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How Can I Stop Creditors from Harassing Me?

How Can I Stop Creditors from Harassing Me?

Understanding Your Rights as a Debtor

No one wants or likes having debt. If you had the capital to pay off your debts, you almost certainly would. Not paying it means being hit with late fees, interest, and, eventually, even more serious penalties. Why, then, do collection agencies and debt collectors put so much energy into convincing you to pay debts with money you do not have?

Dealing with belligerent debt collectors and collection agencies can be one of the most frustrating components of living with debt. Inevitably, lenders will summon these parties to come after you when your debt has grown to a certain size or become too delinquent. Again, this is fundamentally a fool’s errand – you know the debt exists, and if you had the money, you would pay it. You still may find yourself fielding a deluge of phone calls, letters, and even unsolicited visits demanding payment.

It is easy to feel powerless when you owe money, but the reality is that you have rights, even as a debtor. There are legal means of protecting yourself from the worst of creditor harassment. Below, we cover what these protections, how you can exercise them, and measures that can potentially render your debts moot.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)

This federal law extends protections for debtors throughout the United States. It places strict limits on how and when collection agents can contact debtors. It also gives debtors the ability to bring lawsuits against debt collectors who violate FDCPA regulations.

The FDCPA prohibits many forms of what is considered creditor harassment, including:

  • Repeated, continuous, or repetitious phone calls, with the frequency intended to frustrate, annoy, or otherwise disrupt the life of the debtor. A collector can conceivably call you once a day, but they cannot call multiple times with the goal of making your life difficult.
  • Calls or visits at deliberately inconvenient times or places. Generally, a collector is not able to call or attempt to visit you before 8 AM or after 9 PM. They also cannot call you at your place of employment if they are informed (by you or your manager) that you are not permitted to receive personal calls while on the clock.
  • Use of profane or abusive language. A creditor cannot attempt to intimidate or use any disrespectful language, including expletives, when contacting you. They also cannot threaten to file a lawsuit against you in an effort to make you pay sooner.
  • Informing others of your debt. A collector may threaten to tell people that you know, like your neighbors or employer, that you owe debts; they may also claim they will publicize your failure to pay. Collectors are only permitted to report debts to credit agencies and can otherwise not disseminate private information about your obligations.
  • Misrepresent your debt.Any creditor must be entirely truthful in their communications with you. This means they must accurately explain the scope of your debt, to whom it is owed, who they are, and what they intend to do.

Even if debt collectors are not engaging in the worst forms of creditor harassment, you still may be subject to multiple calls a day and dozens of weekly letters. It can be easy to become overwhelmed and humiliated, especially if you are making every effort to pay off your debt as quickly as possible. Luckily, there are several means of putting a stop to all forms of creditor inquiries.

The Simplest Way to Stop Creditor Harassment

Believe it or not, the most straightforward way of putting a quick stop to creditor harassment is merely asking debt collectors to stop calling or making in-person visits Under FDCPA rules, creditors are required to oblige if you clearly request that any further communications be in writing. If a debt collector continues to call or attempt to visit after this point, they are in violation of the FDCPA.

Ending phone calls and visits from collection agencies will help you immediately in two ways. One, it will end the most obtrusive forms of creditor communications. Two, it forces debt collectors to put everything in writing, giving you hard evidence of every interaction going forward. This can be immensely helpful if you decide to pursue legal action against one or more creditors for violating FDCPA regulations.

Additionally, if you have legal representation, you can request that all communications – written or otherwise – be funneled through your lawyer. Again, after this point, a creditor is forced to comply and only send collections materials to your attorney.

Stopping the most aggravating forms of creditor harassment will not solve your debt problem, however. These debts will still exist, and, without further action, will continue to grow and accrue penalties. When stonewalled, collection agencies will often consider escalating tactics and pursue a lawsuit, where possible.

How To Conquer Your Debt and Stop Creditor Harassment Permanently

If you want to stop creditor harassment for good, you will need to address the underlying debt that caused the nuisance in the first place. If your debt has become so overwhelming that you are unable to conceivably repay it, you may need to consider other legal options, including bankruptcy. Otherwise, your debts will only continue to swell, and creditors may pursue legal action in order to collect.

Filing for either Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy – the two types of consumer bankruptcy – can help you overcome seemingly insurmountable debts, among other benefits. Declaring bankruptcy can help you immediately end creditor harassment while also working to address its underlying cause.

When you file for either type of consumer bankruptcy, a court will issue an “automatic stay.” The automatic stay prevents any collections actions from being taken against you. This means that creditors will not be permitted to contact you, by phone, letter, or in-person visit, for the duration of the bankruptcy. It also freezes any collection actions that were in the process of being carried out. This can include lawsuits, wage garnishments, foreclosures, and repossessions. None of these damaging actions can start or continue until your bankruptcy has concluded.

Even better, handled correctly, bankruptcy can help you discharge unsecured debts. This includes medical bills, credit card debt, personal loans, and unpaid utility bills. To be permitted to do this, you will either have to liquidate nonexempt assets in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or reorganize and partially repay your outstanding debts in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. That may sound scary, and there are numerous myths stigmatizing bankruptcy. However, with the assistance of an experienced bankruptcy attorney, you can maximize the benefits of the process while minimizing any impacts to your assets.

By discharging unsecured debts, you may be able to the very debts that triggered creditor harassment in the first place. Even if the majority of your debt load stems from secured debts, which cannot be discharged, filing for bankruptcy can still give you the time and resources to reorganize your finances and catch up on payments.

We Can Help You Beat Debt and Stand Up to Creditors

Our bankruptcy lawyers at Bach Law Offices have over 40 years of combined legal experience and are ready to help you beat your debt. If you cannot keep up with payments and find yourself besieged by collection agencies, we can help you chart a path to a more sustainable financial future. Our team can work to efficiently stop creditor harassment and even explore legal options if FDCPA rules have been violated. If you need help addressing your debt, we can help you navigate the bankruptcy process and advocate get your unsecured debts discharged.

Schedule a free initial consultation to learn more about how our team can help you end creditor harassment and defeat debt through bankruptcy. Call (847) 448-0025 or contact us online today!

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