It can be challenging paying for daily living expenses in addition to paying your monthly bills during these difficult economic times. If you are among those who have fallen behind on your payments and are now receiving harassing calls from creditors, my office is here to help. I can advise you of your rights and options under state and federal laws so you can move forward in eliminating or reorganizing your debt. As an award-winning Chicago bankruptcy lawyer who has served clients throughout northern Illinois, including Cook, Lake, DuPage, Kane, and Will counties, I can help you put an end to your creditor harassment problems and help you navigate your journey to debt freedom.
Will my creditors negotiate?
Most creditors will agree to a debt solution for you. However, creditors are often greedy and are not particularly concerned about your long-term financial well-being. Usually, your debt can be drastically reduced by negotiating with your creditors. However, if your creditors are unwilling to compromise, you can move forward with your life by filing a Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy and eliminating or reorganizing your dischargeable debts - giving you a fresh start and the required breathing room to get your financial affairs in order.
How Bankruptcy Protects You Against Creditor Harassment
Credit harassment occurs when debt collection companies and credit card agencies attempt to intimidate or harass customers to get them to pay off their outstanding debt. With the assistance of an experienced Chicago bankruptcy attorney, you can fight your creditors. While debt collection efforts are regulated under the Illinois Collection Agency Act (225 ILCS 425/4-9) and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) under federal law, some of these dishonest companies often act as if they were above the law, contacting consumers at all hours and engaging in conduct meant to threaten and intimidate them into paying. Do not allow these collection companies to scare you because you have rights that will enable you to sue these collectors if they intimidate or harass you.
Under the US Bankruptcy Code, an automatic stay goes into effect once your bankruptcy petition is filed. That means that all collection activities must stop. Your creditors are prevented from calling you or initiating any legal proceedings outside the bankruptcy court. The automatic prevents your creditors from taking the following actions:
-Contacting you by phone, letter, or email regarding your outstanding debt;
-Repossessing property from your home, work, or school;
-Initiating foreclosure or other collections proceedings;
- Threatening you with wage garnishment through your employer;
- Obtaining or enforcing a judgment against you in Court.
The automatic stay is immensely powerful because it essentially stops your creditors in their tracks and gives you the power to erase or organize your debts depending on your economic circumstances. Without the automatic stay, your creditors would be free to call you, sue you, get judgments against you, attach your property, and garnish your wages. If your creditors violate the automatic stay, they can be sued for damages and sanctioned by the Court. Also, anything done by your creditors in violation of the automatic has no legal effect whatsoever. If they have taken any money or property, they must return it. The power of the automatic stay is not to be taken lightly; it allows you to exercise your federal rights in dealing with your creditors on your terms.
For over 25 years, as a bankruptcy lawyer, I have helped hundreds of my clients and their families get back on track with their finances. I have represented clients throughout Northern Illinois - including Cook, Lake, DuPage, Will, and Kane counties. It is a great feeling to be free again by being debt-free. The days of worrying about harassing and annoying collectors will be long gone. The past is the past; it is time to look forward to a bright financial future.
How Long Does the Automatic Stay In Effect?
The automatic stay will be in effect until your bankruptcy is finished. While there are circumstances in which creditors may request the Court to lift the automatic stay, the actual amount of time the automatic in effect usually depends on the type of bankruptcy you file:
- Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is often referred to by non-lawyers as liquidation because debtors seek a fresh start and a new financial beginning while keeping almost all their personal belongings. The goal with this type of bankruptcy is to erase your dischargeable debts, such as credit cards while giving you the option to keep your car and home if you have little equity and can continue making the monthly payments. These cases tend to resolve in a matter of months, and once the debt is discharged or eliminated, the automatic stay ends. After the Chapter 7 finishes within a few months after the filing, you will be free from your old debt, and you can open new lines of credit as your credit score will improve after completion of your Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
- Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is generally known as a reorganization. In this type of bankruptcy, the aim is to keep your property, including your car and home, while eliminating or drastically reducing unsecured debts. A repayment plan approved by the bankruptcy court can last up to 60 months. In most cases, the Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment plan lasts less than a year because creditors do not file claims or the correct paperwork with the Court, so they do not get paid. During the repayment period, the automatic stay stays in effect, preventing your creditors from taking any action outside of your bankruptcy. After Chapter 13 is over, you will be in a much better financial position. You will be able to move on with your life on a personal level and economic level. Upon completing your repayment plan, your credit will have improved, and you will be able to have access to credit once again.
Getting help from Creditor Harassment
If you are facing harassing calls and threats from creditors over your past-due debts, take the first step in getting relief and contact me at 312-229-5500 or online. As an experienced Chicago area bankruptcy attorney, I can advise you on the actions you need to take to protect yourself. You need the proper guidance and knowledge if you want to get your financial situation back on the right track. I have served hundreds of individuals and families in Chicago, Cook, Lake, DuPage, Will, Kane, and McHenry Counties, and the surrounding Chicago areas for over 25 years.