At Conrad Legal, we’re always looking for new ways to make the bankruptcy process as easy as possible for our clients. In our last post, we discussed our ability to communicate with you via texting. Now, after many requests, we’re accepting payment via Visa, Mastercard, and Discover debit cards.
Despite talk of a “cashless society,” paper checks and cash won’t disappear anytime soon. But it’s clear that debit cards and other electronic forms of payment are becoming more and more popular. And even though your debit card won’t work unless there’s money in your checking account, I’ve noticed that many people leave the checkbook at home and simply keep a debit card in their wallet to access those funds.
Worth the Wait
Accepting debit cards is something we’ve been planning on doing ever since we opened our doors over four years ago. But there were three challenges we wanted to address before offering this service:
- Avoiding merchant fees that would, in turn, force us to raise our fees
- Compliance with attorney trust accounting requirements
- Making payment plans easy
I’m a fan of Apple‘s products. For the most part, Apple doesn’t exactly invent things — rather, it finds ways to make things better. The iPhone wasn’t the first device of its type on the market, but it improved upon the shortcomings of existing smartphones.
Likewise, while we could have started accepting debit cards on day one, we decided to wait until we could offer a system that works well with our bankruptcy law practice. Given the positive early feedback we’ve received, we think we’ve done it.
Businesses that accept credit and debit cards pay a variety of fees for the privilege. These fees are typically passed on to you, the customer, in the form of higher prices — even if you’re paying with cash.
While our new card processor doesn’t provide their services for free, their fees are low enough that we’ve decided that at this time, we’re not going to raise the fees we charge clients for our services. Instead, we think the costs we’ll incur will be offset by additional cash flow.
The details of lawyer trust accounts probably aren’t very interesting to most non-attorneys, so we won’t get into them here. But in the legal profession, proper trust account management is serious business. The vast majority of card processors aren’t set up to accommodate the needs of law firms, which can make things inconvenient at best. By contrast, our system was designed with trust account compliance in mind.
Many of our clients can’t afford to pay for their bankruptcy in a single payment. This is hardly a surprise, since we’re in the business of helping people with money problems. So, like most bankruptcy law firms in Indianapolis, we’ve always offered payment plans.
To make these plans more convenient, our system allows us to keep your debit card information on file (rest assured that we take data security seriously) and create a custom plan that’s tailored to your budget and how often you receive income. No need to keep calling in payments, mailing in checks, or stopping by our office to drop off cash. Our system does it for you by automatically charging your card on a schedule that works for you.
What About Credit Cards?
Every once in a while, a potential client will ask if it’s possible to pay for a bankruptcy with their credit card and then discharge that debt in the bankruptcy. Nice try, but no. Incurring a debt with the intention to discharge it is fraud under the Bankruptcy Code and, at a minimum, can result in the court declaring that debt to be non-dischargeable.
But what if someone else, like a friend or relative, is helping you out and wants to pay for your case with their credit card? That’s a different story, and in general, we can accept third-party credit card payments. Ask us for more information if you’re interested.
If you’re already a client of our firm on a payment plan, and you’d like to set up automatic debit card payments going forward, just give us a call at 317.454.8188. As always, we’re here to help.