When a person doesn’t earn enough money to cover his or her expenses, life can be stressful enough. Unfortunately, this financial stress can become overwhelming when one or more of an individual’s creditors threaten to take legal action to collect money from a debtor.
For example, credit card companies and medical providers often bring civil lawsuits against debtors who do not pay their bills. Once a creditor obtains a judgment against a debtor, the creditor can begin garnishing the debtor’s wages or seizing money the debtor has in his or her bank accounts. This can have serious negative consequences for some debtors, who may not be able to afford to put food on the table or pay their monthly rent if all of the money in their bank account is suddenly seized.
Fortunately, bankruptcy can offer relief for people who are being threatened with lawsuits, garnishments or bank levies by creditors. Once a person files a bankruptcy petition, an automatic stay goes into effect. The automatic stay prohibits creditors from taking any further action to collect debts from the petitioner for the duration of the bankruptcy proceeding. As a result, creditors must immediately stop from garnishing a person’s wages or seizing his or her bank accounts.
In addition to stopping wage garnishments and bank levies, the automatic stay can benefit debtors in many other ways, such as by delaying evictions or utility shut-offs, stopping repossessions and can even be used to prevent a home foreclosure in certain circumstances. If you have questions about whether the automatic stay could help you, contact a local bankruptcy attorney.