Can I stop creditors from calling me? – Bankruptcy

You most certainly can stop bill collectors from calling you once you hire an attorney to handle your debt situation.  Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, creditors are prohibited from contacting you once they are made aware of the fact that you have representation.  If creditors violate this Act, they can be sued in Federal or State court with attorney’s fees, actual damages and sometimes punitive damages awarded to the Plaintiff.

 Two Basic Ways To Notify Creditors

There are two ways to notify creditors about the fact that you have representation.  First, you can simply advise them when they call you on the phone that you are filing for bankruptcy, give them your attorney’s name and number and advise them to call your attorney.  You should also take down the name and the company and the phone number of the person who called so in the event that they continue to call, you will have a record of it.  Some collectors will refuse to accept this information and may continue to call you in violation of Federal law.

The second way to notify creditors is to send them a letter notifying them that you are filing for bankruptcy or that you have hired an attorney to handle your bankruptcy and that you wish that all correspondence be directed to that attorney.  If you do either one or both of those two items, then under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, those creditors cannot contact you once again.  I suggest that you send the letter certified so that you have a record of when the letter was received and who received it.  This way, the collector cannot later claim that there was insufficient notice given.

 Creditors Receive Notice

Creditors will get a notice in the mail from the clerk of the bankruptcy court after your case has been filed.  Prior to that time, they can check in with the lawyer that you hired to check on the status of the case.  It is very common for creditors to call every 2 to 4 weeks to see if the case has actually been filed.  There are some cases where someone will hire the law firm to do a bankruptcy and they will not go through with their case.  Creditors can find out about that fact by staying vigilant and calling the law firm every 2 to 4 weeks to check on the status.  Once the attorney advises that the client is no longer going forward with the case, the creditor is free to contact the debtor directly.

 Your Attorney Can Help

On occasion, collection activities will occur after a case is filed.  When this happens, you want to notify your attorney immediately.  Your attorney will do one or more of the following:

1) Send proof of the bankruptcy filing via fax, email or mail;

2) notify your employer to cease all garnishments if you are being garnished by a creditor that was listed on your bankruptcy petition;

3) Notify your banking institution of a bank seizure has been placed on your account; and

4) Notify any law firm that currently has a matter pending in court on your debt.

Usually, the action by your attorney will end with positive results.  Creditors and collection law firms do not want to be acting in violation of the automatic stay and of the bankruptcy laws.  In most cases, once a creditor or law firm becomes aware of the bankruptcy filing, the collection activities stop cold.  After all, that is the main benefit of filing for bankruptcy.  You get immediate protection from your creditors and you get the ability to start fresh.



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