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Your legal protections against creditor harassment

Legal remedies are available to consumers that are harassed by creditors.
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    December 04, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Your legal protections against creditor harassment

Article provided by JLJ Law Group, PLLC
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Although economists in the media claim that the economy is recovering from the recession of 2008, many Americans remain unemployed. As a result, numerous people continue to fall behind on their bills. If you are in this situation, you may be receiving harassing calls from collection agencies regarding your overdue bills. You may think that since you owe the debt, you must endure this ordeal. However, the truth is, you have protections against this behavior, regardless of whether you file for bankruptcy.

The automatic stay

Filing for bankruptcy offers the most comprehensive protection against creditor harassment. Once you file for any type of bankruptcy, the protection of the automatic stay goes into effect and lasts for the entire length of the bankruptcy. During this time, creditors are prohibited by law from attempting to collect your debts. This means that they must cease calling you or contacting you in any way.

If a creditor, in spite of the automatic stay, attempts to contact you, it can be an expensive mistake. First, the creditor can face monetary sanctions for contempt of court, since a court order was disregarded. In addition, you may file a lawsuit against the offending creditor to recover any damages and attorneys' fees. If the creditor's conduct was outrageous or malicious, you may also recover expenses for emotional distress.

Once the bankruptcy has been completed, the automatic stay also terminates. However, most of your debt would have been discharged during the process. Since you are not legally obligated to repay discharged debts, creditors are forever prohibited from contacting you about them.

Protection outside of bankruptcy

Although bankruptcy provides the best protection against creditor harassment, some protection is available to those who choose not to file for bankruptcy. Under federal law, The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA), everyone is protected against misleading, abusive or unfair debt collection tactics. However, the protection of the FDCPA is limited, as the act only applies to household or personal debts and not business debts. In addition, unlike bankruptcy, the act does not prohibit your creditors from collecting the debt, but sets limits on the tactics the creditor may use in its collection.

Under the act, debt collectors are prohibited from using a litany of tactics to collect a debt such as:
-Threatening imprisonment
-Using vulgar language
-Calling you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
-Threatening garnishment of your wages or bank account, seizure of your property or a lawsuit if there is no intention to do so
-Contacting you directly, if you are represented by an attorney

For creditors that cross the line, the FDCPA empowers you to file a lawsuit and recover up to $1,000 per violation in addition to any actual damages that you suffered. In addition, you can recover court costs and attorneys' fees.

Consult an attorney

If you are behind on your debts, it is helpful to review your financial situation with an experienced bankruptcy attorney. An attorney can advise you on the best way to alleviate your situation and ensure your right to be free from creditor harassment is protected.

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