I think my biggest fear after bankruptcy was that my creditors would still be able to collect money from me, or to sue me/ garnish my wages somehow.
When my husband and I were finally able to declare bankruptcy, we had already been dealing with collection companies for several years. They regularly called us at work, at home, and they called several of our family members as well. We rarely answered the phone when it rang, and many companies called early, and late (past the hours they are allowed to call.)
We also had two judgments, one mine, one my husbands. The final straw that tipped the scales was a wage garnishment. It was the second time my husband’s wages had been garnished, and it was because of a medical bill that was way overdue.
The month he learned of the garnishment (which went through his work, so all the HR people knew about it) we would not have been able to pay our rent, or food or gas if it went through. So, we decided that it was finally time to end the mess and just declare bankruptcy. We took $200 as a down payment to a lawyer, who thankfully agreed to a payment arrangement.
Honestly I think he only agreed to the payment arrangement because we were totally organized. Before we approached him, we put together a 3 inch binder filled with all of our bills, and all of the information we knew he would need.
He took our case, stopped the garnishment, and two months later our bankruptcy was discharged.
For the first few months afterward, I kept waiting for the phone to ring. It did still ring frequently, but by then, I was happy to answer it because I knew that once I did, those collection reps could never call me again. It was very simple. They called, and called. It was usually an automated call which meant that I had to sit on the line for ten minutes or so. Once I reached a person, I gave them my case number, date of discharge, and my lawyers name and info.
After that, most of the companies never called back again.
I did have some lingering fears. For instance, I knew that we had debts that we had not listed on our bankruptcy application. We didn’t list them because our debt had been sold over and over so many times that we didn’t really know who owned it at that time.
Still, one by one those companies got in touch with us. I gave them all of our information too, and they have not bothered us since.
In my experience, a company cannot collect from you, or sue you once you have declared bankruptcy, as long as you give them the information they need. Even if, like us, you did not include the debt when you filed, it was still included as long as you had the debt before you walk into the lawyer’s office to file bankruptcy.
It is important for me to say though, that we had one medical bill that we incurred between the date we filed for bankruptcy, and the date it was discharged. That debt, we did have to pay. Apparently once you file, that’s it. It cuts off from the day of filing, not the date of your discharge.
We did not have any credit cards when we filed for bankruptcy, so I cannot tell you for sure whether or not we would have been able to keep them open. I can say that we had a very easy time opening up secured credit card account about six months after our bankruptcy. I seriously doubt that we had to wait six months to open those accounts either. We only waited to give ourselves time to get everything straightened out before we jumped back into the credit market.
Also, for those who might be interested, my first unsecured credit card after bankruptcy was a Target credit card, about two years after my bankruptcy was discharged.
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