Creditors begin to harass debtors as soon as they miss payments, adding even more stress to what is likely an already difficult financial situation. Bankruptcy, however, can put a stop to creditor harassment. At Anidjar & Levine, we offer legal counseling and representation to victims of this behavior. Our Fort Lauderdale bankruptcy attorneys have helped numerous clients stop creditor harassment and wipe the slate clean of debt through bankruptcy.Stopping Creditor Harassment in Florida
Creditors usually begin contacting you for a debt once you have fallen behind on several payments. A creditor may use an internal collections department or a collection agency to contact you for payment. In some cases, it may actually sell your debt to a third-party collector. This collector may make harassing calls to your home or work, or bombard you with threatening letters to try to collect on a debt.
Federal and Florida laws protect you from abusive and harassing collection attempts. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA, prevents debt collectors from collection attempts that rise to the level of harassment and abuse. The Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act, or FCCPA, goes further to protect against creditor harassment. It prohibits any person who attempts to collect a debt from:
- Contacting you between the hours of 9 p.m. and 8 a.m.;
- Pretending to be a law enforcement officer or government agent;
- Communicating, or threatening to communicate, with your employer without your permission, unless there is a judgment against you; and
- Willfully communicating with you or your family with such frequency that it can reasonably be considered harassment or abuse.
Although there is some protection against creditor harassment, a creditor can take other steps to get you to pay. It may initiate a lawsuit against you and obtain a wage garnishment order if it wins. If you want to stop creditor harassment, bankruptcy may offer a more permanent solution.
One of the benefits of filing for bankruptcy is the automatic stay. The automatic stay halts most collection activities. A creditor must stop any attempts to collect on a debt, and it cannot initiate any lawsuit or other debt collection activities, once you file for bankruptcy. Depending on the type of bankruptcy you file, you may put a stop to not only creditor harassment, but key activities that affect your livelihood.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy places an automatic stay on most collection attempts. The proceeding typically lasts several months. Your assets will be sold, or liquidated, to pay off your creditors. The court will discharge any remaining debt, which means the creditor cannot renew any collection attempts on the outstanding balance. Although Chapter 7 allows you to stop creditor harassment and start fresh within a matter of months, you must pass the “means test” in order to qualify for Chapter 7 protection. If you do not qualify, you can file for bankruptcy under Chapter 13.
Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you can reorganize your debt and make payments to your creditors based on your disposable income. You propose a repayment plan under which you make payments to your creditors, including unsecured creditors like credit card companies, over the course of either three or five years. Unlike Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you can potentially stop the foreclosure of your home or vehicle repossession through Chapter 13. Once you complete the plan, any remaining debt will be discharged. This means that a credit card company, for example, cannot resume collection activities or harass you for a debt after you receive a bankruptcy discharge. However, if you do not complete the plan and your case is dismissed, your creditors can resume collection attempts.Hollywood Bankruptcy Attorneys Committed to Client Service
The Hollywood bankruptcy lawyers at Anidjar & Levine can help you put a stop to creditor harassment. Our team of exceptional lawyers can discuss your rights and advise you on whether bankruptcy can stop creditor harassment and help you get back on track financially. Our attorneys are dedicated to providing you with legal solutions specific to your needs. We work with residents of Miami and South Florida. Call us today at (800) 747-FREE or fill out our Contact Us form for a free consultation.