If you're considering filing bankruptcy, if you've already filed bankruptcy, or if you're just struggling with debts, you may have had creditors contact you in an effort to collect on debts. While dealing with creditors may not be a pleasant experience, it shouldn't leave you afraid to answer the phone or check the mail.
With the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) of 1978, the U.S. government outlined required and forbidden behaviors for those collecting on debts. If your creditors aren't adhering to these guidelines, they're probably breaking the law, which means that you can take action to stop them. Read on to learn more.
If a debt collector has tried to get you to pay by doing any of the following, you may have grounds to take legal action, and should consider contacting a bankruptcy lawyer to help you move forward.
Remember, consumer protection laws exist to protect you! Don't be afraid to take action if a creditor has violated your rights by doing any of the above. If you think a creditor has violated your rights, but you aren't sure whether any of the above actions occurred, consider consulting a bankruptcy attorney, who can provide you with a complete list of prohibited behaviors.
In addition to certain limits on the behavior of debt collectors, U.S. law also outlines specific requirements for how debt collectors must behave when attempting to collect from you. If a debt collector doesn't comply with any of the following, you may be able to pursue legal action. Debt collectors follow the law by:
Again, this list is not exhaustive - for a more complete description of any of the items mentioned or for an analysis of your specific situation, you may want to speak with a bankruptcy attorney practicing in your area.
If creditors are harassing you or even attempting to collect on debts in legal (but still stress-inducing) ways, consider communicating with your creditors directly to address the problem. Explain your situation (why you haven't paid your bills) and try to negotiate for a longer payment period, lower payments or a reduction in total amount owed.
If your creditors are unwilling to compromise, consider filing bankruptcy. When you file bankruptcy, an automatic stay goes into effect and prevents creditors from taking any kind of collection action. Once you file your bankruptcy petition, creditors should stop contacting you within 7-10 days. If they don't, the law is on your side and you can let your bankruptcy lawyer handle them.