Bankruptcy Preparer Scams
The U.S. Bankruptcy Court is searching for a bankruptcy preparer who has scammed several customers seeking to file a bankruptcy petition.
Dawn Gomez Bess was banned by a federal judge in October from preparing bankruptcy paperwork, but the court says she continued to do so. The court says she took money from numerous clients but never followed through with the paperwork.
The bankruptcy court has referred the Gomez case to District Court which may impose sanctions for criminal contempt. Debtors looking to file bankruptcy with a preparer must be cautious about who they do business with and understand that working with a preparer is not the same as working with a bankruptcy attorney.
Here's what you need to know about bankruptcy preparers:
- They are NOT bankruptcy attorneys. Bankruptcy preparers only fill out forms based on information the debtor gives them, they do NOT give any legal advice.
- Bankruptcy preparers are prohibited from offering legal representation to the debtor or from even filing the bankruptcy petition at the courthouse. This means that they can only fill out the forms and give them to you for filing.
- If you have legal problems during your bankruptcy case, bankruptcy preparers cannot come to your aid. And once again, they are prohibited by low from giving advice. Many debtors who use bankruptcy preparers are forced to eventually hire a bankruptcy attorney because they are facing complex issues and/or legal challenges in their bankruptcy case which a bankruptcy preparer cannot resolve.
Finally, if you decide to work with a bankruptcy preparer, make sure they're reputable and make sure you have in writing what type of services they are offering before you make a payment.