A Debt collector’s purpose is to recover money owed on delinquent accounts. Sometimes the Debt collector has been hired by a creditor to try to recover the delinquent debt and other times the Debt collector has purchased the debt from the original creditor. Some examples of why debt collectors may contact you are unpaid medical bills, delinquent credit card debt, delinquent phone/ utility bills, delinquent car loan payments, deficiency balances on repossessed or foreclosed property, back taxes, etc.
However, just because a Debtor is delinquent on a debt or account, this does not mean that a Creditor or Debt Collector has free reign to try to collect the debt by any means they see fit. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a law that sets out the parameters that a Creditor/ Debt Collector is allowed to attempt to collect on a delinquent debt. Harassment and its definitions are set out under the law. If a creditor violates the FDCPA a Debtor has the right to sue for damages created by the violations of the FDCPA.
A few actions that are NOT allowed to be undertaken to collect a debt:
- Debt collectors must not use abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices during the debt collection process
- Debt collectors cannot threaten imprisonment or incarceration for non-payment.
- Debt collectors cannot threaten any action that they may not undertake legally to recover funds owed.
- Debt collectors cannot make false or misleading representations.
- May not contact you further after being advised in writing to discontinue communication with you.
For more exhaustive list of what is and is not allowed see https://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/rules/rulemaking-regulatory-reform-proceedings/fair-debt-collection-practices-act-text
If you believe that a debt collector has violated any of the terms of the FDCPA, we encourage you to contact our experienced FDCPA Attorneys at Acker Warren, P.C.
How does debt collection work once I file for bankruptcy?
Immediately upon filing of a Bankruptcy, regardless of Chapter, the Automatic Stay of 11 U.S.C. Section 362 is put into place. The Automatic Stay is an automatic injunction issued by the Bankruptcy Court immediately upon filing in most cases. The Automatic Stay requires that any actions to collect upon a debt are to be discontinued. This includes continuation of a lawsuit, Debt Collectors phone calls, emails, text messages, etc. Any type of collection action is a violation of the Automatic Stay and may subject to a Creditor to damages and or sanctions for violations. Creditors most often are very careful to not run afoul of the Automatic Stay. This means that phone calls, emails, etc. usually stop within about 7 days of a Bankruptcy filing.
Upon successful completion of a Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 Bankruptcy the Discharge Order is entered. A discharge is what a Debtor is after in a Bankruptcy Filing. The Discharge Order means that any legal liability to pay a pre bankruptcy debt has been extinguished to the extent that discharge if not exempted under the Bankruptcy Code. The Discharge order then substitutes its protections from collection for the protections for collection that exist under the Automatic Stay while a case is pending. Fortunately, the protections of the discharge order are at least as strong and, in many instances, stronger than those protections under the Automatic Stay. Violations of the discharge order are also actionable by a Debtor in the same way violations of the Automatic Stay are actionable by a Debtor.
The short answer to how does debt collection work once a Debtor files for Bankruptcy is that all direct contact and collections actions by debt collectors must stop and the creditors/ debt collectors must abide by the Automatic Stay and or Discharge Orders entered in the Bankruptcy. Failure to do so opens a creditor/ debt collector up to liability to the Debtor for any willful violations.
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For over 15 years, Acker Warren, P.C has served the Dallas/ Fort Worth community as debt relief attorneys. We are immensly proud to contribute to our community by helping our clients find debt relief through Debt Settlement, Debt Lawsuit Defense, Foreclosure Defense, Repossession Defense, Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, and Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.
Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact us!