If you see you are starting to fall behind on payments, take some measures on your own that might help. Cut costs and expenses, lock away credit cards, and establish a budget. Should you continue to fall behind, perhaps because of a job loss, divorce, or catastrophe, get objective, professional help to avoid credit problems.
There are several types of bankruptcy, but the important characteristic is all debt collections, garnishments, utility cut-offs, and repossessions must stop by order of the court. However, all items included in the bankruptcy remain on file for seven years, and the bankruptcy itself for 10 years. If you are considering this legal proceeding, get legal advice so you are aware of the complexity and consequences of bankruptcy.