Illinois bankruptcy attorneyFalling behind in your loan or even being late on a few payments on your mortgage could put you at serious risk for foreclosure. Unfortunately, this is a common problem for many people, and there are scam artists out there looking to take advantage of your situation. While there may be alternatives to bankruptcy in terms of saving your home, it is important to be aware of the following mortgage schemes.

Mortgage Modification Scams Victimize Homeowners

Honest, hardworking people who are vulnerable due to outstanding debts are a frequent target for scam artists looking to make a quick profit. According to Consumerist, those who prey on people facing foreclosure are among the worst offenders.

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Illinois tax attorneyMany of us have been plagued by pesky calls where an individual or a pre-recorded message warns that you owe money to the IRS. Claiming to be collection agents, these ‘representatives’ warn that you could be subject to legal actions, including arrest unless you wire them a significant amount of money immediately. These calls are a scam and if you are up to date on your returns, they may be no more than a nuisance. If you are actually behind in filing taxes or are dealing with other types of IRS issues, they are likely to cause genuine worry and concern. As this has become an increasing problem in our area as well as in other states, the IRS recently provided a list of ways taxpayers can tell the difference between a scam and a real call.

How to Spot IRS Collection Scams

Since late August of 2017, Illinois has been plagued by an increasing number of fraudulent credit collection calls. According to the Illinois News Network, these calls are often made by individuals posing as Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents, demanding immediate payment for back taxes and threatening legal actions.

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Illinois bankruptcyattorneyIt is natural to feel somewhat anxious at the thought of going through a bankruptcy, particularly if you are not sure what to expect. You may have heard about a ‘meeting of creditors’, which sounds intimidating. The fact is that this is a routine matter, and far less dramatic than it sounds. The following outlines what you can realistically expect during this meeting, and the questions your attorney will review with you to ensure you are prepared.

341 Meeting or Meeting of Creditors

Once you have opted to go through the process of bankruptcy as a way of dealing with your financial situation, we will collect the necessary documents and information regarding your possessions and the types of debts that you owe. After your bankruptcy petition is completed, it will be filed with the local court. Prior to having it approved and finalized, you will be required to attend a meeting with your creditors before the local trustee, otherwise known as a 341 meeting. This name comes from the section within the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in which laws requiring the procedure can be found.

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Illinois bankruptcy attorneyEither through a home or office based business or contracting out services, small, privately owned companies can present lucrative opportunities. At the same time, they can also require a heavy investment of both time and money. If sales goals are not reached, you could find yourself being harassed by creditors while struggling to pay your company’s debt. In this situation, small business bankruptcy is an option you may want to consider. While there are immediate impacts on your credit rating, these can be overcome. In the long run, bankruptcy can provide you with the fresh start you need to make your business a success.

Bankruptcy for Small Businesses

According to reports from the Small Business Administration (SBA), roughly 30 percent of all new businesses in the United States fail within the first two years, while only half end up making it to the five-year point. This is likely due to a combination of factors, such as high setup costs, unreached sales goals, and problems with advertising and targeting potential clientele. The good news is that if you can get past initial hurdles during these years, the greater the odds that your business will eventually be a success.

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Posted on in Debt Relief

Illinois debt reliefIf you are struggling with debts you unable to pay, there may seem to be little alternative other than to deal with the harassing phone calls from debt collection agencies while waiting for legal actions to be filed. Bankruptcy can provide much-needed relief in these situations, but there are some alternatives to bankruptcy you may want to consider first. Whichever path you choose to take, make sure you are dealing with an experienced and reputable debt relief attorney. Unfortunately, there are plenty of scam artists out there who know the vulnerable position you are in and are looking to take advantage of it for their own gains.

Debt Repayment and Settlement Plans

There are several options you can explore before choosing to file for bankruptcy, depending on the types of debts you owe:

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Posted on in Debt Relief

Illinois bnkruptcy attorneyThe ability to pass an employee background is an increasingly common requirement in today’s highly competitive job market. As a further method of screening candidates, companies may even request permission to run a credit report. If you are having trouble paying your bills or are considering filing for bankruptcy, you are likely what impact this could have on you. Illinois laws are clear on when an employer can request consumer credit information, as well as how they may use it in making hiring decisions.

Use of Credit Information in Hiring Decisions

The use of credit reports in employment-related matters is a controversial practice, and many states are exploring ways to limit and restrict the effect they have on hiring practices. The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) reports that 17 states have legislation pending regarding the use of credit information in hiring decisions while 11, including Illinois, currently limit its use.

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Illinois bankruptcy attorneyIn the midst of financial difficulties, it can be hard enough just to meet your daily costs and expenses. Paying for your rent or mortgage, providing food for your family, and paying utility expenses may take up the majority of your income, causing you to fall behind in your other debts. Unfortunately, banks and credit card companies may resort to wage garnishment and liens on your accounts as a way of recouping their money. Bankruptcy can offer protection from creditors in these situations, protecting your income while helping you get back on your feet.

When Wage Garnishment Is Used

When you owe outstanding amounts on a credit card, loan, or other debt, and other avenues for obtaining payment have been exhausted, the company you owe money to has the option of taking you to court. They can request a judgment ordering payments be deducted from your paycheck until the past due amount is paid in fall.

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Illinois bankruptcy attorneyNext to a home mortgage, student loans are among the largest debts that most people owe. While government regulations had made it easy over the past several decades to obtain financing for educational purposes, you can find yourself paying tens of thousands of dollars for a degree you never got or rarely use. While student loan debt is typically excluded from bankruptcy proceedings, there are certain limited situations in which your debt may be discharged and eliminated.

Student Loan Debts

A March 2017 Time/Money report states that the easy availability of student loan aid has made it easy to go back to school in order to further your career goals. Unfortunately, a sluggish job market and a lack of well-paying positions mean much of this debt ends up going unpaid.

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Illinois tax lawyerAs an independent contractor or small business owner, staying on top of your tax obligations should be a top priority. This can be challenging when you do receive a W2 form and have to rely on your own understanding of local, state, and federal tax rules and requirements. To avoid IRS tax issues such as audits or having to pay back taxes and penalties, the following are five common mistakes you need to be aware of:

1. Not reporting all income. According to an April 2017 USA Today report on small business taxes, the IRS is well aware of how easy it is not to report income. If your business is cash heavy, you may face an increased likelihood of an audit. Likewise, if you get payments from any source totaling $600 or more, be aware that it will be reported to the government. To avoid penalties, make sure to include these amounts as income.

2. Going overboard with deductions. In order to reduce your tax liability, there are a generous amount of business expenses you are entitled to deduct. At the same time, claiming excessive amounts could put you on the Internal Revenue Service’s radar. Make sure you are familiar with the IRS rules for business deductions and keep separate accounts to avoid mixing personal expenditures with those of your business.

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Illinois debt relief lawyerWhen you are behind in making payments on a loan or to a credit card company, you can expect to get calls from debt collection agencies. These agencies are required to follow state and federal laws prohibiting creditor harassment, but they will still employ high-pressure tactics in an effort to get you to pay off the debt. While going along with their demands may seem like the only way to prevent them from calling, there are certain circumstances under which paying off your debts may not be in your best interests.

Funds to Avoid Using as a Means for Paying Off Debts

In order to ‘help’ you get caught up on debts, credit collection agents may pressure you to use money from your savings, borrow from relatives, or take out a loan. When dealing with these companies, it is important to realize they make money on every account they settle, giving them a hidden financial motive in terms of any suggestions they make.

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Illinois bankruptcy attorneyPeople struggling to pay their debts often have the misperception that bankruptcy represents a failure in managing their income or personal finances. The fact is, nothing could be further from the truth. Laws enabling consumers to file for bankruptcy were created to provide honest, hard working people a fresh start. Rather than being something negative that jeopardizes your future ability to get credit or obtain a loan, when filed at the right time and under the right circumstances, it provides a way of stabilizing an otherwise bad situation, ensuring your financial future is more secure.

Knowing When to File for Bankruptcy

Under Title 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, there are two types of bankruptcy you may want to consider if you are struggling with personal debt.

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Illinois bankruptcy attorneyWhen filing for bankruptcy in Illinois, you are required to complete online credit counseling before your petition can be filed with the bankruptcy court. This is a mandatory part of the bankruptcy process, and you will be issued a completion certificate that must be included among your other bankruptcy documents being filed. The following provides some basic information about obtaining this counseling, answering some of the common concerns that clients often have.

About Pre-Bankruptcy Credit Counseling

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) advises consumers that in order to take advantage of the protections offered through bankruptcy, they must complete a credit counseling course within 180 days prior to filing. It is used to help determine whether you are a good candidate for bankruptcy, or whether your debt issues could be resolved through some other means.

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Illinois tax lawyer, Illinois bankruptcy lawyerTelephone scams are an increasingly common problem in Illinois. Scammers employ persuasive tactics and advanced techniques that can ensnare even the savviest consumers, and if you are dealing with debts and IRS issues, you are even more likely to be susceptible. The following highlights three types of the latest scams currently wreaking havoc, and how you can avoid being a victim.

1. Credit Collection Scams

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau warns against scammers posing as debt collection companies, who may attempt to solicit payments or personal information from you for the purpose of accessing your accounts or stealing your identity. These fraudsters may disguise the number that appears on your caller I.D. in an attempt to fool you into believing they are legitimate. Warning signs that these calls are a scam include:

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debt collection agencies, Tinley Park bankruptcy attorney, creditor harassment, credit collection protection, debt solutionsThere are few things worse than dealing with constant harassment from debt collection agencies. In their quest to secure payment for companies who hire them, they will often resort to unsavory or even illegal practices, such as calling you at all hours or making threats. When dealing with these companies, it is important to be aware of your rights. As these calls will generally only increase in frequency, you also need to know the steps you can take to address the situation.

Harassment from Creditors

When you fall behind and fail to make payments on loans and credit cards, creditors do have the right to contact you in order to collect on the debt. They often contract out with debt collection agencies, who earn a percentage on any outstanding balances that are paid.

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IRS issues, Tinley Park tax lawyers, debt collection, delinquent tax debts, tax lienIf you owe money as the result of IRS issues such as failing to pay your taxes, having past tax debts, or having years of un-filed tax returns, it is vitally important to pay close attention to any notices you receive. The IRS will generally warn you before taking collection actions, providing you the opportunity to address the situation, either by paying your debt or making payment arrangements, and to dispute the amount owed.

IRS Debt Collection Actions

The IRS is required by law to provide written notice of any collection actions they intend to take, and to allow you time to settle the debt. Failing to respond to these notices, which are an important part of the IRS collection process, could result in the following actions.

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Tinley Park bankruptcy attorneys, credit rating, filing for bankruptcy, bankruptcy and your credit, discharging debtsIf you are struggling with an excessive amount of debt and considering filing a personal bankruptcy, one of your biggest concerns is likely to be the potential impact on your credit rating. While you may have heard stories about how bankruptcy ruins your credit rating and remains as a bad mark on your credit report for 10 years, the truth about the actual impact of bankruptcy on your credit may surprise you.

Bankruptcy and Your Credit

As bankruptcy involves discharging debts and offering creditors less than the actual amount owed, this obviously does not earn you good marks in terms of your credit rating. At the same time, dealing with the issue head on is preferable to struggling with missed or late payments and creditor collection calls over the course of several years.

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Cook County bankruptcy attorneys, protect personal property, file for bankruptcy, Illinois bankruptcy, Illinois bankruptcy exemptionsWhen filing for bankruptcy in Illinois, there are certain types and amounts of property or assets that can be protected against creditor claims. Homes, household goods, personal belongings, and financials accounts may all fall under state and federal exemption limits, allowing you to retain possession of these items in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation, and impacting repayment calculations in a Chapter 13 reorganization.

How Exemptions Apply to Bankruptcy in Illinois

Exemptions protect personal property and assets you own, so that they are not subject to creditor claims during bankruptcy proceedings. Rather than applying the rules on bankruptcy exemptions listed under Chapter 5 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, Illinois enacted legislation to ‘opt out’ of this system, instead relying on its own state laws in these matters. The type and amount of exemptions you are entitled to claim depends on the type of bankruptcy you file:

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Chapter 13 bankruptcy, financial stability, Cook County bankruptcy attorney, file for bankruptcy, avoid foreclosureFiling for bankruptcy is never an easy decision to make. Still, bankruptcy is often an effective way to enter a debt-free life. Chapter 13 bankruptcy, in particular, can offer a clear and direct path that encourages responsible financial decisions.

Deciding to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a significant decision—one that could have an effect on you and your family for several years down the road. Therefore, this decision should not be made without skilled financial and legal guidance.

Before filing any type of bankruptcy, it is important to learn as much as possible about the process.

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Cook County tax law attorney, small tax errors, IRS issues, business tax mistakes, reporting taxesAs a business owner, you have your hands full from the get-go. Regardless of how much help you have behind the scenes, ensuring things run smoothly and efficiently is an ongoing challenge. From recruiting and hiring employees to payroll and marketing efforts, you are responsible for the overall operation and success of your business, and this includes managing the finances and properly reporting taxes to the IRS.

Tax Mistakes That Can Hurt

When it is time to report your company’s earnings and expenses to the IRS, it is crucial to make sure you have all financial affairs in order, otherwise you run the risk of landing yourself—and your entire company—in hot water with the IRS. Consider the following examples of small tax errors that can mean big consequences for your business.

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IRS issues, Cook County IRS issues lawyer, record-keeping, tax records, small business taxesWhether your business is large or small, properly managing your company’s money is crucial when it comes to making and maintaining a profit. Solid financial record-keeping is a must in order to ensure a successful operation, and it is often the factor that helps business owners avoid IRS issues when tax season rolls around. All it takes is a few minor missteps—or one major one —for your business to end up with hefty fines and other damaging penalties due to poor tax practices.

The Power of Accurate Record-keeping

In general, good record-keeping is a valuable tool for sole proprietors, partners, and corporations alike. It allows you to do a number of things for your business, including monitoring overall progress, keeping track of deductible expenses, identifying income sources, and much more.

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