Does Bankruptcy Stop Creditor Calls?
Overwhelmed by debt? Creditors calling almost every day? You may want to put an end to nonstop collection efforts, but you might not be sure you want to go the bankruptcy route. After all, bankruptcy means you can lose almost everything, doesn’t it?
No, not really. Bankruptcy provides exemptions for a lot of personal property, often including cars and your place of residence. What it does accomplish right off the bat is stopping calls and collection efforts. It can even stall, if not stop, repossession and foreclosure efforts.
If you’re overwhelmed by debt and collection efforts in or around McAllen, Texas, including nearby Brownsville, Harlingen, and Corpus Christi, contact Oliva Law Bankruptcy. We have more than 15 years of experience in helping people navigate through troubled financial waters. We will be happy to discuss your situation with you, assess your debts and financial resources, and advise you of your best option going forward.
What Is Creditor Harassment?
Just getting daily phone calls, texts, or emails from creditors or collection agencies can seem like harassment, but a lot of what these creditors are doing is protected by the law. They have a right to try to collect on past-due accounts. It’s only when they step over some boundaries that they can legally be challenged as harassing you.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) provides protection to consumers. Though creditors are allowed to contact you, they can only do so between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. They cannot call you at work if you inform them your employer does not allow such calls.
The FDCPA, among other restrictions, specifically prohibits:
- Repetitious calls that are mean to annoy, abuse, or harass you
- Using obscene or profane language
- Making threats of harm or violence
- Calling you without telling you who they are
- Pretending to be attorneys or law enforcement officials
- Misstating the amount owed
- Threatening to have you arrested
If creditors do carry out any of these prohibited acts, you have a legal basis to sue them under the FDCPA. Consult with an attorney if you’ve experienced any of the above behaviors by a collector or creditor.
What Does Filing for Bankruptcy Accomplish?
Filing for bankruptcy is a legally protected means to obtain a fresh financial start in life as you can discharge most of your debts. Along with your filing, from just about the moment you submit your paperwork, the bankruptcy court will issue what is called an “automatic stay” to stop both collection calls and repossession and foreclosure efforts.
If collectors continue to call, first inform them of your bankruptcy filing. If they continue after that, report it to your bankruptcy attorney. The court, when informed, may likely sanction the party failing to observe the stay order. You also may have the option of filing a separate lawsuit under the FDCPA.
Though the automatic stay stops repossession and foreclosure efforts, secured creditors can petition to have the stay lifted. According to the federal bankruptcy code, a court may grant relief from an automatic stay “for cause, including the lack of adequate protection of an interest in property...”
This means, for instance, if you’re not going to pay for your car or home, the lender may face adverse consequences. The property (car or home) might deteriorate, fail to be cared for, or simply lose value. The court will likely permit the secured creditor to claim its collateral.
The automatic stay, nonetheless, will allow you time to renegotiate or otherwise work out an agreement to retain your house or car, but the window can be extremely short time-wise.
Keep in mind, however, that some types of debts are not covered by either bankruptcy or the automatic stay. These include most student loans, child and spousal support payments, and money owed as the result of a criminal proceeding. As for taxes owed, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) cannot call you or put a lien on your property, but it can seize your tax refund.
Do I Need an Attorney to File Bankruptcy?
Though it’s technically possible to file for bankruptcy on your own, it’s not advised. The bankruptcy code is complex, and just meeting the paperwork required – a list of all your debts, a list of all your assets, your income verification, your plan for reorganization or liquidation – is big enough of a hurdle to overcome.
Oliva Law Bankruptcy will work with you to assemble all documents needed, develop a reorganization/repayment plan, and retain as many of your assets as possible whether in reorganization or liquidation.
After you file, there will be a meeting with creditors you must attend. With an experienced bankruptcy attorney standing by you at the creditors’ meetings or at any meetings with the trustee assigned to you, you can gain great peace of mind.
We’ll stand by you throughout the proceedings. After you’ve been discharged from bankruptcy and are starting over again, we will be there to advise you on how best to rebuild your credit and get back on your financial feet.
Contact us at Oliva Law Bankruptcy today to schedule a one-on-one assessment of your situation. We are proud to serve clients across McAllen, Corpus Christi, Harlingen, Brownsville, and throughout the Rio Grande Valley, Texas.