If you are struggling to stay on top of your debts, chances are you have experienced times when you have made late payments or have been unable to make payments at all. As a result, you have likely experienced incessant calls from creditors and collection agencies. This can leave many feeling overwhelmed and unsure of how to best remedy the situation. For some, bankruptcy may be a viable solution to starting fresh and rebuilding your credit. However, in some cases, harassment from creditors may allow you to take legal action. Speaking with a lawyer can help by reviewing your situation and answering the many questions you may have.
Are there times when a debt collector is exempt from the automatic stay?
The automatic stay takes effect once you have filed for bankruptcy. Once granted, the automatic stay stops creditors from making attempts at settling their debts with you. All efforts must come to a halt. However, it’s important to be aware that some debts are exempt from the automatic stay. Meaning, your creditors can still attempt to collect what you owe them. Common forms of debts that are exempt from the automatic stay include:
- Pension Loans
- Owed Taxes
- Child Support
- Criminal Restitution
- Personal Injury Debts
Will filing for bankruptcy leave me penniless and homeless?
No. This is a common fear that many people have. Bankruptcy provides people with exemptions up to a certain amount. Exemptions are assets that are protected from being liquidated to pay off creditors. This allows you to keep some of your assets after bankruptcy is complete. When making decisions around exemptions, it’s best to speak with a bankruptcy lawyer to determine the assets that you may be able to protect.
Can I take legal action against a creditor who has dismissed the automatic stay?
In some cases, a creditor may continue to collect a debt because they are unaware that you have filed for bankruptcy. Once they learn that you have done so, be aware that they are no longer able to attempt to settle the debts you owe. However, they can ask for more information about the bankruptcy. Should this occur, you may want to provide them with the bankruptcy case number. If a creditor continues to violate the automatic stay, you may be entitled to damages.
What are some signs that I am being harassed by a creditor?
Creditors will do anything to obtain the debt that is owed to them. In some cases, they may even resort to tactics that are unethical and illegal. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act protects consumers from such acts. Signs of illegal practices that may warrant legal action include:
- Threats of violence
- False or deceptive practices
- Not identifying themselves
- Continuous and repeat phone calls
- Calling before 8AM or after 9PM
- Contacting a third party
Can I take legal action if I have been harassed by a creditor?
Yes, you may be able to take legal action but you should first speak with a lawyer. They can help guide you through the process by filing a complaint with the FTC. You may also be able to take legal action by filing a lawsuit against the collection agency.
Experiencing crushing debt can feel like a heavy load to carry. However, in addition to filing for bankruptcy, you may be able to take legal action for the harassment you have experienced from creditors. For more information, consult with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer in Melbourne, FL.
Thanks to the Law Offices of Arcadier, Biggie & Wood for their insight into bankruptcy law and debt harassment.