While federal law prohibits a creditor or debt collector from attempting to collect on a debt after it has been discharged in bankruptcy, creditor harassment after chapter 7 is quite common. Collectors oftentimes pretend to be unaware of the bankruptcy filing or simply lie about your legal responsibility to pay the debt. This is a violation of federal bankruptcy law and possibly the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Other creditors may honestly be unaware that the debt was discharged in bankruptcy, but the law still applies and they are violating it by attempting to collect the debt.
Creditor Harassment after Chapter 7 and Federal Bankruptcy Law
When a chapter 7 bankruptcy petition has been filed, a federal stay goes into effect, and all collection attempts must immediately stop until the case has been resolved. If the petition is subsequently granted, the debt is considered discharged. A discharge does not mean that you no longer owe the debt; it means that the creditor is simply not allowed to attempt to collect it and may not continue reporting late or missed payments on your credit report. Creditor harassment after chapter 7 may occur for a few reasons:
- The debt was mistakenly not included on the bankruptcy petition
- The creditor did not receive notice of the filing
- The debt collector purchased the account from someone else and is unaware of the filing
- The creditor is simply ignoring the law
So what should you do if you are being harassed by a collector after filing chapter 7? It depends on the situation.
How to Stop Creditor Harassment after Chapter 7
If you have just recently filed your bankruptcy petition, you should give your creditors a few days to get notice from the court and stop their collection attempts. After that, you will need to determine why the collector is still attempting to collect on the debt. The first thing you should do ask the collector who the original creditor is, then check your petition to ensure that the creditor was listed. If the debt was not included in the bankruptcy, you will need to contact your bankruptcy attorney and possibly reopen the case. If the debt was included, but has now been sold to someone else, a simple letter from your attorney or a copy of the discharge order may stop the collection attempts. If creditor harassment after chapter 7 is occurring when the debt was included on the bankruptcy petition, and/or the collector has been notified of the filing by you or your attorney, the creditor may simply be ignoring the law. In this case, they may not only be violating federal bankruptcy law, but the FDCPA.
If you are experiencing creditor harassment after chapter 7, please contact our office at 1-800-219-3577, for a free, no obligation consultation.