Mesa Bankruptcy Law Office
My AZ Lawyers
1731 W. Baseline Rd.
Mesa, AZ 85202
Phoenix Bankruptcy Law Office
668 North 44th Street, Suite #300
Phoenix, AZ 85008
Glendale Bankruptcy Law Office
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20325 N. 51st Ave.
Glendale, AZ 85308
Tucson Bankruptcy Law Office
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2 East Congress St. Ste. 900
Tucson, AZ 85701
Protecting Your Credit
Identity Theft, Dealing With and Prevention
Do you have a favorable credit score? If so, there are many bad people out there who would sure like to use both your credit score and your identity for their own mischief. Identity theft is a crime! The number of identity theft cases in Tucson, Mesa, Phoenix, Glendale, and throughout Arizona continues to increase. Chances are, either you, some family member, or someone you know has been negatively affected by theft of their identity.
Identity thieves can get information from potential victims in a variety of different ways. Some of the most common ways of gaining other people’s important information include: rummaging through the trash, stealing mail from mailboxes, hacking into personal computers, or running e-mail or telephone scams where the soon-to-be victim volunteer their information freely. Identity thieves can also obtain debit and credit card numbers by standing close behind someone at ATM machines. Thieves also sometimes install portable scanning devices an ATM and credit processing machines which do the dirty work for them.
Chances are, if you have been hacked or had your identity stolen, you will not even realize that it has transpired until it is too late. Unfortunately, there is not just one action that can completely prevent identity theft. There are steps that you can take to reduce your chances of becoming a victim of identity theft.
Steps to Take to Prevent Identity Theft
- Create strong passwords for all on-line accounts
- Use only secured web sites for financial transactions
- Keep Social Security Card in a safe place.
- Review all bank statements and billing statements monthly.
- Shred important information and accounts before discarding.
- Pay bills on-line electronically.
- Protect your PIN # at cash machines and stores.
- Sign your credit and debit cards as soon as they arrive.
Even if you take all the necessary steps that you can think of, it is still possible that you may be a victim of identity theft in Arizona. Preventative steps simply lower your chances of becoming a victim of identity theft. It still could happen to you.
If you do ever find yourself in a situation where you are a victim of identity theft, it is important to file a police report and get a copy of the report that you filed so that you can provide to creditors, the credit bureaus, and others who may require proof of the crime. In cases where the victim has personal information stolen, there are additional steps that you take. One of the things that you can do is to place a “freeze” on your credit file and place a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC maintains a database of identity theft cases and contact the 3 major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit file.
Protecting your credit has never been more important. With the poor financial situation currently evolving in Arizona, identity thieves will become more desperate and will take greater chances in order to steal your identity, your credit, and ruin your financial stability. Be aware!
Jamal Lewis Files for Bankruptcy Protection
Lewis Becomes Latest NFL Bankruptcy Casualty
The former NFL player (seven seasons with the Baltimore Ravens and three seasons with the Cleveland Browns) Jamal Lewis has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Lewis, who finished his professional football career in 2010, now is self-employed and earns about $35,000 per month. That means he is making $420,000 a year and is still seeking bankruptcy protection. Sounds crazy right? It’s not, it’s true! It is reported that Lewis has accumulated a huge debt, which he is struggling to pay off — including five homes, expensive cars, and business ventures.
Sports Illustrated reports that within only after two years of retirement, almost 80% of NFL football players are bankrupt or in financial trouble. It hardly seems possible for these athletes who rake in millions could be broke. Unsuccessful business investments, gambling, outrageous spending habits, and even divorce, and child support payments tap out the bank accounts much faster than the former NFL players can imagine.
Many of the same things that cause these professional athletes to file bankruptcy are the exact same things that lead to individuals, couples, and businesses in Arizona to declare bankruptcy. Both the “rich and famous” and the regular people of Arizona are financially affected by such things as: Loss of Job, Divorce, Gambling Debts, Poor Spending Habits, and Child Support Payments. In many ways the two aforementioned groups are a lot alike.
Possibly financial illiteracy combined with irresponsible choices and mismanagement of money causes a seemingly well-paid athlete to declare bankruptcy. Most players who get paid a good chunk of their salary right away tend to spend it quickly. They assume that the money will keep flowing in this manner for years, this is not usually the case with NFL players. A lot of times the enormous paychecks end when the player’s playing days end. Few people (famous or not) are good at handling sudden wealth, even fewer people are good at making the adjustment from making huge sums of money to not making much money.
The average professional football career only 3 ½ years, this is not the usual case when looking at other professions. In an “average Joe” occupation, workers anticipate an increase in earnings (usually yearly); the longer time spent with a company, the more raises and income a person expects to earn, where as pro athletes, even if they play for many years, will eventually have to downsize their finances. They get a lot of money up front, which is different than other professionals who have a considerably longer career and can expect to make more money for years in the future.
Until recently, nothing has been done to help protect NFL players regarding debt relief and management of their finances. The NFL has now implemented a program to help NFL players protect their finances and offers resources for its players. (It’s about time!) The league conducts workshops for rookies that cover topics ranging from gambling, personal finance, substance abuse, and domestic violence. Perhaps additional long-term financial planning, debt relief exercises, and even quality bankruptcy information may be helpful to both rookies and retired veterans alike.
How To Determine If You Qualify For Arizona Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy is an unpleasant situation to find oneself in. However, in some cases it can be the best solution to a foreboding mountain of debt. It is important that this out be used only as a last resort when all other alternatives have been thoroughly researched and attempted. If an individual thinks he might be one of the hundreds of thousands of Americans forced to file for bankruptcy every year, it is necessary to first determine whether he rightfully qualifies.
Whether or not one qualifies for this debt resolution hinges primarily on two important things – one’s debt and one’s income. If both of these numbers meet the requirements under state law, an individual may proceed with filing to eliminate debt.
If this state law affects property exemptions in a debt resolution case, which differ from state to state. If one files in this state, he may only claim property exemptions that have been given by state law. For example, current exemptions include one’s home (or up to $150,000), equipment used in your line of work up to $2,500, retirement funds, and life insurance up to $20,000. The amounts of these exemptions are subject to change.
The fact is that anyone in Arizona can file for some kind of debt resolution under chapter 7 bankruptcy and chapter 13 bankruptcy. The key, however, is in determining whether or not one should. Hiring a Tucson bankruptcy lawyer can give helpful insight via the professional opinion needed to make the right choice for an individual and his family.
During this process, one’s bankruptcy lawyer will work with them to review their status and financial standings. This begins with a look at the income. In Arizona, an individual’s income must come in at less than the median income in order to qualify for chapter 7 bankruptcy in this state. If these numbers meet the criteria, a person filing for this kind of debt resolution will then have to undergo a complex test called the Means test, which is based on both income and outgoing expenses.
Should one qualify, chapter 7 would eliminate the majority of debt including medical bills, credit cards, real estate foreclosure debt, vehicle repossession debt, and most tax debt more than 3 years old. Because chapter 7 bankruptcy takes care of most forms of debt, it is the most common kind in every state of the U.S., although not everyone is able to qualify.
If a person is unable to qualify for chapter 7, their bankruptcy attorney in the city of Tucson will help them determine whether they meet the requirements for chapter 13 bankruptcy instead. This method allows one to use part of your income to repay debt (either part or all of it), over a period of three to five years. An individual may qualify for chapter 13 bankruptcy if they are able to prove an ability to make regular payments and if their secured debts are under 1.10 million and unsecured debt is under $337,000.
One should consider all of this information, which can begin to help determine whether an individual has any chance of filing for this debt resolution in Arizona. If debt is substantial, chances are that they do qualify either for chapter 7 or 13. If so, the next step is hiring a reputable lawyer who specializes in bankruptcy in order to proceed successfully.