Immediately after filing bankruptcy, you should stop being harassed by creditors and any collections and repossession efforts should be ceased. Unfortunately, creditor harassment after filing bankruptcy is an ongoing issue for some when creditors ignore the automatic stay. Here’s how to make it stop.
Bankruptcy Automatic Stay
The reason creditors are prohibited from making collection efforts (including wage garnishment, phone calls, collection mail, and legal action) or repossessing your assets after you file for bankruptcy is because of the automatic stay.
The automatic stay offers a lot of protection, but there are still a few exceptions. For example, the stay does not stop collection on debt incurred after filing bankruptcy, some eviction situations, child support, or criminal cases.
If a creditor does not qualify as an exception to the automatic stay and continues to make collection or repossession actions against you, then they may be in violation of the stay, which is illegal.
What Do I Do If a Creditor is Violating the Automatic Stay?
There are a variety of actions that you can take to fight back against unlawful collection efforts including the following:
- Notify the creditor about your bankruptcy. More often than not, the creditor is just unaware of your bankruptcy. However, if they do not immediately cease collection activity after being informed of the bankruptcy, then further action should be taken.
- Inform the bankruptcy court. Tell officials with the bankruptcy court that the creditor is violating the automatic stay. The court can take legal action against the creditor if it is determined that they were in willful violation of the stay.
- File a lawsuit. Violating the automatic stay is bad enough, but collectors may even be in violation of some state and federal laws including:
- Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
- Fair Credit Reporting Act
- Various state unfair trade practice and debt collection laws
- Speak to a bankruptcy lawyer. The easiest solution is to speak to a bankruptcy attorney early on in the bankruptcy process. A lawyer can help you to navigate through the bankruptcy process.
Garland & Mason, L.L.C. – New Jersey bankruptcy lawyers