Debt collectors are notorious for harassing debtors. Calling all day and night, sending threatening letters, and filing lawsuits are all common practices. When you’re in the process of filing for bankruptcy—or that debt was discharged in bankruptcy—it can be especially unsettling. A bankruptcy lawyer can help get them to leave you alone.
Debt Collectors and Bankruptcy
When you file for bankruptcy, all creditors are instructed to immediately stop contacting you to collect your debt. Creditors agree to do this because they’re ordered to do so by the “Automatic Stay”. They may get a portion of the debt paid off through bankruptcy. They may also sell off your debt to debt collectors.
When a debt collector starts contacting you prior to a bankruptcy proceeding, refer all communication to your attorney. If the debt in question has been included in your filing, the debt collectors should not be calling. If, however, you accidentally left a legitimate debt out of your paperwork, your attorney will discuss your options with you.
The same applies when a debt collector contacts you after the debt has been discharged in bankruptcy. Once your bankruptcy case is completed, you are no longer liable for those debts. Do not be intimidated into paying anything until you’ve cleared it with your bankruptcy lawyer.
Is the Debt Really Yours?
It’s worth noting that you may not be responsible for the debt in the first place. Debt collectors must prove that they own your debt—that is, if someone other than your original creditor sues you, they must show that they bought your debt.
Ohio also limits the amount of time debt collectors have to take action on credit card debt. If it’s been more than six years since the latest of the debt being overdue and your last payment, you’re off the hook. Finally, you may have been mistakenly identified as the debtor, or someone else fraudulently incurred the debt in your name. You should not be liable in these cases.
What to Do if a Debt Collector Files a Lawsuit
If the debt collectors file a lawsuit during or after your bankruptcy, collect all documentation regarding the debt. Write down all the dates and times the debt collectors call you, and include the collector’s name, company and whether the person tried to harass or intimidate you. Then pass this information on to your attorney. They’ll help you determine the best course of action.
For help with your debt collection issues, call the bankruptcy lawyers at Dworken & Bernstein today.