Can My Bankruptcy Petition be Denied?

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If you have recently found yourself in what appears to be an ever-increasing pile of debt, the good news is that at least you recognize you’ve got a problem. Perhaps you’re in this situation due to unexpected unemployment, an out-of-control spending habit, a mounting mass of medical bills, or divorce. The reason behind your unfortunate ‘lack of funds’ is less important than the fact that you’re seriously considering filing for bankruptcy in order to give yourself the fresh financial start that you need.

As many people before you have realized, the decision to file for bankruptcy is not an easy one to make. It is only natural to go through a period of feeling embarrassed about what you’ve gotten yourself into. It’s important to keep reminding yourself that you are making the best decision possible, and that filing for bankruptcy will enable you to turn your situation around and get you back on track for a successful financial future.

Once the concept of erasing the majority of your debts sinks in, most petitioners feels a giant sense of relief that this safety net exists today. Bankruptcy essentially is a saving grace for a huge number of people who have experienced a significantly rough financial patch. With that being said, it’s of the utmost importance that you file your petition with integrity and precise attention to detail. What many people do not know is that a bankruptcy petition does not have to be excepted by the bankruptcy courts. In fact, there are many bankruptcy blunders that can and will cause your petition to be rejected. It is important to be sure that you are well-versed on all of the rules and regulations regarding each type of bankruptcy, especially the type that applies to your case. Working with a qualified and experienced bankruptcy attorney will ensure that these blunders are avoided so that your debt can be discharged successfully.

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Some common reasons that bankruptcy cases may be closed without discharge include:

  • Missing important deadlines by which bankruptcy paperwork must be filed
  • Submitting incomplete paperwork to the bankruptcy trustee
  • Failure to provide your filed tax returns for the four years immediately prior to your bankruptcy petition
  • Submitting paperwork that contains incorrect information, whether intentionally or by accident
  • Failure to complete any credit counseling courses required by bankruptcy court
  • Failure to show adequate proof of identity to the bankruptcy trustee
  • Failure to abide by bankruptcy rules and regulations or terms that were set about in your bankruptcy case (payment schedules, etc.)
  • Failure to work cooperatively with the bankruptcy trustee, i.e. not providing him or her with additional requested information, refusal to relinquish certain assets, etc.
  • Submitting fraudulent information on your bankruptcy complaint, including but not limited to: marital status, falsified income reports, failure to acknowledge ownership of additional real estate, maintaining hidden secret bank accounts, secretive transfers of funds to friends or family members before filing for bankruptcy, failure to disclose knowledge of an upcoming settlement, inheritance, or other significant financial windfall
  • Proposing a chapter 13 repayment plan that is unrealistic

When you’re contemplating filing for bankruptcy, chances are high that you think you can’t afford to work with an experienced attorney – or any attorney, for that matter. After all, you’re broke, right?!? Look for bankruptcy attorneys with high success rates and positive client reviews. Most bankruptcy attorneys fully understand that your financial situation is dire at the moment, and while they will expect to be paid, they want to help you get your feet back on the ground first. Payment plans that work with your financial situation are very common. Have more questions about filing for bankruptcy? We’d love to hear from you!

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Protect Your Business from 4 Common Fraud Sources

5621813850_e45e5522e6Photo courtesy of Orange Sparrow

The news media is flooded on a regular basis with tragic stories about the victims of consumer fraud. On the flipside are the businesses that are also being taken advantage of – typically smaller to midsize companies with a lack of formality that is standard in larger corporations.

If you are a small business owner, you need to be aware that the number of fraudulent crimes against businesses are indeed increasing. In fact, 88% of small to midsize businesses in the United States have reported at least one instance of fraud. These companies have also shown to have a decline in their overall financial success, which makes the case for taking a closer look at what you can do to stay safe.

In order to safeguard your company from becoming a fraud victim, become more informed by taking steps to educate yourself about potential fraud sources and how to protect yourself and your business.

Insiders – Especially in small businesses, the relationships between business owners/bosses and employees is different than in large corporations. Because small-business owners typically entrust their employees to a fault, they unfortunately put their businesses at risk. In a 2009 survey carried out by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, 76% of business fraud was performed by employees or someone who was an insider and familiar with company procedure.

Clients/customers – Theft is the most obvious source of fraud committed by customers, but there are actually many other ways in which clients and customers can perform fraud against a company. These include: using stolen credit cards, writing fraudulent checks, false return scams and false injury or ‘slip and fall’ claims.

Vendors/contractors – All too often, small-business owners are grossly overcharged by contractors for services, and many times, the services in question were either sub-par or not provided at all.

Hackers – Today, electronic fraud in the form of hacking, identity theft, phishing and other forms of data breach crimes are some of the most problematic cases of fraud occurring against business owners because the hackers are often very good at what they do, which means they are undetectable.

In order to protect yourself and your company against these and other types of fraud, we advise our clients to adopt stricter anti-fraud practices within the workplace. First and foremost, you must provide your employees with a safe and anonymous system in which they can report their suspicions if they have a reason to suspect another employee or insider of committing a fraudulent act. Anonymity is key, because co-workers do not like to rat each other out.

It’s a really good idea to randomly surprise your employees with unscheduled internal audits and every so often, hire a professional team to externally audit all of your business accounts and inventory. This will keep your employees on their toes, and will reduce temptation to commit fraud. Ensure that your business has clear written policies when it comes to any type of money handling.
Tighten up your hiring policies by performing strict background checks on any potential new employees.

If you feel that you have already been a victim of small business fraud, please contact our office today so that we can assist you.  Don’t let fraud fall by the wayside – take steps to rectify the problem now so that your company can continue to thrive.