Bankruptcy Versus Bad Debt Judgments

October 29, 2010

Bankruptcy attorneys know that owing a debt that you cannot repay causes the debtor many headaches.  First, there are the collection calls and letters.  These collection actions are meant to harass you into paying something on the debt.  Since the creditor only has a certain number of years to collect before the statute of limitations runs, after a few years the creditor will file a lawsuit against you.  After the creditor obtains a judgment, the statute of limitations clock is reset and the creditor has more time to collect by garnishing wages, or seizing bank accounts or property.  In some cases, the creditor may have twenty years or more to collect on a debt!  During this time fees and interest can increase the balance of the debt many times over.

 

An unpaid debt has serious consequences to your credit report.  Any debt that is more than 90 days delinquent indicates that the individual is experiencing serious financial problems.  A debt stays on your credit report for seven years after the date of the last payment.  Even after the debt drops off your credit report, if the creditor sues you the judgment will be reported for an additional seven years.

 

One of the chief benefits of a bankruptcy discharge is it provides a final resolution of your unpaid financial obligations.  The bankruptcy discharge is a permanent injunction ordered by the bankruptcy court against your creditors forbidding any collection action against you, forever.  The discharge order is extremely powerful and the penalties for a creditor who violates this federal court order can be severe.

 

A report of your bankruptcy case will stay on your consumer credit report for ten years after the date you file bankruptcy (not from the date of your bankruptcy discharge as many believe).  While on the surface a bankruptcy stays on your credit report longer than a bad debt (ten versus seven years), the truth is that a bad debt can linger and significantly harm your credit score for much longer than ten years.  After a bankruptcy your debts are reported as “discharged in bankruptcy” with a balance of “zero.”

 

If you are struggling with debts you cannot afford to pay, consider filing bankruptcy sooner rather than later.  The sooner you discharge your debts, the sooner you can begin your financial recovery.  Delay in filing usually results in further harassment, lawsuits, and difficulties.  Contact an experienced attorney today and discuss your legal options for discharging your debts.

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