Collection After Bankruptcy
You filed a bankruptcy case, attended your “meeting of creditors,” took your credit counseling classes, and received your discharge of debts. After struggling under a mountain of debt you now have the “fresh start” (called a discharge of debts) that was promised to you by a bankruptcy lawyer and the bankruptcy court system.
Except now you're receiving collection letters (or phone calls, or emails), or maybe someone is reporting an account as past due to your credit. Maybe your old creditors have passed the bill off to a debt collector, who's now trying to collect from you. You were told the phone calls and letters would stop – except they haven't. When this happens, many people assume their bankruptcy case didn't work or that their bankruptcy lawyer messed up. The simple truth is some creditors break the bankruptcy laws. Breaking the law is illegal and you can hold your creditors accountable (by suing them) for their conduct. You can schedule a free consultation here.
Collection after Filing Bankruptcy?
Can your creditors and their debt collectors engage in collection after you've filed for bankruptcy? The answer is no – absolutely not. Illegal collection attempts after filing for bankruptcy are a common occurrence. But just because they happen does not make them legal; those creditors and debt collectors are violating federal laws and court orders.
The “Automatic Stay” – after you file
As soon as you file for bankruptcy relief a specific law kicks into place to protect you. It's found in the United States Bankruptcy Code (called “the code” by many lawyers) in section 362. It states that once you've filed for bankruptcy all your creditors must cease collection attempts. This means no letters, continuing collection lawsuits, wage garnishments (except for things like child support), calls, emails, texts, or any other collection attempts. The “automatic stay” is described as a brick wall that instantly surrounds you from your creditors – a wall that means they must leave you alone.
Your creditors (and their debt collection agents) can be held liable for violating the automatic stay and continuing to collect from you during your bankruptcy case. The law protects you from this harassment and those violators should be held responsible. Our office regularly sues creditors and debt collectors for violating the automatic stay.
The “Discharge Order” – after your bankruptcy is over
When you successfully complete your bankruptcy case the judge signs something referred to as your “discharge order.” This document is a literal court order sent to your creditors, instructing them to never collect on your discharged debts. While your bankruptcy lawyer probably explained to you that some debts are not discharged (student loans, child support, back taxes), all the rest of your debts are barred from future collection attempts.
If your former creditors or debt collectors bother you after your bankruptcy is completed, they are violating that court order prohibiting them from collecting from you. We also recommend you check your credit after receiving your discharge of debts; your creditors cannot continue to report balances to your credit. A “fresh start” should really be a fresh start, and you are entitled to it. Call for a free consultation if your discharged debts are still attempting to collect from you.
What to Expect during a Free Consultation
During your free consultation we'll go over the following:
- What creditor/debt collector is bothering you
- Details from the filing of your bankruptcy
- What laws are being violated (explaining your rights
- What lawsuits you could bring against the wrongdoer (and what to expect from the case)
During your free consultation we might need some specific information and documents from your bankruptcy case – and we can usually access these documents from the court records during the call. So don't worry if you can't locate a copy of your bankruptcy “discharge order” or some other information from your case. Getting started with a free consultation is always the right decision.
Will this Cost Me Anything?
Our consultations are always free. And we take many cases on a contingency basis – meaning you will not be required to pay a retainer deposit and we are only paid if we win. You earned the right to be left alone by your creditors – so make sure they're following the law and leaving you alone. No one should be subjected to illegal harassment for a bill, and certainly not after the federal bankruptcy laws have told your creditors to cease. Stand up for your rights and hold them accountable.
Do All Debts Get Discharged?
As your bankruptcy attorney (and the bankruptcy court) explained to you, not all debts are discharged in a bankruptcy case. Things like back taxes, fines, student loans, and child support are not discharged. If you're unsure if a debt was (or should have been) discharged, our office is happy to review your bankruptcy documents and answer those questions for you.