Georgia Bankruptcy Law Network

Georgia Bankruptcy Law Network

Bankruptcy Questions Answered by Georgia Bankruptcy Law Professionals

Foreclosures in Georgia: The Starting Point

foreclosureIn Georgia, the first Tuesday of every month is “Foreclosure Day.” It is the one day a month when home lenders are able to foreclose on homes and other real estate, assuming they have met the other requirements of foreclosure such as notice to the borrowers.  Not surprisingly, the busiest day for Bankruptcy filings in Georgia is the Monday before Foreclosure Day.  If you are reading this because you are facing a foreclosure of your home, we have compiled many of the top posts about foreclosures below.

For more reading, click on the categories across the top of this page, or the tags at the bottom of each post.  Hopefully the post and articles are informative and easy to read. However, keep in mind a good lawyer can sit with you for an hour or so and come up with options that will work for your specific situation.

Scott Riddle is a Bankruptcy and Foreclosure lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia.  The best way to contact us is by phone at 404-815-0164. You can also email, or contact us through the contact page.

The Starting Point for Bankruptcy

The purpose of this Blog is to provide basic, easy to read, and hopefully easy to understand, information about Bankruptcy for individuals and small businesses.  If you reached this page because you are facing financial problems and exploring Bankruptcy, we hope we can help you a little.  You may have a specific question, and maybe we answered it here.  If you are just starting out in searching for basic information about Bankruptcy, and you do not know where to start, one suggestion is to read about the basic differences between Chapter 7 cases and Chapter 13 cases.  From there, you can click on links within those articles, or browse the Bankruptcy Basics Category.  In addition to the Categories, you can also click on the Tags at the bottom of each post to get to more posts on a particular subject (for example, how student loans are treated in Bankruptcy; whether you should reaffirm secured debts, your exemptions and what you get to keep).  Continue Reading

Can You Take The Fifth In Your Bankruptcy Case?

Fifth AmedmentVirtually all of us know that we have the right to “take the 5th,” keep our mouths shut, and not speak to the police and lawyers when we might say something that could incriminate us.  The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution  provides that no person “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.”  On the other hand, a person who willingly chooses to file a Bankruptcy case is implicitly agreeing to lay out all of their financial lives in front of the Court, Trustee and creditors in exchange for a discharge of debt, avoidance of a foreclosure and other benefits.  They have a legal obligation, under federal law, to fully cooperate with the Trustee and provide just about any information the Trustee requests.  If the person has engaged in unlawful behavior in the past, some of this information may incriminate them.  As an easy example, tax returns are required in Bankruptcy cases.  If a tax return shows that a person has failed to disclose significant income in the past (a federal crime), providing the returns to the Trustee and answering questions about them certainly could incriminate the person.  Does the filing of a Bankruptcy petition mean the filer has waived their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination? Continue Reading

Lost Your Social Security Card? You Might Now Be Able To Get A Replacement Card Online!

Social-Security-CardIn most (if not all) Bankruptcy Courts, if you file a personal Bankruptcy case you will need your official social security card for your first meeting of creditors.  That means the card issued by the Social Security Administration, and not a photocopy or any other unofficial card you may have obtained elsewhere.  Not surprisingly, many people have lost their card or cannot find it.  After all, it is a small piece of paper we are expected to keep for decades!  The good news is that you might be able to obtain a replacement card by applying online.  The SSA has instituted a new program for applying online and you can go to this link to see if you qualify.  If you are reading this and you do not have your original card, go ahead and try to apply online or go to your local office and apply in person, even if you do not have a Bankruptcy case or other immediate need.  It is good to have on hand when you need it (but do not carry it with you, and do not laminate it).

Should I Discuss This With My Bankruptcy Lawyer?

Image of two young businessmen using touchpad at meeting


I could probably end with that simple, straightforward answer but, really, the answer is always the same.  One of the very common questions that comes up fairly regularly on online forums is some form of this question.  Often it seems like the person is concerned they forgot something, or may be in trouble in the case.  Today I read a long post from someone who, at the end, asked whether or not she should have discussed this with her lawyer.  I am sure she was concerned she might have done something wrong, but there is no online answer, even from excellent, well-meaning lawyers, that can substitute for her own lawyer.  Your lawyer is working for you to get the best possible outcome in the case, and to do the best job has to know everything that affects your case.  If there is a problem, he or she is the only one to correct it.  Your lawyer wants to know of potential problems to head them off.  If you believe you have a problem or important question, and you wonder if you should ask your lawyer … yes, you should!

Scott Riddle is a Bankruptcy and Foreclosure lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia.  The best way to contact us is by phone at 404-815-0164. You can also email, or contact us through the contact page.

Beware Of Scams! Criminals Are Posing As Court Officials And Federal Marshals And Threatening Arrest Unless Payments Are Made!


The following news release discusses a rise in a scam involving criminals impersonating federal court and law enforcement personnel.

United_States_Courts_logoAcross the United States, individuals posing as federal court officials and U.S. Marshals are targeting citizens, threatening them with arrest unless they pay.

“This year’s scams are more aggressive and sophisticated than we’ve seen in years past,” says Melissa Muir, Director of Administrative Services for the U.S. District Court of Western Washington.  “Scammers are setting up call centers, establishing call-back protocols and using specific names and designated court hearing times.”

A federal court will never threaten an individual or demand the immediate payment —either over the telephone or money wire service— for fines or for not responding to a jury summons.

“Receiving a call from someone impersonating a law enforcement officer and demanding money can be a frightening experience,” says Jarrett B. Perlow, Chief Deputy Clerk for the U.S. District Court of Maryland.  “As a court, we want to preserve and promote the integrity of the judicial process, and these calls, particularly those targeting prospective jurors, have the opposite effect.  We urge victims of these calls to contact us immediately, so that we can answer any questions or concerns they have and provide them with quick peace of mind.”

Avoid falling for a scam:

“Remember a scammer’s power lies solely in his or her ability to create fear as a means of impairing judgement,” says Raymond Fleck, Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal for the Judicial Security Section of Western Washington.

To take away a scammer’s power:

  • Separate yourself from the call to make a calm and collected assessment of the situation.
  • Be aware of federal court policy on the failure to appear for jury service.
    • Typically, jurors who miss jury duty will be contacted by the court Clerk’s Office and may, in certain circumstances, be ordered to appear in court before a judge.  A judge will impose any fine for failure to appear for jury duty during an open session of court, and the summoned juror will be given the opportunity to explain the failure to appear before any fine would (is) be imposed. 
  • Hang up and contact your local court clerk’s office or U.S. Marshals Service office to check for any potential charges.

It is a serious crime for a person to falsely represent him or herself as a federal official.  Those receiving any such phone calls should not provide the requested information, and should immediately notify the Clerk of Court’s office of the U.S. District Court in their area.

Contact information for federal courts may be found through the U.S. Courts court locator.

Please note that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is in charge of the collection of federal tax debts. To check for any outstanding federal tax debt, contact the IRS at (800) 913-6050 and view their collection process.

Can I Choose To Pay Someone Back After My Bankruptcy Discharge?

repay debtYou have filed and completed your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy case, and finally received your all-important discharge.  Unless you have very unusual circumstances, you did not officially reaffirm any of your debts in your case.  However, now you have thought about it and you want to pay back a certain pre-petition debt that was discharged.  Maybe it is to a friend or family member, or to a small bank or credit union you would like to keep doing business with.  Maybe it is the entire debt, or just part of it.  Are even you allowed to do that with all the very strict laws you have been told about?  The answer is yes, you absolutely can! Continue Reading

A Collector Is Trying To Collect A “Charged Off” Debt? Can They Do That?

credit report3You have been informed by a creditor that your debt has been “charged off,” or your credit report shows that a debt has been charged off.  You believe that this is the end of the matter, but all of a sudden you find out you have been sued for the debt by a debt collector.  Can they do that?  The answer is yes.  The term “charge off” can be a little confusing, but basically it is an accounting term that means the original creditor has given up trying to collect the debt from you.  There may be a few reasons they do this, including their internal tax accounting.  They may then report it to the credit bureaus as an “I9″ or R9” charge off, which are two of the more negative entries.  However, contrary to what many people may believe, a charge-off status, while an accounting/reporting term, is not a legal term.  You can be sued for a charged off debt the same as any other debt.  In fact, it is quite common for large creditors to ship their charged off debts to collectors, who then use any legal (and sometimes illegal) means to collect.  Importantly, you still have all of the other defenses you may have otherwise had, including the statute of limitations, and debt collectors still have to comply with every requirement of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”).  If you have been sued, it is always a good idea to call a lawyer or two in your area.

Scott Riddle is a Bankruptcy and Foreclosure lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia.  The best way to contact us is by phone at 404-815-0164. You can also email, or contact us through the contact page.


Are You Settling A Debt After Being Sued? Never Ignore Deadlines!

debt-collection-lawsuit-300x196If you have been sued by a creditor or a collection agency on a debt that you owe, one way to resolve it is a settlement.  Settlements are generally good for both parties, or at least less painful for both parties.  The creditor gets some of the money it is owed, and you hopefully are able to pay less than the total amount of the debt.  Both sides avoid the attorneys fees and expenses of the lawsuit, and you avoid a judgment on your credit report and possible garnishments of your bank accounts and paychecks.  If the amount is significant, which will vary from person to person, it is almost always worth the money to hire a lawyer to work out the agreement.  It assures everything is handled correctly.  If the amount is relatively small, it is certainly possible you might contact the lawyer for the creditor and work out a settlement on your own.  However, there are still some pitfalls to this approach. Continue Reading

Will Bankruptcy Stop A Dispossessory Or Eviction?

Most of the discussion in this Blog, and most other Bankruptcy websites, involve the primary benefit and goal of Bankruptcy – the discharge Evictionof debt.  Many other posts are dedicated to avoiding foreclosure so you can catch up on your payments and keep your house, and this is still primarily an issue of dealing with your debt.  However, what if your debt issues have progressed to the point where you are actually facing an eviction from your home?  No one is trying to collect a debt from you – instead, they are trying to get the sheriff or marshal to physically remove you and your possessions from your house or apartment.  This could be after a foreclosure, or after a default on your lease.  Will a Bankruptcy filing stop an eviction?  Often, yes it will, even if it is usually not a long term solution. Continue Reading

Can The Bankruptcy Filing Fee Be Waived?

feesVirtually all courts, from local city courts to the Supreme Court of the United States, charge filing fees for filing a case, filing appeals, and sometimes filing motions and other documents.  These are fees that help the courts keep running, and are in addition to the fees you pay to your lawyer.  Bankruptcy Courts are no different.  To file a Bankruptcy case, you will pay a filing fee of $350 for a Chapter 7 case and $310 for a Chapter 13 case.  Click here for other fees charged in the Northern District of Georgia.  The reality is that many people filing for Bankruptcy, especially on an emergency basis, may not have the money to pay these fees.  In some limited circumstances, the Court may waive these fees or allow them to be paid in installments. Continue Reading