How did this woman (let's call her Mrs. Norman--not her real name) end up in bankruptcy? She had lost her husband 18 years ago, and she had moved to another state [to] care for her older sisters who had now passed on. She had a small house and was managing the mortgage and her other expenses just fine when she got a call from the nicest lady at the bank about three years ago. The bank lady explained that Mrs. Norman was "in the wrong mortgage" because it was fixed rate and "interest was low." She said she could "switch" Mrs. Norman to a lower cost mortgage. The bank lady promised to call her when interest rates went back up and switch her back to the fixed rate mortgage. But, said Mrs. Norman, "she never called." Now Mrs. Norman's mortgage payments have shot up, and she is about to lose her home. So she filed for bankruptcy.
Of course, bankruptcy won't be able to do much for her. She can't make her mortgage payments and she can't refinance, so she will lose her home. She thinks that soon she will be living in her car. But she was will be required to get approved credit counseling before she can get a discharge.
At today's hearings, the credit industry representative trumpeted that the new credit counseling provisions were a sign of how well the bankruptcy bill is working. It will undoubtedly be a big help when Mrs. Norman's credit counselor explains how she can improve her financial management from the front seat of her 19 year old automobile.
This sounds a lot like the stories I heard today at the Ask-A-Lawyer program. Will any good come out of these stories? How long will middle class people accept such outcomes? Will they recognize who was responsible for this travesty?