One of the downsides of living in the media age is the fact that there are too many voices in the echo chamber. Many of these voices are people who are not informed on the subjects that they are speaking about. Worse yet, some of these voices have presences in the media and are in a position to offer “advice” and “guidance” on complicated subjects that plays to peoples’ fears, guilt, and shame.
We see this phenomenon sometimes when we meet with distressed and anxious people for the first time. Some people have been listening to information peddled by media financial celebrities who are selling books, audio products, or “financial advice.” Sometimes people have been listening to rumors from random friends and acquaintances.
Unfortunately, this information is almost always wrong or misleading. And people often unnecessarily get stressed out because of it. It is useful to point out some of the more common myths and misperceptions.
My credit will be hurt or ruined. This is simply not true. Other versions of this myth are things like “I’ll never be able to get a loan again” or “I’ll be in the dog house for X number of years.” This myth is untrue. Filing a bankruptcy helps you. It doesn’t hurt you. It helps you get a fresh start, wipe out debts, get back on your feet, and move forward. People who have financial problems already have credit issues. That’s the last thing people should be worried about. The goal is to stop bad things from happening, like suits, garnishments, repossessions, and foreclosures. You will be able to get loans again. You can get them during or after your case. Even if a bankruptcy is on your credit report, so what? A credit report is simply a record of your financial life. All your financial things are on there. The point is to get free from the debts. You need to stay focused on what matters, not on what doesn’t matter.
I will have a hard time getting a loan in the future. Again, not true. People often get loans out or refinance while they are in a bankruptcy case. Or, they get them after they get their discharges. Creditors are more concerned with your ability to repay a debt (i.e., your current income) than on what you have done in the past. Many of our clients get loans while they are in a case, and when they get out of one.
People are going to find out and I’ll be embarrassed. The truth of the matter is that most people are so focused on their own lives that they spend little time worrying about what other people are doing. At the end of the day, worrying about what other people might think or say is pointless. Again, it is critical to stay focused on what is important, and what is not important. The important thing is for you to get a fresh start and move on with your life. As the physicist Richard Feynman said, “What do you care what other people think?”
I heard from a friend, family member, or TV/radio personality that [insert rumor here] will happen in a bankruptcy. Bankruptcy law is a legal matter. It is not a matter of just filling out some forms and seeing what happens. You can’t do it alone. The only person who is qualified to give you legal guidance on a bankruptcy issue is a bankruptcy attorney who practices in your jurisdiction. There are so many misconceptions and untruths that are put out by media personalities about bankruptcy that it would be impossible to list them all here. Most of the “guidance” offered by these gurus who are selling books and TV/radio shows is based on fear, shame, and guilt. And this is what’s so wrong about their “guidance.”
Legal advice should be based on solid, real-world analysis, and backed up by years of litigation experience. The key thing to remember is that you need to help and guidance of an attorney. For all the reasons that you can think of, and especially for all the reasons you can’t think of, it will be the key ingredient in your getting a fresh start. At Phillips & Thomas LLC, we have been practicing in this area for many years, and have successfully litigated complex personal, consumer, corporate, and business bankruptcy cases under Chapters 7, 11, and 13. We have the experience, perspective, and patience to guide you successfully through the entire process. Call us, and we can go through the details.