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Bankruptcy–out of spite, more than anything | Occupied Stories

Categorized | Debt Stories

Bankruptcy–out of spite, more than anything

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Virginia Beach, VA – My story starts in 1987 when I won a car.  I was 19 years old.  I was a restaurant worker and community college student at the time.  Not much in the way of income; I was paying for school as I went along.  My car was declared as income on my taxes, so I was suddenly in a higher tax bracket and credit card companies were knocking each other over trying to give me cards.  I got two:  one with a $3500 limit, and one with a $5,000 limit.  I was rich!  I was 19, had a brand new car, and loads of credit.   I carried those balances well into my 30’s.  Along the way, I applied to a “real” college and financial aid, and along came more credit cards and balance transfers and personal loans. I blame no one; I should have educated myself on money management, but I just didn’t care when I was in my twenties.

I got a “real” job and was making good money.  I started paying down my debt.  I went to a consumer credit company to help me.  (I had a Sears card; they were the only ones who would not work with the consumer credit company and kept the   percentage rate at 21%.   Eventually, I had everything paid off and I was only paying my student loan.   I have a federal loan, and I don’t mind paying it off.  I don’t need it to be waived. I knew when I applied that I would pay for my education.  I’m sorry others find themselves so stuck with their student loans, but I want to pay my student loan debt.

Anyway, after I was “debt free”, the offers for new credit came pouring in.  I decided to get a couple new cards “just in case.”  And a personal loan.  Then 9/11 happened.  I worked in an advertising industry.  Times were strained just before 9/11; the economy was starting to show some wear (yep, George W was just in office…thanks for that $300 dollar check, Mr. President!)  Then actors went on strike and the advertising industry got hit pretty good.  Then 9/11 happened and it really shook the country as a whole.  The economy really suffered.  Advertising came almost to a halt.  It was a domino effect:  I saw small businesses close their doors because bigger business had to cut costs.  Local restaurants that relied on lavish business lunches folded because no one was ordering.  I heard horror stories about people showing up to work and finding the door locked and closed for business.

My health suffered.  Luckily I had health insurance at the time.  I had to have emergency surgery.  For me it was the last, life-changing straw.  I planned for a few months, but I quit my job and moved back home with my parents–from California to Virginia.  I carried debt with me.  I planned to go back to school and become a teacher.  That was 10 years ago.  I started out waiting tables.  Then my mom had a stroke.  I stayed home longer than I meant too.  I worked various odd jobs.  I finally found one that was decent pay and I loved it.  But the business was owned by a married couple who had started it on a whim and didn’t know how to keep it going.  I got laid off.

That was in 2007.   I was in debt, had paid some things off, taken out a new personal loan to help pay off other things.  I was playing the credit game.  Then I was unemployed and the credit game wasn’t so funny anymore.

I tried to reason with the credit card companies.  Bank of America and Citibank were the major ones.  I had Capital One, too.  I found a very low-paying job, but it had health insurance, so I took it.  But I could not meet my monthly credit card bills.  I went back to Consumer Credit Counseling.  I started getting things under control.  But things were horribly out of control and it was Citibank that was at the center of it.

Consumer Credit Counseling consolidates your debt.  They work with the credit card companies to lower interest rates and they make the monthly payments.  I would pay Consumer Credit on let’s say the 5th of each month.  They would pay the credit card companies on let’s say the 10th of each month.

Well, Citibank decided that they needed the first payment to be made between the 15th and 31st of each month, or the contract with Consumer Credit would not be valid.  I got a letter from Citibank after the first payment was made on the 10th, and they said they needed a payment made on the 15th.  I alerted Consumer Credit.  They resubmitted.  But apparently somewhere along the way no one noticed the fine print that the payment HAD TO BE MADE ON THE 15TH. Not the 10th…oh no, that was five days to early.  Or maybe that was 25 days too late.  Either way, it wasn’t on the 15th.  So, Citibank started charging late fees, they raised the percentage rate to over 30% and I forget what the other stupid fee was, but this went on for almost a year before I realized it.  I was getting collection calls, but was ignoring them because I thought I was making regular payments and didn’t care.  Well I was making regular payments, but they were below Citibank’s minimum payment.  Thanksgiving D
ay I got an over-nighted letter from them saying I was being taken to court if I didn’t bring my account current.

I opened my old bills, saw that, yes, they were taking the monthly payment from Consumer Credit, but it didn’t count for anything.  The monthly fees they were charging were more than my payments.

I was devastated.  I didn’t feel like I could win.  I was angry and depressed.  I was in a huge hole.  President Obama was newly elected.  AND THE BANKS WERE ASKING FOR BAILOUTS!

Tha was the last straw for me.  The banks needed to be bailed out, but they sure weren’t bailing anyone else out.  They didn’t even try to help me.  Citibank wouldn’t reduce the percentage rate, remove all the late fees…  All because THEY DID NOT GET A PAYMENT ON THE EXACT DATE THEY WANTED IT.  Paying a few days early counted for nothing!  It’s a farce.   No one believed me until I showed them the bills and letters with the dates circled.

I decided my only way out was to declare bankruptcy.  I did it more out of spite than anything.  I did it to bail myself out because no one would help me.  I wrote a letter to President Obama when the bail outs were a big subject.  I wrote to the Governor of Virginia.  I eventually got a letter from his office saying he didn’t deal with that; I need to contact some federal agency.  By then the wheels were in motion.

I completed my bankruptcy almost two years ago.  And immediately I got my final letter saying my bankruptcy was done, I got credit card offers from those same banks.

That is why I hate the banks and I am for Occupy Wallstreet.  That is my personal story.  They are crooks and should be held accountable.  And to offer someone who just declared bankruptcy new credit cards is one of the lowest things they can do.  It just proves that they want to keep the country in debt.  My blood is boiling all over again.  Thanks for the forum to share.  By the way, I am NOT ashamed.  I did my best to pay things back.  Like I said, I am in bankruptcy out of spite more than anything.  And how freeing it is!!!!   I hope others find relief.

Amanda-

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3 Responses to “Bankruptcy–out of spite, more than anything”

  1. Steven Matherly says:

    Amanda:

    Having owned two businesses (a Blues Bar and a Deli) I have declared bankruptcy – twice! I can’t say that I’ve been as virtuous as you have been about trying to pay all my debts. However, I too got offers of credit cards that I clearly was not able to afford to use.

    So many people were using bankruptcy to deal with their debts that the laws have been changed. Our creditors were entitled to ten cents on the dollar. The new laws are much more favorable to creditors.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

    Steven in NC

  2. Georgette miller says:

    Bankruptcy is no just for GM and American Airlines to get a fresh financial start. It’s a tool for everyone. Too many people allow themselves to be bullied when they have this bankruptcy right in their back pocket.

    Good for you Amanda, you exercised the very same right exercised by Abe Lincoln… Yes that former president, Ulysses Grant and Walt Disney just to name a few icons of history.

    Congrats

    Georgette Miller
    Lawnside, New Jersey

  3. bourne says:

    The clincher IS, as per fractional reserve banking techniques, bank creditors essentially create the loan out of thin air, that is, they put up nothing, bring no “consideration” to the table.

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