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What happens when a creditor comes calling after a bankruptcy?

One of the benefits of receiving a bankruptcy discharge is that a debtor no longer owes the debts that are wiped clean by the court. However, occasionally, a creditor will contact a New Jersey resident regarding a debt that was discharged in the bankruptcy. When this happens, it is often in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

For instance, in one reported case, a consumer had several debts that were in collections with the same company prior to filing for bankruptcy. The debts were subsequently discharged in bankruptcy. Approximately five months later, the collections company sent her a letter attempting to collect one of the debts that the filer no longer owed due to the bankruptcy.

The consumer filed a lawsuit against the company alleging that it violated the FDCPA and the FCRA by contacting her regarding the debt. The company claimed that a variation in the filer's address prevented them from updated their system to show that the debt was discharged. The judge disagreed since there was other information that should have allowed them to identify the appropriate party. Further, the agency contacted the filer directly instead of her attorney, which also did not please the judge.

Therefore, the agency was found to be in violation of the acts. If a New Jersey resident whose debt was discharged in a bankruptcy receives a letter or phone call from a creditor or collection agency, he or she is not obligated to pay the debt. The individual should inform the party attempting to collect the debt that it was discharged and contact the attorney who handled the bankruptcy. If the agency continues to attempt to collect the debt, further legal action might be required.

Source: bna.com, "Typo Can't Save Creditor From Collection Violation", Stephanie Cumings, Jan. 20, 2016

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