Illinois residents who have money coming in but owe more than they can pay their creditors, likely have a lot of questions about what options they have for dealing with their creditors. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is certainly an option worth considering, as it can put creditor harassment to an end and offer much-needed financial relief. Here are three tips for dealing with creditor harassment if one is still considering all available debt relief options.

Tip number one is: do not rush to make payments after the first request. When a creditor calls, demanding money, it can be tempting to rush to make a payment. Any payment, no matter how small, is considered debt acknowledgment. Before making any payments, it is okay to step back and consider all debt relief options before responding to a creditor’s demands.

Tip number two is: research the debt. It is amazing how many times creditors get it wrong and contact people for debts that are not even theirs. Before paying a creditor, research the debt. Make sure the creditor claim is valid.

Tip number three is: gain an understanding of consumer rights. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was passed to protect consumers from questionable collection tactics. At the end of the day, creditors have to be civil in their communication, they must be honest and they must give consumers time to challenge the debt. Those who are victims of predatory collection practices may file complaints with the Federal Trade Commission and the attorney general.

If research on the debt proves it is valid and funds are lacking, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing — if approved — may offer the relief one needs. It offers a structured and affordable repayment schedule and allows one to keep his or her property. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can assist Illinois residents who are struggling financially with seeking the economic relief they desire by taking a stand against creditors and pursuing the debt relief options that best fits their situations.