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Automatic Stay

Post-Bankruptcy Credit Collections


Estimated reading time: 3 min.

Everyone experiences a credit collection call or two at some point in their lives. While some may receive more than others, none of us are exempt from the frequent interruptions to our daily lives when creditors call looking for the late payment owed to them. Sometimes it may come as a surprise, other times every ringtone makes you cringe and screen your calls because you know who is on the other end…again.

So let’s say you’ve successfully filed and completed bankruptcy

The debts that cause credit collectors to call you are now discharged, right? Once you’ve filed for bankruptcy, it is true that these calls should immediately stop. In reality, this may not be the case, and you may find yourself screening the same calls you did before, perhaps with a little more ease but with just as much annoyance. Luckily, you may be able to work with the same lawyer you trusted to help you complete your bankruptcy claim to discuss this and other issues after bankruptcy is completed.

How do I stop collection calls after bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy puts in place an automatic stay as soon as you file.

What is this? The purpose of an automatic stay is to protect you from phone calls, emails, and letters that are attempting to collect debts from you that you may find annoying at best and harassing at worst. Ongoing attempts to contact you regarding your debt by the creditor is illegal from this point forward and should cease unless the creditor has expressed permission of the court. With best intentions assumed, creditors use software systems that may take a little time to catch up to the automatic stay order. However, there may be other debt collectors that simply choose to ignore the law and continue to contact you for what is owed no matter what.

If you continue receiving calls after a reasonable amount of time has passed, you might assume that these creditors are breaking the law, especially if you’ve taken the time to inform them that you have filed and/or completed bankruptcy proceedings. In this case, it is beneficial to be knowledgeable about what your rights are and do not assume you have to live with harassing phone calls, emails, and letters. After all, these are stress-provoking even if you’re confident you no longer owe them money. In this case, get in touch with your bankruptcy attorney so they can assist in ensuring the creditors’ systems are up to date or to bring the matter into a court of law.

What Steps You Could Take

A few key things within your control to stop the harassment are to:

  1. Provide an explanation to your creditors
  2. Take detailed notes of each credit collecting interaction
  3. Contact your bankruptcy lawyer
  4. Take creditors to court.

While this may seem extreme, moving forward after bankruptcy while you continue to receive debt collection calls is challenging. If they won’t stop after initial simple steps are taken, suing them for harassment and emotional suffering may be necessary to stop the abuse.

Tax Season: Bankruptcy and Income Tax Refunds

Tax season is upon us, and many people think about a fresh financial start this time of year

When it comes to filing yearly taxes, it is an opportunity to assess current goals and whether current financial strategies are working efficiently. If you have filed a Chapter 13 case and are having trouble making your current plan payments, you may want to consider a conversion from a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy to a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.

The main benefit of converting from a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy to a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is that you will no longer have a monthly trustee payment

You can use your income tax refund to bring any outstanding secured obligations current with the lender (e.g. vehicle, mortgage). You will only have one case filed with the same case number, even if you convert from a Chapter 13 to a Chapter 7. Only one bankruptcy filing will show on your credit, rather than having a dismissed Chapter 13 case and a later filed Chapter 7.

Another major benefit of converting your case from Chapter 13 to Chapter 7 is that you can add any debts incurred after you filed your Chapter 13 case. If you incurred new debt during your Chapter 13 that is making it difficult to make your Chapter 13 payments, then a conversion can help alleviate this problem. Some examples of new debt can include new medical bills, or an unexpected, costly home repair.

In order to convert your case from Chapter 13 to Chapter 7, a notice will need to be filed with the Court

There are certain conditions that need to be met. Your bankruptcy attorney will discuss these with you.

With a Chapter 7, there is no monthly payment plan like there is with a Chapter 13. You will still have the automatic stay in effect during the length of your case. However, the Trustee may sell any non-exempt assets that you have in order to pay your creditors. This is known as liquidation.

Once a Chapter 7 case is finished, you receive a discharge of all debts that were part of your case. This occurs in a much shorter time period than for a Chapter 13 case, since there is no repayment plan. In many instances, converting your case from a Chapter 13 to Chapter 7 may be less costly than filing for a Chapter 13 and then having to file a separate Chapter 7 if your Chapter 13 case was dismissed.

An experienced bankruptcy attorney will assess your case to make sure conversion makes sense for you. There can be major benefits to converting your case from a Chapter 13 to a Chapter 7, but it is critical to understand all the implications.

Wage Garnishments and Bankruptcy

If you are considering filing either a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, it is important to understand what happens to any current wage garnishment that you may have. A wage garnishment is a court order that enables a creditor to take money out of your paycheck. Once a wage garnishment starts, it is difficult to stop. Bankruptcy is an effective method to stop a wage garnishment. For most types of debts, either a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 filing will immediately stop a wage garnishment. Many people consider filing bankruptcy solely because of a wage garnishment.

There are many different types of wage garnishments

Some of the most common types include: child support, alimony, income tax debt, student loan debt (federal and private) and judgment creditors (such as banks and credit card companies). Each type of wage garnishment has different rules that apply, and these rules are affected differently by a bankruptcy filing. Most of these rules are specific to your state of residency.
Each type of wage garnishment has different rules that apply, and these rules are affected differently by a bankruptcy filing. Most of these rules are specific to your state of residency.

A bankruptcy filing, whether a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, puts an immediate stop to most wage garnishments

This is called the “automatic stay.” This stays in place for the duration of your bankruptcy case (or until further order of the bankruptcy court), which can last up to 5 years, depending on the type of bankruptcy that you file. A Chapter 7 will generally eliminate the debt completely.

A Chapter 13 may require you to pay the debt back, or a portion thereof, pursuant to a Chapter 13 plan. No matter the chapter of bankruptcy, once you receive a discharge, you will no longer have any of your wages garnished for that particular discharged debt.

Another thing to realize is that if you are unable to pay current debts and obligations, filing for bankruptcy may prevent a wage garnishment from ever starting in the first place. Meeting with a qualified Atlanta area bankruptcy and wage garnishment attorney can help you assess your situation to see if this would be a good idea for you. An attorney can help to determine the options that best suit your needs, and help guide you through the process for the best possible outcome.