Chicagoans have experienced a recent increase in auto-related tickets thanks to a cascade of new red light cameras, speed cameras and a push for greater accountability for parking violations. For some drivers, these tickets amount to annoying added expenses that are unexpected, but at the end of the day affordable.
For others, though, these penalties amount to more than nuisances: In recent years, over 40,000 Chicago drivers have filed for bankruptcy due to ticket debt. On average, their debt amounts to about $3,900. Recent studies show that a disproportionate number of drivers facing this debt are black. Plus, the Northern Illinois court district, which includes Chicago, had the most consumer bankruptcy filings of any district in the US in 2015. (Pro Publica)
Chris Scott, Founder and Chairman of the city’s sole MBE certified credit repair company Opulent Credit Builders, is helping tackle this community problem by offering credit repair expertise to local residents whose credit scores, jobs, housing and more have been seriously jeopardized by mounting debt from red light and other auto tickets. These individuals are bringing light to this important city matter by sharing unique stories about why they had to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy and what it meant for their families.
Tickets bring in massive revenue for the city: Tickets raked in almost $264 million in 2016, which is about 7 percent of Chicago’s $3.6 billion operating budget. Investigative reports by Pro Publica have shined a light on what’s behind this recent rise in Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings:
“[…] the rise in Chapter 13 filings has mainly been driven by black, low-income debtors unable to pay tickets owed to the City of Chicago. By filing under Chapter 13, these people are trying to keep their cars or licenses. Chapter 13 stops seizures and suspensions as long as debtors can keep up payments, but the data shows that most can’t.”
Chapter 13 filings tarnish credit records, not to mention cause stress for the debtors. Chris receives phone calls from individuals in this situation daily and is passionate about solving this community problem.
Chris Scott, African-American, Founder of Opulent Credit Builders
Clients of Opulent Credit Builders impacted by red light tickets
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