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What is a Consumer Protection Attorney?

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In a Nutshell

A consumer protection attorney may help you protect your rights under one or many consumer protection laws.

Written by Attorney Jonathan Petts.  
Updated December 15, 2020


Even though you owe money to a creditor, that creditor can't do whatever it wants to collect the debt. Consumer protection laws are the statutes and regulations that protect debtors from creditor harassment and dishonest tactics. A consumer protection attorney helps consumers protect their rights under those laws.

There are many different consumer protection laws including:

  • The Fair Debt Reporting Act

  • The Fair Credit Billing Act

  • The Truth in Lending Act

  • The Credit Card Accountability Act

  • The Equal Credit Opportunity Act

  • The Fair Housing Act

  • The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act

  • The Consumer Product Safety Act

  • The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act

  • The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

Several state and federal agencies regulate and oversee consumer protection laws. A consumer protection attorney can explain your legal rights if you believe you've been taken advantage of by a creditor.

Consumer Protection Attorney and Bankruptcy Filings

In some cases, a consumer protection attorney may assist clients in filing for bankruptcy protection. While you can file complaints about violations of consumer protection laws, it could take months or years to settle your claim, and there is no guarantee you will win.

If a creditor is harassing you, you can stop the harassment contacting a consumer protection attorney to file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy case.

When you file for debt relief under Chapter 7, the automatic stay is in effect immediately of your bankruptcy petition. The automatic stay prohibits a creditor from taking any further actions to collect a debt.

Actions that the bankruptcy stay prohibits include:

  • Calling a debtor to collect a debt

  • Sending letters or other correspondence demanding payment

  • Repossessions

  • Foreclosures

  • Debt collection lawsuits

  • Coming to your home or place of business

  • Calling you at work

By filing a bankruptcy petition, you receive the full protection of the bankruptcy court. Creditors can't to anything to collect a debt without first getting permission from the bankruptcy court. A consumer protection attorney can explain in further detail how a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing can protect from creditor harassment and illegal actions by creditors.

The decision to hire a consumer protection attorney or seek bankruptcy relief can be difficult. A consumer protection attorney can provide experienced legal advice about your rights. But, if you don't have the money to hire a consumer protection attorney, you might want to consider filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case without an attorney.

Filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case may not punish creditors for violating your rights, but it can stop creditor harassment and other collection efforts. By stopping collection efforts, you can reduce the stress caused by debt problems and begin your journey on the road to financial freedom.

Do You Know How to Find a Consumer Protection Attorney for Bankruptcy?

A consumer protection attorney may or may not assist clients in filing a bankruptcy case. A consumer protection attorney may only work with clients to file complaints and claims for violations of consumer rights.

Even if you find a consumer protection attorney that handles bankruptcy cases, you may not have enough money to hire the attorney. An experienced consumer protection attorney usually offers a free consultation.

If you can take advantage of a free consultation with a consumer protection attorney to learn about your rights, you might want to do so. You can learn about the services offered by the consumer protection attorney and the fees charged by the consumer protection attorney. If you can afford to hire the consumer protection attorney, that might be your best option.

You might find a consumer protection attorney that offers a no-recovery, no fee option. You must remember that filing a complaint about creditor harassment may not eliminate the debt.

Filing for Bankruptcy Relief Without a Consumer Protection Attorney

Filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case can get rid of unsecured debt. A consumer protection attorney may be able to help you stop creditor harassment, but that doesn't eliminate the debt.

A Chapter 7 case eliminates unsecured debt like medical bills, credit card debts, personal loans, and old utility bills. Debts that are discharged in Chapter 7 can't be collected. Creditors can't take any legal actions to collect a discharged debt.

How do I File a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case?

The first step in filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case is to determine if you meet the income qualifications for a Chapter 7 case. Your income must be below the median income for households in your state. If your income is above the median income, your disposable income must be below a certain amount. Once you pass the Chapter 7 means test, you need to complete a credit counseling course and complete your bankruptcy forms. The bankruptcy forms and the credit counseling course certificate are submitted to the bankruptcy court to open a Chapter 7 case.

After your case is filed, you can complete the financial management or debtor education course. This second bankruptcy course is required to get a bankruptcy discharge. The bankruptcy discharge is the court order that relieves your legal liability for discharged debts. So, it's very important to make sure this gets done.

You'll have to attend a meeting of creditors conducted by the bankruptcy trustee appointed in your case. The bankruptcy court notifies everyone when and where it will take place. This meeting is often the only time the filer has to go to court.

Most Chapter 7 cases can be completed in four to six months after filing the bankruptcy forms. Most Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases are no-asset cases.[1] In a no-asset case, you keep all your property while getting rid of your debts. Most debtors are able to protect their property by using bankruptcy exemptions.

Let's Summarize...

A consumer protection attorney can help you stop creditor harassment and protect your rights. Unfortunately, this often doesn't eliminate the debt that caused the problems in the first place.

If you can't afford to pay for either a consumer protection attorney or a bankruptcy attorney, check out Upsolve's free filing tool. Upsolve is dedicated to empowering people who can't afford to hire a bankruptcy attorney file Chapter 7 bankruptcy without one ("pro se").


Sources:

  1. American Bankruptcy Institute. (2002). Bankruptcy by the Numbers - Chapter 7 Asset Cases. ABI Journal. Retrieved August 4, 2020, from https://www.abi.org/abi-journal/chapter-7-asset-cases

Written By:

Attorney Jonathan Petts

LinkedIn

Jonathan Petts has over 10 years of experience in bankruptcy and is co-founder and Board Chair of Upsolve. Attorney Petts has an LLM in Bankruptcy from St. John's University, clerked for two federal bankruptcy judges, and worked at two top New York City law firms specializing in... read more about Attorney Jonathan Petts

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