I am unable to afford to file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, but hope to do so soon. In the meantime, how do I handle all the creditors calling and the letters? Do I answer them?
About 1.5 million American households file for bankruptcy every year. For more information on bankruptcy, read the Federal Trade Commission’s documents Before You File for Personal Bankruptcy, and Information About Credit Counseling and Debtor Education. For self-help tips, please visit the Bills.com Debt DIY page. I also encourage you to visit the Bills.com bankruptcy page. If you cannot afford bankruptcy, see the Bills.com resource Bankruptcy Alternatives.
Not answering the telephone will not deter collection agents. You must inform the original creditor or collection agent calling you about your present situation and make it clear you are in no position to make payments on your debt at this time. If you plan to file for bankruptcy, you have the option to state that, although do not expect that statement to stem the tide. Collection agents are unrelenting: Make it clear you are aware of your rights or they will continue to call or harass you.
Congress enacted federal legislation that regulates debt collectors, which includes collection attorneys, and protects the rights of debtors. This law, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA ), requires that debt collectors and attorneys stop calling you at home and at work once you ask them to stop. The law specifies your request must be in writing. Therefore, tell them to stop calling you at home and at work the next time they call, but follow-up your phone conversation with a USPS Certified Letter, return receipt requested. Shown below is a sample letter template.
|Sample Do Not Contact Letter Template|
Collection Agency's Name
Subject: Debt Collection Against [Your Name] Creditor Name: [Creditor] Account No. [Number]
Dear Account Representative,
I am writing pursuant to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 USC 1692c(c), to request to request that you cease all communication to me about my account [number ________] with [creditor].
[If you wish, explain your circumstances. For example, "I was recently laid off from my job, and I do not presently have any resources with which to pay off this debt. Once I have again secured employment, I intend to resume payment on the debt."]
[If there have been any violations of the FDCPA, you may wish to describe them. For example, "Please note that in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, one of your agents contacted me last night at 9:30 PM. Should your agency contact me at any time in the future, please be sure that your contact is made in full compliance with the FDCPA."]
Enclosures: (If any, list what you are enclosing, otherwise, do not include this line.)
Sending this type of notice does not resolve the debt. The creditor may file a lawsuit against you in order to collect the debt, even if you prohibit further contact by the collection agency. In most states, the FDCPA does not apply to original creditors, like a credit card company, but applies to debt collection agencies and attorneys collecting debt. However, in some states the FDCPA does apply to original creditors.
I hope the information provided helps you Find. Learn. Save.