Law and Answering Collection Agency Calls After Filing

English: Part of Title 11 of the United States...

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The Problem with Collection Agency Calls After Filing

When you go bankrupt, one of the most aggravating problems must be the multiple telephone calls you get from relentless collection agencies wanting to collect money you owe them or their client. By federal bankruptcy laws, a collection agency cannot continue to call you once you file for bankruptcy protection. The bankruptcy court automatic stay goes into effect immediately upon filing, and it is against federal law for a creditor of their representative to knowingly contact you. So, what should you say and do when answering collection agency calls after filing bankruptcy?

Federal Law Protects Filing Debtors from Collection Agency Calls

There are two federal laws that can come into play when a collection agency calls after filing bankruptcy. They are the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and federal bankruptcy laws which are titled under Title 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code.

Whether or not you have filed for bankruptcy, a collection agency has to follow the FDCPA guidelines in making calls to debtors. The federal law does not tolerate harassment activity by any collection agency. Violators of this law, whether the debtor has filed for bankruptcy or not, can be prosecuted.

Likewise, a collection agency who is a violator of the automatic stay can also be brought before a bankruptcy court judge to face stiff penalties and fines for the violation. The stay prevents any creditor or its agencies from contacting a debtor while the debtor is in an active bankruptcy.

Practical Suggestions for Answering Collection Agency Calls After Filing

Practically, here are some suggestions on how you might handle a collection call from a collection agency once you have filed for bankruptcy:

  1. You are not required to give out personal information. A collection agency is usually wanting to restart the statute of limitations on a debt if they ask for personal information they already have. They also want to verify the debt because most do not have the paper work on the original if they are not the original creditor.

  2. You might want to simply give them your lawyers telephone number. Most bankruptcy lawyers will instruct you to give the collection agency calling you their telephone number.

  3. You can tell the calling collection agency you have filed for bankruptcy protection and not to call again. You will need to give them the bankruptcy case number and county it was filed in if you are filing Pro Se or your attorney’s telephone number.

  4. Even though some collection agency representative may come off as rude, it would be counterproductive to return in like kind. Courtesy is usually the best policy, especially when you have the law on your side. You can inform them they might be in violation of two federal laws and refer them to your lawyer or the bankruptcy court.

  5. Keep a record of the date, time, and name of each collection agency that calls you and as much detail about the call that you can. In case the collection agency does not get the point, you may have to testify to either the bankruptcy court or some other federal court for prosecution purposes.

In most cases, it may be wise to report any violation to your bankruptcy lawyer so he or she can advise you on where to go from there. Otherwise, you can report violations directly to a US Bankruptcy Court for violations of the automatic stay, or the Federal Trade Commission for violations of the FDCPA.

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