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Creditor Harassment

Key Takeaways:

  • The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law. It makes it illegal for creditors and debt collectors to harass you to collect money you owe them. 
  • Repeated phone calls, text messages, and public social media posts about your debt are examples of creditor harassment.
  • Filing for bankruptcy triggers an automatic stay that keeps debt collectors from contacting you.

Being in debt is no picnic. The legal consequences of debt can be scary. Creditors may be able to garnish your wages, seize your assets, or get a lien on your property. It gets more stressful when creditors go overboard trying to get you to pay them. Repeated phone calls and social media posts are examples of debtor harassment that make life miserable.

Some laws protect you from debt collection harassment. They limit how debt collectors can contact you. They also limit what collectors can say. This article answers some common questions about debt collection and creditor harassment. If you are facing relentless harassment from creditors and need help, talk to an attorney today.

What Is Creditor Harassment?

Consumer credit can help you when unexpected expenses come up. However, debt from credit cards, student loans, and other consumer debt can become overwhelming if it gets out of control. Debt collectors can be aggressive when trying to collect money. But their tactics can become harassment when they cross the line.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) protects you from creditor harassment. It’s a federal law that makes it illegal for creditors and debt collectors to harass you to collect money you owe them. Generally, harassment is repeated and excessive communications intended to annoy or abuse you. Examples include the following:

  • Repetitious telephone calls and text messages
  • Making public posts on social media about the debt
  • Not identifying themselves as debt collectors
  • Using obscene or profane language
  • Using threats of violence

The FDCPA makes it illegal for debt collectors to take some actions when trying to collect a debt. Those actions include the following:

  • Make false, deceptive, or misleading claims
  • Falsify the amount you owe
  • Threaten to have you arrested
  • Misrepresent themselves as attorneys

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is a federal government agency. It enforces the FDCPA and can hold bad debt collectors accountable. You can also take legal action against debt collectors who violate the FDCPA. If you win, you may get damages and have your attorney’s fees paid by the creditor.

What Is an Automatic Stay in Connection With a Bankruptcy Petition?

Bankruptcy is an option if you can’t repay your debts. Filing for bankruptcy creates what’s known as an automatic stay. That means your creditors must stop their collection activity against you while you are going through your bankruptcy. The stay applies to collection activities like the following:

  • Lawsuits
  • Foreclosures
  • Wage garnishments

The stay is an immediate but temporary hold on debt collection. Creditors should limit their contact with you during that time. It’s critical to remember that the stay is temporary. Debt collectors may be allowed to start contacting you after the bankruptcy process ends.

Will Filing for Bankruptcy Stop Collection Efforts?

Debt collectors can’t contact you while your bankruptcy case is pending. Take the following actions if a creditor contacts you after you file for bankruptcy:

  • Ensure the debt they’re calling about is on the list of debts you filed with the court in your bankruptcy petition.
  • Give the debt collector your attorney’s name if you have one. Tell the debt collector to contact your attorney.
  • Give the name of the creditor to your attorney. The creditor can get in trouble with the court if they violate the automatic stay.

Debt collectors also can’t contact you about debts discharged in your bankruptcy. Be aware that lenders may be allowed to repossess collateral. For example, your auto lender may be able to repossess your car even if the court discharged your debt.

Getting your debt discharged sounds great. But bankruptcy can have long-term consequences on your credit. Be sure to weigh your options carefully and seek sound legal advice before making any decisions.

Can a Creditor Object to a Debt Being Discharged?

Yes. A creditor may object to the discharge if you have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The creditor must prove that the court shouldn’t discharge the debt. An example is showing that you incurred the debt through fraud or misrepresentation. Bankruptcy proceedings and dealing with creditors and debt collection agencies can be complex. Having a qualified bankruptcy attorney on your side can give you peace of mind if creditors are harassing you.

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