If you need to file or are considering bankruptcy, start preparing now! Take the following proactive steps to handle your debt/credit related issues.

Often times, we wait until a creditor starts to garnish our wages, levy our bank accounts before we make the decision to file for Bankruptcy. While you’re in financial stress, creditors are behind the scenes plotting to seize and take what they can to satisfy the debt. With this in mind, planning ahead makes things easier for you in the long run.

1. Stop pretending like the problem will go away if you ignore it. IT WON’T!

There is nothing worse than reacting to a financial crisis after it has occurred and having to file for bankruptcy. Realize and know your potential risks now.

2. Request your credit report from all three credit bureaus.

You may visit Annual Credit Report and download all three bureaus’ credit reports for free. Everyone is entitle to one free report each year.

3. Look through the public record section.

Are creditor judgments showing up in your credit file? This is the best way to find out whether a bank levy may occur or a garnishment may begin.

4. Check to see if your current employer is listed on your credit report.

Collection agencies and creditors do their best to search for your bank and your employer. They first look at your credit report; your employment information may be on that report.

5. Prospective employers show up under the “credit inquiry” section.

Anyone looking at your credit should appear under the credit inquires section. You may be applying for a job and may need to authorize a credit check. This tells creditors two things: where you live because you are likely looking for work near your home and where you may have started working. Clients who recently started a job and then get wages garnished soon after are always confused how the creditor found out about the job so quickly.

6. Keep bank accounts low.

Today, creditors can more easily levy bank accounts and no longer have to levy the branch where you opened your account. They simply provide the corporate office with the judicial order authorizing the bank levy. If the creditor looks at your credit report and sees a credit inquiry, the creditor also will look for small banks and credit unions near that employer’s location. You could have your rent or mortgage money in the account when it is levied, and filing bankruptcy after the levy means you are unlikely to get that money back.

7. Be careful during tax season.

Creditors are very aggressive February through April. They know you are getting a tax refund and usually that refund gets directly deposited into your bank account. The bank levy can happen at any time, even right after the refund hits your bank.

8. Contact the creditor to start a payment plan first.

Avoid the bank levy or the garnishment by contacting the creditor. Hopefully, you can reach a payment plan agreement or settlement.

9. Start your bankruptcy attorney payment plan now.

If you can’t afford the creditor’s payment plan or settlement agreement, start paying your bankruptcy attorney now. By making a payment arrangement with us, we can get the bankruptcy process started.

10. Once you’re finished paying, submit all of the necessary paperwork and get your case filed.

Clients constantly hire us, pay the fee balance, and then never send back the necessary paperwork. We usually hold onto the file only to be contacted after a levy or garnishment begins. We can stop the garnishment, but we can’t guarantee we’ll get your money back from the bank levy. Once you have paid the balance, call your attorney to confirm your case has been filed. At Occena Law, we would maintain a closed loop communication until your case is filed and the matter is closed.

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