Answer: When you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the bankruptcy judge issues something called the "automatic stay." The automatic stay prohibits most creditors from continuing collection actions against you during your bankruptcy case. (To learn more about the automatic stay, including when it does not apply, see Automatic Stay Protection Under Bankruptcy.)
If a creditor continues to try to collect a debt from you, or goes forward with a foreclosure or repossession of your car or other property, the creditor is violating the stay.
Sometimes it takes a few days or more for the court to notify all of your creditors that you have filed for bankruptcy. If a creditor continues collection efforts shortly after your filing, let it know that you have filed for bankruptcy.
If the creditor still won't cease collection activities, you can notify the bankruptcy trustee in your case. If an attorney is representing you in your bankruptcy case, be sure to let your attorney know as well.
If a creditor willfully violates the automatic stay, and you are harmed by continued collection actions, you can seek actual damages from the creditor, including attorneys' fees. In egregious cases, you may be able to get punitive damages as well.