Harassed by Debt Collectors? Know your rights.

Harassed by Debt Collectors? Know your rights.

If you are late in paying a creditor, you’re probably going to receive a phone call, and, in cases where you are severely delinquent on payments, you’re probably going to receive lot of them. But what should you do when a creditor or debt collector contacts you?

Before Bankruptcy

If you haven’t filed bankruptcy yet and you’re receiving a lot of creditor calls, you can ask them to stop calling.  Write a letter to the creditor telling them to stop calling you. Under the law they are required to comply with your request even if you owe them money. However, you can’t stop them from sending letters or attempting to collect the debt in other ways (i.e. bank levy or wage garnishment) if you legitimately owe them money.  If you’re not sure if the debt is legitimate, ask the creditor to send proof that you really owe them money. They must do this in writing within 30 days.

During Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy’s automatic stay stops creditor calls immediately. However, some creditors call even after you’ve filed your bankruptcy petition. There are generally two reasons for this: 1) they don’t know you’ve filed bankruptcy, or 2) they know you’ve filed bankruptcy and they’re blatantly violating the law.

Inform the creditor that you’ve filed bankruptcy and refer them to your bankruptcy attorney. You should also take down the creditor’s information and forward it to your bankruptcy attorney.

After Bankruptcy

Some unscrupulous creditors will contact debtors after bankruptcy and try to collect on a discharged debt. If this happens, immediately contact your bankruptcy attorney. It is illegal for a creditor to attempt collection on a debt that’s been discharged in bankruptcy. If for some reason this is a legitimate creditor that you failed to include in your bankruptcy petition, let your bankruptcy attorney know immediately.

Don’t be intimidated by creditor calls: by law they can only call you between the hours of 8:00am and 9:00pm, cannot contact you at your workplace and cannot contact you once you have filed for bankruptcy. It’s up to you to know and assert your rights.