Creditor Harassment, Debt Collectors
There’s no denying it: debt collectors can create a significant disturbance in your life. They’re annoying, they make you feel uncomfortable, and they can cause shame and fear. Luckily, you have tools available that can help you reduce the impact a debt collector has in your life.
How can you stop a creditor dead in its tracks?
Filing for Bankruptcy
The most powerful thing you can do to stop debt collection efforts is to file for bankruptcy. It’s not right for everyone, but if you’re dealing with a lot of debt and creditors are contacting you daily, it’s something to consider.
Once you’ve filed for bankruptcy, something called an automatic stay goes into action and stop creditors from contacting you. By law, all debt collection efforts must cease once the automatic stay is in progress.
To learn more about the Automatic Stay, check out this information.
What If Bankruptcy Isn’t Right for Me?
If bankruptcy isn’t going to work for you, there are still ways you can stop debt collectors from contacting you. Some of the things you can do to stop them are relatively easy.
According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt collectors must stop calling you if you tell them too.
You read that right.
All you need to do to stop a debt collector from calling you is tell them to stop calling you. You do this and they are legally required to stop.
This law only applies in certain situations, when outside collectors working for the original creditors are calling you, but these tend to be the most aggressive collectors. Telling a creditor to stop calling you won’t work if you’re being contacted by in-house collectors, but the law can still provide plenty of relief to debtors.
Also keep in mind that telling a debt collector to stop calling you doesn’t mean you don’t owe them money. Your request doesn’t eliminate your debt and the creditor can still file a lawsuit against you. But you can deal with the problem privately and you won’t need to worry about receiving calls at work or dealing with collectors who are preying on your fears with threatening phone calls.
It’s also important to take into account the debt collector’s goal. Many of them have no intention of suing you, especially if it’s a lower amount of credit card debt. They to annoy you enough that you write them a check just to make them go away. They know that many consumers have no idea they have a right to tell them to go away without paying them a cent. Some debt collectors will even try to collect on debts that have expired statutes of limitations in hopes of tricking debtors into paying when they are no longer legally required to do so.
What Can You Do If Debt Collection Efforts Continue?
Most debt collectors respect your request to stop collections efforts because they know they are putting themselves at risk for penalties if they don’t stop. But there are a few that will overstep their boundaries.
If they continue calling you after you’ve told them to leave you alone or after any other actions are taken to stop collection efforts against, you could be entitled to actual damages, statutory damages, and attorneys’ fees. You could be able to file a lawsuit against the debt collector and receive compensation from them.
Of course, you’ll need to show evidence that they broke the law, prove that you asked them (in writing) to stop calling you, and show a log of how often they violated your rights. An attorney can help you assemble a case against a predatory debt collector that violates the law.
Once you’ve stopped the onslaught of collection efforts you’ll be able to think clearly and come up with a plan for dealing with your debt. Stopping debt collection efforts, either through a written request or an automatic stay, is just the first step in resolving your financial challenges.
For more information or to speak to someone about your debt issues, contact the Bankruptcy Law Office of Robert M. Geller at (813) 254-5696.