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Debtor Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

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Do I need an Attorney?
Strictly speaking no but we highly recommend having one. Bankruptcy is a complicated subject. Our experience is that most cases without an attorney fail.
How can I find an Attorney?
If you wish to retain an attorney, call the Wisconsin Bar Association Lawyer Referrals: 800-362-8096 (608-257-4660 Madison)
I need a new Car and or a loan. What do I do?
Please see our Credit & Forms page or click here to be taken to it..Click here to read "Know Before You Owe" from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for good general advice on car loans.
What is my Case Number?
Your case number is issued by the Bankruptcy Court when you file for bankruptcy. It is a seven digit number with the first two digits representing they year of filing and the last four or five digits representing a sequential case count of cases for that court. Thus the first case filed with the court in 2007 would be numbered 0700001. Sometimes the number is shown with additional information or dashes, for example 3-07-12015-rdm. Shown that way, the leading "3-" would tell you that the case was assigned to the Madison Court, the "07" would tell you it was filed in 2007. The "2015" was tells you it was the 2,015th case filed that year, and the "rdm" indicates the initials of the judge it has been assigned to. Sometimes a "-13" or "-07" is added to indicate the chapter filed under. These extra bits of information may or may not be important or required depending on the printout or web site you are using. You can access the court's VCIS system by phone at 800-743-8247 to find your number if you have forgotten it. Also, the "Case Information" part of this web site allows you to look yourself up by last name. From that, you can see your case number.
I've changed jobs-what now?
This is a common occurrence. We can set up a new wage order through your new employer and stop the old one. Press here to provide us with your new employer contact information (payroll person/dept and address).
This creditor keeps trying to collect money after I filed bankruptcy. What should I do?
Please contact your attorney. We are prohibited from giving legal advice or helping your with this. Generally speaking, you should immediately notify the creditor in writing that you have filed bankruptcy. Provide them with the case name, number, and filing date, or a copy of the petition that shows it was filed. If the creditor still continues to attempt to collect and is willfully violating the automatic stay, the court can hold the creditor in contempt of court and punish the creditor by fine or incarceration. Any such legal action brought against the creditor will be complex and will normally require representation by a qualified bankruptcy attorney. Please contact your attorney for this assistance.
How many years will a bankruptcy show on my credit report?
This is up to the credit reporting agency but typically 7 years for a chapter 12 or chapter 13 filing and 10 years for a chapter 7 filing.
How do I get a bankruptcy removed from my credit report?
The bankruptcy court has no jurisdiction over credit reporting agencies. The Fair Credit Reporting Act, 6 United States Code Section 605, is the law that controls credit reporting agencies. The law states that credit reporting agencies may not report a bankruptcy case on a person's credit report after ten years from the date the bankruptcy case is filed. Other bad credit information is removed after seven years. The larger credit reporting agencies belong to an organization called the Associated Credit Bureaus. The policy of the Associated Credit Bureaus is to remove chapter 11 and chapter 13 cases from the credit report after seven years to encourage debtors to file under these chapters. You may contact the Federal Trade Commission, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Education Division, Washington, D.C. 20580. The telephone number is (202) 326-2222. That office can provide further information on reestablishing credit and addressing credit problems. For information on credit practices, contact (202) 326-3224. We are prohibited from giving legal advice or helping you with this. Please contact your attorney for further information.
Does my employer have to know about my bankruptcy?
All new cases are required to have wage orders through your employer. These are easy to set up and painless for you. Press here to provide us with your employer's contact (payroll person/dept and address) and we will set it up.
I can not speak english very well. What should I do?
Translation services are available for free for over 140 languages at your 341 hearing. Please Contact_Us if to assist you in setting that up. At some future date this service may be available for other court hearings also.
What general guidelines must I follow?
We send all new filers a new case guidelines letter to help them better understand the process. Click HERE to link to a generic pdf copy of the letter that was sent to you.
Will I lose my house?
Bankruptcy offers many protections for you here. However, we cannot answer this question for you. You should consult with your attorney on this subject prior to filing and during the life of your filing as appropriate. You and your attorney should be aware of the Chapter 13 Mortgage Modification Mediation Program in the Western District (MMMWD or MMMP) started. The MMMP is a program to help qualified debtors negotiate with their lenders to keep their home. Click Here for more information.
How long does my plan last?
The Bankruptcy Code requires Chapter 13 Plans to last for a time commitment of 36-60 months depending on your income before filing.  If your average monthly income over the six-months prior to filing was below the median for your county, you are a ‘below median’ debtor and must remain in the Chapter 13 for 36 months. If your average monthly income number is higher than the median for your county, you are an ‘above median’ debtor, and must remain in the Chapter 13 for 60 months.  Your plan can end earlier than these minimum periods if you pay 100% to your creditors.
I can't make my full payment. What should I do?
To keep the benefits and protection of your bankruptcy your plan must be in good standing. If you will be able to make up the shortfall with the next payment, we will accept partial payments this time. Please Contact_Us if that is the case. If the problem is longer term or involves changes in work, family status, personal budget etc. you should contact your attorney immediately. Often a temporary suspension of payments or plan modification can be filed to resolve your problem and maintain your benefits. The sooner this occurs the better for you.
How do I make plan payments?
In this district plan payments are made via a court ordered wage deduction through your employer. In rare circumstances the court may allow a direct payment via money order or cashier's check. Please log into your case and print a payment coupon if the court has ordered this for you. That coupon will have our correct mailing address, payee information and information to ensure your payment gets applied to your case by our bank. If you are paying by this means you may also use TFSBillPay as an alternative way to make your payments on-line. Do not respond to phone calls or other contact to pay your payments elsewhere or to some other party. Please contact your attorney or our office if you have any questions.

Paying plan payments in cash is now possible thru the TFSBilPay system. TFS has partnered with MoneyGram to allow this feature. There is a short intitial set up and cost for this option. Click here for a link for more information. Paying your plan thru employer wage deductions is still the cheapest and most effecttive way to complete your plan. This new option simply allows initial payments, catch up payments or self employed people another option.
I'm unemployed-what now?
We're sorry to hear this. Contact your attorney immediately. Often a temporary suspension of payments can be filed until you obtain a new job. The sooner this occurs the better for you.


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