Submitted by Rachel R on Wed, 07/23/2014 - 11:02am
Debt collectors should stop pursuing you for past due bills once you file bankruptcy
If you've filed bankruptcy to get debt relief, your creditors are bound by law not to continue trying to collect the debt during the automatic stay. If you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you generally should not hear from any of your creditors whose debts will be discharged (credit cards, medical bills and other unsecured debts). Because these debts are no longer active as of the filing, they shouldn't ever contact you again. For a Chapter 13, there's an automatic stay that should keep creditors off your back until you get your repayment plan in place.
Either way, your creditors should not be harassing you once a bankruptcy is filed because of the automatic stay. But sometimes it happens. In the first week to two weeks following your filing, it's possible they haven't received notice yet or that notice hasn't made its way into the system the collections department or agency uses. If that's the case, here's what to do if you get a call:
#1 Tell them you've filed bankruptcy. Tell them, "You're legally not allowed to contact me anymore." At this point, they will probably end the call. If not, give them your attorney's number. If you've chosen the law offices of John T Orcutt to represent you, tell the creditor they can call +1-833-627-0115. If you get a letter, write “I filed bankruptcy” on your bill and mail it back. That should be the end of this unless your stay runs out for some reason or your bankruptcy falls through.
#2 If you get a second call from a creditor or collection agent, that's definitely not okay. Write down who they are and which debt they're trying to collect, then do the same as step one above, but then call your attorney's office. If it's us, call and let us know who called you, what you said, what they said and give us any contact information you have on who is collecting the debt, as well as the original debt, so we know what we're dealing with and can put a stop to it.
If a creditor or collector persists in trying to collect the debt beyond the bankruptcy filing (this is very rare), your attorney can report the to the bankruptcy judge. The court has no tolerance for creditors and collectors that violate federal bankruptcy laws. The judge can actually award you damages for the harassment and distress you're enduring by their continued efforts to collect the debt illegally.
If a creditor calls and they obviously know about the bankruptcy, they may try to scam you into paying by telling you that that bill isn't covered by your bankruptcy, that you didn't file the right type of bankruptcy, that the creditor doesn't accept bankruptcy for this type of debt and a myriad of other excuses and lies that debt collectors may try and which you should absolutely not believe.
But don't panic that you'll be harassed for your debts after you file bankruptcy. This is a very rare occurrence. The fines on a creditor that violates the automatic stay can be steep and they don't want to pay that out when they're already writing off your debt. It doesn't make sense. Instead, when it does happen, it's an individual collector that's behaving aggressively and who will be shut down once their firm is notified it is in violation of the law.
If you're deep in debt and looking for a meaningful solution that will allow you to have a financial fresh start, contact the law offices of John T Orcutt for assistance today. We'll look at your income, assets and debts and advise you whether Chapter 7, Chapter 13 or another non-bankruptcy solution is your best tool to get debt free for good.
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