John E. Pytte
Stop Creditor Calls?
In 2019, more than 45,000 individuals in Georgia sought protection from creditors through bankruptcy filings. What led them to take this path other than the seemingly insurmountable amount of debt they're facing? Often, it can be to stop the seemingly endless harassing phone calls and letters from creditors.
If you’re behind on payments and you’re receiving non-stop phone calls, emails, and letters requesting payment, you may have the urge to just unplug the phone, turn off the computer, and leave the mounting stack of letters you receive in a heap somewhere. However, no matter how overwhelming these payment demands may feel, ignoring them will not stop creditors from trying to collect what’s due.
Luckily, there are federal guidelines that have been established to protect you. If you want to stop the collection efforts cold, filing for bankruptcy can do just that, and even present legal barriers for any creditors who continue to hassle you.
If you live in Savannah or Hinesville, Georgia, or any of the neighboring communities, contact me today at Pytte Law for an explanation of the bankruptcy process and how it can help you stop the harassing calls and get you the fresh start you deserve. As an experienced bankruptcy attorney, I have been helping fellow Georgians like you for more than two decades to resolve issues of debt relief and creditor harassment. I can assess the unique details of your situation and help steer you in the right direction toward financial relief.
What Is Creditor Harassment?
The first thing to realize is that creditors have a right to contact you when you fall behind on payments. However, since many creditors in the past have abused this right, the federal government passed the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) in 1977, which is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
The FDCPA sets the following limits on collection efforts:
- Phone calls cannot be made before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. (note that they can call on Sundays)
- Calls cannot be made to you at your place of work if you inform them that your employer forbids such calls
- Creditors cannot solicit the help of your friends, acquaintances, or other third parties in their collection efforts
- Collectors cannot harass, abuse, or threaten you, or use obscene or profane language
- Collection attempts cannot exaggerate the amount owed
- Creditors or collection agencies cannot use deceptive tactics such as claiming to be law enforcement officials or attorneys or threatening to seize and sell your property
The types of debt that are covered by the FDCPA include credit card debt, medical bills, student loans, mortgages, and other household debt. If you owe money to a local contractor or handyman, that person is not covered by the FDCPA unless he turns the debt over to a collection agency, which would then be covered by the FDCPA.
The Automatic Stay Provision of Bankruptcy
Whether you pursue debt reorganization under Chapter 13 of the bankruptcy code, or liquidation and discharge of debts under Chapter 7, both types of filings contain what is called an “automatic stay” provision. This means that creditors, once informed of the filing, must cease all collection efforts and work through the bankruptcy proceedings regarding what is actually owed to them.
When you contact me, we can discuss the differences between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Many people fear that bankruptcy means losing everything, but this is not the case. Both codes contain exemptions, which generally allow you to keep important possessions, such as your home, car, furnishings, clothing, tools of your trade, and retirement savings.
What If a Creditor Ignores the Automatic Stay?
Most creditors realize the consequences of ignoring the automatic stay provision of the bankruptcy code, and they will cease their efforts once notified of your filing. In any case where one or more creditors might ignore the provision, you should inform them to contact your bankruptcy attorney. If they continue even after this, the bankruptcy court can fine and sanction these institutions for violating the automatic stay provision.
How a Bankruptcy Attorney Can Help You
There are services that will help you file for bankruptcy on your own, which may initially appear attractive because the costs will be somewhat contained. However, things can continue to escalate if the creditors keep calling, or if you run into other technical details of the bankruptcy code when dealing with the trustee assigned to you. The reality is, you don’t want to face these challenges on your own.
An experienced Georgia bankruptcy attorney can not only guide you toward the most beneficial type of filing, Chapter 13 or Chapter 7, but also prepare all the paperwork, submit it to the court, work with the trustee, protect your exempt assets, and have your back every step of the way.
With more than 25 years of bankruptcy and debt relief experience in Savannah and Hinesville, as well as nearby Georgia communities such as the counties of Chatham, Liberty, and Bryan, I have helped many in your situation. I understand the financial and emotional pain you’re facing and will work with you on a personal basis to get you the relief you need and deserve. Call me, Attorney John Pytte, today at Pytte Law for a consultation. Let’s get started on your fresh start.