After filing for bankruptcy protection, creditors should immediately cease their collection efforts. Unfortunately, they frequently fail to listen, and you may continue to be harassed.
If you are frustrated by creditors calling despite an active bankruptcy or even after a debt has been discharged, reach out to a Cleveland bankruptcy lawyer at Luftman, Heck & Associates. We can help protect your life after bankruptcy.
Call us today at (216) 586-6600 to schedule a no-cost case assessment and discuss your legal rights.
How Do You Get Debt Collectors to Stop Calling?
If you’re behind in your payments, creditor calls may be a regular and frustrating occurrence. Keep in mind there are laws about how and when they can contact you. For instance, they can’t call before 8 a.m., after 9 p.m., or while you’re at work if you tell them not to. Collectors may also not harass you or lie when trying to collect. Perhaps most importantly, if you ask them in writing to stop calling, they must do so.
To stop collection calls, ask for the debt collector’s mailing address and tell them – in writing – to stop contacting you. Make sure to keep a copy for your records. Send your letter by certified mail, and pay for a “return receipt” to document when the collector received it. Once they get your request, they are not allowed to contact you again. However, there are two exceptions:
- A collector can contact you to tell you there will be no further contact, and
- They can contact you to notify you that they are taking a specific action, like filing a lawsuit.
Keep in mind, your debt still exists and you’re still responsible for it. Your formal request is just to stop the collection calls. If a resolution isn’t worked out, the debt collector can usually still sue you to recover the debt.
Collection Calls After Bankruptcy
A written request to stop collection calls is a good first step. But, it doesn’t relieve your financial burden. If you’re struggling with debts, a bankruptcy filing may be the fresh start you need. In addition to discharging and reorganizing your various debts, bankruptcy has the benefit of stopping collection activity with a court order, called an automatic stay.
What is an Automatic Stay
Once you file for bankruptcy, an automatic stay goes into effect. An automatic stay specifically states that creditors cannot contact you to collect debts after you’ve filed for bankruptcy. It protects you from harassing phone calls, emails, and letters.
Unless a creditor receives approval from the court to do so, continuing with collection activity after you filed bankruptcy is illegal.
What if Collection Calls Continue after You File Bankruptcy?
When you file for bankruptcy, you should notice an immediate decrease in collection efforts. But since some creditors have a hard time integrating bankruptcy notices, they may continue to call while their system catches up.
If you receive a call shortly after filing, tell the caller that you filed bankruptcy and that an automatic stay is in effect. Once notified, the bill should acknowledge the change and forgo future contact because debt collectors can be sanctioned if collection efforts don’t stop.
But, some creditors choose to ignore the automatic stays and simply disregard the law. They may continue to harass you, hoping you won;lt fight back. These unscrupulous tactics shouldn’t be tolerated. If you’re being harassed by a debt collector, contact an attorney immediately.
Enforcing Automatic Stays
If you continue to receive calls from creditors after you’ve officially filed bankruptcy, it’s time to act. You can’t assume these creditors will stop. They may not be aware or care that you are undergoing bankruptcy.
You should reach out to a Cleveland bankruptcy attorney for help right away. Your attorney can follow up to ensure their system gets updated or take legal action against creditors who are breaking the law by ignoring your automatic stay.
Your attorney will likely warn the collector of the possible sanctions that the Bankruptcy Court can impose if they continue. That warning is usually enough, but if you continue to be harassed by collectors, your attorney can ask the Bankruptcy Court to impose sanctions. These sanctions include fines, attorney’s fees, and payment for damages.
Collection Calls After Bankruptcy Discharge
You likely filed for bankruptcy because you wanted a fresh start. But if you are still dealing with creditor harassment, you can’t move on. You also should not have to deal with illegal and abusive tactics.
Tips to End Collection Calls
- Explain that you’ve filed for bankruptcy: Notify any creditor that calls that you filed for bankruptcy. Although most creditors will stop contacting you once they discover you filed, a few may persist.
- Takes notes during every harassing call: Keep a record of all of the creditors who continue to contact you. Write down the times they call as well as what they say. This is evidence for your lawyer to use in court if necessary.
- Contact a bankruptcy lawyer: Notify them that creditors continue to call you and share your evidence. They will inform the bankruptcy courts and begin necessary legal proceedings.
- Take creditors to court: If the harassment does not end, you may need to fight against your creditors in court. Here, you may be able to sue them for the harassment and emotional suffering they’ve caused.
Can a Debt Collector Collect a Debt that was Discharged?
If your debt was successfully discharged by the bankruptcy court, then you are no longer responsible for it. Debt collectors cannot try to collect on it. If you encounter a collector, who does not accept your bankruptcy discharge or threatens a lawsuit, make sure to contact your attorney.
Creditors who persistently try to collect on discharged debts are breaking the law, specifically section 524 of Title 11 of the United States Code.
If the creditor in question does not voluntarily stop, you should consider legal action. By filing a credit harassment lawsuit, you may be entitled to financial compensation for their violation.
Contact a Cleveland Bankruptcy Lawyer For Help
No one deserves to be hounded by creditors after filing for federal bankruptcy protection. If you continue to receive harassing creditor calls, the Cleveland bankruptcy lawyers Matthew Alden and Patrick Miller can help.