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“If I file for bankruptcy, won’t I lose my right to vote?”

The simple answer is no. But it never fails to amaze me how often I receive questions like this from people. The amount of misinformation that people receive is astonishing.

And if you think about it, it makes sense that there’s so much confusion. When you begin to go into debt (whether its in the form of credit cards, medical bills, paydays loans, overdraft fees on a bank account, or whatever), and you are on a limited budget, its easy to fall behind on payments to your creditors. The next thing you know, collection agencies are calling you day and night. At this point, people start to panic, lose sleep, and begin to feel their stress levels go through the roof. When you are in this state of mind, when it feels like the world is falling apart and you are losing control, you get scared. Your creditors know this. In fact, they are counting on this very thing happening.

Why? Because if you are already in this state of fear and panic (about your finances, your ability to pay for basic utilities, or making sure you have food on the table), then all the creditor has to do is feed into that fear and panic by making you believe that if you don’t pay on your credit card, your life will be even worse.

So it usually works something like this: a creditor calls you and starts harrassing you to make a payment. You say that not only can you not make a payment (because you lost your job, your hours have been cut, you were recently injured and will be out of work for awhile, etc), but that you are also looking into filing for bankruptcy (Chapter 7 or Chapter 13). The creditor knows that if you file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, all the debt that you owe them is likely going to be discharged (in other words, knocked out completely). So at this point, the creditor starts telling you how awful filing for bankruptcy is for you. That it will ruin your credit forever; that you’ll never get another job; that you’ll be fired from your existing job; that you’ll never be able to establish credit again; that you’ll never own another car or home; that your spouse will leave you; that your kids will flunk out of school; that aliens will abduct you; or that you will lose your right to vote.

None of theses things are true. But then the creditors aren’t really interested in telling you anything factual. All they care about is getting you to make a payment. And if they have to tell you that you won’t be able to vote in the upcoming election if you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, then that’s what they are going to do.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s amazing (shocking, really) the stories I hear from people who have fallen behind on their debts and had to deal with an overly-persistent collector.

Fortunately, federal bankruptcy protection laws are in place to deal with this very concern. If you are interested in speaking with an experienced St. Louis bankruptcy attorney to learn what those protections are, don’t hesitate. The consultation is free of charge, and only a phone call away!