When people living in Tennessee file for bankruptcy, they typically do so with the understanding that the automatic stay of bankruptcy, and eventual discharge of debts, will stop creditor harassment. Unfortunately, there have been cases in which a creditor has decided to pursue a debt after a bankruptcy discharge.
Individuals who have filed bankruptcy do have options in such situations, however. These include asking the court to intervene on their behalf. In a recent case, creditors sought to pursue a judgment for legal fees against an Oregon man after his bankruptcy discharge. When the case went back to bankruptcy court, the creditor was found in contempt for attempting to collect a debt that was discharged in bankruptcy.
This was not the end of the story; another court vacated the bankruptcy court’s decision. The case was fought to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that creditors can be found in contempt if there is “no fair ground of doubt” as to whether the debt was discharged in bankruptcy. This ruling may prevent unnecessary and even frivolous cases in which creditors continue to harass debtors over debts that have been discharged.
Many people who file for bankruptcy do so out of a genuine need for debt relief. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous creditors are willing to take advantage of a debtor’s distress and may attempt to confuse them by initiating collection activity even during the automatic stay or after discharge.
Individuals who are considering bankruptcy may benefit from consulting with an experienced attorney. The lawyer may be able to review the client’s situation and make recommendations regarding bankruptcy as well as how to respond to abusive collection efforts.