Few things can cause you more stress than receiving constant calls, texts and emails from your creditors when you fall behind in your payments. While creditors have the right to pursue payment of their accounts, however, they do not have the right to harass you. FindLaw explains that the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act offers you numerous protections.
If one or more of your creditors goes beyond what the FDCPA allows, however, you have three basic options as follows:
- Take informal steps
- Take formal steps
- File bankruptcy
You may wish to first try working with your creditors informally. For instance, you might try one or more of the following:
- Dispute the billing charges
- Obtain credit counseling
- Try to negotiate a loan workout or repayment plan you can live with
If none of the above stop creditor harassment, you likely should take the following formal steps:
- Write a snail mail letter to the offending creditors demanding that they stop calling you
- Document all instances and types of harassment
- Call the Maryland Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission
When all else fails, you can sue the debt collector.
When you file bankruptcy, the bankruptcy court issues an automatic stay that prohibits your creditors from contacting you in any manner. If you file for Chapter 7, the automatic stay lasts for 30 days. However, Chapter 7 itself usually takes only 2-4 months, at which point the court discharges virtually all of your consumer debt.
If you file Chapter 13, the automatic stay remains in effect throughout your entire bankruptcy period, usually three years. This is because Chapter 13 is a debt reorganization and repayment procedure rather than a debt discharge procedure. As long as you make the payments called for in your repayment plan, your creditors cannot contact you for additional or faster payments.