Debt collectors cannot contact you to collect on a discharged debt. You should respond to their lawsuit and explain that you have already removed the debt.
It is common for consumers to feel relieved after filing for bankruptcy. It is now possible for them to start from scratch with a blank financial report card since their debts have been repaid.
However, the communication between consumers and creditors during bankruptcy can often fall through. Sometimes, bankruptcy lawyers will inform current creditors of a client’s petition for bankruptcy. However, creditors may have already discharged their client’s debt before bankruptcy lawyers notify them.
Upon discharge of a debt, the creditor will sell the debt to a debt collector, who will begin the collection process. Debt collectors may need to learn that consumers are bankrupt or have completed bankruptcy proceedings.
In this regard, debt collectors may often attempt to collect debts discharged in bankruptcy. Understanding what to do if a collection agency contacts you following your default is essential.
What does a discharged debt collector want?
In most cases, debt collectors attempt to collect discharged debts because they are unaware you have declared bankruptcy. Information may be too new to appear in their records, and they contact individuals they believe owe them money.
If a debt collector attempts to collect money from you, you should inform them of the situation. Let the court know that you have filed for bankruptcy and your debts have been discharged.
The collection agent may ask for information about your bankruptcy, such as the case number and discharge date. Give the creditor the details if you have them. Your bankruptcy attorney can assist them if you do not.
Why won’t the debt collector stop contacting me?
If you have provided the debt collector with the information they need to update their records, and they continue to contact you, they violate the Bankruptcy Protection Act. Prior creditors cannot contact consumers regarding discharged debts via any communication, including letters, emails, or telephone calls.
Moreover, debt collectors are prohibited from taking legal action to collect discharged debts, such as garnishing your wages, freezing your bank account, or pursuing a warrant for arrest. Taking legal action to collect a discharged debt may result in fines and penalties, and you can file your lawsuit.
Collection attempts by debt collectors
Especially after filing for bankruptcy, it is advisable to keep a record of all debt collection attempts. Make a note of any letters you receive or calls you to receive from collection agents.
After declaring bankruptcy, you should cease all communication with debt collectors and creditors. Debt collectors may contact you a few times, but once you have informed them of the discharge, they should cease to do so.
The list of creditors who continue to contact you should be provided to your lawyer. If you wish, your lawyer can contact them and inform them of your bankruptcy and the date of discharge. A call from your attorney should stop debt collectors from getting you in the future.
Do I owe a debt collector even though I included it in my bankruptcy?
To convince consumers that they owe money, debt collectors often use a variety of tactics. It is illegal to inform you that you owe a debt that has been discharged in bankruptcy. Request the license number of the debt collector and file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
Your bankruptcy attorney should also be notified about the debt collector. Your attorney can send them a cease and desist letter informing them to stop contacting you. If the debt collector continues to harass you, your attorney may threaten you with a lawsuit.
Do I still owe a debt I didn’t include in Chapter 7?
Even if you did not include a dischargeable debt in your Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition, you should no longer be responsible for it.
However, your debt may remain due if your Chapter 7 bankruptcy case is considered an asset case, in which the trustee sold your property and distributed the proceeds among your creditors.
The majority of Chapter 7 bankruptcies involve no assets. The trustee cannot distribute any property of significant value in a no-asset case since you do not own any property with a substantial value that could be used to pay your creditors. Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharges most debts, so the creditor has no recourse if you forgot to include one on your list.
Do I still owe a debt I didn’t include in Chapter 13?
The debt you failed to include in your Chapter 13 bankruptcy remains your responsibility.
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There is a difference between Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, most debts are eliminated by the court. Before your remaining balance is discharged during a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must agree with your creditors, allowing you to pay monthly payments for a specific period.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy does not include debts you fail to include in the repayment agreement with your creditors. As a result, you must still repay them. You will need to negotiate a payment arrangement independently with the creditor or pay off the debt in full.
In bankruptcy, some debts cannot be discharged
Certain debts are rarely dischargeable through bankruptcy. Among them are:
- Penalties or fines imposed by a court in a criminal or personal injury case
- Payments of alimony and child support
- Fraud or embezzlement-related debts
- Less than three-year-old tax debts
- Loans for students
In some cases, student loan debt may be eliminated through bankruptcy. In addition to filing bankruptcy, you will need to file an adversary proceeding. Various requirements must be met to prove that repaying the loans would cause undue financial hardship.
It is valid to receive collection calls regarding these types of debts. If you do not agree to a repayment plan or pay the debt in full, the collection agency may continue to pursue you until you pay the debt in full or agree to a repayment plan.
Is it possible to include all of my debt in my bankruptcy?
To ensure maximum protection, it is essential to be extremely careful when filling out your debt list for bankruptcy. Get a copy of your credit report and list your current creditors. Additionally, it would help if you considered debts that may not appear on your credit reports, such as payday loans and medical debts.
You will be responsible for unlisted obligations in Chapter 13 bankruptcy, although leaving debt off your list won’t hurt you in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. As with any legal proceeding, everything you include in your bankruptcy petition must be accurate.
Debt collectors in court
You should respond if a debt collector is suing you for a discharged debt to avoid losing the case automatically.
Defend yourself against all of the claims against you and assert your affirmative defenses, including that the debt has already been discharged through bankruptcy.