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Harassing phone calls

Collection Phone Calls and Bankruptcy

State and federal law permit creditors and collection agencies to use the telephone and mail to collect debts.  And if you are behind on your debts, do not be surprised if you begin to receive multiple phone calls from both employees of your creditors as well as outside collection agents.

Bill collectors use psychology in an attempt to intimidate you to use whatever funds you have to pay that bill collector’s debt.  They will suggest that you borrow money from relatives and they will imply that you are dishonest and a bad person because you have not paid their debt.

Federal and state law offer limited protection to consumers.  The law that offers the most help applies mainly to bill collectors and not to actual creditors - this law is called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  Here is a link to an FDCPA law web site that offers more information about causes of action that arise from the FDCPA.

Here are some suggestions about dealing with debt collectors prior to filing bankruptcy:

  • the most important thing you can do is recognize that bill collection is a business and that you are not an evil or dishonest person because you do not have the money to pay your bills.  Recognize the psychology of bill collection and make up your mind to treat your relationship with bill collectors as a business transaction, and not as a discussion of your morals and ethics.
     
  • you can hang up
     
  • you can forward your calls to an answering machine
     
  • you can send the bill collector a “drop dead” letter advising that debt collector to stop contacting you

Creditors and Debt Collectors After Bankruptcy

The minute you file for bankruptcy under either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, all collection activities must stop.  The automatic stay associated with your bankruptcy filing disallows any collection activity.  Once you have your case number and you provide that case number to a creditor or a bill collector, all collection efforts must stop - if the creditor or bill collector persists, we can sue that collector in bankruptcy court for a violation of the stay.

When your bankruptcy case is over, the automatic stay turns into a “discharge stay” and permanently enjoins any debt collection by a creditor included in your bankruptcy.  Violations of the discharge stay can support a lawsuit by you to collect damages.


Clark & Washington, Attorneys, 6025 Lee Hwy., Suite 101, Chattanooga, TN 37421 Phone: 423-634-1910