What can creditors do while I am in the middle of bankruptcy? 32 Answers as of July 08, 2013

About 2 months ago I found an attorney that would let me make affordable payments for an eventual chapter 7. He advised me to stop paying my credit card bills and said to tell anybody who calls me about it to call him. I'm just curious as to what exactly can creditors/collectors do to me while I'm in the middle of paying for bankruptcy?

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Mercado & Hartung, PLLC
Mercado & Hartung, PLLC | Christopher J. Mercado
They shouldn't contact you if you tell them not to. Moreover, they shouldn't if you are represented by counsel. Next time they call, have them contact your attorney and give them your attorneys information.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 1/17/2012
Law Office of Asaph Abrams
Law Office of Asaph Abrams | Asaph Abrams
Preparing to file a bankruptcy does not have legal effect. Filing it does.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 12/30/2011
Bird & VanDyke, Inc.
Bird & VanDyke, Inc. | David VanDyke
Your creditors can still do all the mean and nasty things they could do before you retained an attorney. However, if the creditors are able to contact your attorney and determine that you are in fact in the process of filing it may keep them somewhat at bay until you can actually file your case.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 12/29/2011
Guardian Law Group PLLC
Guardian Law Group PLLC | C. David Hester
They can still move forward with any litigation or other actions until the date that you actually file the petition.
Answer Applies to: Utah
Replied: 12/28/2011
Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney
Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney | Janet Lawson
They can sue you, garnish wages and levy bank accounts if (and only if) they have a judgement against you. Plus they can still keep calling. Your lawyer should be answering these questions for you. It does not matter that you have not paid him in full yet.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 12/28/2011
    Bankruptcy Law Center
    Bankruptcy Law Center | Bill Zurinskas
    Until you actually file your bankruptcy, your creditors can still bring a lawsuit against you for any delinquent debt. You should notify your creditors in writing (Keep a signed and dated copy) , especially collection agencies and attorneys, of your intent to file bankruptcy and to contact your bankruptcy attorney, who is representiing you on all collection matters. Your bankruptcy attorney (for an additional fee) can also send a letter of representation.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 12/28/2011
    Law Office Of Magnolia Zarraga
    Law Office Of Magnolia Zarraga | Magnolia Zarraga
    If you have retained an attorney, these are questions you should be asking of him. That is what you are paying for. However generally speaking, creditors can continue to attempt to collect from you until your case is filed with the court. This means creditors can continue to call you, send you collection letters and sue you. Until your case is filed, you have no bankruptcy protection. However, some creditors will back off from calling you if they know you've already retained an attorney to file bankruptcy. But by law they have a right to continue to attempt to collect until your case is filed. If you have an attorney, make a consultation with them, as you obviously are having some unanswered questions about your case. If you don't have an attorney, go schedule a free consultation with a local and experienced bankruptcy attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/28/2011
    The Law Office of Darren Aronow, PC
    The Law Office of Darren Aronow, PC | Darren Aronow
    If you have not filed a bankruptcy, then the creditors can do all the same things they could do before you started paying for it. They only stop collection efforts when you file and you are protected by the "automatic stay" of the bankruptcy filing. So they can still sue you, get a judgment against you, put a lien on your property, garnish your salary and freeze your bank accounts. However, all of these are done through the court system and can not happen overnight, but if you take too long in getting it filed, they will continue to collect.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 12/28/2011
    Heupel Law
    Heupel Law | Kevin Heupel
    Creditors can still pursue collection of the debts while you are waiting to file bankruptcy. Most will wait to see if you truly file, but if it takes too long, then creditors will become more aggressive by suing you.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    You are not in bankruptcy at all. They can sue you, garnishee you, etc. Until you actually pay for the case and file, you have no protection at all.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Bankruptcy Law office of Bill Rubendall
    Bankruptcy Law office of Bill Rubendall | William M. Rubendall
    Prior to actually filing a bankruptcy, creditors can pursue all legal means of collection, including wage attachment, levy or suing you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Diefer Law Group, P.C.
    Diefer Law Group, P.C. | Abel Fernandez
    Until the case is filed, creditors can still seek legal action against you. Now, most will not once they confirm that you have an attorney. Thus, when they call you give them your attorneys name and they will call him or her to confirm that you are filing. Nevertheless, legally, until you file the case a creditor can still sue you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Colorado Legal Solutions
    Colorado Legal Solutions | Stephen Harkess
    Your creditors sue you, obtain a judgment, and garnish your wages or bank accounts. The only thing they cannot do is to continue to call you after you tell them you have an attorney. They will still sue you and move forward with collection unless you actually get your case filed with the court.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Ryan Legal Services, Inc.
    Ryan Legal Services, Inc. | Kevin Ryan
    Creditors can take any legal action available to them to collect the debt, including bank attachment (after they obtain a judgment against you in a court of law), or a wage garnishment (again, only after obtaining a legal judgment). Nothing is stopped with respect to your creditors until you file a bankruptcy case, because the Court issues an automatic stay order once you file the case (See, 11 United States Code, Section 362). Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 3rd party debt collectors, including attorneys, are not permitted to call you once you send a letter to them disputing the debt AND directing them NOT to call you. Sending these letters to the most annoying creditors until you have fully paid your lawyer should serve to alleviate some of the stress you are experiencing from 100 phone calls a day as is the usual occurrence for people in your situation.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    J.M. Cook, P.A. | J.M. Cook
    Until you file bankruptcy, the creditors can pursue all collection matters.
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Benson Law Firm
    Benson Law Firm | David Benson
    Creditors are not prohibited from continuing their normal collection procedures while you are preparing the file. However, many do not want to waste time and money collecting if the debt is likely to end up in bankruptcy court.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Ross Smith, Attorney at Law
    Ross Smith, Attorney at Law | Charles Ross Smith III
    Permit me to correct you gently. You are not in "the middle of a bankruptcy." You are at the beginning. Your case does not appear to be filed yet, not should it be. If your attorney were to file it now, while they are a creeditor of yours, then the attorney would be discharging their own debt. Not a workable business plan. Instead, the attorney is taking payments on his fee. And you are advising your creditors that you are in the process of hiring a bankruptcy attorney to file bankruptcy. Read your fee agreement carefully. Your creditors know that the bankruptcy is inevitable, because you have stopped paying them. This is the usual advice that attorneys give to clients preparing to file bankruptcy. When you are paid in full, your attorney will actually file your bankruptcy petition. They are always filed electronically. You will imediately be assigned a case number and you will also be told when to report for the First meeting of Creditors. (Your creditors will mostly not bother to come. You are broke, remember.) You must attend the Fiirst Meeting. It's really easy. Your creditors will each be electronically notified of your bankruptcy about 20 seconds after you file. That is when the magic occurs. The Court actually issues an order to each creditor and tells them all to, as I say, to, "Sit down. Shut up and take a number." This order forbids all creditors from contacting you. But, until you are actually filed, you do NOT have the protection of the Court's order. Creditors are free to sue and garnish and repossess. It just isn't wise for a creditor to waste money doing these things, because the bankruptcy stops them in their tracks, and they may even have to give attached wages back. So be careful. You are NOT uder the Court's protection until your attorney gives you your case number. Do keep telling your creditors that you are filing bankruptcy.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Ellahie & Farooqui LLP
    Ellahie & Farooqui LLP | Javed Ellahie
    Once you advise the creditors that they should contact an attorney they are required to stop calling you and to contact your attorney. You may want to follow up with a letter that says that. If they continue contacting you, you may have grounds to sue them for violation of the Federal and/or California Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Creditors, however, can commence a lawsuit on the debt and sue you. If this happens you should contact your attorney you will need to get the bankruptcy on file to prevent the creditor from obtaining a judgment and then attaching your assets, garnishing your wages etc.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Carballo Law Offices
    Carballo Law Offices | Tony E. Carballo
    The fact that you are planning to file a bankruptcy case makes no difference except that they are no supposed to contact you to collect while represented. They can sue you and take whatever action is available to collect the judgment such as garnishing your wages and putting liens on your property. You need to file as soon as possible if you need bankruptcy protection.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Judith A. Runyon, Esq. Attorney at Law
    Judith A. Runyon, Esq. Attorney at Law | Judith A. Runyon
    The same thing they could always do if you were not in bankruptcy.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/2/2013
    Sanders Law, P.A. | Andre Keith Sanders
    The creditors can still pursue you for unpaid debts until you actually file the bankruptcy case. They just can't contact you directly since you are now represented.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Law Offices of Michael B. Fisher | Michael Fisher
    Those creditors can do anything they can ordinarily do to try and collect against you as you have not filed for bankruptcy and therefore do not have the protection of the automatic stay imposed by 11 USC 362. However, under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, creditors who are advised that you are represented by counsel and would prefer that communication be directed to counsel must adhere to your request or face the potential of liability under the FDCPA.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Engberg Law Office
    Engberg Law Office | Harry A. Engberg
    It is common to tell new clients to stop paying the credit card and medical bills, so you can pay your attorney. Part of this is based on the bankruptcy rule that the trustee can go back 90 days from the bankruptcy date and force any unsecured creditor to return an received payments over $599.99. Use this money to pay a attorney instead of a creditor that is going to lose the money anyway. The problem is that the creditors can start or continue collection action until the bankruptcy is filed. Most creditors will not if they know that a bankruptcy will be filed. This makes economic sense for the creditors, but there is no rule that forces them to stop. So this procedure of stopping payments to creditors is a safe step only for a limited time.
    Answer Applies to: South Dakota
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn | Paul Zahn
    Until such time as you file for bankruptcy, you have no protection from creditors. The creditors can sue you, seek a judgment, and enforce the judgment by garnishment, lien, and levy (among other options). Generally, you will stop paying credit cards for two reasons: to save up for paying your attorney, and second, because you are going to discharge that debt anyway, so it is sending good money after bad. I don't know what your payment plan with your attorney is, but I would suggest filing sooner rather than later to avoid creditor enforcement actions against you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Canty Law Firm
    Canty Law Firm | Timothy Canty
    Why don't you ask the lawyer you are paying?
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 7/8/2013
    Law Offices of Joseph A. Mannis
    Law Offices of Joseph A. Mannis | Todd Mannis
    You're not in the middle of a bankruptcy. You're in the middle of paying for a bankruptcy that has not yet been filed. Therefore, you are not under the protection of the bankruptcy laws. The attorney can certainly take creditor calls and stall them, but if tvd creditor says enough is enough, they can sue you. Moral of the story? Get your attorney paid ASAP so he can actually FILE your case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    The Schreiber Law Firm
    The Schreiber Law Firm | Jeffrey D. Schreiber
    If it is a collection agency, if you tell them not to contact you again and give them the attorney as the person to contact, they cannot by law contact you again if the attorney takes their call or responds to their letters. They can sue, but most collection agencies will not if the attorney verified that they have been retained to file bankruptcy as the collection agency would be wasting attorney's fee and filing and service costs to sue you and then have the entire debt discharged by the bankruptcy.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    The Barger Law Firm
    The Barger Law Firm | Jason W. Barger
    Until you file for bankruptcy, you do not have the protection of the bankruptcy laws and your creditors can take any lawful action to collect on the debts. This may include demands for payment and the filing of a civil debt collection suit. Under the federal debt collection laws, however, if you are represented by an attorney, the debt collection may not contact you directly, but must communicate through the attorney. If a lawsuit is filed, you need to let your attorney know. Typically you can prolong the conclusion of the suit in order to get the bankruptcy filed. Once the bankruptcy petition is filed, the lawsuit will be dismissed.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    THOMAS G. GILL, P.A. | Thomas G Gill
    Creditors may continue to attempt to collect valid debts until you file. However, most creditors will cease the calls once they verify that you have retained a bankruptcy attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Law Office of Lynnmarie A. Johnson
    Law Office of Lynnmarie A. Johnson | Lynnmarie Johnson
    If you haven't filed yet, they could get a judgment against you and garnish your wages. Usually they don't when the attorney tells them that you are in the process of filing, but if they go a month or so and don't see anything happening, they may decide to make a move.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Lewis Adams and Associates
    Lewis Adams and Associates | Lewis P. Adams
    Until you actually file the petition for Chapter 7 with the bankruptcy court, creditors can continue to collect, file lawsuits, garnish, etc. Often if an attorney has indicated that they will be representing you, creditors will give you a little space to get the petiiton filed.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 12/27/2011
    Mazyar Hedayat and Associates
    Mazyar Hedayat and Associates | Mazyar Malek Hedayat
    Creitors cannot take action against you once you've filed your babkruptcy. But being in mid-payment to your lawyer is not the same thing. You must have filed and have a case number to get the protection of the Autimatic Stay.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 12/27/2011
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