Are debt collectors harassing you and your family? You can stop creditor harassment!
Living in fear of your mail carrier or your telephone is no way to live. Debt collectors can make your life miserable and cause you undue stress and hardship with their unfair and aggressive tactics. Even though laws exist to prevent creditor harassment, it still happens to millions of Americans every day. For individuals who are struggling to make ends meet, having debt collectors embarrass or shame them because they do not have the ability to pay a bill is unacceptable. However, because creditor harassment can be difficult and costly to prove, many people simply change their telephone numbers and avoid opening collection letters as a way of dealing with the problem. There is a better solution to creditor harassment – bankruptcy.
The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits debt collectors from using unfair trade practices or harassment as a means to collect a debt. However, this did not help Susan when she was dealing with an aggressive debt collector. Susan was a single mother struggling to pay her bills with a part-time job and child support. Susan was working full-time at the time of the divorce but her employer reduced her hours in response to the new healthcare laws. Susan was able to pay her secured debts; however, her medical bills and credit card payments began falling behind. After several months, she began to receive letters from a debt collector. The telephone calls began shortly after that. The letters became increasingly more frightening to the point of threatening legal action to take her home. The telephone calls increased and the debt collector began to call her at her place of employment. Susan sent a certified letter to the debt collector stating that she wanted proof of the debt, to stop calling her and to stop contacting her place of employment. The debt collector mailed her a copy of the bill and resumed the harassing tactics in an attempt to force her to pay the bill.
The stress of dealing with this creditor harassment caused Susan to become depressed and it affected her family life and her work performance. Susan met with an attorney in an attempt to resolve the matter but was told that she would need to pay a large retainer fee to the attorney and, if they were successful, she may not receive very much of a settlement once the fees and costs were paid. The last straw for Susan was when a debt collector began taking pictures of the outside of her home. Feeling completely defeated, Susan borrowed money from friends to pay the debt in full. However, she still had several other debts that she could not pay and debt collectors soon began pursuing her for those debts as well. It was not until she received legal papers requiring her to appear in court that she finally contacted a bankruptcy attorney.
Filing a bankruptcy case immediately stops collection efforts. Even though bankruptcy falls under federal laws just as the FDCPA does, creditors seem to fear the bankruptcy court far more than they do the FDCPA or other laws that exist to prevent creditor harassment. When you file a bankruptcy, an automatic stay goes into effect that prohibits creditors from continuing collection efforts. This means an end to the threatening letters and harassing telephone calls. Creditors are prohibited from continuing a legal action or filing a new lawsuit to collect the debt. Repossessions, foreclosures and wage garnishments are prohibited as well. A creditor that wishes to seek payment for a debt must first obtain permission from the bankruptcy court. The creditor must have a valid legal reason, such as fraud, in order to obtain permission to continue collection efforts. While a creditor may send you a letter simply for information purposes only, most creditors opt not to contact the debtor at all for fear of facing sanctions and penalties from the bankruptcy court for violating the automatic stay. The automatic stay remains in effect throughout your bankruptcy case. Once you receive your bankruptcy discharge, your creditors are forever barred from attempting to collect those debts.
In Susan’s case, she was eligible to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy to discharge all of her unsecured debt. This allowed her to keep her home and vehicle while putting an end to creditor harassment once and for all. Most individuals have a sincere desire to repay their debts but may not have the ability due to circumstances beyond their control. It is inexcusable for debt collectors to treat individuals as if they are criminals or to scare debtors into taking extreme measures to repay debts.
If you are dealing with aggressive debt collectors, contact The Law Office of Gene F. Turnwald. We have helped hundreds of clients just like you end creditor harassment and obtain a fresh start. We offer free bankruptcy consultations and affordable payment plans so that you can get the help you need to stop creditor harassment.