Debt Collection After Bankruptcy
Your bankruptcy discharge prohibits certain creditors from collecting from you personally after your bankruptcy case. So what happens when a creditor contacts you after your discharge? The answer depends on the situation and first involves answering three questions: (1) “Was the debt discharged in bankruptcy?” (2) “Is the collection directed at the discharged debtor?” and (3) Was the creditor notified of the discharge?”
Discharged debts are no longer legally enforceable against the debtor. The discharge injunction is a court order from a federal bankruptcy judge prohibiting creditors from filing lawsuits, sending collection notices, or making collection phone calls. Substantial sanctions may be imposed on a creditor that violates this order. However, some debts are not discharged. It is important to discuss your discharge with your bankruptcy attorney and understand which debts are included in the discharge and which are not. For instance, taxes, student loans, and family support obligations may not be subject to the discharge. In other cases a debt may be excepted from discharge by the court.
Your discharge only protects you from collection efforts. It does not protect a co-debtor who did not also file bankruptcy, and, as a general rule, it does not protect property that is subject to a lien. Therefore, it is important to understand how your property is affected by the bankruptcy discharge and whether a creditor can seize, repossess, or foreclose on the property after your bankruptcy.
As a practical matter, if a collector does not know about your bankruptcy discharge, the bankruptcy court is not likely to impose sanctions against it. Often a collection attempt can be resolved by informing the collector of the discharge and either providing a copy of the discharge or referring the collector to your attorney. Buying and selling debt is big business, and debts often get passed from collector to collector – even uncollectible debts like those discharged in bankruptcy!
Your bankruptcy discharge injunction applies to the original creditor, collection agencies, attorneys, and any other subsequent collector. Don’t let creditor harassment disturb your peace of mind. If the answer to the above three questions is “Yes, Yes, Yes,” the collector has violated the bankruptcy court’s discharge order. Contact your attorney and discuss the best course of action to stop the harassment.
Fears & Nachawati Bankruptcy Law Office