•        Fraud
  •        Gross mismanagement
  •        Incompetence
  •        Dishonesty

Despite having the ability to continue operations, you will lose absolute control over certain decisions. As the U.S. Courts point out, the court must approve of certain business actions, such as employing appraisers, attorneys or accountants for the bankruptcy case. The court must also give you the green light for either breaking a lease or entering into a lease during this time.

Some people and businesses going through bankruptcy may wish to sell assets. However, if you have filed for chapter 11, you will need the court’s approval if you play on selling real estate or other property. Additionally, if you have a secured financing situation that would allow you to borrow against the loan, you would need the court to agree to it.

Lastly, you will have to seek approval if you want to either expand or close your business. Essentially, any major decisions you would make regarding your business or its assets must be presented to the court prior to taking action. Failing to do so could undermine your bankruptcy case.

While this information may be useful, it should not be taken as legal advice.

The American Association of Retired Persons reports that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau received approximately 8,700 complaints from elderly people regarding debt collections.  In roughly half of those cases, the elderly person did not actually owe the debt. However, it is possible that people would pay the amount because they are not aware that the debt isn’t theirs.

According to the National Council on Aging, one of the most common ways someone will try to take advantage of an elderly person is to call him or her following a funeral. The person will claim that the deceased had outstanding debt that must be settled right away, and a grieving friend or relative may be susceptible to footing the fake bill.

The AARP states that there are several tactics that scammers often use when targeting the elderly, including the following:

  • Trying to collect on a debt that has expired
  • Threatening to take veterans’ or Social Security benefits, which is often illegal
  • Intimidating or even harassing the person with offensive language or repeated calls

If you or someone you know may be falling victim to a debt collection scam, it is imperative to get help immediately. For more information on this topic, please visit our page regarding financial issues and the elderly.

A debt collector may be accused of illegal activity if he or she engages in the following:

  •        Using threatening or profane language
  •        Calling someone either before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
  •        Contacting a consumer at work after receiving notification in writing not to do so

The Federal Trade Commission notes that consumers can put a stop to creditor harassment. The first measure is to determine if there is a way to resolve the issue, such as paying off a debt if it is valid or discussing the available options.

Once a consumer determines that the collector should not be calling him or her, there must be a written statement instructing the organization to stop. The FTC recommends making a copy of the letter and sending the original document to the collector by certified mail. Once the company has been alerted to stop contacting someone, they may only continue if they are going to file a lawsuit or to tell a consumer that they will no longer be in touch.

Unfortunately, debt collectors are able to contact friends or family members to try to track down a consumer. However, these calls may only be placed one time in most situations.

Anyone who believes that a collection agency has violated the law is able to sue in either a federal or Illinois court. However, this may not eradicate a debt owed but rather enable a consumer to collect damages. Any issues with a collector can be reported to the Illinois Attorney General or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as well.

During that time, the lender will either reduce the amount of money owed on each payment or even suspend payments altogether. In exchange, you agree to pay an additional amount at the end of that timeframe in order to stay current on the amount owed. For example, if payments are suspended for six months, you are expected to pay off those six months of missed payments when the time period is over. A lender can set its own terms for how you make up the money that is owed.

Forbearance agreements are often beneficial for people who are experiencing a temporary hardship. Someone who has lost his or her job may not have the money to pay the mortgage during the job search but could make up the difference once obtaining employment.

To obtain a forbearance agreement, you should speak with your lender. There are a number of mortgage relief agencies that try to help consumers in your position, though going through your lender first may be the best option.

As the Federal Trade Commission points out, if you are in need of mortgage assistance and choose to work with a relief agency, there are certain rules by which the organization must abide, such as the following:

  •        They must let you know of any consequences to not paying your mortgage.
  •        They may not charge you upfront fees.
  •        They must let you know the cost of their services and that they are not associated with your lender.

While this information may be useful, it should not be taken as legal advice.

As the U.S. Courts point out, you must file a plan of reorganization along with your disclosure statement. When you submit an order of relief, you will have as long as 120 days to develop this plan. However, smaller businesses or companies with lower debt may have 100 days.

That plan should include a classification of all your secured and unsecured debts. For example, some debts may be paid in full, and others may only be partially paid. You must show which debts will be treated in which way. You should also include how those debts will be paid. Some businesses downsize in order to reduce expenses, thereby freeing up assets to make payments.

Creditors have the right to vote on whether or not they accept your reorganization plan unless you are going to pay off all debts in full. For the bankruptcy court to approve the plan, at least one class of the impaired claims – or those that will not be paid in full – must vote in favor of your plan.

There are a number of complexities associated with filing for a Chapter 11. Getting it right is key to ensuring your company has the best chance at a better financial future. For more information on this topic, please visit our page on business bankruptcy.

Having tens of thousands of dollars in debt can be problematic, especially for people who are just launching their careers and earning modest incomes. When trying to make ends meet, some may consider the option of filing for bankruptcy. Debt from student loans can be difficult to discharge, though it is sometimes possible.

Before seeking out bankruptcy, the U.S. Department of Education points out that there may be other ways to improve a financial situation. Certain federal loans may be forgiven or canceled based on individual circumstances. For example, if the school committed fraud or closed, the loans could be discharged.

However, for those who do not meet any of the federal guidelines, there is the undue hardship exception. Generally, bankruptcy will not wipe out or reorganize student loan debt and instead can address other items, such as a mortgage or credit card debt. This would free up money that could then be used to pay off student loans.

The undue hardship exception applies to people who are able to demonstrate that having to pay a student loan would create significant turmoil. Illinois courts use the Brunner test, which means that a debtor must meet all three of the following:

  •        Must have made a good faith effort to pay the loan
  •        Must be unable to maintain the minimum standard of living based on current income and other expenses
  •        Must not have any upcoming change in his or her financial situation

The courts will weigh these factors to determine if student loans could be addressed during a bankruptcy proceeding.

In May 2013, the Illinois Labor Department determined that the owner of Little Village Car Wash was paying employees less than the minimum wage. It also stated that these workers were owed back pay. In total, the owner was found to be responsible for $262,000 in pay and fines. Recently, the owner tried to settle the matter by offering $25,000, but the Illinois Attorney General’s Office rejected it.

In 2015, the owner sold the car wash for $1.5 million and it later reopened under new ownership. Recently, eight workers from the car wash were hoping that a Cook County judge would enforce the Labor Department’s findings. However, the owner filed for personal bankruptcy a day earlier.

As a result, the employees will have to go to bankruptcy court in order to try to collect any wages they are owed. According to the Chicago Tribune, they will be behind other creditors trying to collect money from the car wash’s owner. The man allegedly had property interests in several other local businesses.

This case illustrates the importance both of running a business honestly and how a bankruptcy court may prioritize debts someone owes. Anyone with questions regarding the issue should consult with an attorney.

Discrimination can happen any time and for just about any reason. In Illinois and across the country, it is not uncommon for people to be denied credit based on their race, age, sex or other factors. This is known as credit discrimination. It is harmful not only because it is blatantly offensive and perpetuates illegal activity, but it can also affect someone’s financial wellbeing.

Under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, as the Federal Trade Commission points out, no one can deny you credit based on any of the following:

  •        Sex
  •        Race or national origin
  •        Color
  •        Marital status
  •        Religion
  •        Age

Also importantly, the law protects someone from giving you credit based on whether or not you receive public assistance.

Do not be alarmed if a creditor asks you for any of this information. It is legal for an agency to collect that data in some situations, but, as the FTC states, it cannot make a decision about your credit based on these factors. Instead, it should only take into account factors like your debts, expenses and income.

If you do believe that you have been discriminated against, the FTC encourages you to contact the Illinois Attorney General. The AG can determine whether or not the creditor violated any laws. You can also report the issue to a government agency. The FTC states that the agency that denied you credit is responsible for giving you the contact information for the organization you can contact to with your complaint. When illegal activity does occur, it is possible to sue the creditor and recover certain damages.

While this information may be useful, it should not be taken as legal advice.

In order to obtain credit, someone must have a solid credit history. This is often where women run into issues. The Federal Trade Commission points out that there are two major obstacles for many women trying to obtain credit. The first is that when a woman changes her name when she gets married, she runs the risk of losing her credit history. The second is that even when a couple shares a credit account, some creditors may only report that account in the husband’s name. Women who do not work or have a steady source of income could also face challenges when trying to get credit in their own name.

Fortunately, there are ways for women to resolve the issue. The first step is to contact a credit reporting agency to determine which accounts are on file. It may be necessary to point out shared accounts or note a pre-existing credit history.

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling also offers the following tips for women to establish and grow credit:

  •        Start with either a secured credit card or basic credit card.
  •        Obtain a credit report and score to check for any possible errors.
  •        Ask someone to co-sign if necessary.
  •        Avoid trying to obtain too much credit at once.

The Equal Credit Opportunity Act prohibits creditors from discriminating against people based on factors that include sex. Someone who believes that discrimination has occurred should discuss the issue with the office of the Illinois Attorney General.

The study led to a number of key findings regarding foreclosure prevention, such as the following:

  • Of the group of people who sought help from a counselor, 56 percent were able to satisfy loan requirements.
  • Of that same group, 69 percent found a solution for their mortgage situation.
  • Roughly 70 percent of people who used counseling before they became delinquent on payments were, 18 months later, living in their homes and current on payments.

That last point is especially important because by contrast, only 30 percent of people who waited until they were six months or more behind had the same results. The study illustrates the importance of taking immediate action when the threat of foreclosure first arises.

In addition to counseling, there are several other options for people trying to make mortgage payments. As the Federal Trade Commission suggests, contacting the lender to try to negotiate a plan could be beneficial. Someone may be able to secure an extension on when the funds are due or change the interest rate. The FTC also states that a reinstatement, forbearance or another program may be suitable, depending on the homeowner’s situation.

Whatever the situation may be, it is important for people who are experiencing financial struggles to consult with a professional before matters become serious.