What do I do when my credit is hacked?

Here is information from some trusted sources about what to do when your credit has been hacked.

Key Steps to Minimize Risk After Equifax Data Breach

Nearly every adult with a credit history is at risk of identity theft after the recent Equifax data breach. In this free article, the National Consumer Law Center offers key advice for consumers, with specific steps that can be taken to minimize the risks—freezes, thaws, fraud alerts, credit monitoring, and more. Read article


A Credit Freeze Won’t Help With All Equifax Breach Threats

There are other dangers you should know about. Here’s how to protect yourself. Read article from Consumer Reports.


Experian Site Can Give Anyone Your Credit Freeze PIN

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Bankruptcy Means Test Gets Easier

More Kansans will pass the bankruptcy means test starting April 1, 2017. The income figures used in the bankruptcy formula are rising.

The means test formula uses median income data from U.S. census for Kansas. Telling us who can afford to pay back some of their general debts is the goal of the means test.

Kansas Median Income 4/1/2017

Here are the new median income figures for Kansas households starting April 1, 2017:

$47,591 one earner

$63,327 2 people

$72,981 3 people

$83,528 4 people

*add $8,400 for each individual in excess of 4

The figures rose for each family size.

Most individuals filing for bankruptcy must fill out a form listing their family size and income. About 75% of consumers pass the means test at this stage.

Families with higher incomes must fill out a second form. They subtract actual house and car payments from income then use allowances for living expense deductions.

Bankruptcy Means Test

You are not automatically disqualified. The means test decides what type of bankruptcy you may file. The means test decides how much disposable income is available to pay back general debts such as credit cards and medical bills. (The answer is none for most of our clients.)

The formula for counting income is not simple. Looking at pay stubs is just the start. Unfortunately, the means test is very complicated. We look backwards to calculate income and look forward to project expenses. Some numbers are actual, some are averages off a chart. There are all sorts of adjustments. It is not logical.

We have vast experience calculating means tests. We will do forms and the math for you.

For more information about the bankruptcy means test, you will find all the formulas and technical details on the website for the U.S. Trustee.





Means Test Eases April 1, 2016



On April 1, 2016, the income numbers used to calculate the bankruptcy means test will increase modestly in Kansas. Filing bankruptcy will be a little easier for debtors in all Kansas household sizes.

Here are the new numbers:

KANSAS 1 earned


2 people


3 people


4 people


Add $8,400 for each person in excess of 4.

Don’t fret if you make more money than these guidelines. You may still pass the means test. The consumer bankruptcy law specialists at Neis & Michaux, will figure this out and discuss your options with you.

Check out the Census Bureau Median Family Income By Family Size for all states and U.S. territories.


Photo Credit: Dean Hochman

Beware of Bankruptcy Fraudsters

Beware of bankruptcy fraudsters who are calling debtors and demanding money. They lie about who they are. They are using information from bankruptcy schedules to fake you into thinking they are legitimate. Do not fall for their scam. Say no and hang up the phone. Do not send money!


Spoofing Your Bankruptcy Attorney Caller ID

The fraudsters are so slick they change their caller ID to make it look like your bankruptcy attorney is calling you. They demand you immediately pay money to a fake account.  This is a scam. Your bankruptcy lawyer does not do this. If you are uncertain who is really calling, hang up and call your bankruptcy lawyer. Do not wire money.

The National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys issued a warning that “Under no circumstances would a bankruptcy attorney or staff member telephone a client and ask for a wire transfer immediately to satisfy a debt. Nor would the bankruptcy attorney and staff ever threaten arrest if a debt isn’t paid.”

“Bankruptcy filers in Vermont and Virginia reportedly have received calls. Vermont’s Attorney General says scammers use software to “spoof” the Caller ID system so the call appears to be originating from the phone line of the consumer’s bankruptcy attorney. Typically the calls come late in the evening or during non-business hours to make it difficult for intended victims to verify the call by contacting their attorney,” according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

Consumers receiving this kind of call are advised to hang up and contact their bankruptcy attorney as soon as possible. Do not give any personal or financial account information to the caller.

Read the article online.


Kansas Bankruptcy Means Test Changes November 1 – Mixed Message

Up for Some, Down for Others

Mixed Message

Median income figures used for the Kansas bankruptcy means test change again on November 1, 2015. There is a mixed message. Median income for one earner and a household of two goes down while the median income for families of three, four and more goes up.

Kansas Bankruptcy Means Test

Here are the new figures for bankruptcy cases filed in Kansas on or after November 1, 2015:

1 – $45,653 – down

2 – $60,562 – down

3 – $67,349 – up

4 – $80,639 – up

Add $8100 for each additional household member.

Bankruptcy law utilizes a funny way of counting annual income. Don’t worry about doing the calculation on your own. The attorneys at Neis & Michaux are experienced at means test math and will do the figuring for you.

We’ll need from you seven months of pay stubs or a printout for that time period and all other income for seven months. If you have had business income, we’ll need a month by month list of income and expenses to calculate your net income.

The formulas are designed so that 75% of people will be under median income and pass the Kansas bankruptcy means test at the first stage.

What If My Income Is Over Median?

Don’t fret if you think your income exceeds the median income figures in the chart above. It doesn’t mean you aren’t eligible for bankruptcy. It means a long form has to be filled out and various allowances and expenses deducted to learn your disposable income and your ability to pay. We’ll help you with this complicated form too.

We’ve learned from 10 years of experience since the means test was enacted in 2005 that most of our clients pass the Kansas bankruptcy means test. Even those who are required to pay back debt in a chapter 13 bankruptcy pay far less than what they owed before filing for bankruptcy. Help for out of control debt is available.


Photo Credit: Rich Anderson


Tax Transcripts Online Service Closed

UPDATE: 5/27/2015. IRS has closed this service due to theft of 104,000 accounts. The IRS has issued a IRS statement about this breach of security.
The IRS announced a new service today that allows direct download of at transcripts called Get Transcript-http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Get-Transcript

Means Test Numbers Adjusted


The formula that is used to measure income for bankruptcy purposes changed again. The numbers were adjusted May 1 and May 15, 2015.

Most Kansans fared better on the means test after the new numbers went into effect. In theory, the means test determines the type of bankruptcy a debtor file and now much must be paid back to creditors, if any.

New median income figures for Kansas for cases filed on or after May 1, 2015:

one $45,980 (from $45,246)

two $60,577 (from $59,610)

three $66,065 (from $65,010)

four $76,017 (from $74,804)

add $8100 for each family member over 4.

The living expense standards for household above the median income also changed.


Graphic Credit: Bill Brooks

New Means Test Numbers November 1, 2014

14473050604_ab135d149f_z up and down
New means test numbers go into effect for bankruptcy cases filed on or after November 1, 2014. Median income numbers go up for households of one, two and four persons. Oddly, the number goes down for households of three. For more information, see the U.S. Trustee website.


1 – $45,246 (from $44,434)

2 – $59,610 (from $58,344)

3 – $65,010 (from $66,352)

4 – $74,804 (from $73,514)

add $8100 for each additional household member



Photo Credit: Thomas8087

Is an Inherited IRA Exempt in Bankruptcy?

retirementfundThe National Consumer Bankruptcy Rights Center (NCBRC) has filed an amicus brief on behalf of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA) membership in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Clark v. Rameker (In re Clark), No. 13-299.  This case involves whether or not a debtor may exempt an individual retirement account (IRA) that he has inherited.

To read more about this case and find a copy of the brief, go to http://www.ncbrc.org/

Please support NCBRC by making your donation today! http://www.ncbrc.org/

Photo Credit: LicenseAttribution Some rights reserved by LendingMemo

Child Tax Credit Not Exempt in Missouri

11351117455_acdedf066a_qA recent Bankruptcy Appellate Panel decision found that the debtor may not exempt her federal Child Tax Credit refund under Missouri’s exemption for “public assistance.” Hardy v. Fink (In re Hardy), No. 13-6029 (B.A.P. 8th Cir. Dec. 23, 2013) (notice of appeal to 8th Cir. filed January 2, 2014).

To read more about this case and find a copy of the opinion, go to the National Consumer Bankruptcy Rights Center (NCBRC) at http://www.ncbrc.org/. Please support NCBRC by making your donation today! http://www.ncbrc.org/

 Photo Credit: LicenseAttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by kb_vaidya

Means Test Figures Change Nov. 15

NEW MEANS TEST FIGURES have been announced by the U.S. Trustee Program for use with bankruptcy cases filed on or after November 15, 2013. Here are the Kansas income numbers based upon family size:

1 – $43, 793

2 – $57,502

3 – $65,394

4 – $72,453

add $8100 for each individual in excess of 4.

The Kansas numbers are higher for one and two person families, slightly lower for three person families and almost $4000 lower for four person families. Below are the figures for Kansas bankruptcy cases filed May 1 through November 14, 2013:

1 – $42,577

2 – $56,581

3 – $65,907

4 – $76,402


Kansas Bankruptcy Courts Stay Open During Federal Government Shut Down

open signThe Kansas bankruptcy court is open for business even if the federal government shuts down. Cases may still be filed. Automatic stays still go into effect stopping collection. Help is still available. See how a government shutdown will affect bankruptcy courts.

Announcement from the Court

The Kansas Bankruptcy Court issued the following statement today, September 30, 2013:

If the government shuts down because of a lapse in appropriations, the Judiciary would use available funding balances to maintain operations for approximately 10 business days.  If the lapse in funding extends beyond the 10 business day period, the Judiciary plans to reassess its situation and provide further guidance.  See

The District of Kansas Bankruptcy Court will continue those operations that are part of the exercise of its judicial powers. Accordingly, until further notice, the Court will continue to adjudicatebankruptcy matters.  For example, it will continue to accept new case filings, receive and process pdings and fees, and hear matters.

The Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) system will remain operational to accept electronic filing of documents with the court. Accordingly, parties and their representatives should be prepared to appear for all matters that have been and will be scheduled for hearing (unless continued or cancelled by subsequent order of the Court).  In the short term, the counter and telephone lines for the Bankruptcy Court will remain open for business according to its normal schedule.

Hugh N. Zavadil
Chief Deputy Clerk
U.S. Bankruptcy Court
401 North Market
Wichita, KS 67202

Kansas Bankruptcy Court Entrances Closed by Budget Cuts

Only One Door Open to Public

Only one entrance at each of the Kansas bankruptcy courts is now open to the public. All other doors at the courthouses are closed and locked to save money on security staffing because of budget cuts as of June 3, 2013.

Kansas Bankruptcy Court – Topeka

Kansas Bankruptcy Court in Frank Carlson Federal Building in Topeka, KS

Frank Carlson Federal Building, Topeka, KS

All public access to the Frank Carlson Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse will be through the west doors at 444 SE Quincy Street. The PL-2 entrance off Monroe Street will be closed and locked.

Frank Carlson Federal Building
444 S.E. Quincy Topeka, Kansas 66683
(785) 338-5910
Map it [Read more…]

New Way to Pay Your Topeka Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Payments



There is a new way to pay your bankruptcy payment to the Topeka chapter 13 trustee. Jan Hamilton Trustee has contracted with TFS Bill Pay so you may send money to the trustee electronically.

This is a service through a third party. It involves a fee for handling the money and there is a short delay for payments to transfer from your account to TFS Bill Pay and on to the trustee.

TFS Bill Pay costs 99 cents for a payment up to $100, which is cheaper than a 59 cent money order at the local grocery store plus a 46 cent stamps, not counting your time or gas money. The cost for a payment $101 to $250 is $1.99.

This service is voluntary. You may still pay by wage order, which is the preferred method, or by check mailed to Jan Hamilton Trustee, PO Box 2159, Topeka, KS 66601, or placed in the drop box at 507 SW Jackson, Topeka, KS. No cash is accepted.

TFS Bill Pay may only be used to pay Jan Hamilton and trustees in other states who have contacted with the service. The other chapter 13 trustees in Kansas City, KS, and Wichita do not use this service.

Payments to William H. Griffin, Trustee, in Kansas City, KS, chapter 13 cases must be paid to PO Box 613106, Memphis, TN 38101. He does not accept payments at his Overland Park office.

Payments to Laurie Williams, Trustee, in Wichita, KS, chapter 13 cases must be paid to PO Box 2818 Wichita KS 67201-2818.

Kansas Median Income Increases April 1, 2013

New median income data for bankruptcy cases filed on or after April 1, 2013, has been released by the U.S. Trustee Program.


  • 1 earner  $42,577
  • 2 people $56,851
  • 3 people $65,907
  • 4 people $76,402

For cases filed on or after April 1, 2013, add $8,100 for each individual in excess of 4.

Click here to see the median income table.

Click here for information on means testing from the Executive Office of the U.S. Trustee.

Debtors Win EITC Appeal

207209564_86a48153bd_zThe new Kansas exemption law allowing a person to keep one year of earned income tax credit in bankruptcy is constitutional, a third court has ruled. This is good news for lower income working families with children who received EITC and who are struggling to make ends meet.

The Bankruptcy Appellate Panel for the Tenth Circuit affirmed the opinion of Judge Janice Miller Karlin of the Topeka Bankruptcy Court in Williamson v. Westby (In re Westby), BAP No. KS 12-027 (10th Cir. BAP, Feb. 4, 2013).

Judge Robert E. Nugent also has found the Kansas statute to be constitutional.  His decision in the Wichita Bankruptcy Court has been appealed to the Kansas District Court. Those appeals are pending.

“The issue presented on appeal is whether a recently enacted Kansas statute exempting tax refunds attributable to the earned income credit for bankruptcy debtors is constitutional. The Chapter 7 trustee objected to the debtors’ claimed exemption, arguing the Kansas bankruptcy-only exemption statute violates the Uniformity and Supremacy Clauses of the United States Constitution. The bankruptcy court concluded the exemption statute did not violate these constitutional provisions and overruled the Trustee’s objection. Having reviewed the record and the applicable law, we agree that the Kansas bankruptcy-only exemption statute passes constitutional muster, and therefore AFFIRM the bankruptcy court’s order.” [Read more…]