Consumers Should Beware of Abuse by Bankruptcy “Petition Preparers”
You don’t have to hire an attorney to file for bankruptcy. In fact, when you consult with an attorney, that person is required by law to tell you that you don’t have to hire an attorney to file for bankruptcy. There are other options, many of which may not be as reliable. One of those options is to hire a “petition preparer” who oversees the paperwork that you will file yourself.
However, an attempt to save a little in the short term may end up costing you much, much more in the long term.
There has been an increase in the number of complaints filed against non-lawyers – “petition preparers” – preparing bankruptcy filings for a fee, according to a report released by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts this month.
Petition preparers are not lawyers, and they are not allowed to advise clients on bankruptcy law. They are also restricted in how much they can charge for their services.
The report, however, found that complaints included violations such as the unauthorized practice of law and excessive preparation fees.
Some cases even involved petition preparers who had been barred from filing petitions charging a fee to prepare the paperwork and then asking the client to sign the petition instead – as if a preparer was never used. Such practices could put the client at risk of serious financial and legal repercussions.
There were 2,529 formal complaints between 2005 and 2011, according to the report, and the court granted relief in 98.5 percent of those cases.
Getting Trusted Legal Advice for North Carolina Bankruptcy
The abuse uncovered by this report should serve as a cautionary tale for consumers.
”We have seen an increase in abuse,” said U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Maureen Tighe in the Central District of California. “The increase in ‘foreclosure rescue’ and ‘loan modification’ services seems to be the source in the past three years. The homeowners are desperate and take advice from the most questionable sources. There is a wide range of [bankruptcy petition preparers], from those who are well-meaning but still are giving legal advice, to out-and-out fraud perpetrators — and the down-and-out consumer debtor doesn’t know the difference most of the time.”
An experienced North Carolina bankruptcy lawyer can review your personal circumstances and may be able to offer you tailored advice about a course of action that may offer you the debt relief that you need. A lawyer can advise you on the aspects of the law that apply to your case and help you avoid making costly mistakes.
Consider this: If you needed to replace your roof, you would hire a professional to do it. Sure, you can learn how to repair your own roof and save some money. But if you don’t have experience in home construction or roof work you are likely to end up with a roof full of holes and leaks. Fixing that may cost you more than if you had hired a professional in the first place.
Get it right the first time. A qualified North Carolina bankruptcy lawyer may be able to prepare your case to help you to avoid making costly legal mistakes.
A North Carolina Board Certified Specialist in Consumer and Business Bankruptcy Law at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin may be able to help you! Call 1-866-900-7078 for a free evaluation of your case. You may be able to get the fresh start that you need!