Stopping Creditor Harassment During Bankruptcy in New Jersey

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, or have recently filed for bankruptcy, it is likely that you are familiar with many of the tactics used by collection agencies and creditors in an effort to collect on a debt. In fact, stopping creditor harassment during bankruptcy in New Jersey may play a significant role in your decision to file for bankruptcy in the first place.

While creditors and collection agencies are technically limited in the number of calls they may make to anyone debtor each day, as well as the timing of these calls, many of these entities fail to abide by the technical requirements of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  An experienced bankruptcy attorney can help put an end to the harassment.

Rules Governing Creditor Contact in New Jersey

A creditor or collection agency’s ability to contact a debtor via phone or in writing is limited by federal law.  The following laws may be instrumental in stopping creditor harassment during bankruptcy in New Jersey:

  • Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Also known as the FDCPA, this act prescribes specific rules as to how and when a creditor is able to contact a debtor.
  • Bankruptcy’s Automatic Stay. Federal laws create what is known as an automatic stay in a bankruptcy case.  After the debtor has filed for bankruptcy relief, the automatic stay prevents a creditor from contacting the debtor for a period of time following filing.

The automatic stay applies regardless of whether the debtor files for bankruptcy under Chapter 7, Chapter 11 or Chapter 13 and regardless of whether the debtor files as a business or an individual.  It serves both to prevent creditor contact for a period of time after filing for bankruptcy, and to prevent wage garnishments or bank levies during this period.  The automatic stay does not, however, impact the debtor’s child support obligations.

The Role of Bankruptcy Filing in Stopping Creditor Harassment

Once a debtor has filed their formal petition, stopping creditor harassment during bankruptcy in New Jersey theoretically becomes fairly simple.  Legally, once the creditor or collection agency has been informed that a debtor is represented by a bankruptcy attorney, the creditor is no longer legally able to call or write to that debtor.

After the creditor or collection agency is listed in the debtor’s bankruptcy filing, all communications with the creditor or agency regarding the debtor must proceed through the bankruptcy court.  It is the court itself that should provide the creditors and collection agencies with notice of the debtor’s filing, but in some cases, it can be advantageous for the debtor to refer the creditor to his or her bankruptcy attorney at the outset.

An Experienced New Jersey Bankruptcy Attorney Can Help Stop Creditor Harassment

Stopping creditor harassment during bankruptcy in New Jersey can be as simple as asking a bankruptcy attorney to make a phone call or send a letter to the relevant creditor.  Because it often takes time for the bankruptcy court itself to send notice of your bankruptcy filing, retaining a bankruptcy attorney early in the process can help put an end to creditor harassment much sooner.

Contact an experienced bankruptcy attorney as soon as you begin evaluating the value of filing for bankruptcy in order to learn your rights prior to the actual filing.  Having an attorney by your side can help ensure that you understand what to expect at every point during the bankruptcy proceedings.