Monday, June 17, 2013

How to stop an automatic withdrawal from your bank account.

Before my clients file a Chapter 7 or 13 Bankruptcy, I often instruct them to stop automatic withdrawals from personal bank accounts for payments to creditors.  Many times my clients are unaware of their rights with respect to such withdrawals and sometimes the banks do not make it easy for them to stop such payments.  The Electronic Funds Transfer Act does provide some assistance and protection for people who wish to stop these automatic withdrawals. 

Under the Act, you have the right to stop an authorized electronic funds transfer up to three days before the transfer is scheduled to take place.  To do this, you must contact your bank to have the transfer to the individual creditor(s) stopped.  While you can do this verbally, I often find that it is better to go to your bank and give them a written notice AND verbally tell them not to make any further electronic transfers to a particular creditor(s).  Keep a copy of that notice.  You may have to repeat this process three days prior to the next scheduled payment (if you choose to remain at that particular bank.)  I also advise my clients to send a written notice to the creditor telling them to stop all electronic funds transfers. 

This is all fine and well and should work, but sometimes it does not.  In the event that the creditor succeeds in having funds transferred to them, you have certain rights against your bank if they allow the funds to be transferred after you have given them orders to stop.

Once you notify the bank that an unauthorized transfer has occurred ( I would do this in person and give them written notice) they must initiate an investigation and advise you within 10 business days of the result of their investigation, and, by day 11, they must credit your account with the amount that was erroneously transferred.  If the bank does not credit your account, you have the right to sue them for the money taken out, plus any fees charged, plus a penalty ranging between $100 to $1,000 (and they also have to pay your lawyer.)  If it is shown that the bank acted in bad faith, they can be found liable for triple the amount of damages.

Knowing your rights will go a long way toward preserving your sanity and your money.  Seek the assistance and guidance of an experienced Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorney.  You have nothing to lose but your debt.           

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Filing a Chapter 7 or 13 Bankruptcy in Arizona Requires Careful Guidance.

Filing a Bankruptcy can be a challenge and to be successful the decision to hire a bankruptcy attorney is a critical step.  Unfortunately, not all attorneys have the experience and knowledge necessary to prepare and file a bankruptcy petition. 

As an experienced Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 attorney for over 20 years I have seen first-hand cases where attorneys attempted to assist debtors with their bankruptcy filing with mixed results.  Within the last 10 days I have consulted with three separate debtors who had received inadequate, and frankly, incorrect, advice when filing their bankruptcy.  While these debtors’ cases may be salvaged with proper help, that is not always the case.  There are many attorneys out there practicing bankruptcy law with little experience.  This fact underscores two critical issues in deciding to file; seeking accurate legal advice in deciding to file a bankruptcy so that you are informed of your rights and consequences of filing, and, making sure that the advice you receive comes from a competent and experienced Bankruptcy Attorney.               

Finding an experienced Bankruptcy Attorney in Arizona can take some time, but the time spent will be an invaluable investment.  Some things to do to assist your search are:

1.    Look for on-line reviews and read available websites set-up by the prospective attorney’s firm.  Some reviews can be very helpful in giving you insight into the manner in which the attorney practices. 

2.    Contact the State Bar of Arizona.  Their web site,, includes such information as whether that particular attorney is authorized to practice law in the state of Arizona, as well as information such as years of practice, areas of practice, whether the attorney has malpractice insurance and whether there are past and or pending bar complaints against the attorney.

3.    When you find two or three prospective attorneys, interview them, don’t just consult them.  Ask questions about their experience, what services they are willing to provide, and how much it will cost you to hire them and complete your case.  If the attorney is unwilling to meet or speak with you, find an attorney who will.  Too many law firms will have you meet with, for lack of a better word, a “salesperson,” for your initial consultation.  You may eventually speak with an attorney on that visit, but no real time or analysis of your case will be given to you.  In my opinion, you are entitled to more than a “meet and greet.”  Don’t settle for less.

Filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a difficult and daunting process to undertake.  The benefits of the “fresh start” that a bankruptcy filing can provide you is worth the time it will take to find an experienced bankruptcy attorney who will help file the right bankruptcy case for you.  It may take a little more time, but most attorneys offer a free initial consultation.  Make sure that consultation is with an attorney and take advantage of such a consultation.  You have nothing to lose but your debt.

This blog article was created by Larry P. Karandreas, Esq., on behalf of the Law Offices of Larry P. Karandreas, P.L.L.C., A Lawyer Who Cares™, which concentrates its practice of law to Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, and in Debt Negotiation. If you live in or near Phoenix, Glendale, Surprise, Peoria or the Scottsdale, Arizona area and want legal advice or help - please visit the firm website for more information at A Bankruptcy Lawyer Who Cares  or call the firm directly at 623.487.1670 to schedule a free telephonic consultation. You really have nothing to lose but your debt.