About Me
Craig D. Robins, Esq. New York Bankruptcy Attorney, Longisland bankruptcy attorney

“ Craig D. Robins, Esq., has been a practicing Long Island bankruptcy attorney for over twenty-four years ”

Craig D. Robins, Esq.

Consumer Advice

Bankruptcy Attorney Representation — How Important Is It?

Posted on Tuesday (November 17, 2009) at 1:30 am to Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Consumer Advice
Issues Involving New Bankruptcy Laws

When it comes to filing bankruptcy in New York, using an experienced bankruptcy attorney is quite importantWritten by Craig D. Robins, Esq.
The two major reasons why people who know they need to file for bankruptcy, but put off doing so, is anxiety about filing, and concern about paying the legal fees.
Some consumers consider filing themselves.  However, this can be a major mistake and create additional problems.  Here’s why:
In every bankruptcy case, the debtor must appear before a court-appointed trustee.  The trustee is not your friend.  To the contrary, the essential purpose of the trustee is to investigate the debtor and determine if there are any assets that can be taken for the benefit of creditors.  Meeting with an experienced bankruptcy attorney will enable the debtor to have his or her assets reviewed.
What many debtors do not realize is that certain conduct that may have occurred years before filing can have a major impact.  For example, giving away assets or transferring an interest in real estate can result in significant litigation in the bankruptcy case.  Such matters are regularly reviewed by bankruptcy counsel before a bankruptcy petition is filed.  There are many reasons Why Consumer Debtors Can’t Transfer Assets Like a House or Car Before Filing Bankruptcy on Long Island .
The bankruptcy petition is written in plain English, so one would think that it is quite readable.  However, a fully-completed petition in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New York, when including all of the various forms and schedules, can easily exceed 40 pages.  The petition requires preparing numerous schedules and budgets.  Proper information about debts and assets must be listed.  Not necessarily an easy task. 
Then, there are several dozen questions in a Statement of Financial Affairs that must also be answered.  The creditors and their addresses must be listed not only ih a schedule of debts (that is broken into three separate categories) but also in a special format called a Matrix.
When Congress drastically overhauled the Bankruptcy Code in 2005, many new requirements were imposed.  Now there is a complex and complicated means test, as well as the requirement for mandatory credit counseling.  The Chapter 7 trustee as well as the Office of the U.S. Trustee reviews each and every petition to make sure all of the requirements under the new law are properly met.   I reviewed issues under the new bankruptcy laws in several posts.  Here’s one:  Bankruptcy Judges Convene to Discuss New Bankruptcy Laws on their One Year Anniversary .
In addition, the means test is very tricky.  Failure to properly prepare the bankruptcy means test can spell disaster as the United States Trustee can seek to have the bankruptcy case dismissed.  The Means Test is Often the Key to a Successful Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case .
Another important aspect is Determining Household Size for the Means Test .  If the bankruptcy court determines that the debtor did not include the proper number of family or household members for the means test calculation, the means test eligibility can change, resulting in an abusive filing situation.
Consumers must also choose which Chapter 0f bankruptcy to file.  If a consumer is seeking to stop foreclosure and cure mortgage arrears, A Chapter 7 filing won’t do the trick. 
Of course, there are many books that explain how to do the process.  They are all several hundred pages long.  Yes, any American consumer can file their own bankruptcy petition.  However, there are so many traps for the unwary that even attorneys who do not regularly practice bankruptcy often get their clients into hot water.
A good bankruptcy attorney will also prepare the client for the meeting of creditors.  For example, How Much Should You Say at the Meeting of Creditors in Bankruptcy Court?
Every trustee I know on Long Island has expressed concern about those consumers who file bankruptcy without an attorney because these consumers often make serious mistakes with the procedure.   Many consumers who file on their own get bad advice from a friend or relative.  When it Comes to Bankruptcy, Don’t Listen to Uncle Joey .
Self-representation by pro-se debtors in bankruptcy matters can end up being penny-wise, but pound-foolish.  This is one of Three Reasons Why a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case Can Go Bad .
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Federal Crackdown on Mortgage Modification Companies

Posted on Wednesday (September 23, 2009) at 1:00 am to Consumer Advice
Foreclosure Defense
Mortgages & Sub-Prime Mortgage Meltdown

Written by Craig D. Robins, Esq.

Federal Agencies are planning to restrict fees charged by mortgage modification companiesGovernment considers placing restrictions on loan modification companies

Fraudulent mortgage rescue schemes is reaching an “epidemic.” This is what several federal and state agencies said last week in a joint press conference as they pledged to increase efforts to investigate and crack down on loan modification abuse and companies offering help for homeowners.

Many Americans who have been caught hard by the recession and are scrambling to avoid foreclosure have become easy prey to dishonest mortgage modification companies.

.This is especially prevalent here on Long Island where I regularly meet with clients in my Long Island foreclosure defense and bankruptcy practice. I frequently hear tales of woe from clients who paid thousands of dollars upfront to companies who promised them the moon, but sadly produced absolutely no results.

 See my previous post:  Can You Trust a Mortgage Modification Company?

Many, many dishonest mortgage modification firms across the country

Now the Federal Trade Commission is considering an outright ban on upfront mortgage modification fees because so many dishonest companies have taken advantage of innocent homeowners.

In addition, the U.S. Treasury, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Justice Department said they plan to alert financial institutions to emerging mortgage modification schemes, step up enforcement actions and educate consumers.

The FTC also said that when a mortgage modification firm asks for an advance fee, it’s a red flag that the service is bogus.

Another common problem involves the many companies who use deceptive advertising that is designed to trick consumers into thinking that they are participating in a government program.

Meanwhile, the FBI announced that it has over 2,600 mortgage fraud cases open, most of which involve substantial losses of more than $1 million.

Some Long Island homeowners have actually lost their homes because they relied upon mortgage modification companies to save them, but the companies utterly failed to do anything other than take their money.

A statement made by the Governor of Connecticut summed up well the current sentiment at the press conference: “These mortgage rescue scams raise false hopes and then cruelly exploit them, which is why my office is fighting them and welcomes the federal government as a strong ally.”

Free Housing Counselors

Although my office provides bankruptcy and foreclosure defense legal services, we do not do mortgage modifications. For that, we recommend obtaining free help from government-approved housing counselors..

Homeowners can locate free government-approved housing counselors at http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov or by calling (888) 995-HOPE.

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Home Buying Advice Over Past Hundred Years Now Wrong

Posted on Monday (September 21, 2009) at 10:15 am to Benefits of Bankruptcy
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Consumer Advice
Mortgages & Sub-Prime Mortgage Meltdown

Bankruptcy is the only way out for some homeowners who got in over their head with a new home purchaseWritten by Craig D. Robins, Esq.
Long Island first-time home buyers, hurt after following advice of so-called experts to stretch financially to buy their first house, are now getting out of bad situations with Chapter 7 bankruptcy
For ages, buyers of real estate were told that they should always stretch financially when buying their first home.  However, the recent resettling of the real estate market has blasted that maxim out of the water.  As a consequence of that good-natured, but ill-conceived advice, hundreds of thousands of Americans now have homes with no equity at all and are considering bankruptcy as a way out.
An article in the New York Times last week (Seven New Rules for the First-Time Home Buyer) said that too many people bought too much house for too many years.  Although our country’s financial system almost collapsed because of the sub-prime mortgage meltdown, the article suggested that consumers should share some of the responsibility.
Unfortunately, few home buyers anticipated such significant corrections with real estate values.  They also were blinded to the excited sales pitches of mortgage brokers and real estate sales agents about exotic mortgages that reset to rates that can become unaffordable.
A very large number of Long Island home buyers fell victims to this home buying euphoria and are now paying the price — something I see daily in my Long Island bankruptcy law practice.
Now, financial planners and economists are rejecting the idea that first-time home buyers should get as much home as they can afford.  The Times article spells out some new, common-sense guidelines that home buyers must consider, like placing a down payment of at least 20%, and not spending more than 35% of pre-tax income on the mortgage payment, including real estate tax and liability insurance.
The purchase of a home, once thought to be a no-brainer as far as being a safe investment, must now be approached cautiously.
For those home buyers that have found themselves in an untenable real estate situation, combined with excessive debt, bankruptcy can often provide a solution to getting out of a bad real estate home investment and getting a fresh new financial start.  We have helped many Long Island homeowners do just that with Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
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Recession, Depression and Getting a New Start with Bankruptcy

Posted on Wednesday (September 16, 2009) at 12:30 pm to Bankruptcy and Society
Benefits of Bankruptcy
Consumer Advice

Recession can lead to depression, but filing bankruptcy can provide a fresh new financial startWritten by Craig D. Robins, Esq.
Substantial Earners Are Coping with Recessionary Layoffs by Filing for Bankruptcy
There have been some massive job layoffs in this deep recession, even for professionals and upper level executives.  Consequently, many recently-laid off workers are being forced to rethink their professional identities, their personal relationships and how they will manage their existing debt.
The current financially-plagued economy seems to be sparing no one.  Even white-collar workers with advanced degrees, working at prestigious companies, are not immune.  Anyone can lose a job.  Wall Street firms have not been kind; advertising and retail are suffering greatly, and many question the viability of garment industry jobs remaining in New York.
According to studies by organizational psychologists, white-collar men tend to experience unemployment differently.  For them it is sometimes difficult to adapt and find a job to provide income if that income is significantly less.  Grappling with joblessness inevitably entails surrendering an idea of who they are.  Negative emotions abound.  I’ve previously written about the Eight Steps to Cope with Emotional Issues During Bankruptcy  as well as The Emotional Side of Debt and Bankruptcy .
To those who qualify, bankruptcy can often provide a solution for eliminating substantial debt.  This usually has a very positive effect on the psyche, eliminating a large source of anxiety and depression.
The bankruptcy option should be discussed and considered well before the raiding of 401-K and other retirement accounts.  (See Are Pensions Protected in New York Bankruptcy Cases? ).
In my Long Island bankruptcy law practice, I frequently see clients who previously earned six-figure incomes.  Bankruptcy can provide an opportunity for a fresh new financial start and remove some of the pressure of finding new employment.
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Are Long Island Consumers Addicted to Debt?

Posted on Sunday (September 13, 2009) at 11:30 am to Bankruptcy and Society
Consumer Advice

New book addresses debt addiction -- an affliction suffered by many from Long Island which can be cured by bankruptcyWritten by Craig D. Robins, Esq.
A bankruptcy filing can provide a fresh new financial start to those caught in a debt trap
Some of the major reasons consumers seek bankruptcy relief typically include medical expenses, death in the family, loss of a job or decreased salary, and matrimonial issues.  However, America’s addiction to debt is certainly a significant reason — especially here on Long Island..
New book discusses debt addiction
The fact is that high levels of household debt push consumers into seeking bankruptcy relief.   The concept of debt addiction is the subject of a new book, just published last month,  Collateral Damaged: The Marketing of Consumer Debt to America, written by Dr. Charles Geisst, Professor of finance at Manhattan College.
Dr. Geisst believes that sometime in the 1970s and 1980s, the use of credit cards, which had begun as a convenience, began to grow into an addiction.  Banks then took advantage of this addiction milking consumers with exorbitant interest fees and service charges.
Then Wall Street took advantage of the situation by creating “toxic securities” that are now threatening to bring about a collapse of the global economy, continuing where the toxic securitization of the mortgage market left off.
In his book, Dr. Geisst delivers a scathing critique of the routine practices of the credit card industry that led to the current consumer debt crisis.
It seems that banks became greedy after realizing that simply making loans to consumers to buy a home or car was not enough.  The banks became increasingly interested in the high profit margins of these loans and other types of consumer debt, and then sought increasingly sophisticated ways to market them, eventually leading to the bursting of the credit bubble last year.
In my Long Island bankruptcy law practice, I see first hand the debt addiction that many families encounter, and their inability to escape from the ever-deepening abyss of credit card bills.  Fortunately, bankruptcy acts as an escape valve, enabling these clients to eliminate their debts and get a fresh new start.
Several years ago the credit card industry pushed hard for bankruptcy reform to make it harder for consumers to seek bankruptcy relief.  Ironically, they have also created a situation which is now driving consumers to file for bankruptcy in droves .  It is expected that 1.4 million Americans will file for bankruptcy this year.
You can listen to an American Bankruptcy Institute podcast of Dr. Geisst being interviewed by the Sam Gerdano, Executive Director.
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Record Amount of LIPA Utility Delinquencies

Posted on Thursday (September 3, 2009) at 11:56 pm to Benefits of Bankruptcy
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Consumer Advice
Long Island Economy

LIPA Bills Can Be Discharged in BankruptcyWritten by Craig D. Robins, Esq.
If the severity of the recession affecting Long Island can be measured by the number of electric utility bill delinquencies owed to the Long Island Power Authority, then Long Island has been hit very hard.
LIPA recently reported that there is now a record amount owed by customers who have been unable to pay their electric bills.   Apparently, this figure has been rising steadily over the past two years.
As of the end of 2008, 157,217 residential customers were late in paying their LIPA bills.  This number jumped to 165,900 as of May 31, 2009, representing a total amount of $121 million in arrears.
The shear amount of late utility payments is probably an accurate barometer of the Long Island economy.
LIPA Bills Can Be Discharged in Bankruptcy
I personally witness the extensive amount of LIPA arrears daily as I meet client after client in my Long Island bankruptcy practice.  Although I don’t keep such statistics, I’d say almost half of my bankruptcy clients have LIPA utility bills that we include in their bankruptcy petitions.
Fortunately, utility bills such as LIPA are dischargeable in personal bankruptcy proceedings.  By law, the utility company cannot terminate service merely because the customer has sought to discharge the utility bill. 
What Does LIPA Do When a Customer Does Not Pay?
First, LIPA gives the customer a warning by mail.
Then, LIPA gives more warnings and makes phone calls to the customer over the next two months.  However, LIPA will not terminate service and shut off power until there are at least three months of non-payment.  This is an option of last resort.
Most customers will seek to work out some kind of payment arrangement.  Even by paying a small amount, the customer can usually maintain electric service.
If the customer cannot work out a satisfactory payment arrangement with LIPA, then LIPA will terminate service.  In May, LIPA shut off service for 2,150 nonpaying customers.
Even if a customer has entered into a payment arrangement or is on a budget, all electricity bill balances can be discharged in bankruptcy.  Even filing a bankruptcy the day before a scheduled termination will prevent the termination from occuring.
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Don’t Feel Guilty About Filing for Bankruptcy

Posted on Monday (August 17, 2009) at 10:15 am to Bankruptcy Tips Consumers Should Know
Consumer Advice

Don't Feel Guilty About Filing for BankruptcyWritten by Craig D. Robins, Esq.
From time to time I have a client who expresses guilt about filing for bankruptcy and walking away from their debts.  However, they should not feel guilty.  The government put the bankruptcy laws in place for good reason.
Society needs a way to enable people to hit the reset button and start over when necessary.  When a consumer gets overwhelmed by debt, and they are clearly over their head, that’s the time for them to consider bankruptcy as an option for relieving their debt situation.
The concept of bankruptcy began with provisions in the bible which permitted one’s debts to be forgiven every so many years.
Unless someone is abusing the system, the should not feel guilty about filing for bankruptcy.
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Can Consumers Still File for Bankruptcy in New York?

Posted on Tuesday (August 11, 2009) at 4:45 am to Consumer Advice
Issues Involving New Bankruptcy Laws

Can Consumers Still File for Bankruptcy in New York?Written by Craig D. Robins, Esq.


Yes!  Bankruptcy Is Still Available in New York


In 2005, Congress made drastic revisions to the bankruptcy laws.  Even though that was three years ago, clients regularly ask me if they can still file for bankruptcy.

Most people still qualify.  We find that 7 out of 8 people who would have qualified for Chapter 7 bankruptcy under the old laws still qualify under the new laws.

These laws make the bankruptcy process more involved, and impose many new obligations on both debtors and their attorneys.  However, most consumers, especially those on Long Island, are still eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

The essence of the new laws is demonstrating eligibility for filing by using a series of formulas and calculations called the “means test.”

The new bankruptcy laws also require a 30-minute bankruptcy credit counseling session by phone with a court-approved not-for-profit credit counseling agency prior to filing, and a similar session, called debtor education, after filing.

Debtors must also produce copies of pay stubs and recent tax returns.

Here’s the bottom line:  Although the laws have made bankruptcy much more complex than it ever was before, the truth is that most people who would have qualified for Chapter 7 bankruptcy under the old laws still qualify under the new laws. Those who don’t qualify for Chapter 7 can usually file a payment plan bankruptcy — Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

An experienced New York bankruptcy lawyer should be able to quickly ascertain which bankruptcy chapter is best.

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Paying the Price of Putting Off Filing for Bankruptcy

Posted on Friday (August 7, 2009) at 5:45 am to Benefits of Bankruptcy
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Consumer Advice

Putting off filing for bankruptcy can often be a big mistakeWritten by Craig D. Robins, Esq.
Several times a month, without fail, clients come running to me to urgently file for bankruptcy relief because they put it off.  Why did they come running?  A creditor froze their bank account.
When a consumer has significant credit card debts, being sued is almost inevitable — it’s just a question of time.  After being sued, it’s also just a question of time before the creditor (or their collection lawfirm to be exact), seeks to enforce the judgment.  This often involves issuing a restraining order which freezes all bank accounts.
I wonder why these clients wait until the last minute to file bankruptcy.  Some of them had even retained me months before, but then put off finalizing their bankruptcy petition and paperwork.
I suppose to many, bankruptcy is perceived of as an unpleasant experience, and it is human nature to put off unpleasant events.  However, most of my clients feel extremely relieved once we do file their petition, and many comment that the proceeding went much smoother and painlessly than they anticipated.
With financial problems, the longer you wait, the worse the problems become.  Wage garnishment, repo’s, harassing phone calls, lawsuits and frozen bank accounts all come to an end once a bankruptcy petition is filed.
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When it Comes to Bankruptcy, Don’t Listen to Uncle Joey

Posted on Wednesday (August 5, 2009) at 6:30 pm to Bankruptcy Tips Consumers Should Know
Consumer Advice

Getting good reliable bankruptcy advice is importantWritten by Craig D. Robins, Esq.
Getting good Long Island bankruptcy legal advice is extremely important
I can’t tell you how many times a bankruptcy client comes in to meet with me, and after I explain how a bankruptcy filing would work, the client says, “But that’s not how it worked with my Uncle Joey’s case.  He gave me special advice and told me what to do.”
Even worse is when a client tries to get away with something improper in bankruptcy court because a friend or relative told them they could.
There is only one person who can give good bankruptcy legal advice and that is a qualified and experienced bankruptcy attorney.  Don’t listen to Uncle Joey.  Don’t listen to friends or co-workers.  What may or may not have happened in their cases has nothing to do with your case.  Facts can be different; the law might have changed; circumstances are never identical.
Even well-intentioned friends and relatives can provide bad advice.  When it comes to considering bankruptcy relief in a United States Bankruptcy Court, you need to get good, proper and correct bankruptcy legal advice.
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About Us

Craig D. Robins, Esq. is a Long Island bankruptcy lawyer, who is focused primarily on helping individuals and families, find solutions to their debt problems. Read more »


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Craig D. Robins, Esq.
35 Pinelawn Road, Suite 218E, Melville, NY 11747.

Tel : 516 - 496 - 0800