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5 Things to Buy at Home Depot

“More Saving. More Doing” — the home improvement retailer’s slogan since March 2009 — is catchy and accurate, if a little self-congratulatory: The word on the street, among professional contractors and home-improvers, is that The Home Depot usually has the lowest prices on home improvement supplies.

CBSNews.com has a list of the 5 Things to Buy at Home Depot.

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Bankruptcy & Fraud: What You Must Know Before You File

Brought to you by: Benjamin C. Yablon

The new bankruptcy law, passed by Congress in 2005 (The Bankruptcy Reform and Abuse Prevention Act of 2005), was put into effect under the auspices of catching “abusive filings.” Most people would take this to mean that it was designed to catch criminals attempting to file bankruptcy. However, the practical result of the law is to deny protection to an entire swath of the honest American public.

The key addition to the new law is called the “means test.”. This test looks at the six months preceding the month in which a case is filed and “annualizes” (multiplies by two) the gross income received by the individual. This includes the income resulting from the sale and liquidation of assets like cars, motorcycles and even 401(k)’s. All this income goes into the pot and is used to force people away from Chapter 7 bankruptcy (90 days, quick and easy) and into Chapter 13 bankruptcy (5 years, low success rate).

Common criminal acts under bankruptcy statutes can involve the concealment of assets, destruction of documents, fraudulent claims, conflicts of interest, false statements, fee fixing or redistribution arrangements, and the acquisition of new debt without the intent to repay it. Falsifications on bankruptcy schedules can constitute perjury. Filing bankruptcy multiple times is not in and of itself fraud, but may create problems depending on the state of mind of the person filing.

The United States Trustee’s office was given a large budget boost under the new law. However, if the US Trustee is so busy catching “abusive” filings (i.e. those deemed to have too much money), who is looking at the actual criminals filing bankruptcy? You guessed it, no one that wasn’t looking for them before the law changed.

For those out to cheat the system, the game is the same: understate your assets and use bankruptcy as another tool to move through life the wrong way. For those honest, hard working Americans who sold everything they had to pay debts and still ended up in bankruptcy, there is a revitalized US Trustee’s office filled with accountants and paralegals hired to ferret out those deemed to be “abusing” the system.

Bankruptcy fraud can be investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to six years in Federal prison, revocation of a discharge, and a $500k fine. It is not something to take lightly.

How to Avoid Fraud

If you are in debt and considering selling assets to repay your creditors, talk to an attorney first. Debt settlement may be an alternative to bankruptcy. However, it should only be considered after vetting competent settlement experts.

Typically, debts can be settled for 50% or less of their outstanding balance, but there is a huge risk when dealing with debt collectors on your own. Selling assets before filing bankruptcy can be a deal killer under the new law (The Bankruptcy Reform and Abuse Prevention Act of 2005). The money received counts as gross income and will be used by the US Trustee to force you to file a Chapter 13, when you may a filer that would have qualified for a Chapter 7 based on yourtheir wages. Why? Because you now “make” too much money! It’s an unfair and slanted law, but it is the one we must work within. Not disclosing the sale or transfer of an asset is fraud.

The main reason to use a debt settlement lawyer is the protection provided you in case as in which creditors claims that a payment you supposedly made in full settlement of an account was actually just a partial payment! When a lawyer has settled the debt, the next step is a law suit. A good settlement lawyer will have kept clear records of the transaction and will have an easy case in front of them. However, hiring a lawyer after you have a person has settled a debt on yourtheir own and are thenis involved in a dispute with the creditor will cost a small fortune. Attorneys avoid messy cases that they did no’t help create, unless they are being paid by the hour. Even then, there is no guarantee that the settlement documents you havea person has will hold up in court.

If settlement is not an option and bankruptcy makes the most sense, the best thing you can do is recognize the problem early and begin planning your case with an attorney. Do not wait until a creditor has sued you. Once local debt collection law firms are involved and a wage garnishment is around the corner, your chances to adequately plan for a bankruptcy disappear.

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Frozen Dead Guy Days Is Up For Sale

Nederland’s odd and popular Frozen Dead Guy Days festival is up for sale.

The local chamber of commerce says the 10-year-old festival is getting too expensive to operate so it’s hoping to sell the rights to the event so someone else can run it. The chamber also says it needs to concentrate on business development.

Read more at cbsdenver.com.

 

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Scam Artists Come Out After Storm Damage Is Done

When your property is damaged because of a storm, the reaction is to get it fixed fast. But despite the urgency – slow down. Don’t give into the high pressure tactics, and read very carefully everything you’re asked to sign.

cbsdenver.com tell us what to do when a storm hits your property.

 

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Top 10 Myths About Bankruptcy

Written by: Colorado Bankruptcy Help

Myth #1: I will lose my house and car if I file bankruptcy.

Most people keep their house and cars when they file bankruptcy. In Colorado, you are allowed up to $60,000 of equity in your house ($90,000 if you are over 60 years old) and up to $5000 of equity in one car for a single person and two cars with $5000 of equity apiece for married couples ($20,000 if you are over 60).

Myth #2: When I file bankruptcy someone from the court will come to my house and go through my possessions.

Generally no one will come out to your house. You simply list your possessions on your bankruptcy schedules under oath.

Myth #3: If I file bankruptcy, I will never be able to finance a car again.

Many of clients actually find it easier to get financed for a car after they receive a Chapter 7 discharge. This is because their debt to income ratio has improved and the car lender knows that the individual cannot file bankruptcy again for at least 8 years. Clients can buy a car after the bankruptcy is filed, but interest rates will be higher than those with good credit.

Myth #4: If I file bankruptcy, I will never be able to get another credit card.

Unfortunately, clients get inundated with credit card offers once they receive their Chapter 7 discharge. It’s important to have some credit, but one should limit their credit card use for reservations that require a credit card.

Myth #5: Filing a bankruptcy is easy. All I need to do is go down to the court and file a couple of papers.

The legal system is a complex maze of rules, laws, and regulations. The creditors have aggressive legal counsel to fight you and certain items can be taken from you by the trustee. If you want to be successful in this process, then you ought to get the best possible legal counsel to guide you through the system.

Myth #6: When I file bankruptcy all my debts get erased.

Not necessarily. Child support, alimony, and student loans do not get wiped out, along with some types of recent taxes, and you must keep paying on secured debt that you want to keep such as a house or car.

Myth #7: To file bankruptcy, I must be delinquent on all my debts.

I often have clients that file bankruptcy who are current on all their debts. However, they see the writing on the wall. Often times they are transferring debts from one credit card to another and want to end the vicious cycle of debt. Other times a change in income forces a measure to eliminate debt. Regardless, it doesn’t matter if your current or delinquent.

Myth #8: If I file bankruptcy I will have to go to court where my creditors and a judge will grill me over the coals.

Although you need to attend what is called a meeting of creditors, creditors rarely show up for the meeting. An attorney will attend the meeting with you and the court appointed trustee has only simple, straightforward questions for you to answer.

Myth #9: If I file bankruptcy, I have given up on my dreams and my chances of becoming a success.

What do former U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant, Burt Reynolds, Anna Nicole Smith, Larry King, Kim Bassinger, and Rush Limbaugh all have in common? You guessed it; they all have filed for bankruptcy in the past. There is no shame in coming to the realization that you are in over your head with debt, and there is certainly nothing wrong with doing something about it. Bankruptcy is the largest area of law in the world. Most of the time it is a great way to restructure your likfe so you can do great things without the huge debt burden on your shoulders.

Myth #10: I will lose my job if I file bankruptcy.

This is simply not true. Under the bankruptcy code, an employer cannot discriminate because of a bankruptcy filing.

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