What to Do if a Creditor Tries to Collect on a Discharged Debt
Getting your debts discharged in bankruptcy will come as a relief. At last, the heavy burden of crushing debts has been lifted, and many of our clients report a renewed optimism as they confront the future.
However, we have also heard from clients who have had creditors try to collect on a discharged debt. This can be a stressful situation, so let us walk through what you should do.
Know Your Rights
If a debt was discharged in bankruptcy, then you do not have to pay it. No matter what a creditor or collection agent tells you, a discharged debt is no longer your problem. Too many people get bullied by collection agents and think they must pay back a debt that was taken care of in bankruptcy.
Take out your copy of your bankruptcy paperwork. Did you list the debt on your schedule? If so, it has been discharged by the bankruptcy. If not, contact an attorney to discuss your situation.
Provide Proof of the Discharge, if Necessary
Let’s say you are receiving phone calls or letters from a debt collector telling you that you must pay back a debt. You can provide them with a copy of your discharge order from the court. Usually, this should be sufficient to get the phone calls to stop.
Send the letter certified mail, return receipt requested so you know it was received. This should put an end to the calls. If you don’t know what to say in your letter, you can ask your bankruptcy attorney to help you.
Seek Legal Help if Harassment Continues
Some creditors might not have known you filed for bankruptcy (though they should have been notified by the court). They might also not know if the debt was discharged. These creditors should quickly stop contacting you once you provide proof of discharge.
But some creditors might still harass you. This is completely unacceptable. In fact, according to the Bankruptcy Code, a discharge is an injunction against any legal action to collect on the debt. If the creditor continues to try to collect, they are violating a court order, which means they could be found in contempt of court.
Most legitimate creditors, like credit card companies, will not harass you. But some disreputable collection agencies might, even after being notified of your bankruptcy. If the phone calls and letters don’t stop, you should take legal action and sue the offending party.
Federal law allows you to get reasonable attorney’s fees if you prevail, so make an appointment with a lawyer to talk about the illegal collection efforts. A bankruptcy lawyer can swing into action and file suit against the offending collection agency, who can face additional sanctions in a lawsuit.
Being Harassed after Discharge? Contact Nowack & Olson
One goal of bankruptcy is to provide emotional relief from crushing debt. Any creditor who continues to contact you after a debt has been wiped out is breaking the law.
Nowack & Olson, PLLC has helped many debtors, and our work doesn’t end with the discharge. Contact us today at 888-813-4737 to speak to one of our Plantation bankruptcy attorneys.