If you file for bankruptcy, all collection activity by creditors must stop with a few exceptions. The part of the law governs this is called the “automatic stay”.
So if a creditor is trying to collect from your or sue you based on a credit card, medical, breach of contract or other debt, they must stop all activity against you once you file.
They can’t file a lawsuit, continue in a lawsuit, record a lien, report the debt to the credit reporting agency or seize property without permission from the court.
What happens if the creditor does continue with collection activity after notice of the bankruptcy has been received? They have likely violated the automatic stay rule and can be sued by the debtor. They may also have to pay damages and attorney fees.
I always suggest that if a creditor who is barred from collection by virtue of the bankruptcy filing continues to contact one of my clients, that the client or our office provide the creditor one more “notice” of the bankruptcy prior to suing. This notice usually goes out by phone and/or via a certified letter.
Most creditors “get the picture” and discontinue the contact.
Unfortunately, some continue. A lawsuit is then appropriate and often even necessary.
There are exceptions to the list of creditors who are completely barred from collection activity which will be discussed in further posts.
If you are in a bankruptcy and a creditor continues to contact you even after you are sure they know about the bankruptcy, you will want to speak to your attorney about whether a lawsuit is a good idea.