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What you can do about automatic stay violations

One of the major benefits to filing bankruptcy is the automatic stay, which pauses creditor harassment and other actions while you manage your financial situation with the court.

When you file bankruptcy in Missouri, the court will send a notice to the creditors you list on your application. This will instruct them to abide by certain rules until the judge decides how to proceed. Despite the automatic stay, however, some debt collectors might continue to harass you.

In some cases, this violation might be an honest mistake. Perhaps the notice never arrived or the information wasn’t passed along to them yet. You can inform them that you are under the protection of an automatic stay, but they might ask for proof. While you don’t have an obligation (unofficial notice is enough), you can then provide your attorney’s contact information or your case number and the court handling your bankruptcy.

It’s not impossible that the debt collector intentionally broke the automatic stay. A creditor might do this expecting that you won’t know your rights. They could try to repossess your car or evict you from your home, but this is illegal if your automatic stay is still active.

You should contact your bankruptcy attorney immediately when a creditor consistently violates your rights. The judge could have granted them permission for certain actions. It’s also likely, however, that you may need to alert the court that the creditor refuses to follow the law.

If a judge finds that the creditor should have known about these limitations, they will also choose the appropriate penalty. Often, this can include compensation for lost property or other hardships they caused.

While bankruptcy and debt can be a stressful experience, the automatic stay provides a breath of relief. Knowing your rights can protect you from dishonest debt collecting tactics.

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