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Learn the basics of how a chapter 13 bankruptcy case works from filing your case to discharge and everything in between.Find Out More
The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) requires that all individuals filing Chapter 13 attend a debtor education class certified by the US Trustee Program.Find Out More
Before calling the Chapter 13 Office, you may want to refer to your case online at the National Data Center to view current information about your case. You will find current detailed information about your case there, and the answers to many of your questions. The Chapter 13 Office phone number is (706) 327-4151. The office is open five days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Do not expect to talk personally with the Trustee; the staff is familiar with the policies and guidelines under Chapter 13, and is well qualified to discuss with you any problems or questions that may arise. The Trustee does not represent you and cannot give you any legal advice.
Most of our Chapter 13 payments are made through a payroll deduction with the debtor's place of employment. This deduction will usually start soon after the first meeting. You must make the payments yourself until the deduction begins. If you do not, your plan will be considered delinquent and may be dismissed. Only in unusual circumstances does the Court allow payments to be made directly by the debtor. Any payments made by you personally are to be made by money order or cashier's check made payable to the Office of the Chapter 13 Trustee, and mailed to the Atlanta address at Chapter 13 Trustee - COLS P.O. Box 116347 Atlanta, Georgia 30368-6347. All payments should include your name, address and your Chapter 13 case number. We do not accept cash or personal checks. Any changes in employment or address must be reported to the Chapter 13 office immediately. These changes should be mailed to the Columbus address.
Make your payments until you see that your employer is taking the payroll deduction from your check.
If an order is issued to your employer, you and your employer should understand that such an order is not a garnishment. A garnishment can come only from someone to whom you owe money, and you do not owe the Court any money. The Court is simply carrying out its duty to administer the plan you voluntarily filed. Under the plan, you voluntarily gave the Court exclusive jurisdiction over your future pay during the course of the plan. Should any employer treat such an order as a garnishment, let us know and we will explain to them that you are making an effort to pay your debts, instead of not paying them. We usually find that employers, after an explanation, understand and think more highly of an employee for trying to pay his/her bills.
All the creditors you listed in your Chapter 13 case are prohibited from bothering you in any way. If you get notices in the mail from creditors, just note on them that you have filed Chapter 13, give them your case number, and mail them back to the creditor. Delinquent notices need not cause any great concern. But, if you should get a more personal, direct contact from a creditor, such as a telephone call, a personal letter, a summons, or a visit in person, you should immediately inform them that you are under Chapter 13 and give them the name and address of your Trustee. Get the name of the party contacting you and report it to your attorney. Under no circumstances are you to discuss the debt with them in any manner. Please be sure to get the name of the party if you are contacted personally. In order to follow up on such a call, the name of the party making the contact is very important.
You may not deal with a creditor directly, just as they may not deal with you. You cannot pick and choose some particular creditor and pay them "on the side", as all debts must be dealt with through the Court only. Any payment made by you would be illegal, and would have to be reversed by the Court. All creditors must be paid by the Court and under the terms of your plan, not by anyone's personal desires. If you want to know how much you still owe a creditor, or all creditors, visit the National Data Center website. Case data is refreshed once each day. In addition, you are mailed a report annually in February. This computerized record shows all the payments received by your Trustee and to whom that money was sent.
Most creditors have seventy days from the date your case was filed in which to file their claims. Any claim not filed within the time limit is a late claim and may be disallowed by the Court after objection. We can pay only those whose claims are filed and approved, and are prohibited from paying anyone who did not file a claim. Should you have any objection to any claims filed, you must immediately contact your attorney.
Creditors not listed by you when you filed can cause quite a few problems. There are two kinds of unlisted creditors: Those you owed money to when you filed and forgot to list - we call them "unlisted creditors", and those creditors who have a bill that was incurred after you filed. We call this type "post-petition creditors". If you find an unlisted creditor, one you owed but forgot to list, you must let your attorney know the details immediately. If it is not too late, he or she can include this creditor in the plan and protect you from them. Time is important so don't delay if one shows up. Post-petition creditors, those whose bills were incurred after you filed, should be rare because you are not to use credit while under Chapter 13. Doctor and various medical expenses can't always be avoided, and repair bills do come up. When this happens, you should recognize that you owe the bill and you should pay it, as it cannot normally be added to your Chapter 13 case. There is an exception to this rule for certain debts which arise after you file your case. Under certain circumstances, taxes and debts which are necessary for your plan to work can be added to your plan or paid. You should contact your attorney if you think you have this type of a debt.
Your Trustee cannot, and will not allow you to miss a Chapter 13 payment so that you can pay "new debts". Your old debts being paid through your case come first.
The money you pay to the Trustee is used to pay all expenses, including your attorney, and your creditors. There are three basic types of claims: Priority, secured, and unsecured. Priority claims include child support and taxes. Generally, we pay your attorney and your secured creditors first according to your plan. If there are funds remaining, we then pay your taxes and child support. Unsecured claims are not paid until the priority claims are paid in full. For this reason, it could be many months before the first payments on unsecured claims are made.
If you are paying 100% to your creditors and you have a cosigner, comaker, or guarantor on any of your debts, Chapter 13 protects him or her from collection activities by the creditor for as long as you remain under Chapter 13, and the debt is being paid in full. Any contact that any of your cosigners receive from creditors after you file your case should be reported to your attorney. Any payments that your cosigners make after you file may be recovered.
This protection for cosigners lasts only as long as your Chapter 13 case does. If your case ends without a creditor receiving all the money due them, they can collect the rest from your cosigners (including interest and other charges, which were not allowed in your case). Your discharge on a debt does not affect a cosigner's obligation.
The use of credit cards or charge accounts of any kind while under Chapter 13 is strictly prohibited.
The use of credit while under Chapter 13 is prohibited without the permission of an officer of the Court. The only exception to this is for a medical emergency. If you find you must replace some necessary article by using credit, you should contact the Chapter 13 Office. Permission is considered for necessary articles only, and the amount of credit must be reasonable and within your means of repayment. Rent-to-own contracts are considered another form of credit transaction, and you may not obtain property by this method. Payday loans and use of pawn shops are also prohibited.
Obtaining credit without permission of the Court could result in your plan being dismissed.
You cannot sell any of your property, including land, without obtaining permission from the Court. If you sell any of your property for a profit, the profit may have to be applied to your Chapter 13 debts. If you sell your property without Court authorization, the transaction may be set aside.
Any debts you owe that are secured by a deed to secure debt on real property, or by a contract for a mobile home, must be paid directly by you, if the Court has not authorized payment through your Chapter 13 plan. These direct payments are included in your plan budget, and you are responsible for timely payment. If, for any reason you are not making your real estate or mobile home payments regularly, you should inform your attorney. Problems concerning real estate property foreclosure and liens of creditors on real estate property are matters that should be discussed with your attorney.
The Court cannot allow you to continue to live in the property if you cannot, or will not pay for it.
Federal bankruptcy law allows you to request that your Chapter 13 case be dismissed at any time. If you want to stop your case, get in touch with your attorney. However, you should understand that a dismissal will reactivate all unpaid or disputed debts, all interest, finance charges, and late charges not allowed by the Court, and all debts of creditors who did not file their claims. In addition, you would be forced to deal with those creditors on their terms, not yours or the Court's. You also may not be able to refile another case and still keep your property. Any request for dismissal of your plan must be in writing.
When it is time for you to file your yearly income tax returns, you may want information concerning who has been paid, how much, and what interest has been paid. This office is not in a position to advise you on how to file your return, or to determine the amount of interest paid each year. You will receive a report from us each February, which lists the names of your creditors. You may also visit the National Data Center website anytime to obtain creditor names. Only secured creditors should have any interest to report. You should contact them to obtain the amount of interest that was credited to your account during the year.
Your credit rating during and after completion of Chapter 13 will be, as it is now and was in the past, the personal opinion of any credit grantor who looks at your record. A credit rating is not A, B, or C, or 1, 2, or 3. It is a record of all your past credit performance. This record is made available to a credit grantor who makes a decision, using his or her own standards, as to whether or not to grant credit to you. Suits, collections, attachments, straight bankruptcy, credit counseling, and Chapter 13 are all indications, in one degree or another, of credit problems. How such records are evaluated by any given credit grantor is impossible to say.
Occasionally we find situations where a credit union exerts "pressure" on a borrower who has filed Chapter 13, to the extent that the employee feels his job may be in jeopardy. Such tactics are illegal, in that they constitute an attempt to obtain creditor preferences. Any such actions must be reported to this office immediately.
When creditors have been paid through Chapter 13, whether partially or in full, they should, and usually do, send the paid-in-full papers to you. They should also send you the title to your car. Contact your attorney for assistance if you have trouble obtaining your title from a creditor. Should you receive any request for additional money after your plan is completed, contact your Attorney.
Occasionally, a Chapter 13 debtor wishes to, or is asked to reaffirm a debt which has been discharged following the successful completion of a case.
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO REAFFIRM ANY DISCHARGED DEBTS.
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN THAT INFORMATION RELATING TO YOUR CHAPTER 13 BANKRUPTCY CASE WILL BE MADE AVAILABLE ON THE INTERNET TO YOUR CREDITORS AND OTHER PARTIES IN INTEREST
Pursuant to 11 U.S.C. 1302(b)(1) and 704(7), your Chapter 13 Trustee has a duty, unless otherwise ordered by the Bankruptcy Court, to furnish information concerning the administration of your bankruptcy case as is requested by parties in interest. In furtherance of this duty, the Chapter 13 Trustee will make the following information available to parties in interest who request such information:
Your name, address, bankruptcy case number, state and district in which your case is pending, and the trustee assigned to your case. Your social security number will not be visible to parties in interest, but they will be able to search for your bankruptcy case using your social security number. Furthermore, your employer's name will not be displayed.
Information regarding claims filed against your bankruptcy case including the identity of the claimant, the type of claim (e.g., priority taxes, secured, unsecured, etc.) and the amount of the claim.
A history of all payments you make to the Chapter 13 Trustee in your bankruptcy case including the date and amount of each payment.
A history of all disbursements made by the Chapter 13 Trustee in your bankruptcy case including the date of the disbursement, the payee, and the amount.
You may review, without charge, the information about your Chapter 13 bankruptcy case on the Internet. If you believe the information about your bankruptcy case is inaccurate, you should contact your attorney or this office.
The URL address where your information is posted is: https://www.ndc.org. The website is operated by the National Data Center. Detailed access instructions are provided at the website to help you get started quickly, and additional helpful information is also available.