Did you know that federal bankruptcy laws protect you from continued collection attempts once your debts have been discharged? The court wants everyone who has successfully completed the bankruptcy process to be fully protected by their discharge order, and so it does not let creditors who threaten, harass or call nonstop get away with this once your case is completed.
It is not fair if, after you have completed everything needed for your bankruptcy case, you are not able to enjoy the fresh start you deserve. On top of forcing creditors to pay you from the damage they have done, the court also requires them to pay attorney fees and costs so you don’t pay anything!
To qualify to file a bankruptcy contempt action:
You must be a consumer who has successfully completed the bankruptcy process and received a discharge of your debts. The debt collector must be aware that you included this debt in your bankruptcy and continue to call you or send bills anyway trying to force you into paying a debt that you no longer owe.
Has a debt collector:
- Contacted you over the phone or by mail regarding a discharged debt?
- Continued to contact you by phone or mail after being informed this debt was discharged?
- Engaged in any conduct meant to harass, abuse or oppress you?
- Made any misrepresentations of fact, such as whether your debt was really discharged or whether they are allowed to continue to contact you?
- Threatened you with arrest or criminal prosecution?
- Filed a lawsuit on a discharged debt?
If any of these apply to you, you may reopen your bankruptcy case to file a Motion for Contempt against your creditor and force them to pay you!
Can creditors attempt to collect on discharged debts after bankruptcy?
No, no creditor can force you to pay debts that were discharged in your bankruptcy case. If they were unaware that the debt was included in bankruptcy, they must stop contacting you as soon as they are notified of the bankruptcy case. If they continue to contact you, they are acting in contempt of your bankruptcy discharge order and the federal court will not allow this to continue.
How do I know if a debt was included in my bankruptcy?
In order to be included, the debt needed to be listed on Schedule F of your petition, where all discharged debts are listed. If you filed an amended Schedule F adding creditors to your petition after your bankruptcy was filed, these debts are also included. If you did not list the debt on your petition, however, it was not included in your bankruptcy case. Also, if you filed a reaffirmation agreement stating you were going to keep a certain debt, this debt would not have been included in your bankruptcy case.
What if the debt is higher than the amount listed on my bankruptcy petition?
Your debt is still included in your bankruptcy, even if the amount is not the same as what was listed on your petition. As long as the creditor and estimated debt were listed, this debt was discharged and no creditor can force you to pay it.
What if the debt was sold to a collections agency after my bankruptcy?
Your debt is still included in your bankruptcy, so long as either the original creditor or the collections agency was listed as a creditor on your bankruptcy petition. Some creditors sell debts to collections agencies without telling them the debts were already discharged in bankruptcy. Once you notify them that this debt was discharged, the agencies must stop contacting you immediately or you can take action against them.
Can I file a lawsuit on my own against a creditor who continues to collect on a discharged debt?
No, once you have included a debt in your bankruptcy case, only the bankruptcy court can take action against a creditor who violates your discharge order. The bankruptcy court wants to make sure you are fully able to enjoy the protection of your discharge order, and they will make sure a creditor who ignores it does not go unpunished.
How does the bankruptcy contempt process work?
We would first file a motion asking the court to reopen your bankruptcy case. Once your case was reopened, we would file a second motion for contempt and sanctions against your creditor, asking the court to 1) make the collection attempts stop, and 2) impose monetary sanctions against your creditor and force them to pay you for their illegal practices. Most creditors are inclined to settle quickly to avoid further litigation.