Can Creditors Contact Me After a Bankruptcy Discharge?


If you’ve successfully made it all the way through bankruptcy proceedings and have been granted a discharge of your debts – congratulations! Hopefully, this will mean a new beginning for you and will see you moving toward a brighter financial future.

Sometimes after a bankruptcy discharge has been granted, you may receive communications from some of your creditors, still asking you to make payment on a debt. There are several reasons why this may happen, and luckily, there are solutions to each, as well.

It may take up to several weeks for a bankruptcy discharge notice to be sent by the court and delivered accordingly by the U.S. Postal Service to all of your creditors. If your creditors call you within this time frame, we advise you to tell them that you have filed for bankruptcy and that they should be receiving notice of your discharge very soon. You may also want to give them your attorney’s contact information as well as your bankruptcy case number.

Outside of the initial few weeks, it is possible that the creditor in question never received notice of your bankruptcy. This happens more frequently than anyone would guess. Sometimes the paperwork is legitimately never received by the creditor (or their law firm). It may have been lost in the mail or within the court system. It may also be possible that the creditor did receive the paperwork, but that it was mishandled or filed incorrectly within their system. There may have been clerical errors, such as a misspelling of your name, etc, that caused your bankruptcy discharge to be misfiled, leading them to believe that your debt was still owed. In cases like these, inform the creditor of your bankruptcy information, and ask them to cease contacting you.

Another situation that may arise is that you may have forgotten to list all of your debts when you originally filed for bankruptcy. Again, this is very common and can happen for a few different reasons. One type of debt that is frequently forgotten is medical bills. The reason some medical bills often don’t make it onto bankruptcy filings is because the debtor may receive bills from a multitude of doctors for a single procedure (anesthesiologists, surgeons, reconstructive surgeons, radiologists, laboratories, other specialists, etc). A large bill from one or more of those doctors may arrive after the original petition has been filed, and you will have left that debt off your petition, because you did not know about it.

The bankruptcy court does allow you to reopen your case if you have forgotten to list a creditor, however this is not something that is often done due to how costly it can be. Instead, what usually happens when a debt is accidentally forgotten is that the debt will be discharged along with the rest of your debts, because there is simply no money to pay that creditor with, anyway.

Now, there comes a time when a different course of action is called for – and that is when creditors who were properly listed on your bankruptcy petition and have been informed of same, continue to call, write or otherwise harass you for payment.

In these cases, we recommend that you stop being nice, and start getting aggressive. Many “debt collecting” agencies were not the original holders of your debt, and may have purchased discharged debts in the hope of squeezing a little money out of you if they can effectively scare you. They may use many different tactics to attempt to make you believe that you still owe them money. This type of behavior is strictly prohibited and should NOT BE TOLERATED.

These creditors are deliberately violating the bankruptcy court laws that specifically disallow them from contacting you regarding a discharged debt. As such, you can and should sue them for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.


Image credit: Tim Parkinson

3 Responses to Can Creditors Contact Me After a Bankruptcy Discharge?

  1. Pingback: Bad Checks and NJ Bankruptcy Law | Veitengruber Law

  2. Pingback: New Jersey Bankruptcy: Frequently Asked Questions | Veitengruber Law

  3. Pingback: Can They Do That!? Illegal Tactics of Debt Collectors | Veitengruber Law

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