Of course the best way to stop creditor’s harassment is to file bankruptcy and stay within the bankruptcy protection. After all, it is a federal right and nothing to be embarrassed about it. This would bring a mandatory and over-encompassing automatic stay. Of course every bankruptcy includes an inherent automatic stay.
The Federal Trade Commission has a nice “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ) detailing what creditors can and cannot do. A link to this website is included here. This gives you a broad scenario of what creditors can and cannot do. While this FAQ is useful and informative, it is written broadly and for a very wide audience.
There are some limitations with this FAQ. First, the FAQ itself references “debt collectors” and actions and limitations imposed under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA). Generally, the FDCPA is limited to “debt collectors” and does not apply to creditors collecting their own debts. This is a very important distinction to remember. However, most states have enacted a state law version of the FDCPA and that legislation may apply to creditors collecting their own debts, as in North Carolina.
Most importantly, as set forth in the FAQ, you have the right to write to the creditor and tell them to leave you alone. The FAQ further advises to mail the letter by certified mail, return receipt requested so that you can document that your letter was actually received by the creditor/collection agency (they will lie and say that they never received it). When writing your creditor or the collection agency, avoid language that acknowledges the debt–write in generalities about stopping all contacts. This should stop the collection agency from contacting you.
By doing this, you can gain yourself some breathing room while you get your money together to file bankruptcy. Also, if the collection agency or creditor continues to hassle you, you may have a claim against the creditor that you can then assert in your bankruptcy case. How great would it be to have the debt discharged in bankruptcy yet the collection agency pay you some money because they violated the FDCPA.