Before this weekend, I had never heard of Stephen J. Dunn, a “contributor” to Forbes.com writing about “Current Developments in Tax Law and Litigation”.
I’m thankful, though, for his latest effort, “Bankruptcy Hacks Are Still At It”.
It provides me with an opportunity to point out a glaring example of the type of misinformation, I’m calling them “Dunnisms” from now on, that can be found online about filing bankruptcy.
It’s the type of stuff my clients bring to my office, and my colleagues’ offices, on an almost daily basis. I devote a page of my website to it as well.
The fact that Forbes.com saw fit to publish his drivel is another matter altogether, and Forbes should be ashamed.
Suffice it to say, I will give less notice, and certainly less credibility, to the next list of richest people, businesses, or sports teams Forbes trots out to the general public, much less its financial advice.
Mr. Dunn, whose Bio describes his field as “tax law and litigation”, not bankruptcy law, seems to think that all someone struggling with high interest credit card debt has to do is pick up the phone and ask the nice bank or debt collector to get on a payment plan or otherwise “settle” the debt.
Of course, this is exactly what 99% of my clients do before they even think to solicit the assistance of a bankruptcy attorney. The problem is, the bank, or the company attempting to collect the debt for the bank, is either completely unwilling to “work” with my client or it makes an offer so out of touch with the economic reality of my client, so as to render its offer meaningless and worthless.
Ironically, the bank’s actions in dealing with the debt lead many people to file bankruptcy.
Next, Mr Dunn makes the astonishingly stupid comments that “Often a consumer bankruptcy does not go as planned”, and “The debtor may lose his house and other property”.
Mind you, Mr. Dunn provides no evidence to support these claims. He just states it as fact.
Is the reader supposed to just believe it because he’s writing on Forbes’s platform?
The only time I have seen a consumer bankruptcy not go as planned, and actually end up hurting the debtor in the way the author describes, is when a debtor files the case pro se (acts as his own attorney).
Countless times in my practice, I have been hired to, and successfully have, fixed a mess created by a pro se filing.
The way the bankruptcy law is written, granting the debtor the right to liberally amend his original petition for example, and the equitable nature of its application by bankruptcy Judges around the Country, affords an honest, attentive, and well meaning debtor many opportunities to avoid, and plan against, the draconian results Mr. Dunn describes in his article.
Based on a conversation with a representative from his bank, Mr. Dunn concludes that it is “not surprising in consumer bankruptcy cases” for the debtor’s attorney to accept payment for his services from a debtor’s credit card and then seek to discharge that same debt in the bankruptcy.
The reality, of course, is that the bankruptcy law specifically prohibits this type of conduct and an attorney found to be in violation of this section of the Code is in for some severe treatment by the Court.
My colleagues around the Country have done an excellent job of refuting this and other Dunnisms in the comment section of the post.
So again, thank you Mr. Dunn, for providing a shining example, on the very large Forbes.com stage no less, of a lesson most readers have learned already, but need to be reminded of from time to time:
“You can’t believe everything you read on the internet”.
Photo Credit: Flickr Clifton Photographer