One of the main reasons people decide to file bankruptcy is to end, finally, the endless calls from creditors and collectors. When you file for bankruptcy, federal law provides that all of these communications must stop. 11 U.S.C. §362 But what happens when your bankruptcy ends? There again, the Bankruptcy Code has the answer. The post-discharge injunction found in 11 U.S.C §524 gives debtors protection from creditors whose debts they have discharged. Once a debt has been discharged, no creditor or collector may ever take any action to collect, recover, or offset that debt. This right is so important to the idea of a fresh start that federal bankruptcy law provides heavy penalties for those who violate it.
Beyond the Bankruptcy Code, you have additional protections under federal and state consumer protection laws, such as the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), and Section 37-5-108 of the South Carolina Consumer Protection Code. Both of these laws provide penalties for abusive, unfair, or deceptive debt collection practices. And they apply regardless of whether or not you owe the debt. In other words, these protections apply even on debts you have not discharged.
Here are some examples of abusive debt collection:
- threatening to harm you or your family
- using obscene or profane language
- repeatedly using a telephone to annoy you
- making false statements; for example, debt collectors may not:
- falsely imply that they are attorneys or government representatives or send anything that looks like an official document from a court or government agency when it is not; or otherwise use a false name
- falsely implying that you have committed a crime
- falsely representing that they operate or work for a credit bureau
- telling you that papers being sent to you are legal forms when they are not
The law prohibits these tactics. In addition, if you are a South Carolina resident it is illegal for a Debt Collector or Creditor to say:
- you will be arrested if you do not pay the debt
- that they will seize, attach, or sell your property (unless they have the legal right to so).
- that they will garnish your wages, unless it is legal for them to do so
- that actions (such as a lawsuit) will be taken against you when such action legally may not be taken, or when the collector does not really intend to take such action
Since 1998 we have represented consumers in the above violations. If a creditor or collector is harassing you, contact us. We will work to put an end to the abuse immediately, and we will pursue your remedies aggressively. We know how to protect your right to be left alone by collectors.