After you file for bankruptcy, creditors are not allowed to contact you regarding any debt you owe; they must deal only with your attorney. The protections allotted by the bankruptcy automatic stay prohibit all collection activity, including legal action, wage garnishment, even contact by phone or mail in an attempt to collect on a debt.
There are a few exceptions. For example, the automatic stay does not stop criminal cases, some child support actions, and certain eviction cases. The automatic stay also does not apply to debts incurred after the bankruptcy case was filed. Here’s how to determine if a creditor violated the automatic stay and what you can do if a creditor continues trying to collect a debt.
The penalties for violating the automatic stay depend on the nature of the violation and whether it was done with deliberate disregard for the bankruptcy filing. You have several options if a creditor continues to pursue a debt in violation of the automatic stay.
Tell the creditor about your bankruptcy. Most debt collectors will stop contacting you if you tell them this. Many times the debt collector is unaware of your case. For example, if a collector garnishes your wages after the bankruptcy case is filed, it must immediately return the money.
Notify the bankruptcy court. If the collection attempts continue, the next step is to notify the bankruptcy court. The court can sanction the collector for violating its automatic stay order.
File a lawsuit. If a debt collector continues to try and collect on the debt, it may not only be violating the automatic stay but also other state and federal laws including, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
Our firm works to hold creditors accountable for violating the protections allotted by the U.S. bankruptcy laws. Recently, our firm’s motion was granted by a Florida judge in a case that held the creditor in contempt of court for violating the automatic stay in a Miami bankruptcy case. The Order directed the creditor to cease and desist all eviction proceedings until further order of the court. The creditor in this case was also required to pay attorneys’ fees for our firm having to bring forth the motion to enforce the automatic stay to protect our client.
If you are dealing with a creditor you think may have violated the automatic stay, contact your attorney immediately. An experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney will know whether the contact was innocent in nature or a willful violation worth pursuing.
If you have any questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.