(KPLR) - Bankruptcy is the route some people take to get out of debt. But consumers leaning toward Chapter 7 should understand the process before paying for help filing their petition. The woman thought she could save a little money by not using a lawyer to file her Chapter 7. But now she wonders if it`s going to cost her more than she can afford.
Tyojuana Lenard decided to file Chapter 7 in the early spring. She saw a Craigslist ad posted by Nationwide Bankruptcy Center. The $250.00 flat fee got her attention. She scheduled an appointment and showed up with her documents. 'I gave him a copy of my credit report and I gave him a copy of some bills that weren`t on my credit report. Then we followed up within a week.'
That second meeting was at the Brentwood Library. Lenard says that`s when she paid him two hundred dollars. 'He told me it would take 7 days to complete the paperwork. He would give the paperwork to me and I would turn it into St. Louis County.'
Lenard says more than a week passed and she never received the paperwork, just promises that it would be completed. 'He said I`ll have to call you back I`m in a meeting we`re going to have to reschedule. And after calling him every day he finally answered that Friday, and said give him another week.'
When she asked for a refund she encountered more delays. I reached Rey Cochren owner of the business by telephone. He refused to go on camera. He told me the check was in the mail and he didn't understand why she hadn't received it. Then when asked why a refund requested in May had not arrived he says he's looking into it. Lenard says she had high expectations after her fist meeting. 'He made it seem like he was helping everyone. This is a business and he`s trying to get more clients, and that`s why he`s doing it so cheap for the underdog, the person that`s struggling. So I was very shocked.'
For the record your Chapter 7 paperwork can be filed by a petition preparer or paralegals. But you really want to be sure the person has a good track record and is willing to complete this Declaration of Non-Attorney Bankruptcy Petition Preparer. Chapter 7 was Lenard's response to her financial crisis. 'I did it to save some money, not to lose more money.'
If you're thinking about bankruptcy be sure to do your research. You'll find lots of useful information on the Federal District Courts website. We have a link below.