How to Deal with Creditor Harassment in Pennsylvania
Harassment from any source can be intimidating and overwhelming. If creditors are harassing you, it is important to learn how to make them stop in Pennsylvania.
Creditor harassment generally includes any communications from a lender or debt collection agency that are of a threatening or malicious nature. To stop creditor harassment, debtors can attempt to negotiate with a creditor. Debtors can also enter into bankruptcy and stop communications via an automatic stay. If creditors violate the automatic stay, you might be entitled to compensation. Bankruptcy can enable you to satisfy all your debts, some of which might be discharged. This should help you to avoid receiving any harassing communications from creditors in the future.
For a free and confidential discussion of your case with our Pennsylvania bankruptcy lawyers, call Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates at (215) 701-6519.
What Constitutes Creditor Harassment in Pennsylvania?
If you owe money to a creditor and cannot meet payment dates, the creditor or a collection agency might begin reaching out to you to request payment. While contacting you about missed payments is not inappropriate behavior, it can cross a line and become harassment.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits collection agencies acting on behalf of primary creditors from harassing debtors in Pennsylvania and throughout the country. Examples of harassment include making threatening or obscene comments to debtors, and misrepresenting the identity of a debt collection agent, among other inappropriate behavior.
Harassment might come in the form of calls to your home, mail sent to your house, or in-person visits from creditors. Our Chester County bankruptcy lawyers understand the importance of stopping creditor harassment whenever possible, as such actions can profoundly disrupt a debtor’s life and even delay their ability to repay debts. If you are unsure whether or not behavior of creditors is considered harassment, ask for clarification.
How Can You Pause Creditor Harassment in Pennsylvania?
Temporarily pausing creditor harassment in Pennsylvania is possible by taking certain steps. In some cases, creditors will agree to negotiate with debtors for a lower interest rate or reduced debt so that repayment is easier. If a collection agency is breaking federal law when harassing you, you might be able to file a lawsuit. And finally, getting an automatic stay can temporarily stop all communications from creditors and collection agencies in Pennsylvania.
Negotiate with Creditors
When debtors continue to ignore creditors, they might be harassed about repayment. Sometimes, creditors will be open to negotiating the terms of a debtor’s loans or their total debt in the hope that the matter will be resolved without going to bankruptcy court in Pennsylvania.
File a Lawsuit
If a debt collection agency violates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and engages in creditor harassment, a debtor can file a lawsuit in Pennsylvania. For your case to be successful, you must have proof of the harassment, such as correspondence, accounts of phone conversations, or other evidence.
Get an Automatic Stay
Most debtors will qualify for an automatic stay the moment they declare bankruptcy. There are a few exceptions in cases involving debtors that have filed for bankruptcy numerous times in the recent past. Typically, an automatic stay will last for the duration of a debtor’s bankruptcy. While an automatic stay is in effect, no creditor or debt collection agency can contact you outside of a court setting about repayment. Furthermore, any attempts to foreclose on your property or repossess your assets will be halted. This means that if a sheriff’s sale was about to commence before your bankruptcy filing, it will be paused because of the automatic stay.
What if Creditors Violate an Automatic Stay in Pennsylvania?
The automatic stay that goes into place when a debtor declares bankruptcy prohibits further creditor harassment. If a creditor violates the automatic stay, they will be punished in Pennsylvania.
Willful violation of an automatic stay comes with penalties. Creditors might have to pay actual damages and attorney’s fees to debtors for automatic stay violations. Creditors might also be penalized with punitive damages in Pennsylvania. Violating an automatic stay can seriously disrupt the bankruptcy process, hence the consequences to creditors. If you receive any communications from creditors while you are under bankruptcy, whether they are threatening or not, inform our attorneys immediately.
Violations of the automatic stay include sending bills or mail to a debtor’s home, calling a debtor about their outstanding debt, attempting to repossess a debtor’s property, and refusing to return property repossessed but not yet sold. Creditors may not contact your spouse about your individual debt while an automatic stay is in place.
Will Bankruptcy Permanently Stop Creditor Harassment in Pennsylvania?
The goal of bankruptcy is to help debtors address all of their debt in its entirety so that they can regain their financial footing in Pennsylvania. This means that bankruptcy should stop all creditor harassment once the process is complete.
In bankruptcy, debt is either repaid or discharged. More often than not, bankruptcy allows for the majority of a person’s debt to be erased. Any outstanding secured debts will be repaid either through asset liquidation or a repayment plan. Regardless of whether you file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, all of your debt can be handled in the process.
Chapter 7 is the shortest option, taking about four to six months on average to complete. Chapter 13 can take up to five years, mostly because it requires debtors to repay debts and does not allow for asset liquidation. Provided you see bankruptcy through entirely, you should have no outstanding debt once the process is finished, meaning you should no longer experience any form of creditor harassment in Pennsylvania. If you do, be sure to inform our attorneys about ongoing harassment from creditors.
Call Our Bankruptcy Lawyers About Your Case in Pennsylvania
Call (215) 701-6519 and speak with the Philadelphia bankruptcy lawyers at Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates for free about your case today.