Most bankruptcy debtors’ creditors are giant, impersonal banks. The obvious plus to discharging debts owed to them is that no one cares if their feelings are hurt. Sometimes the situation is different, such as with credit unions, which are banks that are owned by the depositors, usually within a defined geographic area. Often, credit unions’ customers benefit from better terms, better services, and lower default rates. As a result, listing them as a creditor in a bankruptcy proceeding might result in alienating family, friends, or neighbors.
If you do owe money to a credit union and you are encountering financial difficulties, here are a few things to keep in mind:
(1) You’ll probably have an easier time working out any problems with the credit union by discussing the situation with its officers than with a large bank. This might lead to a fair debt settlement, for instance.
(2) If you’re thinking about filing bankruptcy, on the other hand, you might not want to bring it up with the credit union. The credit union might retaliate by freezing your account or denying you other services. This is one reason to withdraw your money before the bankruptcy filing occurs.
(3) Expect the credit union to expel you once you file bankruptcy. Often the agreement you signed gives it the right to do so if you cause it to lose some amount of money, e.g. $100.
(4) Although you wouldn’t think they’d violate the automatic stay, sometimes credit unions make missteps. Violations might occur in the credit union’s statements, in correspondence or phone calls.
(5) Find out if any of your loans from the credit union are “cross-collateralized.” This means that the lien on one secured asset protects the credit union against defaults on unrelated debts. For instance, if you default on a credit card debt and you also borrowed money to buy a car, then the credit union might take the car because it secures all loans you’ve taken out. Definitely tell your lawyer if this is the case. A cross-collateralized loan might make filing in chapter 13 more advantageous than chapter 7.
For answers to more questions about bankruptcy, the automatic stay, effective strategies for dealing with foreclosure, and protecting your assets in bankruptcy please feel free to contact experienced business bankruptcy lawyer Bruce Weiner for a free initial consultation.