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Watch out for unscrupulous bankruptcy preparers

A Massachusetts resident who needs to eliminate debt in a hurry has many choices when deciding to file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection. A debtor in Salem can choose to file his or her own personal bankruptcy petition without assistance, can hire a bankruptcy attorney, or can seek the assistance of a bankruptcy petition preparer.

Most bankruptcy petition preparers are honest, hardworking people who are often doing bankruptcy work for more than the money. Unfortunately, some people do have bad experiences with bankruptcy preparers. In one person's case, she paid $250 to a petition preparer who promised to prepare and return her bankruptcy paperwork within a week.

Two months later, though, the woman had not received her completed paperwork. She had also not received the refund that she had requested, even though the man who prepared the petition said that he was "looking in" to the matter.

It certainly is not the case that all bankruptcy petition preparers are dishonest any more than it is the case that all bankruptcy attorneys are honest. Still, Massachusetts residents should be cautious about having a non-attorney petition preparer do their bankruptcy paperwork. As they are not attorneys, they cannot do the same things for their clients that attorneys can do. Furthermore, petition preparers are not subject to all of the rules and possible penalties for ethical lapses as are attorneys.

Filing for a bankruptcy is an important decision for anyone. Therefore, any Massachusetts resident contemplating such a decision should take special care in hiring a person to represent him or her.

Source: FOX 2 News, "Do your research before filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy," Bonita Cornute, July 12, 2015.

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