Bankruptcy Law, Debt Collection

Can a Debt Collector Try To Collect on Debts Discharged in Bankruptcy?

A bankruptcy discharge gives a person a fresh financial start, freeing him or her from the stress of collection calls and aggressive debt collection practices. However, the fact that a debt has been discharged successfully in a bankruptcy case does not necessarily mean debt collectors will still not try and attempt to pursue collection of the debt. What happens in these situations?  

Under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, a discharge is a permanent court order that prohibits creditors from pursuing any type of collection on discharged debts. These prohibited actions include filing legal cases to collect on the debt, as well as communications with the consumer via personal contacts, letters, and phone calls. Essentially, the discharge in a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy case relieves the filer from any personal responsibility to pay off the debt.  

Not all consumer debts are dischargeable in a bankruptcy caseCertain debts are prohibited as a matter of public policy from being discharged, including government-backed student loans, child support, alimony, tax debt, and any debts incurred because of improper or illegal behavior.  Creditors for these debts can continue collecting on them even after the bankruptcy case is finalized.  

Once the bankruptcy discharge is granted, any creditors on debts that were a part of the final order are notified by the court that the debts owed to them have officially been discharged and that they will be in contempt of court if the creditor continues to collect on them. Even if, for some reason, a creditor is left out of the notice and never receives the paperwork from the court, he or she is still bound by the discharge order.  

Some debt collectors can be persistent and may continue to contact the consumer. Other creditors may argue they are not bound by the court’s order even though they are, making false claims in hopes they will fool the consumer. 

If this happens, it is best to report the debt collector to the bankruptcy court.  Depending on the communications, the collector could face sanctions from the court for violating the discharge order. These sanctions could involve payment of damages to the consumer, as well as attorney fees.   

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If you have questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.   

Bankruptcy Law

How Often Can a Person File for Bankruptcy?

If you have filed for bankruptcy protection in the past and have found yourself facing financial trouble again, it is possible to file for bankruptcy a second time.  In fact, approximately eight percent of bankruptcy filers end up needing to file again at some point. Ultimately, how often someone can file for bankruptcy protection depends on the type of case he or she filed initially, as well as how much time has passed since that first case.  

One of the more commonly used forms of consumer bankruptcy is the Chapter 7 bankruptcy also known as a “liquidation” bankruptcy. This form of bankruptcy lasts a few months, allowing the filer to work closely with the bankruptcy trustee to sell any nonexempt assets to pay off qualifying debts. At the end of the case, the remainder of the filer’s debts, which are usually credit cards or other unsecured debts, are discharged. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is another form of consumer bankruptcy, also known as a repayment or reorganization bankruptcy. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the filer works with the bankruptcy trustee on a repayment plan, which lasts anywhere from three to five years, where the person pays off his or her debts, liquidating what is left at the end of the case.  

Bankruptcy Law, Debt Relief

U.S. Supreme Court Issues Ruling Setting Sanctions for Bankruptcy Debt Collections

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling this week that would hold creditors in contempt and face serious civil penalties if they attempt to collect on a debt that was canceled in a bankruptcy case. The ruling came out Monday, following an appeal from the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court. The Justices unanimously ruled that a court may hold a creditor in civil contempt if it is found that the creditor’s collection of the old, discharged debt is “objectively unreasonable.”

The fact that this ruling came as a unanimous decision is a win for consumers and provides a set standard for cases in the future. This case was an appeal from a circuit court ruling that found that creditors should be given some amount of leniency, even when it is unreasonable for them to believe that the bankruptcy discharge order is not applicable to the debt they are trying to collect.

The legal standard adopted by the Supreme Court was originally advocated by the U.S. Department of Justice. Justice Stephen Breyer penned the unanimous decision where he wrote that “a court may hold a creditor in civil contempt for violating a discharge order if there is no fair ground of doubt as to whether the order barred the creditor’s conduct.”

Since the Supreme Court sets the standard all lower courts must follow, this rule now provides a test judges can use when facing cases involving debt collectors who are continuing to collect on a debt after it has been discharged in bankruptcy. Therefore, all courts will need to review future claims under the question of whether there exists a “fair ground of doubt’ as to whether the creditor’s conduct might be considered lawful under the bankruptcy discharge order.

Up until this time, courts, including the Ninth Circuit, followed the good-faith standard, which allowed for these types of collections if the creditor was said to be collecting on the debt in “good faith.” The standard was extremely subjective and creditor friendly.

Justice Breyer clearly stated that this standard is meant to be an objective one and not a subjective standard. Courts are to review the facts of the case as to whether the violation was done on an objectively unreasonable understanding of the bankruptcy court’s discharge order.

Please click here to read more.

If you have questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Related Resources:

https://www.courthousenews.com/supremes-set-sanctions-rule-for-bankruptcy-collections/