“Occupy Chicago” wants to forgive student loans. Your student loan bailout should be through bankruptcy!

The “Occupy Wall Street” movement has created many spinoff movements all over the country like the one here in San Diego.  After hearing criticism for their lack of coherent demands, the “Occupy Chicago” chapter came out with a list of demands on Monday.  Among other things, like taxing the wealthy and attacking Wall Street, they want student loans forgiven.  I argued in a blog that I posted Sunday on the Occupy San Diego movement that student loans should be dischargeable in bankruptcy.

In the face of the bailouts that Wall Street firms and banks received more and more people are asking “where is our bailout”?  Regular people have a tremendous amount of debt which they cannot afford and they believe that justice demands that they need some consideration from government.  It is true that almost 50% of people pay no income taxes but should we bailout the 99% with massive wealth transfers?

I say no.   Most people in this country will not go for that.  I have argued for years on my blog that a bailout plan already exists for the 99% of us that are neither rich nor giant corporations.  It’s called bankruptcy and bankruptcy allows you to legally walk away from your debts and have them discharged so you no longer owe them.  You can then get a fresh start debt free and keep what money you earn from employment.  Everyone can avail themselves of bankruptcy.  You don’t have to be a privileged person or corporation to get it.  In fact if you make too much money you will be means tested out of a chapter 7.

So bankruptcy is available for regular people but there is a problem.  Student loans cannot be included in bankruptcy.  Student loans currently are not dischargeable in bankruptcy.   They do therefore indeed last forever or until you allege “undue hardship” which is very hard to prove.  If these student loans were to be included in the lists of debts that people could discharge in bankruptcy then regular people would not be saddled with them forever.  They could escape them and move on in life with their student loans forgiven.

This could be done so much more easily and fairly in the context of bankruptcy than through some government blanket forgiveness.  Bankruptcy has been around for hundreds of years and the systems are in place to handle forgiveness of debt through the filing of bankruptcy.  There are trustees and judges to oversee each individual to make sure that the people asking for forgiveness really can’t afford to pay these debts back because the have neither the income or assets to do so.

In bankruptcy there are even proscribed exemptions that allow each person to keep a certain amount of property.  For most of the 99% this would amount to people keeping all of their property because most people don’t have more than these allowed exemption amounts.

This solution will also be so much more palatable to the American public.  It allows the forgiveness of the student loan debt but within the confines of the bankruptcy system.  Each individual would have to file for bankruptcy to get his student loan debt forgiveness.  He would then be examined by a Trustee and he would face a judge if fraud or other problems came up.   His income and expenses would be looked at to determine that he could not pay his debts with his current income and thus he is formally bankrupt. Those who could afford to pay the loans would then have to do so in some form but many many student loan debtors would be able to escape these loans if they were dischargeable in bankruptcy.  Bankruptcy is no blanket gift.

And it would be fair.  Many people with student loans cannot afford to pay these loans and they have very little hope of paying them back.  They are under employed or more likely unemployed and they cannot afford their living expenses let alone these student loans that have not even landed them a job.  It is simply not fair that a person who used their credit cards to excess can discharge those debts but the person trying to get an education and a job can never escape them even if they have no money and no job.

But many people will say that if we make student loans dischargeable in bankruptcy then student loans will be harder to get.   Maybe that is a good thing and people won’t borrow money for degrees that won’t lead to a job.  But I also believe that as credit cards are still obtainable by most people today and they are dischargeable in bankruptcy.  Bankruptcy has not stopped that industry and dischargeable student loans will not stop lenders from lending money for these loans either.

It also should not matter whether the loans are government or private.  If  they are private then the loans should be treated like credit cards and if government loans are owed then forgiveness of these loans is only fair in light of the bailouts given by the government to the financial industry.  Whether government or private though the effect is the same on people.  They can’t afford to pay them back in many cases.  (Remember also that IRS tax debt is dischargeable after only 3 years and the IRS still continues to operate).

And for further fairness you could make student loans dischargeable after a period of time say 10 or even 20 years.  If the student has not paid them back by that time then they are certainly having a problem and they probably can’t pay them back.  It is only fair to allow people to escape them in time.

I am a bankruptcy attorney practicing bankruptcy law in San Diego, CA.   For further information please visit my website at www.farquharlaw.com or www.freshsatartsandiego.com.   Or call my office for a free consultation at (619) 702-5015.  If you or someone you know are considering bankruptcy then get my Free e-book “13 THINGS YOU SHOULD DO TO PREPARE FOR YOUR BANKRUPCTY FILING” by e-mailing me at farquharesq@yahoo.com.

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“Occupy San Diego” has begun! But if you want a bailout like the banks then try bankruptcy. (But let’s add student loans to the list of dischargeable debts)

The “Occupy San Diego” movement is currently in full swing in our city.  Protestors have marched through San Diego and occupied a park in downtown.  It remains unclear just what they are protesting though.  Some in the movement say it’s “corporate greed”.  According to an article in Sign on San Diego the protestors are not just angry about corporate greed but they also object to the money flowing into the political system from the financial industry and the banks.  According to the “Occupy San Diego” website those in the movement say they are for “social and economic justice” and they are protesting “global financial corruption” and the financial influence that has infiltrated everything and led to the current economic crisis.

On the “Occupy San Diego” website they also have a list of items they recommend people bring to the protest, along with their tents, much like the lists for camping trips.  They tell you where the bathrooms are and whether the are 24 hour or not.  They talk about first aid, entertainment, as well as security.  Mostly they seem to be ready to stay and occupy these parks in San Diego for a long time as they prepare their list of demands.

Apparently the movement is being advertised and spread rapidly by social media and it is gaining steam.  Where it goes and when it ends is anyone’s guess.  I must admit that this thing is somewhat fascinating as I can’t remember another movement like this even though I don’t necessarily agree with some of the premises like the anti-capitalist, pro-government emphasis.  I personally prefer small government libertarian ideas that emphasize personal freedom.  But the movement is certainly interesting and I intend to drive by and maybe mingle as I work downtown.

We who practice bankruptcy law though do believe in our cause too.  We believe that we bring freedom from the terrible burdens of debt to average people who are 99%ers.  We regulary help free people from this debt but we also bring equality too.  We bankruptcy attorneys can take you down the same road as one of these corporations that regularly file for bankruptcy and shed their debt.  Any one individual person (or couple) can file and be just like a corporation.

We in bankruptcy believe he average person’s bailout is a bankruptcy.  What is a bailout after all except a forgiveness of your debt?  You don’t have to wait for the government to give you something that only big financial institutions have.  The 99% already have the power to get their debts forgiven.  You can get your debts forgiven tomorrow.  The legal framework already has been in place for hundreds of years. Average people just have to avail themselves of the bankruptcy process.

And if you are unemployed and have no income to pay those debts then bankruptcy makes even more sense.  Imagine waking up tomorrow debt free.  How would that feel?  You could get your bailout just like big financial corporations did if you file for bankruptcy.  It’s a wonderful thing for sure.

It is also true that many people around the country have massive student loans left over from their education. Many people had to borrow heavily to originally fund their education so they could get a job.  Many of those people cannot get a job now in this economy and they have no money to pay those loans back.

It is also true that these debts are not currently dischargeable in bankruptcy.  In fact Obama’s latest spending bill would allow private collectors for these loans robocall your cell phone to harass you into paying these loans.  He is making the situation therefore worse by allowing these companies to go after you for debts which you probably cannot pay.

If this movement wants to put in a demand that these debts should be dischargeable in bankruptcy then the movement would gain the support of mostly all those who work in bankruptcy because we believe that these debts should be dischargeable.  There is no reason why students should be saddled with these debts forever but someone who over-used their credit cards can get rid of those debts.

A stipulation could be put in the new law that the student loan debt would not be dischargeable until they are 10 or even 20 years old.  This would give collectors time to collect these debts and if they can’t collect in this time then they would have to forgo collection if the person filed bankruptcy.  I believe that it’s fair to say that f the collectors can’t collect within 10 or 20 years then the debtor probably will not ever be able to pay.  Those debts are probably uncollectable and debtors should be freed from having to pay them the way financial institutions have been given infusions of cash so they can continue to operate their businesses.

How about including that demand that in this protest?  If this happens then more people will obtain financial freedom and greater parity with corporations.  Student loans can be onerous for people who have no way to pay them in this economy.  How about a student loan bailout?  Make these loans dischargeable in bankruptcy and that is all you would have to do.

As for the protest I will continue to watch with great interest as I want to see where it goes and how it ends up.  Will these people ever go home?  Will hey set up tent cities?  Will violence occur or will they be peaceful?  Will police make arrests?  How many will join those already there?  Then where will they all go?  Will they shut down operations in this city?  What will happen nationwide?

I will continue to follow and blog about this movement.

I am a bankruptcy attorney practicing bankruptcy law in San Diego, CA.  For more information please visit my website at www.farquharlaw.com or www.freshstartsandiego.com.  Or call my office for a free consultation at (619) 702-5015.  Call now for free credit report and analysis! 

If you or someone you know is considering bankruptcy then get my FREE E-BOOK; “13 THINGS YOU SHOULD DO TO PREPARE FOR YOUR BANKRUPTCY FILING” by e-mailing me at farquharesq@yahoo.com.

What’s in your wallet? These huge credit card companies are plenty rich- it’s okay to file for bankruptcy!

Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo, Capital One, Citibank, Discover, American Express.  Recognize these guys?  You probably owe them money right now and I’m not talking about for your mortgage, car, or for some other secured asset.  I’m talking about credit cards.  What’s in your wallet?  Probably there is some credit card in there right now with one of these names on it and you are in debt.

If you check you will see that these are very large companies.  They have billions of dollars in assets and if you think about it is a very easy business to run.  Think of them like Joe Pesci in the movie “Casino”.  They get a little money and they “put it on the street”.  But you are the street.  They borrow money at a low-interest rate and lend it to you at a higher rate.  If you default or are just late on the payments then they will jack your interest rates and charge you all sorts of penalties.  They make a tremendous profit on you when you cannot pay them.

Remember they don’t have a plant with machinery where they make things or even an office where they give advice.  They just need a little small space where there is a phone with which they can call you twenty times a day when you don’t pay them.  Are you getting those calls now?  Most of us do and they call now not just when you are a month late or even a few weeks late but if you are a day late.  They seemed to have recently decreased the time they allow you to not pay them.

According to Wikipedia Bank of America is the largest financial services company in America and also the largest bank holding company.  It is the second largest bank in the country by market capitalization.  As of 2010 B of A is the fifth largest company in the U.S. by total revenue and the second largest non-oil company in the U.S. after Wal-Mart!

Wells Fargo is the fourth largest bank in the U.S. by assets but the second largest by market capitalization.  JP Morgan Chase has assets of $2 trillion.  Citigroup has the largest financial services network in the country and it has over 200 million customers.  Get the picture?  They are huge and they won’t miss your debts if you get them discharged in bankruptcy.  Most of the big banks received federal bailouts financed by your tax dollars when they ran into financial difficulty.

Where is your bailout?  Do you get a break when you get into financial difficulty?  These companies are the largest and richest companies in the world and they are deemed “too big to fail” and when they get into trouble they run to the federal government (that’s you) and they ask for and get a bailout so they can make more money.  Did you get a break?  A bailout?  Where can you go when you run into financial trouble?  How about they only call you ten times a day when you owe them money?

Forget about it.  It’s not going to happen.  You will get no breaks from these companies.  They only move one way and that is forward in collecting money from you.  They will call you, hound you, and harass you into paying them.  Your only way out is to file bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy stops the calls, the harassment, and relieves you of the liabilities for those debts.  It makes sense and is the only break you are going to get.

So don’t feel bad for these banks who are too big to fail.  They are the largest and richest entities in the world and they won’t miss your little debts when you file bankruptcy.  They will write it off as a loss on their corporate taxes.  Remember that most people have paid back all of the money they borrowed on their credit cards with interest before they file bankruptcy.  It’s just that the interest rates are so large that they have to keep paying indefinitely.

How long does it take to pay off a card if you make the minimum payment?  I don’t even know anymore but it used to be 30 or 40 years.  That is debt slavery.  Don’t let yourself be a slave!  File for bankruptcy if you have debts you cannot pay!

I am a San Diego bankruptcy attorney.  Please visit my website at www.farquharlaw.com or www.freshstartsandiego.com.  Or call my office for a free consultation on any bankruptcy or debt related issue at (619) 702-5015.  Call now for free credit report and analysis!

For a free e-book: “13 THINGS YOU SHOULD DO TO PREPARE FOR YOUR BANKRUPTCY FILING” please send a request by e-mail to: farquharesq@yahoo.com.

Why you should file bankruptcy if you have debts you cannot pay

In celebration of reaching 50 blogs I thought I would update one of my most popular articles to date.  In this article I talk about all of the reasons why you should file bankruptcy.

I find that my clients want to file and they need to file but they are also apprehensive about  filing bankruptcy and they are concerned that bankruptcy is somehow shameful, wrong, or deceitful.  I try to get them to see that it is none of these things and that there are very good reasons to file and great benefits to filing.  I also try to show them that it is a legal, moral, and ethical thing to do that is as old as the bible and that corporations do it whenever they can.

You get a fresh start, you get peace, freedom, anonymity, your credit score will improve, you can keep most of your assets.  I also try to explain that times are tough, you need your money, and that bankruptcy is their bailout and things will probably get worse for them if they don’t file because collectors will not stop trying to collect from them.

I try to get my clients to see all of these things about the benefits to filing.  Often the biggest hurdle is the psychological block that they have to bankruptcy itself.  So please read my article and see if you should also possibly file bankruptcy if you have debts you cannot pay.

 1)  You get a fresh start.  Filing for bankruptcy is powerful and useful tool which allows you to discharge most of your debts and usually keep most of your assets.  You get a “fresh start” with your life and you can begin again financially without the burden of debts you cannot pay.

You can also avoid the permanent debt trap from which it is very hard to escape.  Remember that bankruptcy is nothing new.  It is as old as the Old Testament of the Bible.  It has been around in some form for thousands of years.

The tradition in Old Testament times was to forgive debt regularly every 7 years.  This practice had a tremendously beneficial effect on society and its people as it can on you.  Even back in ancient times people knew that everyone in society is better off if individuals don’t carry around debt long-term.  They knew then that debtors were happier, healthier, and better and more productive citizens when their debt was forgiven.

How badly is the burden of all this debt affecting your everyday life now?  Do you feel the fear, the worry, the anguish we all feel when we are over our head in debt and we don’t know how to get out or what to do.  Bankruptcy is a legal, definitive action you can take that can make the debt all go away and put your life back together to give you a fresh start.

 2) Usually your credit score will improve over and above what your credit score would be if you didn’t discharge these debts.  By the time most people file bankruptcy they are so far behind in their credit card payments that bankruptcy will actually help improve their credit score.  Each month that you don’t pay those monthly credit card bills your credit score remains low.  Since most people are unlikely to pay their debts off this results in a permanently low credit score.

If you are in the same position then bankruptcy will certainly help you.  Your credit score will decrease immediately upon the filing of the case but when your bankruptcy is finished your debts will appear as “discharged in bankruptcy”.  Those debts discharged in bankruptcy will then no longer negatively impact your credit score.

You can now begin to rebuild your credit score with new credit.   You need to have credit in your name and use that credit wisely to increase your score.   If you charge things on your new cards and then pay your payments on time and pay the full balance every month you will slowly and steadily build up your score.  Every month that you pay those payments you should get points added to your score.  These points will add up over time.   You will get credit card solicitations after the bankruptcy discharge so use them wisely to increase your credit score.

Any other payments you make on time for financed items will help drive up your credit score.  Some of my clients reaffirm their cars in bankruptcy so they will get the benefit to their score when they make payments.  Others will finance a new car after bankruptcy for the same purpose.

 3) You get freedom– Shakespeare said “never a borrower or lender be” because as a borrower you become a slave to the lender.  If you owe credit card debt then you are a slave to those big banks to whom you owe money.  You pay huge amounts of interests to these big banks every month to service your debt.  These interest payments only serve to enrich very large corporations at your expense.

Filing bankruptcy can serve to free you permanently from both the worry and the financial strain of continual and unrelenting debt and the stress of the collection actions.  Your discharge is your key that unlocks the debt prison doors.

 4) You can keep most of your assets.  Most people can retain most of their assets in a bankruptcy.  That includes your house and your cars.  Many people think they will lose everything.  We have very generous exemptions in California that allow most people to keep everything they own.  If your house and cars don’t have any equity then you can certainly keep them.  If they do have equity then usually we can find a way to exempt them.

Your house is probably secured.  If there is equity in the home then there is a homestead exemption we can use to allow you to keep it.  Your car may be secured and if there is equity in that we can use the car exemption and the “wildcard exemption” together to keep your car (if we don’t have to use the homestead exemption on your house”).

Cars usually have no equity if financed and these days with housing prices low, many houses also have no equity.  Your personal furniture and clothes you can keep under a separate exemption and jewelry and “tools of the trade” also have their own exemptions.  Even your retirement fund, if it’s an IRA or 401k, is protected by federal bankruptcy law up to $1,000,000.

 5) You will get peace back in your life.  When you file bankruptcy your creditors must stop calling you on the phone.  Most of my clients have not answered their phone for some time before they actually consider bankruptcy.  Filing a bankruptcy case will stop all of these collection efforts with the miracle of the “stay” that is created once you file bankruptcy. This stay stops all creditors from contacting you in any way once they get notice from the Bankruptcy Court of the filing.

So remember that as far as you debts go, peace and tranquility are waiting to return to you if you file bankruptcy.

6) No one needs to know.  Many people are afraid of bankruptcy because they think that their landlord or their employer will find out about their bankruptcy and they believe they can be evicted or lose their job.  This is not true and you will still have anonymity if you file.  You don’t have to tell anyone that you filed bankruptcy and probably no one will know unless they do a public record search.  It is unlikely that this will happen though so your secret should remain safe.

Your landlord will probably not be notified especially if you are on a month to month lease.  Your employer need not know unless you already have a wage garnishment that needs to be stopped.  You cannot be fired from your job or thrown out of your apartment or home because you filed bankruptcy if your employer or lenders or landlord do find out.  Discrimination of this sort based upon a bankruptcy filing is illegal.

7)  You have other things to do with your money–   If you are like most people then you need the money you earn from working to pay for your own personal bills and pay for your family and their needs.  You don’t need to give this money to these large banks.  You don’t need to spend this money to enrich large banks for money you borrowed from them a long time ago.

If you earn less than is allowed in the means test then you can probably file bankruptcy and discharge your debts.  You can then use your money for other purposes than paying off old dischargeable debt.

 8) You have already paid the credit card companies back–  If you are like most of my clients then the debts that you owe are probably very old.  You have probably been making payments on these debts for years.  If that is true then you have already reimbursed the creditors for them.  By the time most people file a bankruptcy they have already paid back all of the money they borrowed plus some interest. This is because of the very high interest rates that credit card companies charge.

Remember that the banks borrow money at a very low-interest and then lend it to you at very high interest.  They keep the rest.  It is a most profitable business and the make lots of money doing it.  The banks want to keep you paying them this exorbitant interest indefinitely.  Some of you are paying as much as 30% interest on the money you borrowed.

Don’t make the mistake of feeling that you need to keep paying these companies.  You have already paid them enough so file a bankruptcy, discharge the debts and move on.

 9) Times are very tough and many people need to file more now than ever.  There is a recession on now and you need relief from your debt maybe more now than ever before.  Many people are unemployed and those who are employed don’t know if they may lose their job in the near future.  Even if your job is secure and you expect no pay cut, you still probably need your funds for your ongoing bills.  Why pay for old debts incurred long ago when the money you borrowed back then often went to pay for other bills?

Times are very tough in this recession so explore the possibilities that bankruptcy opens up today.

 10) Personal bankruptcy is your bailout – Corporations file bankruptcies all the time including the credit card companies that you owe money to.  They bail out with bankruptcy so why not you?  In addition many banks have received government bailout money to keep them going.  They then turn around and bug you for money.  That is your money they are receiving from the government but they are not giving you any breaks.

So if big companies can file bankruptcy and get your money sent to them so they can collect more money from you then why don’t you get your bailout?  File bankruptcy.

 11) The creditors absolutely will not stop trying to collect from you until you pay or you are dead or you file bankruptcy.  They only know one thing and that is to collect your debt with all of the interest and penalties that they can add.  They will continue to sell the debt to other collectors and these collection agents have a nationwide network.  They buy, sell, and trade these debts but they keep trying to collect.  They are like the Terminator in that movie.  They are like a machine which won’t stop until you are dead.

If you file bankruptcy then they must stop trying to collect the debt. They will then discard your debt because if they try to collect it after the bankruptcy discharge then they would be in violation of federal bankruptcy laws.

 12) Your situation will probably continue to get worse and worse if you don’t file bankruptcy or pay these creditors.  The collection efforts will increase in intensity and eventually the creditors will file suit.  Many people try to put their heads in the sand and hope the debts will disappear.  This is not the case though as the situation will only get worse.  The debts will grow in size as interest and fees grow.  Eventually some creditors will file suit and serve these on you.

If you do not file at this point then you could get a default judgment against you and they will use this judgment to collect money from you.  They can now lien your house and file a lien against you personally.  Some liens cannot be removed in a chapter 7.

In addition creditors with court judgments can garnish your wages so your income could decline.  They can also get access to your bank accounts and remove money from them legally to satisfy your debt.  You may need that money to pay a bill but it could be gone one day.  They can even call you into court for a debtor’s exam to get you to answer questions about your job, your bank account, and your general financial situation and they can get you in there every 6 months.

Not all of these things will happen to all people but these are the tactics creditors can use against you when they have a court judgment.  As you see here your financial situation will continue to get worse over time when you have debts.  It will not get better on its own and the debts won’t go away.  Therefore don’t delay and preserve your rights by exploring your options with bankruptcy.

(See here for my blog about what the bible has to say about bankruptcy.)

Thank you for reading my “12 Reasons to file bankruptcy article” and if I can be of any further help please call for a free consultation.  I am a San Diego bankruptcy attorney.  Please visit my websites at www.freshstartsandiego.com or www.farquharlaw.com.

Douglas G. Farquhar, Esq.

1901 First Ave. Suite 217H

San Diego, CA. 92101

(619) 702-5015  Call now for free credit report and analysis!

E-mail: farquharesq@yahoo.com

Websites: www.farquharlaw.com or www.freshstartsandiego.com.

For a free e-book: “13 THINGS YOU SHOULD DO TO PREPARE FOR YOUR BANKRUPTCY FILING” please send a request by e-mail to: farquharesq@yahoo.com.