When you file for bankruptcy, unless you have had one or more prior cases pending and dismissed within the past year, an automatic stay goes into effect immediately upon filing that prevents most creditors from continuing collection activities while the case is pending. They cannot proceed with foreclosure, repossession, wage garnishment or lawsuits, and they are not allowed to contact you by phone, email or mail. The automatic stay does not stop criminal proceedings, child support actions, IRS audits or payroll deductions for retirement loans, however.
In order to resume collection efforts while the bankruptcy case is pending, a creditor must obtain bankruptcy court permission by seeking an order lifting the stay. Creditors who violate the automatic stay may be subject to sanctions by the court. If a creditor keeps contacting you while your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 case is pending or refuses to stop other prohibited collection activities, an experienced Morris County bankruptcy attorney can protect your legal rights.
In most cases, if you have had one or more prior bankruptcies pending and dismissed within the past year, the automatic stay will be limited to 30 days or not take effect at all. You will have to file a motion to extend or impose the stay and demonstrate to the bankruptcy court that the current case was filed in good faith. Without the automatic stay, creditors are free to continue collection actions against you. A qualified Morris County bankruptcy lawyer can help you take all necessary steps to ensure your property is protected throughout the entire bankruptcy process.
If you have automatic stay protection and a creditor continues with attempts to collect a debt — e.g., calling you, sending you threatening letters, initiating foreclosure proceedings, filing a lawsuit, etc. — make sure the creditor has the following information:
- Bankruptcy case number
- Date filed
- District filed in
- Chapter filed
- Your attorney’s name and contact information
If the creditor persists, and you do not have an attorney, you should notify the bankruptcy court about the situation. If you have an attorney, you should provide your attorney with the following information:
- Creditor name and phone number
- Specific contact person (if known)
- Dates/times of phone calls
- Copies of letters/emails you have received
- If/when you provided the creditor with your bankruptcy case information
Your attorney can then take appropriate actions to stop the harassment, including filing a motion with the bankruptcy court if necessary. If you do not have an attorney, you should consult a Morris County Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney or Morris County Chapter 13 bankruptcy lawyer today for assistance with this and other bankruptcy matters.