or no money down. Figure a payment plan, and you’ve got yourself a lawyer! We’ll refer you to take a 20 minute online finance course, which costs $25. Take the course before you file. You can take my credit counseling course online for free to see what it’s like.

Review and Sign your Bankruptcy Paperwork

6. We’ll then prepare a bankruptcy petition of about 50 pages for you to review, and assemble the necessary documents you have uploaded, and after you sign it, we’ll file it with the Court.

File your Bankruptcy in Court

7. After we file in court, we’ll post all your documents on your secure Geraci Law Client Corner portal, where you will get all your messages, instructions, documents, and even videos about your meeting of creditors and taking your second Debtor Education Course. The bankruptcy court requires you to take the second course to get a discharge. I teach it, and the Administrative office of the U.S. Trustee in bankruptcy certifies it. The court is one of the only courses actually taught by an experienced bankruptcy attorney.

Attend your Meeting of the Creditors

8. We will go with you, either by Zoom or in-person, to a brief interview with a Court appointed bankruptcy Trustee to go over your petition and approve it. If you filed Chapter 13, your plan will be confirmed and you will make the necessary monthly payment. If you filed Chapter 7, we will handle any paperwork with vehicles or mortgages you want to keep, and you will get a discharge around 4 months from date of filing.

Dial 1-800-CALL-PFG for a free phone mini-consultation, or make an appointment online 24/7 at www.infotapes.com.  Bankruptcy laws are in place to help you.  Who knows bankruptcy like Geraci Law?  Geraci Law has 30,000 5-star reviews 5starsince November 2016!

Read ALL ABOUT DEBT RELIEF at www.bankruptcybookbypeterfrancisgeraci.com.

Reaffirmation Agreements and Mortgages – if the mortgage company fails to offer me one?

Reaffirmations on Mortgages in Chapter 7. You don’t need one, but if you can’t get one, here’s what to do!

Below is an article written by Attorney Peter Francis Geraci regarding reaffirmation agreements. Reaffirmation agreements can be complicated, use below as a guide to answer questions like – What do I do if I want to refinance and did not reaffirm my debt? My bank is telling me to reopen my Chapter 7 case and my attorney is telling me no. And more!

Read more articles like this @ https://www.infotapes.com/Articles

Reaffirmation Agreements and Mortgages – if the mortgage company fails to offer me one? – by Attorney Peter Francis Geraci

Under Chapter 7, your mortgage lenders get notice of filing the day we file your case.  The court sends notice, and most lenders search daily for new bankruptcy filings. Your petition includes a “statement of intention” to reaffirm, redeem or surrender the property. The lender then

  1. ceases any collection activity if you are late,
  2. may want a letter from us stating you can talk to them direct
  3. may stop sending you statements, and cancel   auto pay and online access (you may have to mail payments 5 days before due)

If you are current and want to keep the property, and your lender acts goofy like this, it can be a pain!   It may be as simple as

  1. call your lender and say: “ I want to continue payments, and statements”
  2. ask them what they need so you can keep on paying and have online access
  3. tell them you want to “reaffirm” your personal liability (they already know this)

What does “reaffirmation” of my personal liability on a mortgage have to do with paying them?   A “reaffirmation” makes your personal liability survive discharge, so if you default, and they foreclose, and sell the property, and don’t get enough to cover the loan, they can come after you personally. A reaffirmation doesn’t affect the validity of your mortgage, or your ability to pay it.  And they charge you $800 or so for preparing one.

Does it matter if my lender doesn’t want a reaffirmation of my personal liability?   No. It shouldn’t. Your bankruptcy included a “statement of intent to reaffirm”.  If you checked yes, it doesn’t mean much except you are OK with your personal liability on the mortgage surviving discharge. 

Who decides if the lender wants to enter into a “reaffirmation”?   The lender decides. Not you or us.

Lenders always send your info to their attorneys, who prepare the “reaffirmation” and send it to us. (Unlike credit unions, mortgage companies don’t do their own paperwork, they won’t send anything to you, or to us. They have their attorneys do it. So all you can do is tell whatever mortgage servicer to start taking your payments, and if they feel like it, you are OK with signing a reaffirmation, if they will prepare it.   No lender will sign anything prepared by you or your lawyer. Lenders will NOT prepare a “reaffirmation” if

  1. you are behind in any payment, taxes or insurance
  2. you are in some kind of forbearance, loss mitigation
  3. they don’t want to (maybe they sold your loan, or lost the original paperwork)
  4. they don’t have a valid lien on your property, etc. etc. etc.

If my lender wants to prepare a ‘reaffirmation” when do I sign it?   Before Discharge. The lender’s attorney must get us their reaffirmation so you can sign it before Discharge, about 4 months after filing of a Chapter 7. You can ask us to delay discharge if no reaffirmation before Discharge.

 Do I need a reaffirmation agreement to keep my house?  No.  Your mortgage is not affected.  You don’t need a “reaffirmation” to stay current.

If the bank allows me to reaffirm my liability on the promissory note, why should I sign a reaffirmation?   Lenders may refuse to report your payments to a credit bureau, or make any number of bizarre excuses for aggravating you, and say “You didn’t sign a reaffirmation, call your lawyers and have them reopen the case and send us one,”   They are just trying to get rid of you.

  1. Write down the Name, Employee #, contact info of anyone who tells you such nonsense, they might be located in China or India.
  2. Ask to speak to a supervisor.  Ask them to put the nonsense in writing.  Contact us with the details so we can help.

 If your mortgage company stopped reporting to the credit bureaus, and won’t accept your request to start reporting,

  • Request a payment history from your current mortgage company. Send this payment history to the 3 credit bureaus showing timely payments after bankruptcy discharge to show there are no missed payments.
  • Send your mortgage company a letter in writing stating:
  • You want the mortgage company to report both the timely and missed mortgage payments to Transunion, Equifax and Experian.
  • You do not consider the payment history reporting to the credit bureau a violation of collections.

Let your lawyers at Geraci Law know EXACTLY what the problem is, (who what where and when, take notes) if you can’t solve it with your lender.  We are pretty good at figuring things out, and there is NO charge for helping straighten out a mortgage lender, we do it all the time!  Don’t take bad treatment from a mortgage lender or servicer personally, they do it all the time.  The hotline for the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is at https://www.consumerfinance.gov/

Dial 1-800-CALL-PFG for a free phone mini-consultation, or make an appointment online 24/7 at www.infotapes.com.  Bankruptcy laws are in place to help you.  Who knows bankruptcy like Geraci Law?  Geraci Law has 30,000 5-star reviews 5starsince November 2016!

Read ALL ABOUT DEBT RELIEF at www.bankruptcybookbypeterfrancisgeraci.com.

Debtor’s Prison


Below is an article written by Attorney Peter Francis Geraci, read this and more @ Bankruptcy and Debt Articles | Geraci Law (infotapes.com)

The reason there is a bankruptcy law in the United States is that most of the founding fathers came from England, where there was no bankruptcy law. In fact, many of the members of the Constitutional Convention had personal experience being thrown into debtors’ prison in England. Some avoided debtors’ prison by fleeing to America. Some of the colonies were friendly to people in debt, and some were not. But everyone in 1787 agreed that Congress should make uniform bankruptcy laws. So that is in Article I Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, our country’s governing law.

Check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshalsea for a description of the most horrible of the debtor’s prisons in London, if you don’t count the one that they dug out under the river Thames. Charles Dickens novel Little Dorritt is about a family who grew up in the debtor’s prison Marshalsea, where the father spent 20 years imprisoned for a debt no one could figure out how to pay. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Dorrit There was even some of that in America until 1833, according to https://www.winonapost.com/Article/ArticleID/49823/Swamp-Water-Jurisprudence-Debtors-prisons-havent-gone-away

But now, the creditors can only use the courts to determine if you are liable to pay them, and if you are, use the courts to give you notice before they take your property or bank account. And you don’t have to serve time in debtor’s prison, you can file a plan for debt relief under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. If you live in a state where Geraci Law practices, you can get help from us, just visit www.infotapes.com

Dial 1-800-CALL-PFG for a free phone mini-consultation, or make an appointment online 24/7 at www.infotapes.com.  Bankruptcy laws are in place to help you.  Who knows bankruptcy like Geraci Law?  Geraci Law has 30,000 5-star reviews 5starsince November 2016!

Read ALL ABOUT DEBT RELIEF at www.bankruptcybookbypeterfrancisgeraci.com.

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