Personal Bankruptcy – If it’s Unavoidable, File NowWritten by Charles Essmeier
The Bankruptcy Abuse and Consumer Protection Act, signed into law by President Bush last April, promises changes to Federal bankruptcy law that have been long sought by lending industry. The bill promises sweeping changes to Federal law, and will make it much harder for average consumer in financial trouble to have their debts wiped out by filing for bankruptcy. Recent trends suggest that those considering a bankruptcy filing should do so now, as line to do so is already getting rather long.
The bill will make it harder for average consumer to file under Chapter 7 of Federal code, which allows courts to wipe away consumer debt and give debtor a fresh start. Filings after October 15 deadline will be subject to a means test and those that pass a rather generous income gauge will have to file under more strenuous Chapter 13, which requires a repayment plan and assistance of an attorney. Indications are that with deadline looming, bankruptcy filings are not only higher than they were last year, but they are also higher than anticipated. Nationwide, filings are 20-25% higher than last year, and some bankruptcy attorneys say that their business has nearly doubled.
Complicating matters is another law, passed in 2003,
Identity Theft – Monitor Your Credit ReportWritten by Charles Essmeier
The recent security breach at credit card processor CardSystems Solutions has many consumers worried. Thanks to a well-placed computer virus, nearly forty million credit card numbers were stolen, and cardholders nationwide are justifiably concerned about identity theft. Should a thief steal your identity, he or she could run up thousands of dollars worth of debt in your name and it could take years to sort out ensuing financial mess.
Fortunately, a relatively new tool is available to consumers to help alert them to potential fraudulent activity on their credit record. Each of three main credit bureaus offer a subscription-based credit monitoring program, as do numerous banks and financial institutions. Fees vary, but $50 or so per year is typical. The bureaus will notify consumers of activity conducted under their names, including opening of new accounts, changes of address, credit inquiries from lenders, late payments and lawsuits and liens. Notification can come in form of e-mail or even a message to your cell phone, if you like.
Should you be notified