BUSINESS
11/23/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Credit Card Nightmare: One Lost Check And A Lifetime of Bankruptcy

This story is part of Bearing Witness 2.0.

HuffPost has received hundreds of emails from people making tremendous sacrifices in order to weather the recession. Some have had their credit card rates double or triple, forcing them to file for bankruptcy.

This was the case with Sophie, who asked to keep her last name private. Sophie's husband was a librarian in Ohio, but lost his job when the state slashed its budget. He finally took a job at a reduced salary at a state university three hours away. This wasn't the first time Sally's husband had suffered a salary reduction, and now they had to rent him a place to stay.

As a case worker, Sophie brought in a steady income, but the couple suffered $79,000 in credit card debt. They sought help to organize their finances and found Freedom Financial.

"They have been very professional," said Sophie. "They did not make any false promises and their contact was easy to understand and everything was above board. I know that a lot of these companies get bad raps but I really liked these guys and found them to be very attentive and professional."

Sophie was lucky, as many of those who have sent in stories of financial hardship include an anecdote about hiring ineffective and sometimes fraudulent third party consultants.

Freedom Financial successfully negotiated with Sophie's credit card companies, which were receptive at first. "Most of them are very understanding and realize that times are hard," Sophie said.

"Everything rides on everyone helping everyone else. We couldn't pay a dime more than the monthly amount we sent to Freedom... after that it was bankruptcy."

But the unexpected occurred when Sophie's husband sent a payment to Allstate Insurance that was lost in the mail.

"Well, Chase saw that as a default and raised his interest to 30 percent," Sophie said. "So, we closed the account and kept making payments for an entire year up to December 08."

Then things truly fell apart.

According to Sophie, Chase filed a lawsuit against her husband and told Freedom Financial that they were no longer dealing with third parties. Chase is seeking a default judgment against Sophie and her husband for roughly 25 percent of her husband's earnings, and refusing to credit any of the payments that have been made since 2007.

Sophie can't see a light at the end of this tunnel. Bankruptcy is their only choice.

"What really irks me," said Sophie, "is that here we are trying to make payments so that everyone can get paid. Now because of Chase's actions no one will get paid, not even Chase!"

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