Can a creditor collect a debt after bankruptcy if they were not included?

Written by Aurora F. and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

This question raised a lot of conflicting information from online contributors. A “pre-petition” debt existed before the bankruptcy, by definition. Research identified that only “pre-petition” debt can be discharged in a bankruptcy. The point about the debt being overtly listed versus “automatically included” is the great unknown. Research did not find any conclusive situations where the issue was resolved, one way or the other. Several instances of web sources were found where the process of bankruptcy discharge allows a creditor to contest the discharge. Doing so must occur within some time limit, which apparently is set the court judge as a part of the discharge. The reason for contesting the discharge, being an “unknown debt”, is because the creditor was not listed and or not notified of the bankruptcy. This is where the jurisdiction and its rules now apply. As an example, California has a particular case where is certain criteria is met, the “unknown debt” is erased with the discharge, which still holds. If interested, the online source is [http://www.bayareabankruptcylawyerblog.com/bankruptcy-basics/what-happens-if-i-forget-to-list-a-debt-or-creditor-in-my-california-bankruptcy/]. Apparently in some states, simply sending a creditor who announces an “unknown” or “unlisted” debt a copy of the bankruptcy discharge is sufficient to end that request. The creditor can pursue it, but has to do so directly with the court itself. In any and all cases, retain any mails or emails, document any and all calls (date-time, location, and details of the “conversation”).

On the point about time limits and “statutes of limitations” (SoL), research came across a website that has SoLs for credit cards and debt by state [http://www.comebackcredit.com]. Not sure how useful it will be but now you have it.

A larger problem is being hounded by a creditor. There are federal and state (varying …) laws that protect the creditor and debtor. Several sites, pro-collection and pro-debtor, make for very interesting, sometimes amusing reading, especially as the contributors get colorful with their respective admirations. One contributor constructively provided the reader with a source for a “Debt Verification” request letter,
[http://www.debtconsolidationcare.com/forums/debtverification-letter.html] and [http://www.debtconsolidationcare.com/letters/sample15.html], and recommended sending the creditor a “Cease and Desist” letter outlining the federal and state laws for fraudulent claims and harassment. Going as far as to record the calls, letting the caller know of the recording after getting the caller’s phone number, address, and name. Federal regulations under the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s statutes and some states allow for $2500.00 claim per violation against a creditor or collection caller that does not cease and desist after legal notification, and violating the law. This is a low-end number. The Feds can hit repeat violator debt collectors with heavy civil penalties ranging from $5,000 to as much as an amazing $1 million dollars per day PER VIOLATION. This is strong backing to your “cease and desist” efforts. The violations that a creditor or collector can do are many. Again, recording, documenting, retaining any mail / email helps your cause. Arm yourself with knowledge.

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