A bankruptcy discharge is an order from the United States Bankruptcy Court. The discharge is a court injunction prohibiting any attempt to collect on a discharged debt. Creditors are strictly prohibited from contacting the debtor by mail, phone, or otherwise; filing or continuing a lawsuit; attaching wages or other property; or taking any other action to collect a discharged debt. A creditor that violates this order is subject to contempt of court and may have to pay damages and attorney’s fees.
A creditor that contacts you in an effort to collect a discharged debt is in violation of the bankruptcy court’s discharge injunction. Usually such contact is a mistake and the creditor is unaware of your bankruptcy discharge. While claiming ignorance is not a valid excuse for violating the bankruptcy court order, informing the creditor that you have filed bankruptcy and received a discharge of the debt is often enough to stop future collection actions. The creditor may want to know certain information about the bankruptcy (case number, date of discharge, chapter, etc.) to update their records and stop further collection efforts. You can answer these questions or simply refer the creditor to your attorney.
It is good practice to document any post-discharge collection action by creditors. While these collection attempts are often mistakes, a main purpose of the bankruptcy discharge is to allow you to live your life free from creditor harassment. The bankruptcy discharge applies to the debt and enjoins any collection of the debt. Consequently, the discharge injunction applies to the original creditor, collection agencies, attorneys, and any other subsequent collector.
Your bankruptcy discharge is legal protection against creditor harassment concerning discharged debts. If you are repeatedly contacted by a creditor after your bankruptcy discharge, document the creditor contact and report it to your attorneys at Haines and Krieger. The law is on your side and will protect your right to a fresh start free of creditor harassment.