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2 months 1 week ago

After bankruptcy, get a credit card. Get a couple. Getting back to good credit is one of the five ways bankruptcy gives you a new start. The bankruptcy itself helps quite a bit, because the old debts stop chasing you. But to really improve your credit score you have to get and use two or […]
The post After Bankruptcy, get a credit card by Robert Weed appeared first on Robert Weed.


2 months 5 days ago

Does Bankruptcy Write Off Criminal Fines or Restitution? Bankruptcy does not write off criminal fines or restitution. The “automatic stay,” which stops almost all other collection actions, does not stop any criminal court proceedings.
There is a big division in the law is between criminal and civil matters. Criminal law is just one relatively small side of the law. The civil side includes everything else. It includes the law of contracts for buying consumer goods and for creating debts, the law of marriage and divorce, rules about labor and employment, the rights and obligations related to vehicle accidents and all other personal injuries and property damage, as just a few examples.
Criminal charges against you sometimes spill over into the civil side. You may find yourself dealing with fallout from your alleged criminal actions that go beyond the criminal court. This is where bankruptcy may be able to give you some serious help.
Specifically, once a criminal case is resolved you could face a lawsuit by the alleged victim in civil court. This can happen even if you succeed in having the criminal charges dropped.
The Example
Let’s say you had a fight with your now-ex-spouse not long before your divorce. Unfortunately, it got physical. A few days later a mysterious fire destroyed your ex-spouse’s vehicle and garage and damaged her house. You know nothing about the fire and believe your ex-spouse is trying to frame you. Criminal charges are brought against you for assault and battery, and arson. You go through an exhausting criminal trial, with the help of a good criminal defense lawyer.  You are found not guilty of any of the criminal charges, because you in fact had nothing to do with the fire, and the jury found you to be much more credible than your ex-spouse.
But that’s not good enough for your all-the-more enraged ex-spouse. He or she sues you for civil assault and battery from the fight, for severe emotional distress from the fire, and for $200,000 property damage for the vehicle and to the real estate. You are at risk of owing a tremendous amount of money.
Your lawyer tells you that winning in criminal court does not at all mean you will win in civil court. There is a lower standard of proof on the civil side. Proving your fault by “a preponderance of the evidence” is much easier than “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Basically, whichever side has a more convincing story wins. Your criminal jury found reasonable doubt on all the charges. But your lawyer advises you that there is still a serious chance you could lose in civil court.
Besides that, paying for your criminal defense has more than tapped you out. In fact you’re in serious debt trouble overall, from the combination of the divorce and the criminal battle. So you are thinking about filing bankruptcy because of all the financial pressures. You wonder if it can help with this lawsuit by your ex-spouse as well.
The Major Ways Bankruptcy Can Help

  1. Automatic stay

If you filed a bankruptcy case, that would at least stop the civil court litigation temporarily. Your ex-spouse would have to get permission from the bankruptcy judge to continue with the civil lawsuit. He or she would likely have to hire a new bankruptcy attorney to do so. This would be an extra expense. It would put a pause in the litigation. His or her bankruptcy lawyer may help your ex-spouse see that lawsuit is a waste of time and money. These might be enough to have him or her decide to stop spending money on this.

  1. Proof of your actual finances

Part of your ex-spouse’s motivation may be some expectation that you have hidden assets with which to pay damages. Assuming you really don’t, your bankruptcy documents should make that case for you quite persuasively. That paperwork, filed under oath in your bankruptcy case, will paint a thorough and honest picture of your finances. It will convincingly show that you have little worth chasing. This reality should catch the attention of his or her lawyer. The lawyer’s self-interest will make him or her concerned about investing too much in chasing you. Even if your ex-spouse is very angry, he or she may be convinced that continuing to fight is not worthwhile.

  1. More difficult elements to prove

When you file your bankruptcy case, you immediately make it harder for your ex-spouse to win against you. He or she doesn’t just need to show that under the law you’ve caused damage to her person or property. In other words, your ex-spouse doesn’t just need to win the state court lawsuit. In addition now he or she must also show that this debt you owe fits within some limited categories of debts that are not discharged (written off) in bankruptcy.
Your actions must be determined to have been “willful and malicious” Otherwise the ex-spouse’s claim against you would be discharged (legally written off forever). That generally means that your actions must be found to have been intentional and been done without any just cause or excuse. This makes it harder for your ex-spouse to make you pay anything. His or her lawyer will be obligation to advise him or her about this.
Conclusion
Once your ex-spouse and his or her lawyer are forced to pause in the litigation, see the truth of your finances, and realize that your bankruptcy has created an additional major hurdle to getting anything out of you, they may well decide that the lawsuit against you will not succeed. And even if they keep pressing ahead, your bankruptcy will make it harder to prevail against you.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Your Portland Bankruptcy Attorney
When it comes time to file for bankruptcy, you need a compassionate and skilled attorney who will be able to guide you through the process as cleanly as possible. Northwest Debt Relief Law Firm, we can help you with filing for Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Portland, Oregon.  We will be there every step of the way to help navigate you through the often-complex and difficult bankruptcy process.
Give us a call at (503) 912-8809 to schedule a free consultation with one of our bankruptcy attorneys. If you have any other questions about bankruptcy, one of our attorneys will be more than happy to offer advice on your particular situation.

The post Does Bankruptcy Write Off Criminal Fines or Restitution? appeared first on Portland Bankruptcy Attorney | Northwest Debt Relief.


2 months 1 week ago

By Barry Ritholtz

On this day May 4, 2011, Uber NYC launched. It filled an enormous, artificial void that was created by the Taxi and Limousine Commission at the behest of the Yellow Cab medallion owners.

In New York, Uber has been thrust back into the news after several Yellow Cab driver suicides (read this or listen to this) and indebtedness and families of survivors are blaming the stress of competing with smartphone ride-hailing services. The New York City Council is looking to limit or perhaps even reverse the expansion of app-based rides.

This is a terrible idea.

This is because it was market forces -- plain, pure and simple -- that created the demand for ride services like Uber, Lyft and others. 1 Indeed, these companies might not have achieved the wild success they found in New York but for the combination of the TLC’s aggressive incompetence and the medallion owners’ unbridled greed. Since the 1970s, these two groups have made taxi service in New York abysmal while enriching themselves. They did this by keeping the number of taxi medallions at an artificially low number and ignoring demand, much to the eternal dismay of anyone trying to hail a cab.

A little history: The TLC was created in 1971 to “wrest control of taxi industry regulation away from the [New York City] Police Department,” according to Biju Mathew, 2  author of "Taxi!: Cabs and Capitalism in New York City." This change took curbside ride-hailing from bad to worse and the TLC began a rich epoch of corruption and failure, marked by indictments and convictions.

I blame the artificially low numbers of medallions for almost all of New York's taxi industry’s woes.

The credit for that -- and for creating a market opportunity for Uber -- belongs to the TLC and the medallion owners. Consider, the number of licensed cabs was about 16,900 in 1937, when the city's population was more than 1 million lower than it is today. Today, there are fewer medallions than 80 years ago. There have been only about 1,800 new medallions issued since 1996.

It is an artificially created monopoly, and monopolies tend to lead to terrible economic behaviors. Just consider one aspect of the appalling level of service on offer. In New York, many taxi drivers change shifts between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., abandoning the city in the midst of rush hour, returning to the outer boroughs or even New Jersey for driver changes. Let a single drop of rain fall and it is almost impossible -- no, it is impossible -- to find a cab. The cars are often in bad shape, devoid of shock absorbers, and back seats that make me want a shower afterward. Yellow Cabs also have been known to illegally refuse to pick up the hails of African-Americans. Unlike London, where drivers have an almost tour guide-like knowledge of their city, New York cab drivers are often utterly ignorant of the city where they work.

All of these failings would be much less likely to take place in a competitive market. We know this is an artificial monopoly because of the price behavior of medallions after market competition began: prices for medallions peaked shortly after Uber came to town, but before it had much of an impact. Bloomberg Businessweek reported that medallion prices, which peaked at $1.3 million in 2013, were already sliding, falling below $900,000 in 2013. Just two years later 2015, prices had fallen another 40 percent.

And it got worse: By 2016, the lowest reported price was $250,000. Last year, medallions sold for as little as $241,000. They are still falling. Axios noted a recent transaction that went for just 8 percent of the peak value, or about $100,000. Other cities, such as Chicago, have seen similar declines in medallion prices.

This surely has meant some hardship for those who bought near the peak and have watched the value of their investment collapse.  Among those hurt is President Donald Trump’s attorney and fixer Michael Cohen, who owes $282,000s in back taxes on his medallions. But let's be real: this is what happens in markets -- there are winners and losers.

Unless government intervenes in the market, there's likely no reason why demand for Uber services will decline. Last year was the first time more people used Uber in New York than city cabs. In July 2017, Uber had 289,000 average daily rides versus 277,000 for medallion taxis. 

This story, in a nutshell, is a classic example of regulatory capture.  The TLC, by serving the interests of the industry it regulated rather than customers of the taxi industry, allowed an enormous gap between supply and demand to open. It was into this void that ride hailing apps like Uber and Lyft rushed, exploiting powerful market forces. No one should be surprised these services exploded in popularity; it is living testimony to the reality that trying to thwart market forces for decades eventually has huge repercussions. Even the courts understood this, with one Queens (New York) County judge telling medallion owners to “Compete with Uber or die.”

Of course there are other elements to this sad tale -- epic greed and corruption, rent extraction and economic ignorance. But the bottom line is that the parties concerned made a giant mess of this, and now they are left to harvest their rotting crop.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

  1. This is not praise for Uber; it has plenty of its own issues, starting with a corporate culture that was so toxic that Travis Kalanick, founder, chief executive officer and majority shareholder was forced to step down.
  2. Matthew is a member of the organizing committee of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance.
      
    ©2018 Bloomberg L.P. All Rights Reserved

2 months 1 week ago

Divorcing Spouses File a Chapter 7? A “joint case” is one filed “by an individual… and such individual’s spouse.” “Spouse” is not defined in the Bankruptcy Code, but presumably refers to someone who is legally married to the “individual.”
So, if you and your spouse are contemplating divorce, you CAN file a Chapter 7 “straight bankruptcy” jointly.
But Should You File Together?
As you think about whether you should file jointly, consider some timing considerations. Think about whether it makes sense to file the divorce case first, before filing the bankruptcy case. Or the other way around. If it makes sense to file divorce first, when that’s done you’ll presumably no longer be married. Since you would no longer be spouses, you would not be able to file bankruptcy jointly.
So what are the considerations about which to file first?
Debts as of the Date of Filing Bankruptcy
One very important consideration is that a bankruptcy case affects only debts that exist when you file that case. (Section 727(b) of  the Bankruptcy Code.)  Future debts aren’t included. This means that filing a bankruptcy case before going through divorce will not affect the obligations created in that divorce. Many debts arising out of divorce aren’t affected by bankruptcy, but some can be. So sometimes it makes sense to hold off on filing bankruptcy until after the divorce. At that point you could only file without your now-former spouse.
Assets as of the Date of Filing Bankruptcy
Same thing regarding things you own—your assets. Usually the only assets involved in your bankruptcy case are those you own “as of the commencement of the case.” (Section 541(a)(1) and (2).) So assets that you acquire after you file your Chapter 7 case are not part of the case.
Divorce usually involves a division of assets between the spouses. You may lose some assets to your spouse through divorce, you may gain some. This anticipated shifting of assets may affect when you file a Chapter 7 case. If are expecting to gain assets in your divorce that may not be protected (“exempt”) in bankruptcy, that may encourage you to file bankruptcy before the divorce. If divorce is going to take away unprotected assets, it may make sense to file divorce first.
So When SHOULD Spouses Considering Divorce File a Joint Bankruptcy?
Arguably, an about-to-divorce couple should never file a joint bankruptcy. Why not?
First, the two spouses can file individual bankruptcies at any time. They are not obligated to file jointly. It often makes a lot of sense to file separately, and since you’re allow to maybe you should.
Second, if you are seriously thinking about divorce, the odds are high that you and your spouse’s legal interests are diverging. There is a good chance that the legal solution best for you is not the best for your spouse. You can’t be on the same team if your goals are different.
Third, your interests are often in direct conflict. You certainly can’t be on the same team if your goal is to defeat your teammate.
Fourth, being on the same side in a Chapter 7 case assumes a level of honesty, trust, and cooperation that seldom exists between ready-to-divorce couple.
Should You EVER File Chapter 7 Case Together?
You might still file a joint Chapter 7 case if doing so is in each of your self-interest’s. That means it’s in the best interest of each of you to file:
a Chapter 7 case
that Chapter 7 case jointly
at the same point in time
before starting the divorce case
Schedule a Free Consultation with Your Portland Bankruptcy Attorney
When it comes time to file for bankruptcy, you need a compassionate and skilled attorney who will be able to guide you through the process as cleanly as possible. Northwest Debt Relief Law Firm, we can help you with filing for Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Portland, Oregon.  We will be there every step of the way to help navigate you through the often-complex and difficult bankruptcy process.
Give us a call at (503) 912-8809 to schedule a free consultation with one of our bankruptcy attorneys. If you have any other questions about bankruptcy, one of our attorneys will be more than happy to offer advice on your particular situation.

The post Should Divorcing Spouses File a Chapter 7 Together? appeared first on Portland Bankruptcy Attorney | Northwest Debt Relief.


2 months 1 week ago

Credit counseling and post-bankruptcy debtor education courses must be taken by every individual that files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, with few exceptions.
 
PRE-BANKRUPTCY CREDIT COUNSELING
The pre-bankruptcy credit counseling class includes information on credit counseling opportunities and provides assistance in performing a budget analysis. This consumer bankruptcy counseling is an opportunity to understand the personal budget process and learn simple ways of tracking income and expenses.
 
Why is this important?
A budget tells you what’s coming in and what’s going out. People who operate on a budget know exactly what’s going on with their money.
In other words, a budget is a tool for analyzing the flow of money. Every successful business has a budget, and most budgets are prepared with some outside help. The credit counseling course will provide that help to you.
We encourage our clients to participate in the credit counseling and budgeting class as a valuable opportunity to understand how to track their money, and where it goes.
The pre-bankruptcy counseling must be received within 180 days prior to a bankruptcy filing.
As an additional benefit, you’ll also become familiar with the income and expense categories that will be used when on the bankruptcy schedules.
 
POST BANKRUPTCY DEBTOR EDUCATION
In addition to pre-bankruptcy credit counseling, every individual that files for bankruptcy must receive a financial management instructional course.
Although there are limited exceptions, this course must be taken in every personal bankruptcy prior to the entry of a discharge of debt.
The financial management instructional course, commonly referred to as post-bankruptcy debtor education, is focused on establishing good financial practices after bankruptcy, and working to avoid debt issues in the future.
Again, the importance of budgeting is emphasized, together with other aspects of managing household finances.

HOW TO OBTAIN PRE-BANKRUPTCY CREDIT COUNSELING AND POST BANKRUPTCY DEBTOR EDUCATION
The pre-bankruptcy credit counseling class must be received in a separate session from the post-bankruptcy debtor education class.
Both classes must be taken from a non-profit agency that has been approved by the United States Trustee.
There are numerous agencies that have been approved for credit counseling and debtor education.  The costs are low, starting at about $5.00 per individual for a counseling session that might last an hour or so.
When the time comes, we’ll recommend an agency or two that have provided useful information to our clients.
The Takeaway
The credit counseling and debtor education courses provide useful information and tools for managing your money and making the most of the fresh start that you’ll receive following the discharge of debt.
The information you’ll learn is valuable before making a final decision whether to file personal bankruptcy, and while making financial decisions after you receive your discharge, and your fresh start in life.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Your Portland Bankruptcy Attorney
When it comes time to file for bankruptcy, you need a compassionate and skilled attorney who will be able to guide you through the process as cleanly as possible. Northwest Debt Relief Law Firm, we can help you with filing for Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Portland, Oregon.  We will be there every step of the way to help navigate you through the often-complex and difficult bankruptcy process.
Give us a call at (503) 912-8809 to schedule a free consultation with one of our bankruptcy attorneys. If you have any other questions about bankruptcy, one of our attorneys will be more than happy to offer advice on your particular situation.
 
The post Who Needs Credit Counseling and Post-Bankruptcy Debtor Education? appeared first on Portland Bankruptcy Attorney | Northwest Debt Relief.


2 months 1 week ago

What is Zombie Debt?
Zombie Debt, also referred to as Stat debt or Out of Statute debt, refers to debt that is very old or no longer owed. Effectively, these debts have “come back from the dead” to haunt you again. Debt scavengers are debt collectors who purchase zombie debt from a source – the original creditor, a successor creditor who bought the original creditor’s debt, or even from another debt collection agency – often for pennies on the dollar, and who attempt to collect the debt from the debtor.
Once a debt has been in default (unpaid) for six years, the statute of limitations to collect the debt has expired. The creditor cannot file a suit to collect the debt once the debt is too old, as having been in default for six years. However, to trick you into thinking that the creditor has additional time to collect upon the debt, the creditor will (out of thin air) make up a phony date called the “charged off date”, and put that phony “charged off date” on your credit report as the date of default.
Debt Can Be Too Old To Be Collected on By Creditors
Sometimes, aged debts may be too old to properly serve as the basis for a creditor lawsuit to collect the debt in question. However, some creditors will still file a lawsuit on a too-old debt, hoping that you won’t realize that the debt is too old to support the lawsuit. The courts don’t seem to care about lawsuits filed to collect aged debt. That means that if you don’t file a response to contest the creditor’s suit, then the court will enter what is actually an improper judgment. The court expects you to be responsible enough to understand—or be represented by a qualified attorney who is knowledgeable on debt collection and aged debt practices—and if you don’t care enough to contest the suite, the court shouldn’t care either.
In addition to typical consumer and business debt, there are also some other types of debts like criminal fines or restitution which many not be subject to a statute of limitations that is as short as the time period for bringing suit on consumer and business obligations.
As you can see, it literally pays to obtain qualified legal advice about a particular debt that you owe is too old to be collected in a lawsuit. You should also be aware that statutes of limitation on aged debt can vary from state to state. If you’ve incurred a debt in the past in another state, protecting yourself with qualified legal advice is as important in those cases as it is in the state of Washington.
Creditors will return if your Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan is dismissed in most cases. The deadline for creditors to file suit to collect a debt is six years after debtor breaches the terms of their debt contract by failing to make the payments that the debt contract obligated the debtor to make on time. Even if the debtor files bankruptcy during that six-year period, the deadline for the creditor to file suit to collect the debt is neither extended nor shortened due to the fact that the debtor was in bankruptcy during the six-year time period.
Zombie debts can stem from dealings with big creditors, not just smaller companies. In May of 2015, the New York Times reported
“Two of the nation’s biggest banks will finally put to rest the zombies of consumer debt — bills that are still alive on credit reports although legally eliminated in bankruptcy — potentially providing relief to more than a million Americans.
Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase have agreed to update borrowers’ credit reports within the next three months to reflect that the debts were extinguished.
The move is a victory for borrowers whose credit reports have been marred as a result of the reported debts, imperiling their job prospects and torpedoing their chances of getting new loans.
The change by the banks emerged this week in Federal Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, where the two banks, along with Citigroup and Synchrony Financial, formerly GE Capital Retail Finance, face lawsuits accusing them of deliberately ignoring bankruptcy discharges to fetch more money when they sell off pools of bad debt to financial firms.
The lawsuits accuse the banks of engineering what amounts to a subtle but ruthless debt collection tactic, effectively holding borrowers’ credit reports hostage, refusing to fix the mistakes unless people pay money for debts that they do not actually owe.”
While it’s been over a year since the agreement was reached, if you were a customer of any of the banks mentioned in the article, and if your bankruptcy filing included a debt owed to one of those creditors over the period covered in the settlement described in the article, it pays to check your credit report to ensure that the debts that they promised to remove have in fact been removed from your credit report.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Your Tacoma Bankruptcy Attorney
When it comes time to file for bankruptcy, you need a compassionate and skilled attorney who will be able to guide you through the process as cleanly as possible. Northwest Debt Relief Law Firm, we can help you with filing for Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Washington State.  We will be there every step of the way to help navigate you through the often-complex and difficult bankruptcy process.
Give us a call at (253) 780-8008 to schedule a free consultation with one of our bankruptcy attorneys. If you have any other questions about bankruptcy, one of our attorneys will be more than happy to offer advice on your particular situation.
 
The post How to Avoid Being Haunted by Debt Scavengers or “Zombie Debt Collectors”. appeared first on Portland Bankruptcy Attorney | Northwest Debt Relief.


2 months 2 weeks ago

We get it. You want to co-sign a student loan or feel like you should anyway. After all, you want to help anyone in your family get an education and it’s just co-signing. If they make all the payments, everything will be fine. The reality is that co-signing these loans can put you in a place where bankruptcy will be your only option.
Part of the problem is that the co-signer requirement generally comes up with private student loans rather than federal ones. Federal loans are eligible for all kinds of programs and both temporary and permanent solutions. Private loans on the other hand are eligible for almost nothing. If things go sideways with a private student loan and you are left holding the bag, you will likely have no tools to deal with the situation other than paying the loan yourself, attempting to negotiate the total(here they hold all the cards because it is a non-dischargeable debt) or file Chapter 13 bankruptcy to keep them at bay for five years.
Here’s some other reasons why you don’t want to touch these loans. If you end up having to take over the payments, doing so will likely severely hamper the quality of your eventual retirement. Late payments can hurt your credit score and you won’t know if the payment has been made on time. 
Since you aren’t eligible for any programs and there aren’t really any federal protections to stop collectors, they will sue you and your co-signer just as quickly as a collector would come after you on a credit card with a massive balance.The only upside here is that private student loan collectors are often more amenable to settling private student loans at the litigation stage. The downside is they will still be looking for monthly payments that you may not be able to afford.
Unfortunately this expansion in co-signed loans is a growing phenomenon. In 2004, the number of people, sixty and older, coping with with student loans was less than 700,000. Today that number is well over 3 million. The average amount borrowed has roughly doubled. 
Schedule a Free Consultation with Your Tacoma, Seattle, Vancouver, Portland or Salem Bankruptcy Attorney
If you are contemplating co-signing a loan or you already have, please set an appointment to meet with one of our Oregon or Washington bankruptcy attorneys in Tacoma, Seattle, Vancouver, Portland or Salem. There may be solutions for dealing with the private student under the bankruptcy code. If you haven’t co-signed a private student loan for a relative, but are thinking about it, we are happy to talk to you about it, free of charge. Northwest Debt Relief Law Firm can help you with filing for Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.  We will be there every step of the way to help navigate you through the often-complex and difficult bankruptcy process.
Give us a call at (503) 912-8809 to schedule a free consultation with one of our bankruptcy attorneys. If you have any other questions about bankruptcy, one of our attorneys will be more than happy to offer advice on your particular situation.
The post Co-Signing Private Student Loans appeared first on Portland Bankruptcy Attorney | Northwest Debt Relief.


2 months 2 weeks ago

By Emma G. Fitzsimmons

Helen Ochisor drove the yellow taxi in the morning. Her husband Nicanor took it in the afternoon.
They rarely saw each other during the week. She was asleep when he got home after a long night of driving. They exchanged a quick hello while handing off the taxi.
Immigrants from Romania, the couple had bought their New York City taxi medallion nearly three decades ago. Lately, it had been difficult to find fares. Her husband worked 12-hour shifts, but brought home less money. He was worried about the plunging value of their once-lucrative medallion and frustrated about Uber’s takeover of the industry.
On a cold day in March, Mr. Ochisor hanged himself in his garage in Queens. His family blames the growing hopelessness he felt over his fortunes as a taxi driver.
“It depressed him, it irritated him, it probably angered him — maybe all three,” his son Gabriel Ochisor said in an interview at the family’s home. “It was definitely a factor. Otherwise, we can’t piece together any other factor.”
“We have a 7-month-old over there,” he said pointing to his infant son — his father’s first grandchild, who lived upstairs. “Why would you want to leave?"
Nicanor Ochisor, 64, was one of four professional drivers to take their lives in the last five months. Another driver, Doug Schifter, killed himself with a shotgun in front of City Hall in February after sharing a Facebook post about the financial turmoil he was facing.
Suicide is a deeply intimate decision, and there is no way to know for certain what confluence of factors might lead someone to make such a choice. But the recent series of deaths has drawn attention to the economic desperation that many taxi and livery drivers are grappling with, and has renewed calls to rein in Uber and other ride-hailing services.
After Mayor Bill de Blasio suffered a bruising political defeat when he tried — unsuccessfully — to cap Uber in 2015, there has been a growing sense that something has to be done. In a first step, the City Council held a hearing on Monday for several bills that could change the rules for car service apps.
Mr. de Blasio has said he may try again to limit the number of for-hire vehicles.
“I think the caps are the kind of thing we need to talk about again,” Mr. de Blasio said in a recent radio interview, “because the situation has gotten worse since then, both in terms of the pressure that’s been put on the medallion owners, everyday taxi drivers, but also because of congestion.”
Uber has transformed how Americans get around and has upended the transportation network in community after community. In New York City — Uber’s largest United States market — the app has siphoned commuters from the sputtering subway and bus system, but more significantly it has all but vanquished the iconic yellow cab, plunging it into an existential crisis.
Taxi medallions that once sold for more than $1 million now go for as low as $175,000. More than 60,000 black cars are tied to Uber, dwarfing yellow taxis, which are capped by city law at about 13,587. Last year, Uber trips eclipsed yellow taxi rides for the first time.
Uber is the biggest player, with about 410,000 trips per day in February, but Lyft and Via, two other ride-hailing apps, have made inroads. (Lyft provided about 112,000 trips per day in February, and Via about 33,000, according to the city’s taxi commission.) The influx of vehicles has contributed to gridlock on the streets of Manhattan, where traffic has slowed to a crawl and city buses travel at just 5.7 miles per hour on average.
In 2015, Uber launched an aggressive campaign against the city’s proposed cap, with television advertisements criticizing Mr. de Blasio, and an app feature, known as “de Blasio view,” that showed long wait times for a ride if the cap were approved. But this time Uber might be a less formidable foe. 
The company has struggled with a series of scandals over its workplace culture and aggressive tactics, leading to the resignation of its chief executive and founder last year.
Other cities have tried to corral Uber, including London — its largest European market — where Uber lost its license to operate last year. After Austin imposed strict regulations, Uber left the city, though the app returned last year when Texas passed new rules.
Austin Finan, a spokesman for Mr. de Blasio, said new regulations on for-hire vehicles were back in the conversation.
“The mayor has been clear about the need to re-evaluate our options in the face of explosive growth we’re seeing in the industry,” Mr. Finan said in a statement.
Councilman Stephen Levin, a Democrat who represents Brooklyn and has sponsored a bill to restrict the number of for-hire vehicles, believes a cap would have a better chance this time.
“New Yorkers see the congestion issue much more apparently — it’s clear now,” Mr. Levin said. “I also think empirically we’re seeing it’s much harder to make a living driving a cab.”
But Alix Anfang, a spokeswoman for Uber, defended Uber’s growth in New York, arguing that drivers keep up with a demand in the boroughs outside Manhattan for a reliable transportation option.
“Capping the number of Ubers would only hurt the millions of outer borough riders who have long been ignored by yellow taxis and who don’t have access to reliable public transit,” Ms. Anfang said.
Less than two weeks after his father’s death, Gabriel Ochisor stood outside City Hall at a protest calling on Mr. de Blasio to strengthen regulations. Four coffins were covered in white flowers, one for each driver.
His father had attended a taxi protest at City Hall shortly before his death. It was unusual for him. He was quiet. He usually didn’t go to protests.
“He was mad at the politicians,” said Gabriel, the couple’s only child. “He was mad at Silicon Valley and all these big shots that have billions of dollars. You’re trampling over the little guys that invested in something and wanted to have some exclusivity, as they were told when they bought the medallion.”
On a recent afternoon, the family prepared to host a special meal to mark 40 days since his death. They created a fund-raising website to help pay off the balance on the taxi medallion, which Mr. Ochisor had borrowed money against, so that his wife can retire.
Helen and Nicanor met at an electronics factory in Romania. They married and moved to New York, purchasing the medallion for $180,000 in 1989. As its value rose, hitting a record of $1.05 million in 2013, they hoped it would fund their retirement.
But the price of a medallion has dropped dramatically with the rise of ride-hailing apps. The city has not held an auction since 2014 because of fears that the medallions would not sell for a good price, and owners who sell medallions privately have not commanded large sums.
When Helen Ochisor drives the taxi in Manhattan during the morning, business is virtually nonexistent.
“After 10 o’clock, I cannot pick up nobody,” Ms. Ochisor said. “For one hour or two hours, I was going downtown, uptown, and nothing.”
Mr. Ochisor had also worried about having to buy a new wheelchair-accessible vehicle — part of a city mandate — that would be cumbersome for the older couple. He did still enjoy parts of the job: talking to customers and playing backgammon with other drivers in a parking lot at Kennedy International Airport, where he waited before picking up passengers.
The family has not found a suicide note.
“We checked up and down, left and right,” Gabriel said. “Computers, phones.”
“I didn’t find anything yet,” Ms. Ochisor said.
Gabriel Ochisor wants the problems that troubled his father to be addressed. He has sent letters to Mr. de Blasio and to a list of other elected officials, pleading for them to level the playing field between taxi and Uber drivers. He met recently with Meera Joshi, the city’s taxi commissioner, but has not heard from the mayor’s office.
In a statement, Ms. Joshi said she admired “his resolve to make his father’s situation, concerns and beliefs heard.”
Bhairavi Desai, the executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, a group that represents drivers, said Mr. Ochisor’s death had brought a sense of urgency to their campaign for new regulations. A fee on for-hire vehicle trips in Manhattan, which was recently passed by state lawmakers to raise money for public transit, is another devastating financial setback, she said.
The taxi group is now focused on pressuring the City Council to pass new rules and watching for signs of depression among drivers to prevent further deaths.
“Right now, there is a sense of, ‘We’re not going to let our friend’s death go in vain,’” Ms. Desai said.
Still, it is easy to see how Uber has found a foothold in New York City. The Ochisor family lives in the Maspeth neighborhood of Queens, far from the nearest subway line. A reporter visiting the home asked for advice about the quickest way back to Manhattan.
Gabriel Ochisor had to admit that the best option was Uber.
Copyright 2018 The New York Times Company.  All rights reserved.


2 months 2 weeks ago

When going through a divorce, you can be left with different types of obligations. The most common is a domestic support obligation, such as child support or alimony, but you can also be made responsible for your spouse’s separate debts after divorce, usually as part of the property division.
For example, the wife gets to keep the dog and the house, and husband gets to keep the car. Wife, let’s say, then agrees (or is ordered by the court) to be responsible for all of husband’s credit card debts. Then for whatever reason, the ex-wife doesn’t make the payment on the credit cards. The credit card companies then sue the ex-husband who tries to defend by saying that it is his ex-wife’s responsibility!
Does this work?  How can this happen?
The truth is that divorce court/family law agreements and judgments only affect the two spouses, not third-party creditors like credit card companies. So in the above example, the failure of ex-wife to pay the credit cards as promised leaves her liable to her ex-husband, NOT to his credit card companies.
Can The Spouse’s Debt Be Discharged in Bankruptcy?
Sometimes the amounts involved can be quite substantial. In the above example, let’s say there were $100,000 in credit card debts that wife defaulted on. What can ex-hubby do?  He can, of course, file bankruptcy himself to deal with what always was his debt in the first place. But he can also pursue his ex-wife in family law court for failure to honor the agreement/judgment. This can result in altering any alimony/support payments being made or being imposed.
But ex-wife potentially has a way out too. She cannot get rid of her obligation to her ex-husband in a Chapter 7 case.  But in a Chapter 13 case, she may. Chapter 13 of The Bankruptcy Code allows the discharge of debts incurred in connection with a divorce if they are not part of a domestic support obligation (i.e. alimony, child support, etc.).
Thus, ex-wife can do a payment plan based on her budget and discharge the remainder of the debt owed to her ex-husband in a Chapter 13. It is possible though for the family law court to then order ex-wife to pay alimony to ex-husband, which would not be dischargeable in any bankruptcy chapter.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Your Portland Bankruptcy Attorney
When it comes time to file for bankruptcy, you need a compassionate and skilled attorney who will be able to guide you through the process as cleanly as possible. Northwest Debt Relief Law Firm, we can help you with filing for Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Portland, Oregon.  We will be there every step of the way to help navigate you through the often-complex and difficult bankruptcy process.
Give us a call at (503) 912-8809 to schedule a free consultation with one of our bankruptcy attorneys. If you have any other questions about bankruptcy, one of our attorneys will be more than happy to offer advice on your particular situation.

The post How Can I Be Responsible For Ex-Spouse Debts After Divorce? appeared first on Portland Bankruptcy Attorney | Northwest Debt Relief.


2 months 2 weeks ago

Two important sets of CFPB amendments to its RESPA and TILA mortgage servicing rules go into effect April 19, 2018. These amendments expand the rights of those inheriting homes, awarded a home in divorce, or otherwise succeeding in interest to a mortgage loan. The rules also offer an important new right for debtors in bankruptcy to determine if mortgage servicer fees and application of mortgage payments are proper.
Homeowners now the right to receive monthly mortgage statements during and after bankruptcy.
Do you need help saving your home?  The other set of amendments is just as important, giving homeowners during and after bankruptcy the right to receive monthly mortgage statements. Without these statements, it has been difficult to determine if mortgage servicers were assessing improper fees or misapplying the homeowner’s mortgage payments, particularly during chapter 13 cases.
Successors in Interest Entitled to the Same Rights As Borrowers
saving your homeSaving your home
The new rules expand the definition of a “borrower” for purposes of RESPA, and “consumer” for purposes of TILA, to include a confirmed successor in interest. 12 C.F.R. § 1024.31 (eff. April 19, 2018). Successor in interest is defined as coextensive with transfers listed in the Garn-St. Germain Act after which a due-on-sale clause may not be exercised.
This list includes transfers related to the borrower’s death or a divorce or separation agreement, transfers to a spouse or children, or to a trust in which the borrower is a beneficiary. 12 U.S.C. § 1701j-3(d)

Additional note – the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ‘CFPB’ has been instrumental in holding banks, car lenders, pay day lenders and many other responsible for their unscrupulous actions.  Trump and his big business friends are moving to gut the CFPB so as to reduce their power and expose those who do not have a voice (you and me) to the outrageous actions of big business.  Remember this next time you are asked to vote.
Related posts on this same topic:

  1. Beware consumers no longer protected – Corday leaving CFPB
  2. Payday and Deposit advance loans
  3. Stop Payday Loan Debt Traps
  4. Student Loans – the latest nightmare

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About the Author:
Diane L. DrainDiane L. Drain is a well known and respected Arizona bankruptcy attorney. She is an expert in both consumer bankruptcy and Arizona foreclosure. Since 1985 she has been a dedicated advocate for her clients and spokesperson for Arizona citizens. As a teacher and retired law professor, Diane believes in offering everyone, not just her clients, advice about the Arizona bankruptcy and foreclosure laws. She is also a mentor to hundreds of Arizona attorneys.
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*Important Note from Diane: Everything on this web site is available for educational purposes only, is not intended to provide legal advice nor create an attorney client relationship between you, me, or the author of any article.  Any information in this web site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from an attorney familiar with your personal circumstances and licensed to practice law in your state.*

The post New Help to Homeowners, Heirs or Spouses appeared first on Diane L. Drain - Phoenix Bankruptcy & Foreclosure Attorney.


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