I have practiced bankruptcy law for 22 years. In that time, I have been called upon many times to defend the actions of “irresponsible debtors” who run up debt and then run to the bankruptcy court for protection. You know the type of person I am talking about. The debtors who run up their credit cards, who sign car loans at 25% interest, who take out payday loans at 400% interest. Those debtors who should have known better, who should have understood the terms of their loans, the ones who shouldn’t have borrowed the money if they couldn’t afford to pay it back. Yes, you know the kind of person I am talking about–the deadbeats, the failures, those people who are out to take advantage of the system. Those are the faces of your average debtor, right?
Daily, I look into the faces of people torn apart by debt they always intended to repay. People just like you and me –doctors, lawyers, dentists, teachers, builders, grandmothers, our neighbors, friends, and family members. Despite what the credit card industry would have you believe, my clients aren’t deadbeats or people out to take advantage of the system. My clients are hard working people who come to see me as their last resort. My clients don’t want to file bankruptcy and often refuse to even consider options which would give them greater relief but require them to repay less of what they owe. If you want to know what your average debtor looks like, look in the mirror. The average debtor in America is you hit by a job loss, an illness, a business failure, rising gas prices, rising food prices, or just plain bad luck. When you think about who the average debtor in America is remember the adage “there but for the grace of God go I.” In today’s economy, people who never thought they would find themselves in financial trouble are struggling to make ends meet. My clients are your neighbors, your friends, your family members, your co-workers, people you know and respect. People just like you. People just like me.