Help! My Creditors Won’t Stop Harassing Me
It seems as if someone comes into my office almost every day complaining about creditor harassment. Recently a client, let’s call him Ed, came to my office with this problem. Below is a summary of the information I provided to Ed based on his situation. Please note that I have changed the name of my client and some of the facts to protect his identity but this is a good example of the struggles people face with creditor harassment.
“Hello, my name is Ed. I lost my job for a few months, and I got behind on several of my bills because unemployment compensation just didn’t cover my monthly expenses, much less pay my bills. After I had found another job, I tried to catch up my bills but not fast enough to satisfy my creditors. I am still trying to catch up on bills, but my creditors won’t stop harassing me. They call every day and at all hours of the day. Some creditors even call me at work. What can I do?”
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) protects Ed from creditor harassment and abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices. Examples of practices that are prohibited by the FDCPA include:
- Threatening violence or harm
- Repeatedly using the phone to harass or annoy someone
- Using profane or obscene language
- Telling you they are someone they are not
- Falsely claiming you committed a crime
- Telling you that a lawsuit has been filed when that is not true
- Saying you will be arrested if you don’t pay the debt
- Contacting you by postcard
- Using a false company name
For more information on practices that are forbidden under the FDCPA, visit the Consumer Information section of the Federal Trade Commission’s website.
A serious misconception about the FDCPA is that it covers all creditors. The FDCPA covers collections agencies, attorneys who routinely collect debts, and companies that purchase delinquent debts to collect those debts. The FDCPA does not cover the original creditors. Therefore, original creditors are not held to the same standards as a debt collector. This distinction creates problems for consumers.
A Bankruptcy Stay Covers ALL Creditors
One solution to Ed’s problem, and your debt problem depending on your situation, is to file a bankruptcy case. When you file a bankruptcy case, the automatic stay provisions of the Bankruptcy Code immediately go into effect and remain in effect until modified by the court or your case is closed.
The automatic stay prohibits all creditors, including original creditors and debt collectors, from taking any actions to collect a debt. Prohibited actions include:
- Calling you at home, on your cell phone, or at work
- Sending you late notices, collection letters, or other correspondence demanding payment
- Coming to your home or your place of business
- Calling friends or relatives
- Filing a lawsuit or continuing with a lawsuit
- Wage garnishment, repossession, foreclosure, seizing tax refunds, or other asset seizure
In addition to stopping creditor harassment, a bankruptcy resolves the reasons for the harassment — your debt problems.
Filing Bankruptcy to Get Rid of Debt
Ed’s situation is a common situation that I see often in my practice. It is easy to become overwhelmed by debt. Even a small decrease in income can cause a person to fall behind on payments. The longer it takes to get back on your feet, the harder it is to catch up your past due payments. In some cases, it is impossible to catch up. Filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to propose a manageable monthly plan to repay a portion of your debt over a 60-month term. It relieves the stress of dealing with aggressive and abusive creditors while protecting your assets and future income.
Do You Need Help with Credit Harassment?
Dealing with creditors is frustrating? You are doing your best to provide for your family while paying your debts, but your creditors want the impossible. They refuse to work with you on a repayment plan.
Filing a Chapter 13 gives you the relief you need while forcing your creditors to work with you on a manageable repayment plan that you can afford. For more information and to request a free bankruptcy consultation with a New York bankruptcy attorney, call (212) 244-2882. You may also reach The Law Office of William W. Waldner by using our online contact form. We are here to help you recover and rebuild after a financial crisis.