Dealing With Harassing Creditors During And After Bankruptcy
Dealing with creditors and collection attempts is never easy. Many who file bankruptcy do so because they can no longer live with the incessant creditor harassment they have been forced to endure. Bankruptcy offers consumers protections from creditors, but some creditors ignore the law and continue to plague people whom they should not contact. However, people can take steps to stop creditors from badgering them during bankruptcy.
Understand Legal Protections
One of the most powerful tools a person can have when dealing with creditors during and after bankruptcy is knowledge of the safeguards that bankruptcy offers consumers. When the court receives a bankruptcy petition, it issues an automatic stay on collection actions in the case. This means that creditors may not contact the debtor about the debts or try to obtain payment through other means such as foreclosure or lawsuits. The stay is a court order, and the court may issue fines and sanctions to creditors who violate it.
When the bankruptcy process is complete, the filer receives a debt discharge from the court. The discharge absolves the filer from personal liability for some or all of his or her debts. Creditors who try to collect on discharged debts are also violating a court order and subject to penalties.
Monitor Credit Reports
Those who receive a debt discharge in bankruptcy should check their credit reports about 60 days after they get notice of the discharge to ensure that the credit reporting agencies have accurately updated their reports to reflect the discharged debts. Recording discharged debts on credit reports is further evidence to creditors that they should not be attempting to collect on a debt.
If the discharge is not on a person’s credit report, he or she may dispute the debt under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Those who keep receiving communication from creditors attempting to collect during a bankruptcy stay or on discharged debts should keep all of the letters, bills and voicemail messages as evidence of the harassment. People should also note the dates, times and names of the people representing creditors who call them, as well as recording the fact that he or she informed the creditor of the stay or discharge. If a creditor persists in calling, a person then has evidence that the creditor is knowingly violating a court order.
Seek Legal Assistance
If people find that speaking to creditors on their own is not enough to end the collection attempts, they may want to get help from an attorney. People who are in the middle of their bankruptcy cases may ask their attorneys to speak to the creditors to get the collection efforts to end. Those who have completed bankruptcy and have a discharge may want to hire an attorney to file a lawsuit against those creditors who persist in harassment.