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If you are considering chapter 13 bankruptcy in Fresno, this means more likely than not you are facing numerous contacts from creditors.  This is usually done by a direct phone call or through a letter.  Understand they have one job:  get money from you. They are good at their jobs. They do this every day.  No matter how smart or clever or sophisticated you may think you are, consider this:  you are doing this for the first time, and they have done this 20 times today.  Who do you think is better at this process?  It is not you.  This does not mean you are doomed.  It just means you need to realize your situation, get lawyer assistance and take the appropriate steps to deal with the situation.  So take a look at this list, and figure out what the creditors are saying, what they really mean, and what is going to happen to you.

“YOU ARE A BAD PERSON” or some other variation of a moral failing. This is an appeal to the fairness side of your character.  No one wants to be unfair or a bad person. They want you to be out of some moral justification in the grand scheme of things. It does not matter. They loaned money, and you agreed to repay with interest.  It is a contract.  The only moral thing about a contract is that you were not committing fraud when you entered into the contract.  Beyond that, there is not morality to the situation.  If they want their money, and you do not pay, they can sue.  Your moral obligation is to you and your family.

“PAY OR YOU WILL BE SUED”  The funny thing about attorneys, we do not threaten to sue people.  Strange as it sounds, we do not run around using this line or threatening people with lawsuits.  Good attorneys prefer to work things out before court.  Eventually you might be sued, but it will not be from the person threatening the lawsuit.  Most people will do anything to avoid court, and this is an attempt to pay on that fear.  It is a lie.  Feel free to respond:  go ahead, make my day (in your best Dirty Harry voice.)

THE SHERIFF IS ON THEIR WAY TO SERVE YOU”  This is a common variation on the pay or you will be sued, saying how the lawsuit is already on its way.  This fails the laugh test for several reasons.  First, if the lawsuit has been filed, and given to the sheriff, good luck getting it back. You have to file paperwork to dismiss the lawsuit.  If they have already gone through the expense to file and serve the lawsuit, any money you give will not stop the suit. Second, the grunt actually calling you is not in contact with a lawyer (as we are an expensive bunch) so the grunt will not have this personal knowledge. Finally, and my favorite, no one knows when the sheriff is going to serve a lawsuit.  Or can force the sheriff to do anything for that matter.  Sheriffs do serve paperwork.  They do it on their own schedule.  Do you really think ABC collection company has enough sway to get the sheriff to do their bidding?  They don’t.  No one does.  This is a lie, and just say:  I’m waiting with donuts and coffee for them to arrive.

“PAY OR YOU ARE GOING TO JAIL”  Unless it is domestic support obligations, or a court fine or some other restitution ordered by the court, this cannot happen. Contact Law Offices of Stephen Labiak for Bankruptcy. They will help you in this situation. You can owe a billion dollars to a credit card company, and you are not going to jail. You can get sent to jail for failing to follow a judge’s order, but not because a debt collector orders it.  Just respond that you are packed and ready to go.

“GIVE US ACCESS TO YOUR ACCOUNT AND WE WILL ONLY TAKE $50 AND THAT WILL BE IT”  Never give anyone access to your account information. Once they have it, they will take as much as they can.  But you say they promised.  Now for you to get your money back, you have to sue them.  Any payments you make, do by a certified check, or buy a disposable credit card.  Never give out your account information.

There are others, but these are the main themes. If you notice, there is a common thread:  the attempt to make the situation emotional. When things get emotional, people do stupid things.  This is the goal of the debt collector. To make you emotional, whether it be scared, angry, enraged, pitiful, beaten down, sorry, whatever the emotion it takes to get you to pay.  I use humor to defuse these situations, and encourage it to be used as it tends to work.

So remember what the debt collectors are trying to do, and be ready for their actions to avoid being taken advantage of.