Carol Stream Creditor Harassment Attorneys
One of the harshest aspects of being in debt can be the non-stop harassment from creditors and collection agencies, including telephone calls at all hours of the day and night, threatening or intimidating letters, and even having bill collectors contacting your employer or showing up at your workplace. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to stop this harassment.
Bankruptcy Stops Harassment
When a bankruptcy is filed, the court institutes an automatic stay, which puts an immediate stop to all collection activity, including foreclosures and repossessions. The only way for a creditor to continue trying to collect is to file a motion with the court asking the judge to lift the stay.
Bill Collectors Must Play Nice
The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits bill collectors from engaging in a wide range of abusive, threatening or harassing conduct. In addition, consumers have the right to sue collection agencies when they violate the terms of the FDCPA. Successful plaintiffs can recover compensation for actual damages plus attorney’s fees, or up to $1,000 in statutory damages.
All of the following activities are illegal under the FDCPA:
- Calling you at home at inconvenient times, including before eight o’clock in the morning or after nine at night
- Calling you at work once you have told them you cannot receive calls at work
- Calling you if you tell them to stop calling
- Calling without saying who they are
- Calling merely to harass or annoy you
- Using profanity or obscenities
- Threatening violence
- Making false or misleading representations
- Making empty threats of legal action
- Threatening that you will be arrested
- Publishing a list of people who owe money with your name on it
- Contacting family members, neighbors or co-workers, with limited exceptions
Be aware, however, that the FDCPA has many hoops the consumer must jump through in order to receive protection under the Act. Also, the FDCPA only applies to professional bill collectors and companies that buy delinquent debt; it doesn’t regulate conduct by the original creditor, such as a doctor’s office, retail store, or credit card company. A bankruptcy filing, on the other hand, puts an immediate stop to all attempts at bill collection. Bankruptcy also has the advantage of allowing you to deal with all your creditors at once, rather than individually. Your creditors are required to abide by the terms of an approved bankruptcy plan, whether they are placed on a payment plan or have their debt discharged.
Seek Experienced Carol Stream Bankruptcy Attorneys to Stop Creditor Harassment
Whether you plan to file bankruptcy, seek a debt settlement or try some other means for debt relief, hiring an attorney to advise and represent you is an immediate way to end the harassing conduct of bill collectors. Once your creditors know you are represented by counsel, they should deal directly with your lawyer and leave you alone. For sound advice, professional representation, and immediate assistance in putting a stop to creditor harassment, contact Johnson, Westra, Broecker, Whittaker & Newitt at our offices in Carol Stream, St. Charles and Chicago.