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12 myths about bankruptcy

6. It's really hard to file for bankruptcy. It's really not. You don't even technically need an attorney -- you can do the paperwork without one. However, it's not recommended to go through the procedure without one.

7. Only deadbeats file for bankruptcy. Most people file for bankruptcy after a life-changing experience, such as a divorce, the loss of a job or a serious illness. They've struggled to pay their bills for months and just keep falling further behind.

8. I don't want to include certain creditors in my filing because it's important to me to pay them back someday and if the debt is discharged, I can't ever repay them. Bless you for even thinking about such a thing. You're no longer obligated to repay them, but you always have that opportunity. If your conscience won't let you sleep nights because you didn't pay your debts, there's nothing in the bankruptcy code that prevents you from doing that once you're back on your feet. But it is nearly impossible to leave any account with a balance out of your list of creditors. In general, all creditors receive notification of your bankruptcy filing, whether they are listed in the petition or not.

9. Filing for bankruptcy will improve my credit rating because all those debts will be gone. Filing for bankruptcy is the worst 'negative' you can have on your credit report. Unlike other negatives, which stay on your report for seven years, bankruptcy can be there for 10 years, but you do get to rebuild your credit eventually.

10. You can't get rid of back taxes through bankruptcy. Generally speaking, this is true. However, there is such a thing as tax bankruptcy, says tax educator Eva Rosenberg, known on the Web as Tax Mama.

11. You can only file for bankruptcy once. The truth is, you can only file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy once every eight years, says Justin Harelik, Bankrate's Bankruptcy Adviser. For Chapter 13 reorganization, you can file more often than that.

Of course, that doesn't make it a good idea.

"Multiple bankruptcies are really bad," Rosenberg says. "Many people get into the habit of once they've done it, it becomes a way of life. This is not good for your karma." Or your credit rating.

12. I can max out all my credit cards, file for bankruptcy, and never pay for the things I bought. That's called fraud and bankruptcy judges can get really cranky about it.

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