Stopping debt collector harassment:
Debt collectors are harassing me (or us, as the case may be) calling me at home and work, sending threatening letters.
What will happen if I file bankruptcy?
As soon as your petition is filed with the court, an “Automatic Stay” goes into effect which prohibits all of your creditors from taking any action to collect a debt. The creditors listed in your Petition, Schedules and Mailing Matrix get a notice from the Court shortly after filing, but the Stay is effective even if the creditor doesn’t know about it! Violations of the Stay by any creditor should be immediately brought to the attention of your attorney. Serious fines can be imposed for willful violations of the Stay.
What Debt Collectors Must Not Do:
Debt collectors from collection agencies cannot do any of the following:
- Call you repeatedly or contact you at an unreasonable time (the law presumes that before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. is unreasonable).
- Place telephone calls to you without identifying themselves as bill collectors.
- Contact you at work if your employer prohibits it.
- Use obscene or profane language.
- Use or threaten to use violence.
- Claim you owe more than you do.
- Claim to be attorneys if they’re not.
- Claim that you’ll be imprisoned or your property will be seized.
- Send you a paper that resembles a legal document.
- Add unauthorized interest, fees, or charges.
- Contact third parties, other than your attorney, a credit reporting bureau, or the original creditor, except for the limited purpose of finding information about your whereabouts. Unless you have asked collectors in writing to stop contacting you, they can also contact your spouse, your parents (if you are a minor), and your co-debtors.
- Continue to contact you after you’ve told them – even just orally on the phone – not to contact you further.
What is the solution to debt collector harassment :
If it so bad that you are looking at bankruptcy website, it is my experience that you usually have something to at least discuss with a bankruptcy lawyer. Then before you meet with a bankruptcy lawyer tell creditors they can not contact you by phone . Be clear do not be hesitant, you know what the rules are. Remind them. Sometimes that is all you need. Secondarily start taking notes on when they called and what they said. Make sure you get the name (probably a fictitious name, but even those must be registered with the California Department of Consumer Affairs.) Better yet, record the call. Hey, they’ve already told you that “This call may be recorded for…purposes”, right? If you want to be extra careful (‘cuz recording a telephone conversation without the other person’s consent is a crime) you might just add, “Oh, yes it might.”
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