When my clients come in to retain my services for bankruptcy, I give them a form to keep at home by the telephone to keep track of phone calls/letters from creditors or debt collectors. I also tell them their other choice is to keep a notebook by the telephone for the calls from creditors. I tell my clients that they are investigators in their own lawsuit–the one that will have their creditor writing a check to them! Last week, a debt collector was ordered to pay over $18,000 to my clients–the clients had kept excellent records of over 40 phone calls occuring over four months.
How on earth can debtors get money from their creditors? When a person files for bankruptcy protection, the Bankruptcy Code provides for an automatic stay to be instantly put into place. That “stay” stops all collection activity. The bankruptcy code is supposed to give folks a fresh start and you can’t have a fresh start if your creditors continue to hound you night and day. The bankruptcy code provides for debtors to be paid damages if creditors abuse them during the bankruptcy case (or afterwords).
One of my clients reported phone calls during their bankruptcy — of over 40 calls, most went to the answering machine. The clients did a great job of documenting their calls, date, time, and caller. We recently went to court and the judge awarded damages to them in excess of $18,000.00–we have yet to see if that amount will get the debt collector to pay attention to the bankruptcy code. My colleague, Carmen Dellutri, recently posted about the Federal Trade Commission settling a case against LTD Financial to the tune of $1.3 million for their bad acts against consumers. Read more here.
Keep good records and talk to your attorney if creditors or debt collectors are harassing you. It may seem small to you, hardly worth complaining about, but it may be, in reality, a very big deal. Another colleague, Stephen Otto, wrote about the availability of emotional distress damages when debt collectors abuse you. Read more here.
Debt Collector Abuse should not be tolerated–let your attorney know. If you were not represented by an attorney in your bankruptcy, keep good records and find an attorney who agrees that you should not be abused and who is willing to fight for you!! It is a big deal and your attorney needs to know about it.
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Last modified: February 28, 2013