Who has not – at one point or another – received a letter from a collection agency asserting that there was an outstanding balance owed to a debtor? Perhaps it is a medical bill, which has gone by the wayside since so many medical billing offices are hopelessly running behind in their overall billings. Conversely, perhaps you have moved and a bill got forgotten or misplaced and the creditor never caught up with you and eventually wrote off your debt, only to sell the accounts receivable files to a collection agency for pennies on the dollar.
Finding a bankruptcy attorney can be difficult or it can be as easy as turning to your local Yellow Pages. The phone book is actually an easy way to start your search. You can use the Yellow Pages to find what attorneys are in your area. In addition, most of the business listings will group attorneys by specialty so finding one that specializes in bankruptcy should not be challenging.
You can also find the perfect bankruptcy attorney by searching online. You can often gather information about the history of the attorney and any cases he or she has successfully been assigned to. Remember, just because you see a big online ad for an attorney’s office doesn’t mean you should use them. Just like any other ad, any company who throws down the money for the ad spot can gain access to it. Ad spots are not given on merit.
If you feel comfortable in doing so, you can also seek the opinions of people you know who have filed for bankruptcy in the past. They may be able to give you a personal opinion about the attorney they used in their bankruptcy case.
Overall, you should feel comfortable working with your bankruptcy attorney, or you should find another!
This may then find you at the receiving end of a letter, facing a collection agency claim. Bankruptcy, for those whose letters reveal rather substantial sums, sometimes is considered a viable option to just make it all go away, but for those who are hanging on, no matter how tentatively, and are still trying to pay all of their bills on time will find that the negatives of bankruptcy by far outweigh the positives.
Thus, filing for bankruptcy protection should be considered very carefully and advisedly. Perhaps the first course of action should be a close scrutiny of the outstanding debt, especially in light of its age. Depending on the state in which the debtor resides or the debt was contractually incurred, the statute of limitations on collection of that particular debt may have already expired.
For example, a Californian receiving notice of a medical bill incurred more than four years ago may be able to defend against the claim by pointing out that written contracts are only enforceable for four years, after which the statute is said to have run out. In the District of Columbia the time is three years, while in Ohio it is 15. Know your rights with respect to debt collection before seeking bankruptcy protection!