The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is intended to protect consumers from overreaching debt collection practices, such as abuse, deception and late-night phone calls. This act, however, does not stop lenders and collectors from finding loopholes and new ways to harass debtors. Many creditors and collectors blatantly violate its provisions.
Anyone being harassed by collectors should know their rights. According to the law, bill collectors must:
- Identify themselves as such, provide their names, and not pretend to be someone else.
- Not call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
- Not call you at work, provided that you have notified them that your employer does not approve of bill collectors contacting you there.
- Not threaten to put you in jail.
Knowing your rights is important, but it may not be enough to prevent the worst consequences of aggressive debt collection tactics. Harassment by creditors can take a greater toll on you than you may imagine. Creditor calls can become worrisome as well as bothersome. The creditor may continually call you at home and may even try to contact you at work. Once your debts get out of control, creditors are likely to put more pressure on you through threats of lawsuits, talk about arrest warrants and even face-to-face confrontations.
In addition, the protections of the law are not unlimited. The FDCPA applies only to personal and family and household debts, such as credit card debts and car loans and charge accounts. It does not apply to business debts, and it does not give you the right to avoid your debts. You will still owe your debts unless you do something that not only stops harassment but eliminates what you owe.
The experienced and compassionate Ohio bankruptcy lawyer at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer can advise you on how to take action promptly to stop creditor harassment altogether. We offer a free consultation, so talk to a bankruptcy attorney as soon as possible, before creditor harassment gets worse and creditors target you with:
Know Your Options
There are several ways to permanently stop harassment and threats of lawsuits by collectors — paying what you owe, working out a debt settlement or consolidation plan, or filing for bankruptcy. If you can’t pay what you owe, consider the following:
This involves negotiating debts with your creditors and agreeing to a reduced payment over a period of time, usually 36 months, that eliminate your debt. Creditors will often accept less if they think it is more than what they would get if you filed for bankruptcy. A debt settlement attorney is your best bet for negotiating with creditors.
Debt consolidation involves taking out a new loan with lower interest and a longer payoff period to pay off several older debts. A debt consolidation service becomes the middleman between you and your creditors and negotiates and handles making reduced payments. You can consolidate debt through a secured loan (usually secured by equity in your home) or an unsecured loan, where the consolidator simply lends you the money.
Bankruptcy Can Stop Lawsuits
If you file for bankruptcy in Ohio, there is an automatic stay provision which goes into effect that prohibits most creditors from collection activity. While some types of debts cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, others will be eliminated completely or restructured so that you can afford to pay them. You may be able to wind up keeping your home, your car, and most if not all of your possessions, and you can begin to rebuild your life.
The most common types of bankruptcy are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13, and creditors are handled differently in each case.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows you to discharge many types of debt quickly, often in a matter of months. It stops, prevents or resolves collections, loan deficiencies, repossessions, wage garnishment and civil judgments. While you might have to sell property to help pay off creditors, there are many Ohio bankruptcy exemptions, so if you do not own much property, your possessions may be all be exempt, qualifying you for a “no asset” case.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to reorganize assets and consolidate your payments and repay some or all of your debt affordably over a three- to five-year period. If you complete your court-approved repayment plan, you will receive a discharge that eliminates most of your remaining debts. To file Chapter 13 bankruptcy you must have a regular source of income and enough disposable income to meet your Chapter 13 payment plan.
Be aware that there are some debts that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. You must still repay these debts after a Chapter 7 discharge or pay them in a Chapter 13 plan. A consultation with a debt-relief attorney will help you decide which option is best for you.
Contact Us For Help and Information
The seasoned Ohio debt-relief attorneys at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer can help you even if you have received threats of a lawsuit or even if a civil lawsuit, wage garnishment or car repossession is already pending against you. We will examine your individual financial situation and your debts to determine which debt-relief options are best for you. If bankruptcy is the answer, we will make sure it is done correctly, so you can stop collections and lawsuits and regain your peace of mind.