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Bucks County Bytes with Martha Voorhees

Hello, bucks County. What is going on out there and your world What is going on out there today This Friday, we are about to head into Valentine day weekends. Yeah, it’s Valentine’s day coming up here on Sunday, but today we’re going to do something a little different. We’re going to talk a little bit more about what’s going on out there as far as, as the pandemic goes. Not that everybody wants to hear it, but it is part of our life now. So one of the things I would really love to touch on is an area. That’s a very sensitive topic to me, but something that’s real, something that happened to me many years ago now, what happened was get myself, got myself into some problems that I could not control. It was out of my hands. This is way I would say about about 12 years ago, 13 years ago.

And I needed help. As far as an attorney went quite a few of those. Actually I needed a few lawyers each in a certain particular area. And one of those lawyers who is it still is and was a God sentence. He helped me out of a situation that I had no idea that it could even be done, but it is such a particular situation that I can’t even go into those details right now. But the reason I’m having Mr. Charles Laputka on today is he’s the one that helped me out of a mess out of a situation that it just kept spiraling into this downward downward spiral. And when you lose that livelihood and not control, and you know, I mean, I knew what happened and where it started, but it just kept going and going. And there was no end in sight. And the matters were so specific that I needed Charles.

I found him, it was not a referral, was someone I was looking for that could, you know, it was close by, could help me out in this particular situation. And Charles was there. Charles was like I said, a godsend. He knew his area so well. He helped me out of so many messes. I mean, we were in court numerous times. There was things that I did not even know. I didn’t even know they existed, but it saved me. It saved the farm situation on many levels and it, it helped me. It bought me a lot time to figure out what was going to happen. And like I said, the details are something that I don’t want to go into, not for this show. That probably requires a book because there’s so much involved, beyond that, maybe he hadn’t even experienced something like that because you’re, you’re dealing with, a huge piece of property and the loss of business.

Again, I’ve been through this loss of business a few times, so I’ve been able to turn around and come out of it. Every time something happens in this world, I turn around and come out of it. I just am able to, I figured out I hit rock bottom. I cut back out of it. So this was a time that rock bottom hit. And this is a time that Charles Laputka from Allentown, who is a, a wonderful, a wonderful man, a family man, a lawyer, and many different areas of practice. He is involved with bankruptcy and foreclosure liquor, law, business, family law, and property law. There is a lot of areas he’s going to cover and he will tell us what it’s like today during this pandemic, as we all know, businesses, tens of thousands, millions of people have lost that business. And they’re going through a struggle.

People have lost their jobs going through struggles. You know, the, the money, the money has come to an end, as far as unemployment goes and the POA and all these unemployment programs, what the country had done for so many, a lot of those have ended, which means there’s no extra money coming in, which means there’s going to be lots of bankruptcies happening. And Charles we’ll go into that today with us. So in the meantime, we’re going to pause for just a moment and have a listen to Dr. Patrick Santa had right here in bucks County. He is a wonderful person and a wonderful author and have a listen. He is sponsoring bucks County bytes, and we welcome more sponsors to come on the show because it works well. He has seen a difference. Everyone that comes on the show as a sponsor will have a choice of a spot. And you can contact me for that information. So please have a listen to Dr. Pat Santa hat. We will be right back.

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Hello Hi, Charles. It’s worth it. I’m well, how are you I, I feel like I’m talking to a very good friends and it’s been a long time, but welcome to bucks County bites podcast. Did you ever think that you would be talking to me on a podcast after all these years

I did not, but I’m very excited about it. I

Am too. I just, I did a little intro and, I always have the recording always active because I always like to catch any material possible. I can always edit everything later, but it’s it love it because it’s raw, organic, free flowing and it’s us. It’s what we do. And I love having you here because I’m so excited because we have been friends for a long time, but you also saved my life and I’m going, you did. And I can’t thank you enough for everything you’ve done in the past for me. I and my mom. I mean, it’s just, there’s so much there so much detail, but let’s get into the intro for you. I want you to go ahead and talk to your audience out there. We have listeners all over the world and you’ll say, Hey, you know, this is who I am. This is what I do. And we’re going to go into some details of what you actually do for people and businesses and how everything has evolved since this pandemic. So go ahead. You have to stage Charles

Sounds great. Well, thank you very much, Martha. I appreciate the opportunity to join you on your podcast today. for those who don’t know the sound of my voice, I am Charles I am a real estate and finance attorney located primarily our main office is in the city of Allentown, Pennsylvania. We also have offices in Bethlehem and Easton and one up in loser and County in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. So we’ve got a pretty good reach these days. And one of the new things with the pandemic Martha, is that I’m actually practicing law all over the state of Pennsylvania at the moment because the right, the, the courts have been open to me across the state through zoom. We’ve got a lot of telephonic and zoom hearings, and that’s great because it’s allowed me to help people all across the state where I’m licensed.

Oh my gosh, that’s so amazing to see. That’s amazing how, you know, everybody is suffering out there. But then again, we have a different, audience. You could say we could reach so many people because of the technology. We have the zoom, we have these podcasts, we have ways of marketing and helping others. And that’s the reason I have you here, because I know that I’m helping you get the word out. Plus you are helping all those people that do need help. So we’re trying to connect everyone to get those that need help.

Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah. Yes. It can be a wonderful tool and you know, I’ve always been able to fight, well, not always for the last 15 years, I’ve been able to file things electronically across the state, but you know, it became more costly for me and for a client to hire me to say, drive to Harrisburg because that’s time away from my practice for me helping someone. But I have, you know, my staff and everybody, and of course we’re running a business. So what’s nice now is I can charge the same amount of money to somebody whose court case will be five blocks down the road that I can to somebody whose case will be in Pittsburgh. And it allows me to really help a lot more people.

Oh yeah. You really have opened up your, I mean, since we’ve met, you’ve really have changed and grown. I mean, you, I don’t think you had the lizard office when we met. I don’t think

No, that’s, that’s possible and not, I’m from Lucerne County. I was born and raised there until I went off to Pittsburgh for college. so it was sort of natural for me to eventually start heading that direction because of all the family and friends and relationships that I created up there as, as a young man.

Okay. Well talk a little bit about your background as far as education goes. So you are educated, university of Pittsburgh.

Yeah. So my undergraduate degree is in administration of justice from the university of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. And then thereafter, I went to law school at Duquesne university school of law, which is also in Pittsburgh. It’s about a mile down the street. And so I was out in Pittsburgh for, you know, the, the total amount of school is seven years. And then I worked out there for about two years before coming back towards the Lehigh bucks County area here. and I’ve been here ever since. And, along the way

Down here in Lehigh County.

Yeah, I have, yes. You know, my, my live here with my wife and, I have three children. One of my children is now in Pittsburgh. He’s 21 and beginning the adult phase of his life. But my two daughters, my two daughters, 10 and 12 are still here with my wife and I,

Oh, you have your hands full with everything that you’re doing just in work in general, because I can imagine what you’re going through. And then you have the two kids and the wife, and everybody’s gone through this whole pandemic and at home.

So how would it be interesting having the two young girls at home Sure.

Oh yeah. They are going stir crazy because they are very outgoing, like young ladies and to be cooped up in the house, you know, trying to do our part socially to keep everyone safe is, is taking a toll.

Yeah, it has. It really has taken a toll on everybody. And I’ve had many podcasts on that whole subject with, you know, we’ve had social workers. We’ve had everybody on talking about these areas. but you are a very good source to help others because I know, like I said, we have gone through, and like I said, you helped me. You saved me. And I didn’t really want to talk about it. Cause it kind of brings back all those memories and the harshness of what happened to me

At the farm. I can understand that,

But you know, I was able to talk to a few minutes in the being in the intro. I talked a little bit and I said, you know, Charles is a very, very, important person to have in your life because you can help so many people out there that are in these jams. especially due to the pandemic, you’ve got thousands of not, I mean, there’s millions of people lost their jobs, their businesses.

Oh, absolutely. And you know, there’ve been some great government stimulus packages to give people a little bit of assistance along the way, but you know, what, what the problem is is that can’t last forever. And for some people, it wasn’t enough. You know, it helped a lot of people and it helped everybody a little bit. Some people that helped a lot, but for many people, it’s not enough.

Right. You know, they’ve got business, they’ve got mortgages, they’ve got the rents, you know, there’s just, it’s not enough to keep them going. You know, and we’ve seen the homeless population, just spite, you know, people are out on the streets and it’s, it’s a mess in Philly. It’s a mess all over, even here in bucks, County and Doylestown, we’ve seen the increase of people out on the roads and the street. We didn’t see this.

Yeah. I recently, I recently had an opportunity to travel to other States for work both Arizona and California. And since those are warmer clients, the amount of folks living in tents, or even worse just under tarps on the street is the kind of thing that I haven’t seen before in my life. You know, you, you would always see a couple people here and there under a bridge or an, or taking shelter from the weather, but now even right, those spaces under the bridges are now so proud of that, you know, there’s no more room, it’s mindblowing.

It is mind blowing. And I just, I just did travel a little bit. I went to LA and I know California is one of the worst, but when I got it.

So that’s where I was as well. I was in Arizona, Phoenix and Los Angeles. Right.

It’s crazy. Cause I got an Uber from LA airport and just to get like 30 minute drive to, to my place that I have to pack an apartment up, take everything and bring it back to PA. But in the process of it, the Uber driver is telling me about all of these homeless people. And like the streets are littered with people is hard and we’ve never seen such numbers. And you know, with this, crisis going on, I mean, I can’t imagine the calls that you’re getting and the people that you really are helping you, it’s gotta be astronomical it’s history. Right.

And yeah, and we know one of the things that’s very interesting, both nationally and specifically in Pennsylvania is what’s going to happen next, right Because in, from March 15th of last year and some folks have heard this and some don’t know, but since March 15th of 2020, there have been no foreclosures or evictions in Pennsylvania. And that is extended through March 31st. So March 31st, 2021. So we, at this point, we are going to go slightly more than a year without foreclosure or eviction under certain circumstances, those things could occur, but you know, the regular circumstance of someone not being able to pay their rent or not being able to pay their mortgage has not been grounds for foreclosure or eviction. No, of course. Right. Not yet. So the question is, what is the government going to do Are they just going to let that order expire on March 31st And now we’re going to quadruple the homeless population Or is there going to be, yeah. It’s it’s mind blowing or is there going to be some new stimulus package and time is running out because you know, you know how slowly things move government that deadline is March 31st of 2021.

It’s taking them forever to get some of these programs done and people need it. They need help. And if it doesn’t happen, what are we going to do See tens of millions of people out in the, there, they can’t live on the street. They need homes. Yeah.

And my comments are not meant to be political. They’re meant to be social. I don’t care which side of the aisle you stand on, but you can’t have homeless families all over the country. You can’t have everybody losing their homes at once. I don’t have an answer to this. I don’t have a solution to the problem, but I’m very concerned about what’s going to happen in the next six to nine months.

I think about the domino effect of this though. Think about all right, everyone, they lose that money. They lose the home. They lose that just affects every business out there. It just, it’s just a huge domino effect. You think about, you know, the grocery stores, the shops, I mean, every single person will be affected by those people losing the whole

We’re already. Yeah. We’re already seeing the commercial side of that because the order I was referencing was in, in reference to residential, you know, we’re already seeing, I dunno, when the last time you were at a shopping mall, but you know, mostly the shopping malls have all the stores are closed.

Yeah. So all the stores. So if you go to a mall, say, all right, let’s, let’s take Lehigh Valley. For instance, I used to, I used to go up there long time ago, but I, that was one of my favorites. But the thing about Lehigh Valley mall and all the shops inside that mall, tell me what’s going on in a shopping mall situation, what’s going on with those businesses right now.

Right So, so what’s happening is the people just aren’t there. So we’re not really seeing a problem quite yet, with the anchor tenants, you know, the Macy’s or the JC Penney’s or, those, those anchor tenants in the big boxes. What we’re seeing inside the mall is the kiosks are closing. You know, where people would sell various perfumes and toys. Those are, those are really going away. And a lot of the smaller chains stores are disappearing. my wife just told me she, she had to go to Barnes and noble at the Lehigh Valley mall for something last week. And she told me she saw another side, you know, a long time staple of the Lehigh Valley ball was Abercrombie and Fitch, and that’s now closed. So other than that one, I don’t know any specifics, but when I, when I have gone to the mall, I have noticed a lot of dark.

Oh, sure. I mean, it is, you think about, okay, you’ve been to the airport. So I’ve been there a few times in the last six, seven months. Right. You go in there and I’ve been, I go to Newark and there’s nothing open. And this was like, even during like a holiday time, I think it was labor day. I was in there. It’s like, there’s nothing there. They’re all closed. There might be one coffee shop open. Yeah.

Oh, sorry. I was just going to say, it’s basically the coffee shop is still open.

Well, it’s everywhere you go. It’s a ghost town, you know, you go to new Fran. Yeah.

And the, the people that are hardest hit are the service industry, folks, the gyms, the yoga studios, the restaurants, the bars,

There’s a hit hardest. Yeah.

Yeah. And, and a lot of these strip malls where, you know, restaurants and bars are, are such high rent districts because they’re high traffic. And in times of a prosperous economy with a hundred percent occupancy and nobody wearing masks, you can make, you know, enough money to pay those six or $8,000 a month rent bills for a strip mall. But with 25% occupancy, I can tell you that you can’t afford to keep fresh beer and food to feed the 25% or 50% of people,

The bills, you can’t pay the electricity and Ella running costs, you can’t let, you can’t pay the employees. You can’t pay it. There’s just no money coming in to do those things.

Of course. And then a lot of those stores are owned by individuals. So what happens is not only do they lose their store, but when they lose their store, the majority of them lose their income. And now they’re in, at the risk of losing their house and having their vehicles repossessed, you know And the worst part is these were prosperous businesses a year ago.

Yeah. It’s just so amazing how it struck so fast and how it just, it just wiped us out. If you think about though, all the countries though, they’re all in the situation. Every person out there is affected. Like I know people in the UK and I know some of my friends are podcasters in the UK, so they’re listening to this and they are shut down over there. The one guy did a zoom video for podcast. He was in the middle of London. There’s nothing there just ghost town in London. And in Scotland, I have people I know in Scotland and Ireland, same situation, it’s just, it’s, it’s haunting ghostly to know that our world has come crushing down like this.

Right. And you know, one of the things, one of the things that, I focus on more than others is restructuring people’s finances, either through bankruptcy or debt consolidation, or sometimes even just having a meaningful conversation about how to reorganize your debt without, you know, shorting people were filing bankruptcy. And all of that is a great option for when you come to a point in the road where you just can’t get by on the debt anymore. But what, what I can’t do, and I think what the problem is right now is produced new income, right So it doesn’t matter how much debt you have. If you don’t have any money, it doesn’t matter if you have $20,000 worth of debt or $500,000 worth of debt. If you’re getting an unemployment check or worse, if your unemployment check has run out, there’s not really anything that anybody can do to help you, because until you’re generating income, you can’t get back on your feet.

There’s nothing you can do. I mean, there’s, if there’s this no income, there’s no income that it’s, it’s gone, it’s dry, it’s run out. And that’s what we’re saying.

We’re seeing a lot of that, right. Especially, you know, one of the more hard hit areas that I’m aware of locally is reading. there is reading has been really hit hard by this, in the lower socioeconomic and of the population. And what that’s causing is a trickle down effect to landlords because people aren’t making money. So they’re not able to pay their rent, but the landlords aren’t able to evict them. And frankly, even if they could, they’d have to find somebody else in a similar situation to come in. So we even have landlords defaulting on the mortgages of their rental properties.

Oh, that’s so horrible. It’s just such a domino effect. Gosh, what do you tell people Like, I’m sure you’re getting all these calls and you’re, you’re trying to assist them and give them, you know, give them the advice to help them. I mean, what have they, okay. They need your help. But at the same time, what if they don’t have any income to pay you

There are a lot of phone calls, a lot of phone calls I get from people that aren’t ready yet. So one of the, one of the things that I love about my job is helping consumers, small business owners, or really anyone that finds themselves struggling financially. And

I can provide a lot of relief from the pressure of the collection agents and the court system and all of those things. the good news is some people aren’t ready yet, but the good news is that there are things that I can teach someone during a free consultation about this type of thing. There’s there are things that I can teach people to keep their creditors at Bay until they have income and are ready to deal with it. Because when you have nothing, there’s really nothing anyone can do to you. You know, a lot of people, a lot of the questions I get Martha are, well, you know, can I go to jail if I don’t pay my credit cards Or if I don’t pay my mortgage, like, is this, is this a crime And the great news is in this country, it is not a crime.

it’s not a crime to not pay your bills unless there’s fraud involved. Obviously if you steal money from somebody, that’s an issue. But if you’re borrowing money on credit card debt, or, you know, basically any kind of net that you’ve borrowed and you’re unable to repay, it’s not a crime. Right. And you always hear the term that you can’t get blood from a stone. And to a certain extent, that’s true. It’s true in the short term because you can’t, you know, if I have nothing right now and the creditors are coming for me, if I have nothing, you get nothing. Right. But the idea is eventually everybody is trying to get back on their feet and ignoring the problem. Long-term won’t make it go away. It needs to be dealt with eventually. So when I have a consultation with somebody that’s struggling, we sit down and it’s not just, Hey, you know, pay me right now.

I’ll do what I need to do. And I’ll get rid of this debt. There really is a timing involved here. So there are many people that I meet with. And I say, listen, I’ve got the perfect plan for you, but it’s not the perfect time to execute it for six months or nine months or, or a year or whatever. You know, when you get, when you get back on your feet with a job, call me and I can take care of this so you can move forward. But we don’t rush people to a solution. If the timing isn’t perfect.

Okay. Okay. That’s good to know. Cause people will be listening to this and you know, people are scared and they don’t know what to do, but you know, if you can tell people out there, you know, reassure them, there is a process behind all this that you can do.

All right. Let’s let’s sort of apply that to the mortgage foreclosure situation. What I was just explaining to you. So a lot of folks who have never missed a mortgage payment until the COVID pandemic are going to find themselves getting letters from the mortgage companies. There have been some temporary forbearances, which means some of the mortgage companies have said, you know what We understand you’re going through a hard time. You don’t have to pay for 10 months and 10 months from now. You know, we’re not going to foreclose on you, obviously, because they can’t at the moment, but we’re not going to foreclose on you. And 10 months from now, we’ll figure it out. So a lot of mortgage companies have given people deferred payments under the problem is when the 10 months comes up. Now, if your was a thousand dollars a month, you owe them 10 grand. So there are some programs where you can do, what’s called a loan modification and maybe have that $10,000 over rear just put towards the end of the debt. So you can just start paying your thousand dollars a month again and continue to be current on your mortgage and just kind of start over.

That’s that’s

The best option, right But there’s no guarantee for that. The lenders, the mortgage companies have to offer you that volunteer. So if that is not an option, then what a lot of people do is they freak out and they think, Oh my gosh, I’m going to lose my house. You know, two or three months, I’m going to be homeless. What I want you to know more of and what I want all the listeners to know is that foreclosure in Pennsylvania is a relatively quick process. If you put your head in the sand and ignore it, but if you respond and react and participate either individually or using an attorney, it takes a while

Long time. Yes, yes, it does go that fast.

So if you, if you get served foreclosure papers that you do nothing, you know, in, in the normal situation, your house can be sold in about four to six months, depending upon what County,

Normal situations. It’s quick, right

With COVID, it’s a little FA it’s a little longer, a little slower, but if you participate, two things can happen. One, you can add a little bit of leverage to the situation and convince your mortgage company that you should have a second chance for a loan modification. So drawing the process out by participating either pro se by yourself, or hiring an attorney like myself, that deals with this kind of work. If you participate, you can stretch that six months to a year or 18 months or two years. And what happens when you do that is you gain, leverage over the bank because when you show them that you’re not willing to leave, you’re going to put up a fight to save your home. It makes them think sometimes about whether or not they should give you a second chance and let you start over. So that’s sort of some of the things that we do here with my office without filing bankruptcy.

So it’s not just, yeah, it’s not just all I’m behind on my bills or arm. And for closure, the only route is bankruptcy. There are other ways to turn your credit around and keep your home. And the best part is bankruptcy is more or less guaranteed to work. But we use that generally as a last option. You know, if your homes for sale tomorrow, it fails. If your foreclosures tomorrow, we can file a bankruptcy today, stop the sale and give you an opportunity to repay your mortgage. Wow. But that’s not the best option for everyone because we can draw it out for a year and a half to two years. Right. And you know, sometimes people just need time sometimes. Right And you know, one of, one of the things that I help clients with a lot, the mortgage foreclosure side of this is getting that time.

Legally getting that time through the court system, making sure the documents are analyzed and basically making sure the bank is not, doing anything that they shouldn’t be in taking your home. So some folks are in a situation. They realize Martha, I can’t afford this home anymore. You know, I lost my job. I got a new one. We live in this 500, $700,000 house. It’s too big and I just can’t afford it anymore. And that’s okay too. Right, right. But you need, you need time to downsize. Now let’s say your kids are juniors or seniors in high school. And you think to yourself, you know, we really should be downsizing, but I really don’t want to pull my kid out of the school district or out of this neighborhood with one year to go in their high school career. Those are the kinds of things that I can definitely help with to make sure that you can stay in that house until your kids finish high school or middle school. And then you can keep it right. It’s very important for family holistically, right You don’t want to uproot your kids in the middle of high school. If you don’t

Right now, nobody wants to do that. No, no.

So many different, so many different considerations that go into this, which is why I always tell everyone, you know, I offer a free consultation. It is legitimately no strings attached. we will develop a plan for you. And my process is that I want to educate people because so many people know nothing about this situation.

So true people don’t know. I mean, you, I met you. I didn’t know half of the stuff. Of course, this is what you do. And you can go, like I said, you educated me. And I learned so much over the course of those years that we spent together and we did it. Wasn’t just a one-time situation. We spent a lot of time knowing my situation and it took a long time to get through all of it, which was a fantastic thing. You did a wonderful job and you’ve helped so many people out there. You know, that’s why I appreciate that. So happy that you’re here because you know, you also, you also published a book or two haven’t you

I have, yes. I have two books. they are one is about the bankruptcy process. So that’s folks that feel a little timid about discussing these things with someone can call my office and get a copy of that book. You know, we can email it to you right away and we can actually send you a physical copy in the mail. And what that does a lot of times is it answers preliminary questions. Now, obviously what I can’t do in a book is tailor an outcome specifically for you, you know, it’s general ideas about bankruptcy, and the, the worst thing that someone can do when they’re faced this situation, it’s the same as like when your, when your elbow hurts, right If you go online and you Google that your elbow hurts, you’re going to think that the sky is falling

And you’re dying, right It’s the same kind of thing, same kind of thing. With foreclosure and debt relief. There are a lot of scams out there. Same thing you go on the internet. And the problem with the internet is a lot of this stuff is not only state but County specific. So you might Google something and find an answer from somebody that lives in Kansas that went through this situation. And the situation in Kansas is totally different than Eastern Pennsylvania bucks County,

Every state, every County, every the township, everything is so different. You have to be specific to where you live. You can’t just find out that information from California or Texas or Minnesota, it’s just not going to work. It has to be specific to your area.

The other problem with the internet is that there is, it’s a problem with the internet. And that’s the problem with zoom. You know, we were talking about how great zoom is earlier and how it’s allowed me to open my practice to more of the state. One of the problems is that it allows other companies. It allows predators to prey on people more easily nationally, right So you go online. There’s a slick looking website. I think mine’s pretty good too, but there’s a slick looking website that sucks you into this promise that, you know, we can eliminate your debt and we can file. You know, we can keep your home without bankruptcy, without foreclosure. All you have to do is pay this amount of money. And there’s so many people that come to me, Martha, that I have first fallen victim to one of these scams and they paid somebody three or $4,000 to not solve a problem that they could have paid me, say $2,000 to actually solve the problem with a local attorney.

That’s why we’re trying to get the word out there because I’ve been part of that. I have been there. So yes, it’s, you have to be so careful because everybody is trying to sell something and their scams are so bad, especially with a pandemic. Those scams have gotten so much worse, so much worse,

So much worse. And you’re going to see it. When, when the foreclosures begin again, you’re going to see the loan modification scam. That’s been ramping for the last 10 years. It’s going to quadruple because what happens is those people have marketing budgets that are extraordinary, the, the con artists, because they don’t actually do the work. So all the money that they’re taking in, they can just keep half of it and put half of it, the marketing, and they can just get more people to fall for their, their story. And you know, you want to think, okay, this person that’s calling me from California has given me a really good sales pitch. I saw them on zoom. They’re legitimate. But the problem is once you pay them, if they stop answering the telephone, what are you going to do about it Oh, you’re going to get on a plane and fly to California and try and find them

Because you don’t have the money to do anything. You can’t go out there and see what these people are doing. And

Haven’t then your last dollars for help. It’s so tragic

Is very tragic. I mean, I’ve been hearing scams constantly all the time. I hear people getting calls from this. What is it to social security And now, I mean, people are calling. They’re not, they don’t call you first off. They will mail you a letter. They’re not going to call you always, always go with your mail, not email. Those are scams. I can’t tell. And, and there’s a grandmom scam out there. There’s all these things happening. Like the scam was like, what, what is this And then I learned about that. You try to just trying to educate people, trying to help them do the right thing. I mean, when I see you, I see your website, you’ve got all this information. You’ve got your books on there because you have to, and then you talk about the bankruptcy, real estate, foreclosure, family, law, liquor, law, and business. And then you also have channel 69 news backing you because you did, you did your interviews. They had you on TV, which I’m going to give you a couple of pieces for that. I’m going to get December to George Wacker because he’s Lehigh Valley will love. And he’s well-known in Allentown, Lehigh County. He will also take this podcast and send it out on the, his links because it’s important for people to know here in Lehigh and bucks County that you are out there. You really give a damn, you really have a heart

Because I really just want everybody to know what they’re getting into. Right I, you know, I would love for every time the phone rings, I would love for that to be a new client because that’s great for business and my employees and my families and expansion. And the more that I can grow my business, the more people I can help. But first and foremost, that’s not my main goal. My main goal is I’m tired of, and I’ve been doing this. We can talk about it a little bit. I’ve been doing this for over 20 years. I am tired of credit card companies and mortgage companies, knowing the law and having the best attorneys and just doing whatever they want to the uninformed or undereducated consumers. That’s it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s the classic bully situation, right The bank calls you on the phone and they say, we’re going to sell your house if you don’t pay us.

Well, there is a lot more to the story than that. And if you don’t know the rest of the story, you’ll be terrifying. You, your health will be poor. You won’t be able to sleep at night. You know, it’ll, it hurts relationships, husband and wife. It hurts everything about, you know, you’re you’re, you could potentially uproot your kids. You’re fighting with your spouse because money is tight and a mortgage isn’t getting paid. And nobody knows when they’re going to get kicked out. I mean, it goes so far when you are in debt that you can’t pay. It affects every aspect,

The mental, everything about you. So spiritually, mentally, physically, everything, it affects your whole wellbeing. It destroys you I’ve been there. So my audience doesn’t know my backgrounds. They don’t know what I’ve been through, and it will destroy you if you don’t get the help. And this is, this is what Charles does. He is out there to help educate and teach you that. I mean, cause they do the banks, the credit card companies, they don’t educate you on. This is not what they’re doing. They there’s going to take what they want. They’re going to destroy. They want to destroy you. They don’t care.

Well, right They want their money and they’re going to do whatever they can at all costs to get that’s right. And so, so, you know, that’s, that’s, the problem is a lot of people take it personally, the banks don’t take this personal, it’s just business. You know, you want to, you want to call up and you want to tell, discover card, the terrible things that have happened in your life. You know, you got laid off and your wife left you and your, your child, your children are sick. They don’t care. They just want their money. It’s just business. It’s very clinical and sterile and it’s, you know, answer. We’re going to crush you.

No, you have another book out there. And are these these books, are they available on Amazon Or do you get that from your office How would they get these books

You can, you can get them directly from my office. I do not charge for them. because they are education pieces. So the road to freedom from debt is the first book that we discussed about bankruptcy. And that is like I said, it’s free of charge. We can email you a copy to your, to your Kindle or your iPad or whatever you want. Or we can send you a physical copy in the mail. Some people like to read paper books. And then the second book that I’ve written is about recovery from financial problems. So I’ve been working for years with a gentleman named Phil Tyrone, who works on helping people, educating people, how to rebuild their credit. After they’ve gone through a bad situation that was not credit repair, credit repair is not a thing. And we can talk about that in a couple of minutes, cause that’s sort of a different strap.

This is education about credit, right This book in this program that you can get involved with through, you know, reading the book and then calling me to get involved in the program. This is a class that I personally believe they should teach every senior in high school because it is about how credit affects you. It’s about how credit is measured. And basically what we do through this program and this book is teach you how to play the game. It’s a game, right You can’t sit down with somebody that knows how to play monopoly. And you’ve never seen the game before. You’re not going to be able to do it if they don’t give you the directions. Right, right, right. It’s the same thing with credit. Nobody’s giving us the directions as we grow up, unless you get it from your parents, nobody explains it to you. All they say, as you have good credit or bad credit, if you have good credit, you’re golden. If you have bad credit, you’re,

There’s no details. It doesn’t come in a book. And you

Know, frankly, I honestly believe that the credit bureaus have done this intentionally have kept folks in the dark over the years. I think it’s getting a little bit better. Now. There’s a little bit more transparency online, but it’s still not a hundred percent transparent. It’s better

Than it was for example. Right.

But, but the, the normal person who hasn’t had this education thinks, well, I must have great credit. Cause I’ve paid my bills on time. I’ve never missed a payment. That’s not necessarily true. There’s something called utilization ratio. Utilization ratio means that. And this is a big part of your credit. So utilization ratio means if you have a $10,000 credit limit and you have a $9,000 balance, it doesn’t matter if you’ve paid that card on time every month for the last 10 years, the fact that you’re using 90% of your available credit is a negative impact on your credit report. Right So here’s, here’s a quick tip that I’ll give you in relation to this. And everyone listening is the rule is 30%. You don’t want to carry a balance month to month on your credit card that is greater than 30% of the available limit. So if you have a $10,000 card, you don’t ever want the balance to be more than $3,000 revolved. Well, if your credit, if you keep it under 3000 and pay it every month, that is how you have fantastic credit.

That’s what they look at then that, that changes the utilization of that card and your credit. Right

And now that card becomes a positive impact on your credit as opposed to a negative impact, because it would be over-utilized.

That is really good information for people, but

Have good credit are the ones that have it and don’t need it. It’s a very fast,

That is very backwards. You think about it, you know, people that do have great credit, they don’t need that stuff, but it’s the people that are suffering right now that, you know, they can’t make those credit card payments or they have high utilization of it. It’s that’s the bad part, right Yeah. That’s really tough. It’s really tough in these days. And hopefully I’ll make changes. Go ahead. Go ahead.

One other thing I wanted to mention because I sort of put it to the side a minute ago is the idea of credit repair. I get a lot of phone calls from people that are asking about credit repair and you know, I don’t need to file bankruptcy. I don’t have that much debt, but my credit is terrible. I just need, I just need these couple of things off my credit. I need credit repair. Well, credit repair is not a thing because credit, most people are looking for some magician to come in and just remove negative things from their credit. So the way the credit bureaus work and the reason credit repair companies exist is because they can generally do a quick fix. That is temporary. What that means is if you dispute something on your credit report, the creditor only has a certain of time. Either 30 days or 60 days. If they ask for more, the creditor has a certain amount of time to respond to your dispute. And if they don’t respond in that 30 day period, which, you know, when you dispute things, there’s a lot of background work that the creditor has to do when they don’t respond within that 30 day period, that negative report on your credit falls off.

And they probably too quick right now because of everything, right They’re probably swamped. Yeah, sure.

Well, what happens is you think, Oh, this is a great job. And you pay the person that did the credit repair for you because a lot of them say, you don’t even have to pay me until it comes off. Well, here’s where the scam is. That only comes off until they respond because the credit Bureau assumes that if they didn’t respond, that it was invalid. But what happens is if they respond after the 30 to 60 days, it just goes right back up. So a lot of times you can get a short-term through, through quote, credit repair. You can get a short term bump in your credit for 60 to 90 days. So there’s one time in your life when this might be helpful. And it’s when you’re getting a mortgage. So the only time in life when credit repair might actually be a thing, it might be helpful, which is why it’s technically not a scam is because if your let’s say your credit score is six 20 and the mortgage company tells you, it needs to be six 30 for you to buy a home. Well, if you’ve got a couple of those negative things and you ping them off real quick, and then you apply for a mortgage, you get the mortgage. Now you’re happy living in the house. And those things all come back on your credit again.

I don’t see, I see that there is a reason to have that for certain reasons. Okay Correct.

The only circumstance where quilt credit repair, we’re disputing things on your credit that are true will help you. So disputing things on your credit. That aren’t true. That’s great. That’s a different kind of credit. If you have something being reported against you, because you have the same name as your father, you know, it’s a junior, senior situation, a lot of people’s credit reports get screwed up in that kind of situation. If your father’s or your son’s debt is being reported against you, you can repair that. You can get that removed, but I’m talking about right. You can’t fix things that aren’t broken. If they’re, if they’re true and accurate, you can get them temporary.

Yeah. So there’s those credit repair companies then are there certain ones that are much better than the others say, say they could come, could they come to you for credit repair or you don’t really specialize in that area. So you would recommend us.

I would recommend, I would recommend that they come to me. And then if the situation is appropriate, sometimes the credit repair folks, I would like to do a credit analysis. I would like them to come to me for a free consultation and bring a copy of their credit report with them, which you can get for free online. from annual credit report.com is a free online source for your credit.

You can do that with your here, right You get that. You can get it once

A year from each Bureau. So you can get three credit reports a year, one from each Bureau. Okay. And then in the alternative, if you can’t get it, I do have the ability, like a car dealership to pull credit reports here in the office that costs 20 bucks. So the consultation and going over it with you is free, but I get charged 20 bucks from the company. I don’t make any money on it. Yeah. I get charged 20 bucks from the company and I get what’s called a tri merge credit report, which is the same thing they pull from the mortgage company and the car dealer. So those free credit reports are sort of a consumer based product, which is doesn’t mean that they’re not good. It just means they don’t contain all of the information. It’s enough to get by. Okay.

All right. It’s good information to have. And

The other thing I would say is when we do that, if it’s, if I look at this and I say, you know what, you’re going to be cheaper. It’s going to cost you less money to go with a credit repair company than to pay me to do that. I will let you know, and I will send you to a local one. I am so big on supporting local businesses for many reasons. But one of the big reasons as a consumer is if there’s a problem, you know how to address it. You can go to the facility when they don’t answer the phone, you can show up there and say, Hey, pay attention to me. You didn’t do what you said you would do. I tell people all the time, I’ve got a live office where I come to every day. I’m not virtual. I’m not here from Philadelphia on Wednesdays. Only kind of thing.

I don’t know if it’s ever do you go every day to the office

I do. I go to the office every day, unless I’m out of town for some reason at a conference or something, but I’m in my office every day. And if I tell people, if you give me money and I don’t do what I say, I’m going to do feel free to wait for me in the parking lot. When I get here in the morning with my coffee and we’ll talk about that. That’s my, that’s my guarantee to my customers that I’m going to do what I say that I’m going to do because you know, I don’t want to, I’m a local guy and my family’s here. I don’t want to screw people over and have to look over my shoulder for the rest of my life. That’s a terrible way to live. I do this job because I help people. I come here to work every day because I love helping.

You have such a huge drive, a huge heart for helping people. Where did this all, where did you get this from the dis Did something happen to you a long time ago that really made you see that this is really what I want to do. I want to help people in these situations. What gave you the drive

Let me, let me give you, I’ll give you a little bit of quick history there. So, I grew up in Hazelton, Lucerne County, Pennsylvania, a little bit further North here on the edge of the Poconos and my family. We’re all small business owners. So I’ve, I’ve seen that and I’ve lived this life for a long time. We always joke that the are not stick to work for people. And that’s the

Reason that we all have our small businesses, but it’s really given me this drive and sense of entrepreneurial spirit. And then what happened is I was in high school and I needed a job for the summer. and I went to a telemarketing company where I was, you know, bad. This was back in the nineties. And back in the nineties, I used to call people after school every day and try to get them to open credit cards with me over the phone. If you can believe that, talk about the scams that are now. I was a 17 year old kid on the telephone saying, Hey, would you like a Providian MasterCard I’ll never forget it. I have the whole script burned into my memory and these people all over the country, just to give me their name, address, and birthday and social security number over the phone. And we would mail them credit cards. Oh my

Gosh. She did that. Oh, I can’t believe

People used to. People used to trust more in the nineties because there were less fans, I suppose. Right Oh my. So, you know, the good news is that it wasn’t a boiler room situation. My company was legitimate and we did give you the credit cards and they were high interest rate and all of those things. So that’s where I saw the front end of how easy it is to get credit. Then my next job, the following summer, I worked for a bank called Franklin first bank up in Wilksbear. So I commuted from Hazelton to Wilksbear all summer. This was the summer between high school and college. So I worked in the repossession department, not physically repossessing people’s vehicles, but I was the guy that answered the phone. When somebody came out of their office or the grocery store and their car was gone, they called the police and the police said, Oh, your car didn’t get stolen.

It got repoed. And I was the guy that had to tell them, I was the guy that had to tell them, you know, if you give me 1800 bucks, by the end of the day, you know, by the end of the week, we can get your car back. Otherwise it’s going to auction. And I, they would, people would cry. You know, they come out of the store, they’ve got two little kids and a bag of groceries and the minivan’s gone, but I did that for a summer and it tore me apart, tore me apart. So I did that for the summer. And then I realized how big of an issue this was. So then I went to college and I got a very similar job at Mellon bank out in Pittsburgh, where I worked at evenings and weekends while going to school again in the collections and repossession department.

So all of those people that call you and harass you, you know, I used to be one of those people, but the difference is I was never nasty about it. So there are fair debt collections rules, and there are quotas and things for collection agents. And there are a lot of folks who do this job collecting for a living. We have to remember that, right Everybody’s got a job there. They’re feeding their family and calling you and asking you to pay your bills. They’re not terrible people, but sometimes they go over the line and they say things that aren’t true to get you to pay. So I was not that person because I was not supporting a family. I was using this money to support just myself, you know, as my net income in college, a little bit of beer money, that kind of thing.

So I was, I was very by the book and I helped people every way that I could. And then I had to quit that job when I went to law school. So when I went to Duquesne university, they said to me in a law school is really hard. So you can’t work part-time while you come here. It’s one of the school’s rules, or at least not for the first year of law school. So I had to quit my job. It was a corporate job. And one of the roles of this corporate job was if you quit, you can’t come back. We don’t like quitters. So I quit my job. I started law school about two months in, I was broke and I felt like I could handle it. So I went over to the job board and I pulled a phone number for an attorney that was looking for someone in law school to do some part-time work.

So it just so happens. This guy’s name was Dennis Spire. And not that that’s important for the story, but I went to him and he hired me to help him with an arson trial. He hadn’t gotten involved in an arson trial with an insurance company on the civil side, not the criminal side. And he needed, you know, a student like me to go to the library and do research and find cases of blah, blah, blah. So we did that. I did a great job and he was primarily a bankruptcy attorney and a consumer rights attorney. So that’s not the job I was hired for, but I saw that in the background, as I was doing this arson trial, when it was over, I asked them if I could still stay there and do this other type of work. And that’s when I fell in love with bankruptcy law and being able to help people, just all of those people that I had been calling for years and telling them, I don’t know how to help you. You just have to pay me. I now knew how I could help them.

That’s incredible. That is a really incredible story. I never, I never knew that about you. I had no idea that you really do have it. You do have it in your soul and your heart to really help the people out there. You’ve been there.

I do it. I knew from that moment, that’s what I wanted to do. And eventually what happened is I wanted to come home to the East coast and I got a job. I went back to the other side. I got a job at a foreclosure firm doing foreclosures because I needed, at this point, I was married with a child that I needed to support my family and the job that I couldn’t get a job that I couldn’t get was doing what I did. But for the bench, I did it for about four years and I was miserable every single day, taking people’s homes, you know, having the same people with the, with the grocery cart and no car called me the night before the bank was selling their house, they would call me and it hurt. And I hated going to work every single day.

I love the people that I work with, but I hated my job. So I did it. I did it for the knowledge and for the paycheck. And I lasted about four years at that job. And then I said, you know what I now know both sides of the fence here. I know how the banks think, and I know how their work happens, and I know how the consumers think, and I know how to do that work. So I’m going to make a choice to do that. You know, it’s kind of like in criminal law where the prosecutor becomes a defense attorney, it’s the same kind of thing. You go, you go and work for the prosecutor’s office and learn how to put people in jail, because what you’re really learning is how to not put them in jail for later in life. It’s that kind of thing. So I started my own firm in 2008 and here we are 12 or 13.

Okay. So you started your firm in 2008 and I really met you two years. Just about two years after you got your fruit started. So I was, wow. I didn’t realize that.

Yep. I started my firm, in an apartment downtown Allentown, because I couldn’t afford a commercial space. So when I ran it out of the apartment for about a two bedroom apartment for about a year and a half until I was able to find a commercial building and we’ve been here ever since, since 2010, I’ve been in the current location

Two in the commercial building. Cause I remember when I walked in your office, you had that office then. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. Charles just gave me shivers. That is a nice story.

And that is my background story. And that’s why I’m so passionate. And that’s why I get up every day and come to work, ready to help me. Wow.

That, no, that is, you have a great story and you have a great service and you believe in your full a hundred percent in your heart that you are out there helping, and you are you’re and you’ve grown. I’ve seen how you’ve grown and we’re going to make sure that all this information is out there. We’ll put all your links in the podcast. You can have all that information right there, easy access. So on every platform out there that it’s Spotify, Pandora, Amazon, anything you can go right to that podcast. And you, the links are so easy. Just hit that button and it takes you right to your website or takes you right to the information that they need to contact you.

Well, that’s wonderful. I can’t wait to, I’ll put some links to your podcast on my website as well

On your, on your website. Also, I’m going to put that out on all my social media that you don’t have as much as I do that you do have a Facebook and you do have an Instagram that I noticed. you, I think it’s kinda new your Instagram, but we’ll, we’ll put it on there. I’m going to link, you know, I’m going to tag you on everything. So when I get it,

That’s something I plan to develop a little bit more of this year. You know, as I, as I grow my firm, the main focus is reaching out and helping more people, you know, as I’m sure you could hear from our conversation that is obviously we all need to make money and provide for our families and pay for our daughter’s weddings and things like that. But at the same point, the more people I can help, the better, because I could have kept my firm small and still had a comfortable life, but I want to help as many people as possible.

Remember who your tech geek is now I might’ve been a horse farmer at one time, but I’ve turned into quite the technique. I’ve had a psychological firm hire me to take care of all their social media. I’m very good at it. I work with an author right now. I actually help is he publishing and editing and anything when it comes to books, publishing technique, anything, I can, I have put everything into other languages. So I really wanted to right now, which I think is going to be very important for you. I can turn this podcast into Spanish. No boy. So that may be helpful for you because we know a lot of them.

Well, that would be very helpful. I actually have four. I have my team here at the office is 10 people and four of them speak Spanish, not including me because I don’t speak Spanish. I understand Spanish, but I’m terrible at speaking.

I think that would be really important. I mean, I’ve done episodes in French before and I can send them in Spanish. So I have an AI software program that I take all the podcasts I can change. My, my own voice can be an artificial intelligence voice, which is very useful. So I can change the actual words. If I don’t pronounce something correctly, I can change it. It’s just takes my, take the word out. And they import my artificial intelligence voice, but I also can take it and turn all that text into another language, which is about a hundred different languages. So it’s pretty cool. That be really cool for you just because you’re out there helping others. And if they can hear that, you know, a lot of Spanish speakers might not know English. They have a tough time understanding and translating it. I know it’s easier now than ever before, because we do have a lot of apps that do help with it.

But this program that I have is wonderful. And I will do that for you because you were so helpful and the time I needed you, so now I’m helping you. And if you need anything, you need any help with any social media, I’d be glad to help you. I’m going to do a promo and add on this one because it’s something that’s really needed out there during this time. So I will promo you. So you actually show up on Facebook and Instagram as a sponsored ad and people will see that. So they take notice and they will click on it and they can contact you at that point. Okay. All right. You’ll see how it all works. And also in, if you’ve got a couple of articles that you really want people to read, make sure you can get those over to me. And then I’ll put those in the podcast as well that they can read it. Okay.

I do. You know, you know, the other thing I can do is I can send you copies of our links to copies of both of my books. That would be great. Anything that you can PDF versions. Yeah.

Send me those PDF versions. Anything that I can click in there, put in the, in the podcast and they can click on it. That would be wonderful. I’ve already got your cover art sets. I know what to do for that far as music and background music. I can take care of that for you. If you have something that you want, you can always text it over to me and I’ll use it. Okay I don’t have anything

In mind, whatever you choose.

I will. Charles, you know, it’s been wonderful talking to you about all this, and I hope that this podcast reaches so many people and that you can help even more at, during this crisis and beyond because you can,

You too, Martha, it’s been wonderful catching up. It’s been wonderful catching up again in this process. And now that I’ve known you for 10 or 11 years,

I can’t, I know I can’t believe it’s been that long Charles tenure. I know it’s going back to 2000, I guess it was 2010. Everything kind of fell apart. So you were there, you picked up the pieces and you got me through it and I survived and I’ve done a couple different jobs.

Well, you you’ve really put in the world work to get yourself to where you are now.

It’s really evolved. And, you know, went from a, a driver situation to a long haul transporter. You know, I wasn’t expecting that to travel. And I was traveling all over across the country, you know, and I’ve been in every state and every city and I’ve flown all over the country and then to turn around and have it all lost. I lost the business because of the pandemic. I mean, I still do a few here and there, but not like I was. And let’s like, what can I do to help others start a podcast show Why not And now it’s turning into something more than I ever anticipated. People are going to be doing a media show on me. They’ve got some blogs that are being written. I’m being shown and, and, published in a few places. So yes. Exciting, exciting. It’s awesome. But Charles, I thank you so much for being here today. You have no idea how you’re going to help so many more people with this podcast. So

Excited. My pleasure, Martha, have a wonderful day.

You too, have a great day. Take care. Bye-bye bye-bye everyone that was Charles Laputka, and he is a savior. He will help you. Like he’s helped me. Like I said, I don’t want to go into detail exactly what, what went on, but he saved me, picked up the pieces. I was able to move on with life and Charles can do the same thing for you. His firm is a hundred percent full of love and helping those that need it, his book, third road to freedom from debt. And then the other one is rebuilding your life after bankruptcy. It is easier than you think. So it is so, so, so good that he was able to do this podcast. And I’m so fortunate to billion his friend for 10, 11 years. So I will make sure this gets out by Saturday. Everyone enjoy the weekend. It is Valentine’s day weekend, and I will do a day podcasts on Saturday. So it’s published for Sunday. How’s that everyone have a great day here in bucks County, get ready for an ice and snow storm coming in. So everyone take care of yourself. This is books, County bytes, over and out.