Regular readers of this blog know we approach the issue of bankruptcy from the consumer perspective. That is, if you are an Illinois resident in financial difficulty and you need help to regain your footing, speaking with an experienced bankruptcy attorney is always recommended. If nothing else, obtaining a free initial consultation provides you a chance to get accurate information about your rights and options.

But what if you are a consumer on the other end of financial trouble? Instead of being the one owing, you are the one owed when a business files for Chapter 7. What happens then?

For example, say that as you are planning your wedding you put money down to secure a hall, book a church or lock in a photographer or a source of dance music. Alternatively, imagine that you are buying a major piece of furniture and it needs to be made-to-order. Do you have any right to recover if a provider of goods or services files for bankruptcy?

Interestingly enough, if you paid for the purchases with a credit card you may be in luck. While credit card debt is often a major contributor to individual consumer financial problems, in the instances above it could be to your advantage because of the protections offered by card issuers. However, the process might require more effort than just making a call to the issuer’s toll-free number.

Those familiar with the steps required know that the first thing a consumer must do to get a credit card refund is file a merchant dispute with the card provider. You will then have to supply proper documentation to show what you were charged and proving you didn’t receive anything for your money.

If all goes well, the credit card company might rescind the charges. If that fails, you could join other creditors in seeking recovery. The problem in that scenario is that creditors higher on the food chain would get first dibs on repayment.

Still, one can only act when one knows what his or her rights are.