Filing bankruptcy can help Ohio consumers halt creditor harassment

Filing bankruptcy can put a stop to various creditor or debt collector actions, including illegal practices such as harassment.

As many people in Cincinnati know firsthand, dealing with outstanding debt can be frustrating, stressful and emotionally draining. Unfortunately, in addition to facing these challenges, many indebted consumers find themselves dealing with inappropriate practices on the part of creditors. Many of these unfair debt collection practices are illegal, yet this does not always protect consumers.

Legal consumer protections

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits debt collectors from engaging in various practices. Debt collectors can only call consumers between 8 and 9 p.m. They cannot contact consumers at work unless the consumer's employer permits this. Additionally, if a consumer asks a debt collector to cease contact, the debt collector must honor that request, except when giving notice of specific information.

Debt collectors are also prohibited from engaging in deceptive or abusive tactics. These practices include:

  • Using profane language
  • Threatening violence, imprisonment or public disclosure of the debt
  • Calling repeatedly to harass or annoy consumers
  • Misrepresenting the debt or its status
  • Misleading consumers about personal identity or affiliation

In Ohio, consumers are also protected under the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act. The Act outlaws deceptive tactics and unfair business practices.

Unfortunately, some creditors or debt collectors may violate both of these laws. When this occurs, there are various actions that consumers can take to stop unwanted contact or harassment. One often-overlooked option is filing bankruptcy. Filing bankruptcy can stop creditor actions, including harassment, while also addressing the underlying cause of these actions.

The automatic stay

When consumers file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, an automatic stay goes into effect. This stay halts most creditor actions, including lawsuits, foreclosure, wage garnishment, repossession and personal contact. This stay remains effective until the end of the bankruptcy proceedings. Creditors or debt collectors that willingly violate the automatic stay may face sanctions from the bankruptcy court.

Debt collectors have the right to petition a bankruptcy court to lift an automatic stay. The court may grant this request in cases that involve certain types of debt. Consequently, filing bankruptcy does not guarantee protection against all actions on the part of creditors or debt collectors. However, in many cases, it can be an effective way to stop harassment and similar unfair tactics.

Bankruptcy as a solution

Filing bankruptcy is not a decision that consumers should make lightly. However, it is an option worth considering for people who are facing creditor harassment or other actions, such as foreclosure or lawsuits. Filing bankruptcy can give a person time and leeway to regain control over any outstanding debt. Bankruptcy can also provide an opportunity for a new financial start.

Anyone who is struggling with debt should consider meeting with a bankruptcy attorney to better understand this option. An attorney can provide advice on the potential benefits or drawbacks of filing bankruptcy, given a consumer's unique situation.

Keywords: bankruptcy, creditor, harassment, debt collection