Stop Creditor Harassment with the Help of an Experienced Bowling Green Bankruptcy Attorney
The never-ending phone calls, threatening letters and visits from bill collectors is one of the most distressing and nerve-wracking aspects of owing money that you cannot pay back. Many large companies have their own collection departments dedicated to hounding you for money. Others turn over their collection efforts to private collection agencies, some of whom operate unscrupulously or overzealously in their attempts to get you to pay. Fortunately, the law does provide consumers with protection from harassment and mistreatment by creditors and bill collectors. The Bowling Green law office of Lanna Martin Kilgore helps consumers throughout western Kentucky who are frightened, annoyed or fed up with this misconduct to put a stop once and for all to creditor harassment.
Protection from Harassment under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law designed to protect consumers from abusive, annoying or fraudulent conduct by collection agencies. The Act provides a host of restrictions on the activities of bill collectors. For instance, collection agencies are prohibited from contacting you at an unusual or inconvenient time or place, including before 8:00 in the morning or after 9:00 at night. They may not call or visit you at work if you make it known that your employer doesn’t allow you to receive calls there. Bill collectors also may not talk to your friends, co-workers or neighbors about your debt. They may contact others in an attempt to locate you, but they are not allowed to mention the debt. Also, if you tell the collection agency to stop calling you, they must comply, with a few limited exceptions.
Bill collectors are prohibited from being false, deceptive or misleading in their dealings with you. This includes misrepresenting themselves or implying some connection with the government, lying about the amount or legal status of the debt, misrepresenting themselves as attorneys, implying that you may be arrested or threatening legal action that cannot legally be taken or that the bill collector does not really intend to take, and many other types of false or misleading conduct.
In addition, debt collectors are prohibited from engaging in harassing or abusive conduct. Examples of harassment or abuse prohibited by the FDCPA include:
- Using or threatening violence
- Harming the person’s reputation or property through criminal means
- Using obscene or profane language
- Publishing a list of consumers who refuse to pay debts
- Advertising the sale of a debt in order to coerce payment
- Continually calling on the phone with the intent to annoy, abuse or harass
- Placing telephone calls without disclosing the caller’s identity
Bankruptcy Stops Creditor Harassment
The FDCPA only applies to professional bill collectors. The original creditor, such as a doctor’s office, department store or credit car company, is not so carefully regulated. Even bill collectors may continue to engage in lawful means to collect the debt, which may include lawsuits and enforcement of judgments through liens on your property, wage garnishment and other means.
Filing for bankruptcy, on the other hand, is a quick and effective means to stop all types of creditor harassment, including from the original creditor as well as professional collection agencies. A bankruptcy filing in either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 invokes the automatic stay provisions, which puts an automatic stop to collection activity, including phone calls and letters as well as lawsuits, repossessions and foreclosures.
Get Help Today to End Creditor Harassment
Another way to get bill collectors to leave you alone is to let them know you have a lawyer. They are then required by law to deal directly with your lawyer and stop bothering you. At Lanna Martin Kilgore, PLLC, we will discuss your options with you and take the quickest and most effective means to put an immediate stop to creditor harassment and put you on the road to lasting debt relief. In Bowling Green and throughout Warren County and western Kentucky, contact our office for help from an experienced bankruptcy attorney.