Whether by phone, through the mail, or in person, being harassed by your creditors can be a stressful and intrusive experience. For the most part, declaring bankruptcy will stop creditors and collections agencies from pursuing repayment until you finish the filing process—but unfortunately, this is not always the case.
When it comes to stopping creditor harassment during bankruptcy in Jacksonville, there are a few legal options at your disposal. A dedicated bankruptcy attorney could help you determine what course of action is best for your situation. Our legal team could work tirelessly to stop your persistent creditors.
How an Automatic Stay Works During Bankruptcy
The moment you officially declare bankruptcy by filing under some chapter of the Bankruptcy Code, an “automatic stay” should kick in. This stay is a court order distributed to all creditors and collection agencies listed in your petition, informing them that you have gone into bankruptcy and ordering them to cease collection activities until that process concludes.
While creditors may still interact with the court or your legal counsel, most of them should stop contacting you as soon as they receive notice of the automatic stay. However, it can take about a week for courts to send out these notices, so it may be a few days before the calls and letters to stop coming in. If your creditors do not stop bothering you, a bankruptcy lawyer could notify them of the automatic stay to make sure they are aware of it.
Legal Options for Stopping Further Harassment from Jacksonville Creditors
Even when an automatic stay is not in effect, there are numerous restrictions on when and how creditors can contact you regarding the money you owe on secured or unsecured debts. For example, federal law prohibits creditors and collection agencies from taking actions such as:
- Calling debtors before 8 AM and after 9 PM
- Threatening debtors or using offensive language
- Continuing to contact a debtor directly once they are aware the debtor has hired legal counsel.
- Contacting your friends or family, other than to get “location information.”
Similarly, debtors have certain rights regarding what they are not required to disclose to creditors. For instance, you are under no obligation to answer any questions a creditor asks you, disclose private information, acknowledge your debt in any way, or even answer the phone in the first place.
However, if creditor harassment remains a serious problem even after the bankruptcy process begins, both state and federal law allow you to file suit against the problematic creditors. Under the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act, you could work with a bankruptcy lawyer to hold harassing creditors liable for up to $1,000 in statutory damages, actual damages for stress-related medical conditions, punitive damages, and attorney’s fees.
Ask a Jacksonville Attorney About How to Stop Creditor Harassment During Bankruptcy
Stopping creditor harassment during bankruptcy in Jacksonville can be hard to do, especially if you already filed your declaration. If the automatic stay was not enough to restore peace, you might need to take legal action. Give us a call to see how we could help fight for your rights.