When a bankruptcy case is filed the creditors are instantly stopped from taking, or continuing to take, any action against you. This is called the automatic stay. It is one of the most important elements of a bankruptcy case.
After filing, the automatic stay state prevents creditors from calling you, attempting to collect their debts, sending you letters or other correspondence to collect the debts, filing a lawsuit against you, or continuing a lawsuit that has already been filed. Also, creditors can not start or continue a foreclosure proceeding. They are also stopped from filing any kind of garnishment against your paycheck and they cannot touch your bank account.
You can see how powerful this is! Because creditors can be punished if they violate the automatic stay, they are generally inclined to obey the law and take no action against you in violation of the automatic stay.
Remember, however, that the stay only arises upon the filing of the case. Sometimes people get confused and think that by hiring a bankruptcy attorney they are immediately protected. This is not true. In our office we take creditor calls and correspondence from creditors just as soon as we are hired. But we also make sure that we remind our clients that the bankruptcy stay is created only upon the filing of the case. Therefore, although most of the time the creditor harassment stops once the creditor is notified to call our office to verify that we represent you, there is no official protection until your case is actually filed with the court.