Any debtor being called by a debt collector has the right to advise the debt collector that the debtor wants the collector to “cease and desist all collection efforts”. A federal law called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) says that once a debtor tells a debt collector to stop communicating with the debtor, the collector must stop calling or writing or any attempts to collect on a debt except for filing a lawsuit. This law allows the debtor to sue the collector if collection attempts continue, allowing recovery of actual damages plus $1,000 statutory damages and attorney fees. However, this law only applies to debt collectors; it does not apply to the creditor itself. A debt collector is an entity you do not owe money to but who is trying to collect on a debt you owe to someone else, namely the creditor. So, the creditor itself has the right to continue to call and write even when you ask them nicely to stop.
Once you hire our firm with a minimum retainer of $300, you should then tell anyone who calls to discuss your debt:
- I have hired WM Law to file bankruptcy.
- Here is their phone number.
- They advise me to not talk to you.
- I am going to hang up now, you have a nice day.
Again, while the FDCPA requires debt collectors to stop contacting you once you advise them you have counsel, the creditor themselves are free to continue to call you. Most creditors will call our office to confirm you have actually retained us. Once we do confirm that, most creditors realize the game is up and will stop wasting their time and money trying to collect from you at least for a time.
When clients call me to say the creditor said this or that, I always say it sounds like they did not follow the script. We generally do not want our clients discussing with creditors what Chapter they are going to file or what they intend to do with their house or car. If the creditor presses you, just say look, I am paying my attorney a lot of money, and while I may not yet understand everything that is going on right now, I understand I ought to do what he wants me to do. It is kind of a name, rank and serial number thing.
Keep in mind the automatic stay order that bars anyone from calling you or doing anything else to collect a debt only begins on the day you actually file bankruptcy.