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Consumer bankruptcy: Questions and answers

No matter which Chapter -- 7 or 13 -- you choose in the big book of bankruptcy, some rules read the same.

Will filing for bankruptcy stop collection calls?

Yes, in regard to the debts the filing covers. The trustee handling your case will inform these creditors that a filing has been made and by law they can no longer contact you.

But stopping debt-collection calls isn't a good reason to take the bankruptcy route. In fact, you can stop the calls without filing. Just write a letter to the debt collector and demand it stop contacting you by phone. (See sample letter at www.privacyrights.org/ Letters/debt2.htm.)Just remember that stopping the calls in this manner does not erase the debt and actions can still be taken against you.

Do I have to undergo financial counseling before filing?

Yes, no more than 180 days before filing. The counseling takes about two hours, costs about $80 or less and can be done online.

To find a counseling agency approved by the U.S. Trustee Program, go to www.usdoj.gov. Click on DOJ Agencies and select U.S. Trustee Program from the list. Under Bankruptcy Reform, click on Credit Counseling & Debtor Information. Then click on Approved Credit Counseling Agencies.

Are the filing forms online?

Yes, at www.uscourts.gov. Click on U.S. Bankruptcy Courts and then on Bankruptcy Forms.

Where are filings made?

The California Central District of U.S. Bankruptcy Court has offices in Los Angeles, Riverside, Santa Ana, Santa Barbara and Woodland Hills. For addresses, go to www.cacb.uscourts.gov and click on Locations.

Documents may be filed in person or by mail.

Will a bankruptcy affect my credit standing?

Probably. A filing will stay on your credit record for up to 10 years.

But people who handle finances responsibly after a bankruptcy can usually get credit again after just a few years.

Can I lose my job if I file for bankruptcy?

No, it's against the law to fire someone because of a bankruptcy.

But it could affect future job prospects, because potential employers sometimes check a candidate's credit report.

david.colker@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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