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If a Debtor Has a Default Judgment Against Them, It May Affect the Bankruptcy Process

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Default judgments typically mean a debtor is quite advanced in the collections process. Creditors do not like having to involve the court and having to file for default judgment, but they will do so if a debtor demonstrates they are ultimately unwilling or unable to pay.  A default judgment is a court order demanding that the debtor surrender money or property to the creditor. If you have such a judgment against you, it means the court has ruled against you for not appearing in court and for failing to pay off a type of loan or a credit card.

One of the ways to stop a default judgment is to file bankruptcy. Filing bankruptcy effectively stops any and almost all legal action, thanks to the “automatic stay.” Even if a creditor has started to enforce their judgment against you via garnishment or bank levy, once you file bankruptcy the “automatic stay” goes into effect and the creditor is legally required to “stay” (cease and desist) all collection efforts against you.  This automatic stay also means that your creditors are not allowed to contact you in any way about your outstanding debt and/or judgment.

The automatic stay remains in effect the entire four to five months that your bankruptcy case is pending, unless a secured creditor (mortgage or car loan) files a motion to have the stay lifted, in which case the court may or may not allow the creditor to resume pursuit of collection in order to protect or repossess the security (house or car) for which payments are delinquent.  When your bankruptcy case is done, you will receive a formal debt discharge decree from the bankruptcy court and the court will close your case.  The discharge decree makes the automatic stay permanent, and there forward your creditors are prohibited from taking action against you personally to collect the debt that you previously owed. In most jurisdictions, the debtor or his/her attorney must also file paperwork in the district court case in order to vacate the default judgment, even if the bankruptcy discharge acts as protection from its enforcement.

Another thing you should understand is that the protection you receive from the automatic stay only remains in place as long as your bankruptcy case is progressing successfully toward discharge. If your bankruptcy case ends up being dismissed, you will lose any protection you had, and thus, the creditors will start the collections process once again. This is something that you need to discuss with a skilled an Iowa bankruptcy lawyer, as it is far too complex a process to attempt on your own.

If you are declaring bankruptcy, it only makes sense to do it according to all the rules and regulations. Failing to do so could leave you back at square one, struggling to get out from under your bills and various judgments. Bankruptcy is not an easy process, but if it is done with the help of an experienced Iowa bankruptcy lawyer, the process can go relatively smoothly.

Kevin Ahrenholz is an Iowa bankruptcy lawyer and Iowa bankruptcy attorney. To contact him, visit http://www.iowachapter7.com or call 1.877.888.1766.

Posted on Thursday, January 24th, 2013 and filed under Bankruptcy | Comments Off on If a Debtor Has a Default Judgment Against Them, It May Affect the Bankruptcy Process .
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What is Involved in Foreclosure?

Posted by: Admin User

One of the most common questions debtors have when they speak to an Iowa bankruptcy lawyer is, “What is involved in foreclosure?”

Declaring bankruptcy is a stressful thing to do — with so many details, documents, rules, regulations and various meetings, it can be a nightmare to manage everything. The most upsetting part of bankruptcy for most is the threat of foreclosure.

Generally speaking, foreclosure occurs when a lender takes action to repossess someone’s property — property they have a mortgage against, resulting from money lent to the debtor. In the case of a mortgage, the home is considered to be the collateral. Thus, if an individual stops making payments on their mortgage, the financial institution holding the paper on that property has the right to take the property back on default.

The foreclosure process varies slightly from state to state.  If you live in Iowa, you will want to discuss the foreclosure process with an experienced Iowa bankruptcy lawyer. In general, the overall process is the same, and that is once a debtor has not paid for 90 days, a notice of default is filed with the county to initiate foreclosure. There is a grace period of sorts in this process, where the debtor has the right to bring their mortgage current by catching up on all the payments, or at the very least, working out a plan with the lender.

If neither of these two options is viable, the financial institution will put the home up for auction, which typically takes place on the county courthouse steps. The highest bidder takes the home, and the bidding process is carefully monitored by a bank trustee. The bank trustee’s goal is to cover their mortgage, or at least limit their loss. If this is not possible, the bank trustee bids until they secure the home back, with plans to fix it and put it back on the market.

Bankruptcy can be a very confusing process, and even though it is possible for a debtor to file their own bankruptcy papers, it is not advisable to do so. If something is done improperly, according to the law, the debtor takes a real chance that they could have their petition dismissed, or they could be charged with fraud. There are far too many ins-and-out for a debtor to take the chance on doing the wrong thing. For this reason, consulting with an Iowa bankruptcy lawyer is highly recommended.

Kevin Ahrenholz is an Iowa bankruptcy lawyer and Iowa bankruptcy attorney. To contact him, visit http://www.iowachapter7.com or call 1.877.888.1766.

Posted on Monday, January 14th, 2013 and filed under Bankruptcy | Comments Off on What is Involved in Foreclosure? .
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Foreclosure Causes High Stress and Health Problems, Bankruptcy Can Help

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Foreclosures create health problems. A foreclosure impacts people’s lives in many ways not easily visible.

Imagine facing foreclosure, losing what you worked so hard to secure. That is a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the maximum stressor. It hits hard at the foundation of everything we identify with, work to attain, take pride in and call our haven. While losing your boat may not bother you quite as much, losing your home is a completely difference scenario.

There are a variety of reports available online which clearly indicate that foreclosures have more than just economic repercussions. In fact, economic difficulties tend to go hand-in-hand with health problems. Debt and foreclosure can bring on health issues. The reverse could also be true, that health difficulties bring on foreclosure, with the added drawback that if someone goes into foreclosure while ill, their symptoms will likely get worse.

The core finding of many of the recent surveys of those about to go into foreclosure, were in foreclosure, were about to file bankruptcy or had started the process, showed that the people felt their physical and mental health had deteriorated over the last two years. Their levels of deprivation, anxiety and depression were exceedingly high.

How do you pay bills if you have no money and no hope of getting any? In many cases, if you wish to save your home or salvage your present financial status as best you can, seeking bankruptcy protection with the assistance of a qualified Iowa bankruptcy attorney, will put an automatic stay on most debt collection procedures.

The foreclosure crisis is an epidemic in the US today, and according to the National Bankruptcy Research Center, filings in Chapter 7 and 13 are on the increase, despite a glimmer of hope for the nation’s economy. The increase in Chapter 7 filings is of interest largely because in 2005, a means test was introduced to direct people to Chapter 13 filings instead. Chapter 13 would mean they would still need to repay a portion of their debt.  However, with the economy being what it is, the means test is getting a good workout.

Bankruptcy is not an option  one certain class or social strata of people. It can hit everyone and anyone, even those with higher incomes and education. It could be just around the corner for you. If you are facing bankruptcy, and have no other option, filing will halt all collections activity.  This may help your medical situation as well, although it’s not a recommended cure for stress.  The automatic stay may help you get your life together and go forward. Don’t attempt to do this without the assistance of a qualified and experienced Iowa bankruptcy attorney.

Kevin Ahrenholz is an Iowa bankruptcy lawyer and Iowa bankruptcy attorney. To contact him, visit http://www.iowachapter7.com or call 1.877.888.1766.

Posted on Saturday, December 15th, 2012 and filed under News and Press | Comments Off on Foreclosure Causes High Stress and Health Problems, Bankruptcy Can Help .
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Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure is a Good Option, If It Works

Posted by: Admin User

Foreclosures across the nation have been creeping up every year.

Even though the economy is beginning to show some signs of recovery, there are still many people in debt over their heads. This will likely still be the case for the better part of this year and into the next. In 2010 alone, there were close to 1.2 million bank repossessions, leaving many without their homes. The more foreclosures, the more bankruptcies, as these two things go hand in hand; filing for bankruptcy is just about the only thing a debtor can do to save their home, or buy some time to manage their situation.

The minute you file for bankruptcy protection, the court orders all collection actions to stop immediately. This is referred to as an “automatic stay,” and is applicable to all kinds of bankruptcy filings. The stay simply means that it puts a halt to just about all lawsuits (though there are some exceptions), utility shut-offs, evictions, foreclosures, attachments, repossessions and other forms of debt collection harassment.

When you file bankruptcy, all of your creditors, including the mortgage company, have to go through a bankruptcy court trustee. This means you don’t deal with them until your case is dismissed or discharged. If you are still in default at the time your bankruptcy is discharged or dismissed, the lender will still go through foreclosure to repossess your property. However, there is generally a very long period of time between when you file and when the mortgage company takes possession of your house.

This period is one in which you can negotiate your mortgage, depending on what kind of bankruptcy you filed and what state you live in. One thing you could try is offering the mortgage holders a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure. If they choose to accept it, they can’t collect any short-fall between the actual value of the house and what you owed on it. This may or may not work, depending on what state you live in. Always check with a qualified Iowa bankruptcy attorney to find out what options you have at your disposal.

It’s no secret that bankruptcy laws and foreclosures are very complex and complicated, therefore something you do not want to tackle on your own. Hiring a competent and experienced Iowa bankruptcy attorney is a smart move on your part to help you understand what you are facing and how it will affect you now and in the future.

The bottom line? There is no “easy” way out of debt, not when you are in over your head. It happens. That’s life and sometimes, life gets out of hand. This is why you will need a skilled bankruptcy attorney helping you through the maze of laws, rules, regulations and piles of paper.

Kevin Ahrenholz is an Iowa bankruptcy lawyer and Iowa bankruptcy attorney. To contact him, visit http://www.iowachapter7.com or call 1.877.888.1766.

Posted on Saturday, December 8th, 2012 and filed under News and Press | Comments Off on Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure is a Good Option, If It Works .
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If Chapter 7 Cannot be Filed Again, Chapter 13 May be an Option

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There are cases in which a debtor files bankruptcy more than once.

When the economy began to decline and unemployment was on the rise, those who lost their jobs faced difficult financial choices. Many people used their credit cards to pay for bills and other expenses and racked up significant debt. Many of those people are still unemployed. These individuals are candidates for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Some people find themselves in a position to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy more than once.  Iowa bankruptcy lawyer Kevin Ahrenholz explained that a debtor’s prior bankruptcy may create a problem in attempting to file again, depending on the filing date of the debtor’s prior bankruptcy.

While there is no limit to the number of times someone can file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, there are limits on whether an individual can receive a bankruptcy discharge from their case. Changes made to the bankruptcy code in 2005 mean that debtors are required to wait eight years before they can receive another debt discharge in a subsequent Chapter 7 bankruptcy. It is important to note that the relevant date is the date that the debtor’s prior bankruptcy petition was filed. For instance, if an individual filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy on October 1, 2006, they cannot file Chapter 7 bankruptcy again until for eight years, until October 1, 2014. The debtors who filed in 2008, when the economy started to decline, do not yet have the opportunity to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy and receive a debt discharge. However, they may be able to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a court-supervised debt repayment plan, during which debtors receive protection from creditors, and make monthly payments to a trustee for a period of three-to-five years. Upon the successful completion of the plan, they receive a discharge of any remaining unsecured debt. If the Chapter 13 debtor becomes eligible to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy while their Chapter 13 case is pending, they may convert the case from a Chapter 13 to a Chapter 7, when the eight-year waiting period has passed..

Each debtor’s debt relief options depend upon a variety of factors and circumstances. Speak to a qualified Iowa bankruptcy attorney to find out what those options and considerations are, as well as how and when to take advantage of them.

Posted on Saturday, November 24th, 2012 and filed under News and Press | Comments Off on If Chapter 7 Cannot be Filed Again, Chapter 13 May be an Option .
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Chapter 7 Bankruptcy May Not Always Be the Best Debt Relief Plan

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Chapter 7 bankruptcy is not always the right solution for a debtor.

Most debtors have a long list of questions when they make an appointment with a bankruptcy lawyer. Filing for bankruptcy is a complicated process, and people are concerned about how the decision will affect them and their credit rating. Making the right call to a qualified Iowa bankruptcy attorney will put many debtors’ fears to rest, says Iowa bankruptcy attorney Kevin Ahrenholz.

Most debtors who have made the decision to seek bankruptcy protection are aware of the enormous impact it will have in their lives, and know that in order to file without errors, they need the help of an experienced bankruptcy attorney. When making that first appointment to discuss filing with a bankruptcy lawyer, questions to ask may include whether or not filing is feasible, how important is a credit report, how to rebuild credit later, and whether declaring bankruptcy will eliminate all outstanding bills.

Not everyone is eligible to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Ahrenholz explained. Some debtors may need to file Chapter 13, and others may need to take care of their debt in another manner. Each case, each person and each debt profile is different and is approached that way by an experienced bankruptcy attorney. The only way to know with certainty whether bankruptcy is the best debt relief plan, and what Chapter of bankruptcy to consider filing, is to speak with a qualified bankruptcy lawyer.

Many people also think that when they declare bankruptcy that all of their debts will be erased. In some instances, this does happen. In others, some debt remains. This is another reason why it is vitally important to speak to a competent bankruptcy attorney who will help to determine whether debts are dischargeable. There are instances where some of the debt is ineligible for discharge; non-dischargeable debt includes, but is not limited to, student loans, child support, and back taxes. Criminal fines are also not dischargeable.

If a debtor’s creditors are mainly for student loans, back taxes, and/or child support, then filing for bankruptcy may not be the best debt relief plan, and there may be alternatives to pursue. In order to make an informed decision, schedule a frank discussion with a qualified bankruptcy attorney.

Posted on Thursday, November 15th, 2012 and filed under News and Press | Comments Off on Chapter 7 Bankruptcy May Not Always Be the Best Debt Relief Plan .
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It is not in your best interest to file Chapter 7 without legal advice

Posted by: Admin User

Many people think they can file bankruptcy on their own, without the help of a qualified Iowa bankruptcy lawyer. This is not a wise decision.

While there are some enterprising individuals who may be able to handle filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy on their own, there are far too many important legal elements and considerations that may inadvertently be overlooked. Every bankruptcy filing must adhere to a multitude of precise rules and regulations, and every debtor must meet stringent requirements and produce specific documents and information.

In the pre-filing stage, some cases require careful analysis and strategic planning to address seemingly-innocuous circumstances.  In the post-filing stage, while the case is pending, some cases must undergo additional strategic planning and negotiation.  It is extremely risky for a debtor to attempt to navigate filing and addressing these issues on their own.  One mistake may well cause the case to be dismissed.

If you are planning to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy and want to ensure that you are meeting all requirements, hire a competent Iowa bankruptcy lawyer to reduce the risk of making a mistake, and to rest assured that you have chosen the most prudent method of dealing with your financial situation.  Your bankruptcy lawyer will not advise you to seek bankruptcy protection if there is another way for you to manage your financial issues.

When you first meet with a bankruptcy lawyer, you can expect to have an honest discussion about your finances. If you have questions, this is the time to ask them. Ask about the bankruptcy process, how to file, what you need to provide in terms of documentation, and what to expect once your petition has been filed with the court. Declaring bankruptcy is a decision with long-term ramifications, and your Iowa bankruptcy lawyer will explain how bankruptcy affects you and how to later rebuild your credit.

One of the main reasons Americans file Chapter 7 bankruptcy is to get their mortgage back on track. They are overwhelmed by all their debt and may be in danger of losing their home. They do not know how to prioritize their mortgage payment without frustrating other creditors attempting to collect on credit cards, medical bills, and loans. Before long, they find that they are facing pending lawsuits, or judgments have been entered, and garnishments are depleting paychecks. They quickly become unable to make utility payments, buy groceries, and put gasoline in their vehicles. Perhaps they are unemployed and have no employment prospects in sight. They fall behind and cannot catch up their payments, despite how hard they may be trying. These are the kinds of situations that typically drive people to speak to a bankruptcy lawyer.

There is no shame in filing for bankruptcy. It is called “debt relief” for a reason. Just make certain that bankruptcy is the best debt relief plan for you, and make sure it is done correctly by hiring competent counsel.

Kevin Ahrenholz is an Iowa bankruptcy lawyer and Iowa bankruptcy attorney. To contact him, visit http://www.iowachapter7.com or call 1.877.888.1766.

Posted on Wednesday, November 14th, 2012 and filed under Bankruptcy | Comments Off on It is not in your best interest to file Chapter 7 without legal advice .
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You May Check the Status of Your Bankruptcy Case Online

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If you have trouble finding information about the status of your bankruptcy filing, you may track your status online.

Public Access to Court Electronic Records, also referred to as PACER, provides a debtor access to the information needed to keep track of the post-filing status of his or her case. Though debtors may get information directly from your bankruptcy lawyer or via a court-appointed trustee, some debtors find it frustrating to wait for the information, as lawyers and trustees may not be able to respond immediately. With PACER, you simply need to go online to check your bankruptcy status quickly and easily.  Just visit the site at: http://www.pacer.gov/ and register for a login ID. This system offers access to bankruptcy courts across the U.S., provided you have a valid password and ID. It is easy to register: enter your name, home address, phone number, the name of your nearest living relative, and your date of birth. You will then need to authenticate your registration. To do so, use a valid credit card to finish the registration process and you will receive an assigned password. While it may seem odd to ask for a valid credit card number if the debtor has credit card debt, many individuals do still have valid cards they may use for registration purposes.

Once you have successfully registered, the password is emailed to you, or, if you did not provide an email address it will be sent to you by regular mail. PACER will bill you to view pages. The rate may vary, but typically is about ten cents per page, with a viewing limit of 30 pages. If you are searching for court transcripts, you do not have to pay the 30-page fee limit. Also, parties to a case and their lawyers may get one free copy of all e-filed documents.

Once you have your login and password, you may search the complete list of U.S. bankruptcy courts to determine which one is handling your case. Typically, the courts are separated into districts: In Iowa, select from either the Northern or Southern District. Cases filed in the eastern half of Iowa will be predominantly Northern District cases.  Cases filed in the Des Moines area and west are likely to be Southern District cases.

In order to locate information specifically about your bankruptcy case, you will need to enter your birth date, name and Social Security number. Once this information is verified by the system, all information relating to your case will be made available to you, including the current status of the bankruptcy petition.

Kevin Ahrenholz is an Iowa bankruptcy lawyer and Iowa bankruptcy attorney. To contact him, visit http://www.iowachapter7.com or call 1.877.888.1766.

Posted on Thursday, November 1st, 2012 and filed under Bankruptcy | Comments Off on You May Check the Status of Your Bankruptcy Case Online .
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Aware of Someone Fraudulently Hiding Assets While Declaring Bankruptcy? Report It.

Posted by: Admin User

Perhaps you were told a story while visiting someone who had filed for bankruptcy protection. He may have mentioned to you that he was hiding a piece of property, and did not declare it when he filed. He is committing bankruptcy fraud, which is a very serious offence punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and/or up to 5 years in prison.  If you know that someone is fraudulently hiding assets, and they have declared bankruptcy, report that information. Reporting can be done anonymously. If you are uncertain where to report a situation such as this, call an Iowa bankruptcy lawyer and ask.

The information you will need to provide if you choose to report bankruptcy fraud is the location of the Court where the person filed (which district within which State), the individual’s full name and address, and a brief note about the situation, with as much information as you have available. It is best if you can outline the kind of fraud the debtor allegedly committed, such as hiding an asset, illegally transferring an asset, or lying about owning an asset.  Rest assured it is okay for you to simply put it in your own words.  No one expects you to be familiar with legal terminology, just be as specific as possible about the incident you are reporting, and how you came to know the details of what supposedly happened. If you want to include your contact information, you may.

When your report is complete, send it to the U.S. Trustee Program at: Executive Office for U.S. Trustees Criminal Enforcement Unit 20 Massachusetts Avenue, NW Suite 8000 Washington, DC 20530. If you happen to also know the individual’s bankruptcy case number, the Trustee appreciates that as well. You may be able to find that information online, as all bankruptcy case files are readily accessible to the public.

You may also choose to report the bankruptcy fraud to the police, the national U.S. Trustee’s office, your local state field office, or the bankruptcy court. You can find telephone numbers for some of these locations on the U.S. Trustee Program’s website. Once you have given your report to the authorities, do not automatically expect a personal response. You may not ever directly hear back from them on the status of any investigation that may or may not be underway.

Kevin Ahrenholz is an Iowa bankruptcy lawyer and Iowa bankruptcy attorney. To contact him, visit http://www.iowachapter7.com or call 1.877.888.1766.

Posted on Monday, October 15th, 2012 and filed under News and Press | Comments Off on Aware of Someone Fraudulently Hiding Assets While Declaring Bankruptcy? Report It. .
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It is Possible to Start Rebuilding Your Credit Rating After Bankruptcy

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Many people believe that once they have declared bankruptcy, they will never again have a “good” credit rating. This is a myth. 

A debtor’s credit rating can be hit with as much as a 100-point deduction upon filing for bankruptcy relief. However, the debtor’s credit rating does not need to stay at the same low level for the ten years that the bankruptcy will be on record. There are a number of ways the debtor can regain points and rebuild credit, even after bankruptcy. It just takes time, patience, and some effort. As incredible as it may sound, a debtor may even start to rebuild their credit rating the day after his or her bankruptcy has been discharged. A good Iowa bankruptcy lawyer may advise their client of this during their consultations. 

If you are a debtor looking to rebuild your credit score after having filed bankruptcy, the first thing you should do is to get a copy of your credit report and review it carefully. Credit reporting agencies do not always have accurate information. Even though a bankruptcy lowers your credit rating, you may find that there are other inaccurate or expired pieces of information that you may be able to have removed, and the removal of these inaccuracies will increase your credit score. If you do find errors, you should dispute them. To do so, check each credit reporting agency’s website for details on how to file a dispute. 

Even immediately after receiving your debt discharge in bankruptcy, you may apply for a new credit card. While you included most or all of your credit cards in your bankruptcy, you will likely still qualify for either a secured or unsecured credit card. The rates will be higher and the limit will be lower than before, but a new card is a good place to begin rebuilding your credit score. Stick with one or two cards, manage your purchases carefully, and don’t overspend. You want to prove that you are a responsible borrower. If you have any questions, speak to an experienced Iowa bankruptcy lawyer. 

Remember to keep your credit card balances low because your credit score keeps track of the amount of debt you are carrying, your payments, and the amount of credit available to you. It is wise to keep your debt load at about ten percent of your total available credit. Let’s say your available credit is $15,000. You would want to keep your purchases around $1,500, and promptly pay your balances in full each month. Paying your outstanding balances in full and on time is an effective strategy to increase your credit score. To stay on track, make a schedule or set reminders of when your payments are due, and be sure to pay them on time or even ahead of time. Over time your credit score will improve. It will take some time for your dedication to this method to actually reflect in your credit score, so you must remain steadfast in your efforts and focused on your goal. 

Kevin Ahrenholz is an Iowa bankruptcy lawyer and Iowa bankruptcy attorney. To contact him, visit http://www.iowachapter7.com or call 1.877.888.1766.

Posted on Friday, October 5th, 2012 and filed under News and Press | Comments Off on It is Possible to Start Rebuilding Your Credit Rating After Bankruptcy .
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