If you are drowning in mountains of debt, you may also be facing wage garnishments and collections calls from creditors. Not only can these things be exhausting, but they can border on or become harassment, and therefore be a breach of your rights as a consumer. If you are facing collection calls and garnishments, here’s what you need to know about your rights and how to put an end to such practices–
When Can Creditors Call Me and Garnish Wages?
While debt collectors do maintain the right to call you and inform you of the fact that you owe a certain amount of debt, there are limitations on when they can call you and what they can say. To be sure, a debt collector cannot call you before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m., nor can they call you at work. They cannot call third parties to obtain information about you. Further, they cannot refuse to identify themselves, pretend to be someone else, tell you that you owe more than you do, or threaten you.
If any of the above is occurring, you are a victim of creditor harassment. You can take action by:
- Asking the creditor to stop contacting you/engaging in the harassing behavior;
- Hire a lawyer and ask your lawyer to represent you;
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission; or
- File a lawsuit against the creditor.
In regards to garnishing your wages, a creditor cannot garnish your wages unless a judgment has been issued against you by a court (i.e. the creditor sued you). If your wages are being taken illegally, you should seek legal counsel immediately.
Bankruptcy and the Automatic Stay
In addition to asking a creditor to stop harassing you or reporting harassment to the Federal Trade Commission, another way that you can put an end to collections is to file for bankruptcy. In fact, when you file for bankruptcy, what’s known as the ‘automatic stay’ will go into effect. The stay goes into effect the moment that you file for bankruptcy, and prohibits creditors from collecting on debts. It’s important to note that the automatic stay isn’t applicable to all debts, and may not have an effect on certain tax proceedings, child support cases, and criminal proceedings. However, the stay can ensure that your utilities are kept on, any wage garnishments are halted, that you’re not evicted from your home, and that your home isn’t foreclosed upon.
Our Lawyers Can Help
Understanding what to do if creditors won’t leave you alone can feel overwhelming. We know that you may feel as though you’re in over your head and have nowhere to turn – we can help. Our experienced Council Bluffs bankruptcy attorneys have helped many clients like you in the past, and can provide you with guidance and information about how to seek relief. Call our law office today or send us a message to request a consultation with our compassionate and knowledgeable bankruptcy lawyers.