How an Automatic Stay Stops Harassing Creditor Calls
  
     There is nothing more annoying than receiving 10-20 phone calls or more every day from creditors, credit card companies, and collection  agencies asking you why you have not been paying your balances and threatening legal action unless you begin paying now.
    
     You may have lost your job or had to use your cards to pay off medical bills for an emergency medical situation. Although some credit card or collection agencies may seem sympathetic and try to work out a payment plan, most of these companies only want you to use any means possible to pay them, and to pay them now. 
 
    One way to stop harassing phone calls is for you to refer the creditor to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which was passed to  prohibit particularly offensive creditor calls. These include threats to put you  in jail, of possible bodily harm, of misrepresenting the amount of the debt or that you even owe it, or calling you dozens of times per day at all hours of  the day and night. Some creditors pretend to be attorneys or someone else. They cannot call you at work if you tell them it is prohibited by your employer, and cannot use profanity or obscenities. You do have to at least answer one of the calls and advise the caller to stop calling you.
 
     However, if your debt has become unmanageable, you do have the   option of filing for either a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The difference between the two is that a Chapter 7 is a liquidation and will discharge or eliminate unsecured debt such as credit cards, and a Chapter 13 is a debt reorganization. You do have to qualify based upon your disposable income to file a Chapter 7. 
    
     Both filings are similar, however, in that filing either initiates an automatic stay of any legal proceedings, including foreclosures,
  collection activities, lawsuits, and any contact or attempt to collect a  debt. The automatic stay goes into effect when your petition is filed. When a creditor, collection agency, or attorney calls, you merely advise  them that you have filed either a Chapter 7 or 13 and give them the court file number on your documents. At this point, the creditor will stop calling you.
  
    There are instances when creditors keep calling, which is a violation of the automatic stay. If this occurs, you should write down the dates of the calls, times, who called, the name of the person who spoke to you, and for which debt they are calling. Then, call your attorney with this information.
    
     A creditor who continues to contact you after the automatic stay becomes effective and the creditor has been so advised is in contempt of a federal court order. Once your bankruptcy case has been granted a discharge and the unsecured debts eliminated, these creditors are permanently enjoined from contacting you. A contempt violation can result in a fine.

    There are some situations where a creditor can obtain relief from the automatic stay. The most common situation is where a homeowner is in arrearages on the mortgage and the lender needs to continue to foreclose on the property. Other “interested parties” may also obtain relief, usually for secured  debts. The bankruptcy code lists situations where a creditor can request relief
from the automatic stay and then continue to contact you.

 


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