One of the most common questions I have from my bankruptcy clients is when do the collection calls stop after I file bankruptcy. Many of my clients mistakenly believe that the calls will not stop until the bankruptcy court approves their Chapter 13 plan or after they attend the creditors meeting. The true answer is that once the case is filed and the creditors learn of the filing, they have to stop all contact. The legality behind this is the bankruptcy “automatic stay” which prohibits creditors from contacting bankruptcy debtors once they filed. However, they are not in violation of the stay until they learn of the filing either by the court, my office, or even if you provide a case number to them directly.
Procedurally, the United States Bankruptcy Court sends notices of the filing to all your creditors within days of the bankruptcy filing. Your attorney will send Chapter 13 plans to all your creditors usually within 14 days of the filing (usually sooner than 14). I tell all my clients to put a pad beside their phone and tell any creditor that calls them after we file the bankruptcy case number and their attorney phone number. I also ask my clients to write down the name and number of the creditor that called them. I tell my clients that we will give all creditors at least one or two passes if they call after you file. However, if they continue to violate the bankruptcy automatic stay after you file, I will either send a threatening letter to them or file a lawsuit in bankruptcy court if the collection calls continue. In a few cases over the last few years I have had a few rogue creditors that continue collection calls after the bankruptcy filing. In these cases I have usually been successful in getting some monetary damages for my clients. In one particular case, the creditor, after learning of the bankruptcy filing showed up at my client’s house on a Sunday when she was celebrating her birthday with friends a family. I was able to get $5,000 for my client. I do not want you to think that I can get $5,000 for any violation of the bankruptcy stay because most are inadvertent. However, if they continue and the creditor will not stop, I will stand up for my clients to enforce the bankruptcy automatic stay.