Dothan Attorneys stopping Debt Collector phone calls in Houston, Dale, Henry, and Coffee County or anywhere in Alabama
There are few more harrowing experiences than being constantly hounded by creditors and bill collectors. People across the nation live in constant fear of checking the mail or answering the phone, due to the ceaseless deluge of letters and calls threatening repossession, legal action, and even physical harm in extreme situations. Sometimes the inability to pay one’s bills can result from circumstances beyond the control of the debtor, and this sort of hounding has been known to produce feelings of low self-worth, paranoia, and false guilt among many Americans. One of the biggest protections debtors gain under either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 is the automatic stay, which outlaws any action to collect while a bankruptcy proceeding is pending. The phrase “any action to collect” has been interpreted broadly by the courts to encompass not only aggressive actions such as threatening foreclosure, repossession, or lawsuits, but also lesser measures such as calling or sending letters in regard to an outstanding debt. Under the automatic stay, a creditor may dream of collecting a debt, but not much else.
If a creditor continues to pursue a debt after a bankruptcy filing, and thus violates the automatic stay, the consequences are severe. If the violation of the stay is found to have been an innocent mistake, such as a computer-generated “Dunning letter” that is sent out the day after the filing, then usually the offending creditor faces little more than a warning that such action is prohibited. However, if the violation is found to have been “willful,” the bankruptcy code authorizes a cause of action by the debtor against the offending creditor for both actual damages (including costs and attorney’s fees) as well as punitive damages. In other words, once you file for bankruptcy protection, if a creditor continues to attempt to collect its debt, federal law authorizes you to sue that creditor for compensatory and punitive damages. Indeed, the protections of the bankruptcy code have teeth – and the creditors know it.
If you are behind on your bills and want to stop the harassment of debt collection agencies, call the Dothan bankruptcy attorneys at Parkman & White today at 334-792-1900 or email us for a free consultation.