Anyone who files for bankruptcy protection expects that the bothersome creditor calls and letters will stop. After all, that is the primary benefit of the automatic stay. Most creditors follow the law and cease any further collection efforts. However, there are some who claim to be ignorant of any bankruptcy filings and continue to press debtors into paying up.
Once a debtor files a bankruptcy petition, the automatic stay prohibits any and all collection efforts. If a creditor attempts to collect on a debt listed in the debtor’s schedules, the action violates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Creditors are subject to strict liability under the FDCPA, meaning that a creditor’s ignorance of a bankruptcy filing, or their intent in notifying a debtor about their debt is irrelevant. This means that debtors do not bear the burden of proving that a creditor knew that a bankruptcy petition had been filed.
Additionally, a debtor can seek up to $1000 in statutory damages (as well as attorney’s fees) for each violation. For those debtors who have suffered emotional distress over continuing collection efforts, the law allows for damages for this effect as well.
Indeed, most stay violations involve ignorance of a bankruptcy petition, but given how unscrupulous some debt collectors may be, they may continue their efforts in the hopes that a vulnerable debtor will simply give in to pressure. If you are considering bankruptcy, or have filed a pro se petition, stay violations should not be taken lightly. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can advise you of your rights and options.
The preceding is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney-client relationship.