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April 2013 Archives

NACBA Bankruptcy Conference 2013

Stephen and I are heading to the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorney's annual conference tomorrow. We hope to come back full a new ideas to help our clients with student loan debt and taxes.  Heather will be manning the fort while we are gone.

More foreclosure scams

With the large number foreclosures here in Texas and nationwide, people are becoming desperate to save their homes. As a bankruptcy attorney, I hear stories monthly of individuals and families who paid money to companies (most of them out of state) who were foreclosure scams. Hundreds and thousands of dollars. The Federal Trade Commission discusses how to protect yourself against foreclosure scams. (See http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre42.shtm.) Here are some examples of stories I have heard in the past months from Central Texas families: --I hired a company which promised a modification as long as I paid them $700.00 a month. They drafted their $700.00 directly out of my bank account and told me not to make a mortgage payment. When I told them I received a letter that I was set for foreclosure, they told me not to worry because they were getting a modification. Two days before the foreclosure date, they told me that I would not get a modification and I would lose my home to foreclosure, so maybe I should contact an attorney about filing for bankruptcy to save my home. --I hired an attorney recommended from my mortgage company's website to help me modify my home loan. I thought this attorney who help me because my mortgage company appeared to recommend them. They charged me almost $3,000.00 up front and additional monthly payments that were drafted out of my bank account. Now my home is set for foreclosure and my modification has been denied. However, the attorney is still drafting money even though his office told me that I will not receive a modification and I will be losing my home. --I hired an out of state company to stop my foreclosure for a few thousands of dollars. I was reassured that my home was safe and not to worry about the foreclosure date. After the foreclosure date passed, I received an eviction notice in the mail. I called the company and they told me not to worry because my attorney was stopping the eviction. Then the sheriff came out and told me that my home had been foreclosed on and I had to move immediately as he put my stuff out on the street. After much heartache, I learned that the company had referred my case to an attorney who never accepted it and now my home is gone and I can't get my home or my money back. Here are the facts. No one can guarantee that they can save your home forever. No one can guarantee a modification. You need to investigate any one you hire to help you save your home even me. I had a client recently ask me to prove I was legitimate since there are so many foreclosure scams out there. I was proud of her for asking. I am an attorney licensed in the state of Texas. Anyone can look up my license at the state bar's website and use the Find a Lawyer feature (see http://www.texasbar.com/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Do_You_Need_a_Lawyer_) to see if my license is in good standing and if any sanctions have been taken against me. I assure you that I am a lawyer in good standing and I have never been sanctioned. I make it very clear to potential clients that I can never guarantee a modification. Modifications are voluntarily programs and difficult to achieve. While I have managed to help some clients obtain home modifications, I am very clear with clients that I cannot always modify a home loan. There are some clients who are not good candidates for home modifications or bankruptcy and sometimes I have to make the extremely difficult decision to advice the potential client to let the home go just like I did this past week. While I truly hate to see someone lose their home, I would rather be honest with them up front than take their home when I don't think I can help. I can use bankruptcy to stop a foreclosure sale that is set and then work with you to see what repayment plans might be available in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy if modification is not an option for you. I can try to help you modify your home loan. I received a modification paperwork for a client last week, but I do not always manage to modify home loans. I am very open with clients about what their options are and where we go from here. I work with clients to make a roadmap to try to save the home and get them back on track. And, truthfully, that is all anyone can promise you. Just to work with you and do their best to get you back on track. Please be careful if you are talking to someone who guarantees they can save your home. If you are set for foreclosure, time is of the essence. Call 254-633-2876 or email me at info@thekehllawfirm.com today for a free, no-obligation consultation. Let my family help yours!

How to Deal With Identity Theft

This is an update to an earlier blog.  Many of my clients have been the victims of some form of identity theft. Unfortunately, identity theft is on the rise and it is extremely hard to recover from being a victim of it. The consequences of being a victim of identity theft can linger for years after the actual theft. Signs you might be the victim of identity theft:
  • Actual theft;
  • Unauthorized withdrawals and checks from your bank accounts;
  • Bills collectors calling you for overdue debt you never incurred;
  • Inaccuracies on your credit report;
  • Medical insurance company denying claims for benefits because you have met your benefits for the year;
  • You fail to receive your regular bills in the mail each month;
  • Your social security benefits summary shows income from jobs you never had;
  • Mail about an apartment you never rented, a house you never bought, or a job you never held;
  • You attempt to get a mortgage or car loan and learn about problems in your credit report.
Anyone can be the victim of identity theft. If you are a victim or suspect you are a victim, you need to act quickly to help protect yourself. Steps to take as soon as you suspect you might be the victim of identity theft:
  • Place a fraud alert on your credit reports and review your credit reports
 A fraud alert will help stop new credit from being opened in your name. Contact each of the three credit agencies below to place a fraud alert and request a free copy of your credit report. An initial fraud alert is only good for 90 days, so you want to mark your calendar to call back before 90 days expire to extend the fraud alert for 7 years.TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com; P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013 
  • Close the accounts you know, or believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
 Call and speak with someone in the fraud department for each company (banks, credit cards, etc.) . You will want to follow up your phone call with a letter to the company. You want to make sure to keep a copy of all letters you send and send them by certified mail, return receipt for your protection. If the company has a fraud dispute form, you want to use their form to dispute any fraudulent charges. You want to make sure you remember everyone. If your checks were stolen, call your bank. If your driver's license was stolen, contact the Department of Motor Vehicles. If your social security card was stolen, call the Social Security Administration. Call all credit card companies and report the cards as stolen.
  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
 You can visit the Federal Trade Commission's website, www.ftc.gov, and fill out a FTC ID Theft Complaint. You can print this form and take it with you when you report the theft to local police in the next step. You can also contact the FTC's Identity Theft Hotline at 1-877-ID-THEFT.
  • File a report with your local police.
Make sure to file a written report in person if possible. Bring a printed copy of the FTC ID Theft form form the previous step. Keep a copy of your police report for your records.Identity theft is a crime that hurts everyone and is difficult to stop. If you would like more information about identity theft, I encourage you to visit the Federal Trade Commission's website.If you are drowning in debt, please call the Kehl Law Firm, PC at 254-633-2876 to make a free, no-obligation consultation to learn what your options are. Let my family help yous. 
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