Creditor Harassment And Bankruptcy: What You Should Know
Can filing for bankruptcy stop creditors from harassing you? Do you have any protections against creditor harassment before you file for bankruptcy? Can creditors try to contact you about debts that were discharged in your bankruptcy case? These are some of the questions we commonly receive concerning creditor harassment, personal bankruptcy, and consumer rights. It is important to know that, as a debtor and a consumer, you have rights against creditor harassment before you file for bankruptcy, and you have certain additional protections once you file your bankruptcy petition. The following are some key things you should know about creditor harassment and bankruptcy.
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Prohibits Creditor Harassment Regardless of Whether You File for Bankruptcy
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) provides protections against creditor harassment to consumers regardless of whether they have filed for bankruptcy or are planning to file for bankruptcy. The FDCPA expressly states that “a debt collector may not engage in any conduct the natural consequences of which is to harass, oppress, or abuse any person in connection with the collection of a debt.” In prohibiting harassment from creditors, the FDCPA identifies the following as creditor behaviors that would violate the statute:
- Using violence, or threatening to use violence, against the debtor to cause physical harm;
- Threatening to cause harm to the debtor’s reputation or property;
- Using obscene or profane language;
- Publishing the name of a consumer who will not pay a debt (or is alleged to have refused to pay a debt);
- Advertising a debt for sale in order to coerce the debtor to pay;
- Repeatedly calling a debtor on the phone with the intention of annoying, harassing, or abusing the person; and/or
- Calling to collect debts without disclosing their identity.
Creditors Cannot Continue to Call You After You Have Filed for Bankruptcy
Once you have filed for personal bankruptcy (under any chapter), the automatic stay prevents debt collectors or creditors from continuing to make contact with you in an attempt to collect debts. If you are contacted by a creditor after you have filed for bankruptcy, and if a creditor engages in any kind of behavior that rises to the level of harassment, it is important to talk to your bankruptcy lawyer immediately because the creditor has likely violated the automatic stay.
You Have Protections Against Creditors Attempting to Collect Debts That Have Been Discharged in Bankruptcy
Creditors and debt collectors cannot continue to contact you or certainly to engage in harassment concerning debts that have been discharged in a bankruptcy case. If you are being contacted by a creditor or debt collector after you received a discharge, you should seek advice from a bankruptcy lawyer as soon as possible.
Contact a Bankruptcy Attorney in West Palm Beach
Consumers have rights and protections under the FDCPA, the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, and other consumer protections laws in the United States. If you have been harassed by a creditor or debt collector, you should get in touch with a West Palm Beach creditor harassment lawyer at Kelley, Fulton & Kaplan to find out more about your options. Our firm has years of experience representing clients in bankruptcy and consumer protection matters.