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Protect Yourself! Recognize the Warning Signs of Creditor Harassment


By law, creditors are not allowed to contact debtors to demand payment after a debtor files for bankruptcy. What you may not realize is this practice is actually illegal. Filing for bankruptcy automatically gives you rights and protection under the law from creditors contacting you. This is called “automatic stay,” which means that they can no longer attempt to garnish your wages, attempt to sue you, or even try to reach you by phone, mail, etc.

Identifying Creditor Harassment

You have rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which not only prohibits collectors from trying to reach you, but will also penalize them heavily for violating the laws.

Some of the most common ways they do this is through:

  • Using threats or intimidation
  • Making calls to you at odd, inconvenient hours
  • Stating that they will sue you or have you arrested
  • Contacting your friends, family, and neighbors
  • Calling you when you have already retained legal counsel

Having a lawyer can protect you almost immediately. All correspondence must go through the collector and your attorney. When they continue calling you, make a note of all of their attempts. From that point moving forward, your lawyer should handle the matter and determine whether or not the collectors’ actions are, in fact, illegal.

What should I do if a creditor has contacted me?

Let’s say that a creditor has been calling you nonstop, attempting to collect. Now, if that debt was accrued prior to the bankruptcy filing, then that creditor has violated the automatic stay. You can try to explain to the collector that you have filed for bankruptcy, as there is a likely chance that they may not even be aware that you now have protection. The only exception to this is if any of the debts accumulated after the bankruptcy; these will not be protected under the FDCPA.

Not all of the correspondence will be illegal, so be sure to keep that in mind as well. You may be able to work out an agreement, such as a payment plan that suits your financial situation best. Doing it this way can help you avoid facing legal troubles and prevent the harassing phone calls.

Remember that you have rights—contact Atlas Consumer Law at (312) to learn more about your options and help you find the best solution possible.